Attacking with fastball serves Walker well

Attacking with fastball serves Walker well

SEATTLE -- Taijuan Walker was handed his fourth consecutive loss on Monday for the Mariners, but the 23-year-old deserved a better fate after dueling A's lefty Rich Hill for six scoreless innings in an eventual 5-0 loss.

Walker didn't get much help in this one as shortstop Chris Taylor's two throwing errors in the eighth led to four unearned runs on a night the A's only legitimate hit off the hard-throwing 23-year-old was a solo homer by Stephen Vogt in the seventh.

Though he fell to 2-4, Walker's 2.70 ERA and 47 strikeouts with just nine walks in 50 innings tells a different story. And after a couple tough outings following a two-inning start in Houston when he was dealing with neck spasms, this strong 7 1/3-inning start looked more like the dominant young right-hander the Mariners saw the first month of the season.

"I wasn't being aggressive the last couple starts with my fastball," Walker said. "The game plan today was just to go right after them, attack them and throw strikes with my fastball."

Mission accomplished as Walker came out firing 95-mph heat and maintained that throughout his 102-pitch outing, allowing just four hits and one earned run with one intentional walk and six strikeouts.

After a leadoff single in the first by Coco Crisp, Walker retired 16 straight A's in a dominant outing before a sixth-inning single by Jake Smolinski.

"He was very aggressive from the first inning on," said manager Scott Servais. "It was his best fastball. He was letting it fly and that's exactly where we wanted to get him back to. He just got after it. I thought his tempo was outstanding. He was going after them with hard stuff and for awhile there overmatching them."

Walker left up a 3-1 fastball to Vogt in the seventh for the only earned run of the night before Oakland took advantage of Taylor's two errant throws in the eighth. Walker's only hit in the ill-fated eighth was an RBI single by Smolinski after Taylor's first two-base error on a throw that sailed into the stands.

A second error on Taylor put runners on second and third and Walker then was asked to intentionally walk Billy Burns to load the bases before Servais called on reliever Vidal Nuno. A hit batter allowed one of Walker's inherited runners to score and Danny Valencia plated two more with a double off Joel Peralta.

"It's baseball. It's going to happen," Walker said of Taylor's miscues. "People are going to make errors, people are going to walk and get base hits. Chris is an outstanding shortstop. He's going to save a lot of runs and make a lot of great plays for us."

Walker will win his share of games for the Mariners, as well, if he continues throwing like he did in this one as he re-established his fastball and showed again how good he can be when he's commanding that pitch.

'I've been working on the slider and I think I kind of got a little slider friendly," he said. "I've been throwing that a lot and not really focusing on my fastball and changeup, which are my two best pitches. So the past four days, all I did was work on fastball and changeups and that definitely helped."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.