Mariners win 7th straight on Walker's 3-hitter

Mariners win 7th straight on Walker's 3-hitter

ANAHEIM -- Taijuan Walker, who lasted just two-thirds of an inning against the Angels in the worst start of his young career 10 days earlier, fired a three-hit shutout on Tuesday night as the soaring Mariners ripped off their seventh straight win with an 8-0 runaway at Angel Stadium.

"It was good," said Walker, who made some dramatic changes to his delivery after that start and saw payoff. "Me and [pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.] have been putting in a lot of work, getting out here early and really trying to get it down. Three weeks left in the season, it's kind of weird to change mechanics, but we've been out there and really hammering and trying to get it down, so it felt really good to have success today."

Walker got plenty of help, as Seattle blasted three home runs, including a sixth-inning grand slam by Seth Smith, to stay 2 1/2 games behind the Orioles and Blue Jays at 77-68 in the chase for the American League's two Wild Card berths with 17 games remaining.

Smith's grand slam

The Mariners have outscored their opponents, 50-14, during their longest winning streak since July 2013. Walker became the latest pitcher to contribute to that run, as he was perfect for five innings before Kaleb Cowart reached on a throwing error on shortstop Ketel Marte with two out in the sixth.

Kole Calhoun broke up the 24-year-old's no-hit bid with a leadoff single in the seventh, and Albert Pujols added another single one out later, but Walker was nicked for just a ninth-inning base hit by Nick Buss the rest of the way and finished with no walks and a career-high-tying 11 strikeouts.

Walker loses perfect-game bid

Walker, who threw a one-hitter against the Twins in 2015, is 6-10 with a 4.32 ERA this season. He needed 113 pitches for the third complete game of his career and first shutout.

"It starts with Taijuan Walker and ends with Taijuan Walker," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "This is my first year doing this, but I've been around players for a long time, and I couldn't be any prouder of him and the job Mel Stottlemyre has done with him over a short amount of time. It goes to show you what kind of athlete and special talent he is."

Rookie Alex Meyer, working on a pitch count in his second start for the Angels, gave up four runs on five hits in four innings as he fell to 0-2 with an 8.18 ERA. The 6-foot-9 right-hander allowed home runs to Nelson Cruz and Norichika Aoki before being lifted after 76 pitches. The Halos are 1-6 while scoring just 13 runs over their last seven games in falling to 63-81.

Aoki's solo home run

Cruz launch party: The Mariners continued to mash home runs, and Cruz again led the way with a monster blast out of the park in left field to give Seattle a 2-0 lead in the first. The big DH leads the Mariners with 36 home runs, and nine of those have come in 18 games against the Angels. This one came with some extra sizzle on it, as the man who goes by Boomstick unloaded on a 93-mph fastball by Meyer for Seattle's 200th homer of the season. They finished the game with 202 -- thanks to Aoki and Smith -- the franchise's most homers in a season since 1999. More >

"Loud," Servais said of Cruz's shoot. "That was about as well-struck of a ball as you can get. The fact that ball didn't hook, he absolutely stayed inside of it. Edgar [Martinez, hitting coach] even smiled on that one. It was awesome. He really smoked it."

Cruz's two-run jack

Trout takes one away: Angels start center fielder Mike Trout made an athletic catch in center field to take a hit away from Mike Zunino and prevent a run from scoring in the top of the third inning. Trout raced back on Zunino's sharp liner, made a leaping grab, landed on his feet and then crashed into the fence.

"It was fun," Trout said. "I had to get up and jump and made a catch. I thought I was going to catch it without jumping, but the ball took off. He hit that well." More >

Trout's leaping catch

Walker finds answers: The Mariners' right-hander has struggled mightily in the past against the AL West-rival Angels, and most specifically against Trout, who was 9-for-11 with three home runs against him coming in. But Walker struck out Trout three times. He got Trout looking at a 96-mph fastball in the first, then came back from a 2-0 count to whiff him again in the fourth -- this time on a nasty 79-mph curve. And in the seventh, after Calhoun broke up the no-hitter, Walker froze Trout again with a 76-mph curve.

"He's pretty much had my number all year," Walker said. "It felt good to just go out there and be aggressive. I was using my curveball a lot and trusting [catcher Zunino] back there. He kept calling for the curveball. Even after the two at-bats, we threw a lot to him and went back to it his third at-bat."

Walker discusses shutout

"From where we were 10 days ago to where we are tonight, I'm OK with it. But anytime you get that close, you get the feeling this could be a really special night. He had no-hitter-type stuff, there's no doubt about it. Nobody wants to mention that word in the dugout or anything else, but you start to feel it, especially when he's so dominant against the middle of their lineup." -- Servais, on Walker losing his no-hit bid in the seventh

Walker loses no-hitter

"It was like night and day." -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia, when asked what was different about Walker from the last time his club faced him

Walker didn't get the no-hitter, but Seattle still has three of the last four no-no's in the AL -- by Hisashi Iwakuma in 2015, Felix Hernandez's perfect game in 2012 and a combined no-hitter by Kevin Millwood and five relievers in 2012.

The Mariners successfully challenged an out call on on a Cruz grounder to second baseman Cowart in the fourth. After a brief review, the call was overturned and Cruz was awarded an infield single.

Mariners challenge play

In the game's first review, the Angels unsuccessfully challenged a play at first base in the bottom of the third. With one out and the bases empty, Carlos Perez hit a grounder to third and was ruled out on a close play. The Angels challenged and the call was confirmed.

Seager throws out Perez

Mariners: Iwakuma (15-11, 3.96 ERA) closes out the series at Angel Stadium on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. PT as he shoots for his career-best 16th win. The 35-year-old right-hander is 0-2 with a 3.49 ERA in four starts against the Halos this season, but is 8-5, with a 2.90 ERA in 18 games against the division rival in his career. The game will be televised on both ROOT Sports and ESPN.

Angels: Jhoulys Chacin will start for the Angels in Wednesday's finale of a three-game series against the Mariners. Chacin is starting in place of left-hander Tyler Skaggs, who was scratched because of left forearm tightness. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

Austin Laymance is a reporter for based in Los Angeles. He covered the Angels on Tuesday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.