"Going into the Houston start, I was really anxious to see him out there because I really wanted to see what he had," McClendon said. "I left that start with a very good feeling, and when we got here, I was anxious to see this start. I'm excited about him moving forward and obviously he's taken a big step. There's a lot of work to be done, and I'm sure he'll continue to get better."
Walker finished the year with a 2-3 record and a 2.61 ERA in eight games, including five starts. His eight innings against the Blue Jays was a career best, as he'd never gone beyond six in his previous seven big league starts.
"That was a good start to end the regular season on," Walker said. "I felt good the last two starts and I was in a pretty good groove. It's something to build on for next year."
Wednesday's game finished in one hour and 59 minutes, the quickest American League game since the Rays beat the Royals in one hour and 53 minutes on Aug. 9, 2011. Mark Buehrle pitched efficiently while allowing Seattle just three hits, and Walker tossed a four-hitter pitching at an equally quick pace.
"It was a big game and Buehrle was pitching a great game, too," said Walker. "So I had to go out there and pretty much keep up with him and put up zeros. It definitely was a confidence builder, going eight innings, the longest of my career. Everything felt good."
McClendon said that quick approach was a positive sign as well.
"His pace was real good in Houston, too," McClendon said. "He just got the ball and got right back on the mound. Not a lot of thinking, just competing, and that's good."
Paxton has gone 6-4 with a 3.03 ERA in 12 starts after missing nearly four months. He'll make his final regular-season start Saturday against the Angels at Safeco Field.
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.