As it turned out, the Tacoma Rainiers needed only one run to get Taijuan Walker a win in his Triple-A debut.
That came courtesy of Abraham Almonte’s two-out solo home run in the fifth inning to secure the Rainiers’ 1-0 win over the Fresno Grizzlies on Tuesday night in front of 2,673 fans at Cheney Stadium.
Offense was hard to come by for both teams. They combined for eight hits (five by the Rainiers) one night after Tacoma’s 15-hit outburst in a 14-4 win.
Meanwhile, the 20-year-old Walker dazzled in his first game since being called up from Double-A Jackson on June 22. He threw six shutout innings, giving up three hits, striking out four and walking two on 87 pitches.
Walker said his outing was “very encouraging,” and it began with a strikeout of Gary Brown on three pitches to start the game.
“Going out there and throwing shutout innings is always fun,” Walker said. “It keeps the confidence up. Something to build on to move forward.”
Rainiers manager John Stearns said Walker has matured physically – and mentally – from a year ago.
“He was in charge of the game from start to finish,” Stearns said. “To think he’s here doing this at age 20 at this level, you can really fantasize about what is going to happen.”
Tacoma’s Brad Miller went 1-for-4 with a fifth-inning single to extend his Pacific Coast League-best hitting streak to 21 games. The club record is 26.
Carlos Peguero went 2-for-3 and added his third double in two games and is 6-for-7 with three extra-base hits in the Rainiers’ past two wins.
HULTZEN BACK THURSDAY
Left-hander Danny Hultzen, who has been sidelined with a left rotator cuff injury, is scheduled to make his first start Thursday for the Rainiers since April 19 to open a four-game series against Las Vegas. Hultzen threw five innings with eight strikeouts in a rehab start in Arizona on June 22. In four starts in Triple-A, Hultzen is 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA and 25 strikeouts over 222/3 innings. He was the No. 2 overall pick in 2011.
The Rainiers have Wednesday off and resume an 11-game homestand with the first of four games against Las Vegas 51s, starting at 7:05 p.m. Thursday. Hultzen goes up against right-hander Chris Schwinden (3-7, 6.37 ERA). The game will be broadcast on 850-AM and at www.tacomarainiers.com.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com @megwochnick