Rainiers' Taijuan Walker knocked around

andy.bixler@thenewstribune.comJune 20, 2014 

Taijuan Walker suffered through a difficult start for the Tacoma Rainiers against Colorado Springs on Thursday night in a game that was in extra innings at The News Tribune’s deadline.

It was the Rainiers’ longest game of the season, and Walker ran into trouble almost immediately upon taking the mound.

Considered the Mariners’ top pitching prospect, Walker gave up a single to Rafael Ynoa, the first batter he faced, and never seemed to have his best stuff, despite getting out of the inning with no damage done.

And it looked like Ty Kelly, the Rainiers’ leader in RBIs this season with 43, would have Walker’s back when he roped a single that scored Justin Smoak from second in the bottom half of the first.

But Walker gave up the lead on a three-run home run to catcher Michael Ramirez in the second, although he was only responsible for two of those runs — an error by Chris Taylor at shortstop put a runner on base who eventually scored.

Jesus Sucre then put Tacoma ahead again, launching a two-run home run over the fence in left to put the Rainiers up, 4-3.

But things didn’t get any better for Walker in the third. After another error by Taylor put Tim Smalling on base, Walker gave up two straight hits, allowing two more runs to score.

Walker briefly looked like he found the strike zone when he struck out the side in the top of the fourth inning. But he lost it again in the fifth, when he turned around and gave up another two-run homer, this time to Angelys Nina, which put the Sky Sox up, 7-4.

Walker lasted only five innings, finishing with six hits and four earned runs to go with one walk and four strikeouts. He threw 87 pitches, 56 for strikes.

Optioned to Tacoma on June 10 after starting the season on Seattle’s 15-day DL, the righty has made four starts for the Rainiers this season.

A solo home run by Xavier Nady in the fifth and RBIs by Abraham Almonte and Nick Franklin in the eighth gave the Rainiers a 7-7 tie heading into the ninth.

ON TAP

The Rainiers wrap up their series with Colorado Springs at 7:05 p.m. Friday at Cheney Stadium. Right-hander Matt Palmer (1-3, 3.46 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Rainiers against left-hander Pedro Hernandez (5-3, 5.92). The game can be heard on 850-AM.

andy.bixler@thenewstribune.com

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