THE FACTS: Taijuan Walker’s spring scoreless streak ended at 19 innings when he yielded a leadoff homer in the second inning to Matt Joyce. Other than that, Walker was pretty near flawless over seven innings.
One run, three hits, no walks and five strikeouts. That boosted his spring numbers to 25 innings, one run, nine hits, four walks and 24 strikeouts — which translates to an 0.36 ERA. He is also 3-0.
“I feel really good with all of my pitches,” Walker said. “I feel confident.”
Mike Zunino continued his hot spring with a two-run double in a three-run fourth inning and a leadoff homer in the seventh. The homer was his seventh of the spring. Only just-demoted Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant has more.
Robinson Cano also hit a homer as the Mariners snapped a five-game spring skid and improved to 11-15-2 with four games remaining.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Third baseman Kyle Seager moved to his right to handle Joyce’s sharp grounder when the Mariners overshifted their infield in the fourth inning.
Seager was the only infielder on the left side and positioned roughly where the shortstop normally plays. He made a throw deep from the hole for the out at first.
PLUS: Zunino battled through an eight-pitch at-bat in the fourth inning against Angels starter Nick Tropeano. Zunino fell behind 1-2 in the count but battled back to 3-2 before yanking a two-run double into the left-field corner. His homer came in his next at-bat…Nelson Cruz had two hits in four at-bats…Yoervis Medina pitched a one-two-three eighth innings…Dominic Leone got the final two outs after Charlie Furbush gave up two runs in the ninth.
MINUS: Austin Jackson struck out three times after opening the Mariners’ first inning with a single…Furbush deserved a little better. Kaleb Cowart’s one-out RBI triple was a routine fly that center fielder Austin Cousino lost in the sun. But Furbush gave up two other hits and retired only one batter.
JOB BATTLES: Walker is, apparently, still battling for a job. Manager Lloyd McClendon said “not yet” when asked whether Walker had secured a spot in the rotation.
QUOTABLE: “First time seeing (Tropeano),” Zunino said, “a right-on-right changeup with two strikes, that was a good pitch (for a strikeout). But I was able to see all three (of his pitches) in that first at-bat. So I was able to have an idea in the next two (at-bats).”
EXTRA INNINGS: Right fielder Seth Smith was again scratched because of a sore right ankle. The Mariners shifted Cruz from designated hitter to right field and inserted Rickie Weeks into the lineup as the DH.
McClendon said the original lineup is what he’ll likely use next Monday in the season opener against the Angels at Safeco Field:
Jackson CF, Smith, RF Cano 2B, Cruz DH, Seager 3B, Logan Morrison 1B, Zunino C, Dustin Ackley LF and Brad Miller SS.
UP NEXT: Felix Hernandez gets his final tune-up for opening day when the Mariners travel to play the Cleveland Indians at 1:05 p.m. Tuesday in Goodyear.
Lefty Bruce Chen is scheduled to pitch for the Indians.