Seattle Mariners

Mariners’ Taijuan Walker closes out dominant spring with 6-3 win over the Rockies



THE FACTS: Right-hander Taijuan Walker closed out a dominant spring Saturday by allowing one run over two innings, while the Mariners closed out a less-than-dominant spring by beating Colorado.

Manager Lloyd McClendon said Walker will draw the fourth start of the season behind righty Felix Hernandez, lefty James Paxton and righty Hisashi Iwakuma. That drops lefty J.A. Happ to the fifth slot.

“We’re just trying to go left-right as much as we can,” McClendon said.

Walker earned his spot by going 4-0 in seven starts while giving up just two runs in 27 innings. The Rockies’ run came when Justin Morneau hit a high fly to right that had just enough carry to clear the right-field wall.

“I feel like I threw my off-speed pitches for strikes (this spring),” Walker said. “I gained a lot of confidence this spring going into the season.”

PLAY OF THE GAME: Logan Morrison provided the Mariners with a 2-0 lead in the second inning by driving an Eddie Butler pitch over the center-field wall after a one-out single by Kyle Seager.

The homer, which came in Morrison’s only at-bat, followed an RBI single in his only at-bat on Friday and allowed him to exit a disappointing spring on an uptick.

“I have to fight being very analytical,” said Morrison, who had 15 hits in 60 at-bats. “I just have to put that on the back burner a little bit.

“Just think, ‘OK, the swing’s not where I want it to be, but it’s still good enough to go out there and compete.’ You’ve just got to be better than the guy on the mound.”

PLUS: Seager had a single and a two-run triple in his two at-bats. ... The Rockies shifted their infield defense against Robinson Cano. While he struck out in his first at-bat, he deftly poked a single to left his next time up. ... Closer Fernando Rodney closed out a scoreless spring by retiring two Rockies hitters in the third inning. He pitched 81/3 innings in nine appearances. ... Minor-league infielder Leury Bonilla led off the eighth with a homer. He had a single in his other at-bat.

MINUS: Lefty Charlie Furbush started the sixth inning by walking two hitters. He struck out the next hitter but ignored runners on a full-count pitch, and the result was a double steal on the strikeout. Both walks later scored when minor leaguer Jabari Blash misplayed a fly ball to left.

JOB BATTLES: The Mariners set their 25-man roster for Monday’s opener shortly after Saturday’s game by making two anticipated moves:

Olson, 25, had been in camp as a nonroster invitee and is expected to retain the No. 66 he wore in spring training.

Taylor’s time is retroactive to March 27.

QUOTABLE: “The haircut freed me up. I don’t have to tuck it into my helmet any more. So that’s good.” — Morrison in citing another reason for snapping his spring slump.

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mariners finished Cactus League play with a record of 13-17-2, their first losing spring since going 12-18-2 in 2010. They were 18-12-3 in 2014.

UP NEXT: The Mariners open the regular season at 1:10 p.m. Monday against the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field.

Right-hander Felix Hernandez (16-5, 2.14 ERA in 2014) will face Angels right-hander Jered Weaver (18-9, 3.59).