SEATTLE — For three innings on a chilly Thursday afternoon at T-Mobile Park, it seemed Mariners starter Taijuan Walker was locked in for another quality performance after tossing seven shutout innings during Seattle’s home-opening win over the Oakland A’s last week.
He worked quickly and confidently through the Los Angeles Angels’ lineup, retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced.
The only mistake was leaving up a splitter that Shohei Ohtani sent over the fence in left to give the Angels an early one-run lead.
“I went back and looked at it. It was just middle, middle away, on the plate still. Good hitter,” Walker said. “I mean, it was a mistake pitch, 1-0, his count. I need to get that down a little lower.”
But, everything unraveled for Walker in the fourth.
A leadoff single allowed to Mike Trout and two walks gave the Angels the bases loaded with no outs. Tommy La Stella poked a single to right to score a pair of runs. A sac fly from Max Stassi pushed across another.
Walker hit a batter and issued his third walk of the inning to load the bases for a second time before he was pulled. He threw just 69 pitches.
The Mariners never caught up in a 6-1 loss in the series finale, and dropped to 5-9 on the season.
Walker threw just 69 pitches days after pumping 94 in his win over Oakland, when he allowed a single hit and struck out eight.
“I feel like I kind of beat myself today, getting behind. Three walks in one inning, hit by pitch, that’s not going to get the job done,” Walker said. “But I felt good. I know what I did wrong. I know I can fix it and get ready for the next start.”
Rookie reliever Joey Gerber, who was promoted Wednesday, was impressive again in his second appearance in as many days.
The 23-year-old needed only one pitch to clean up Walker’s jam in the fourth, getting a grounder from David Fletcher to end the inning.
Daniel Vogelbach, the Mariners’ home run leader last season with 30, checked in with his first long ball of the year in the bottom half of the inning. But, his solo shot was the only run Seattle managed. The Mariners logged just four hits against Angels starter Dylan Bundy, who notched his first complete game of the season.
Gerber threw a scoreless fifth, and got to face Trout — and got him to ground out to short — after he was disappointed not to see him in his debut inning Wednesday.
Taylor Guilbeau and Dan Altavilla also tossed scoreless frames for Seattle in the sixth and seventh.
But, the Angels tacked on two more runs in the eighth to push the Mariners out of reach. La Stella opened the frame with a leadoff double against Nestor Cortes, and Stassi added the insurance three batters later by crushing a two-run homer to left to make it 6-1.
Prior to the game, the Mariners optioned RHP Bryan Shaw and IF/OF José Marmolejos to their alternate training site. All teams had to reduce their rosters from 30 players to 28 on Thursday.