If this was it for Taijuan Walker — and that’s still to be determined — then this was a terrific way to close to the season.
Walker turned in seven dominant innings Monday as the Mariners kept their flickering postseason hopes alive with a 10-1 victory against the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field.
The Mariners continue to monitor Walker’s innings; he’s now up to a career-high 169 2/3 after throwing just 129 last season over multiple levels.
But, boy, there was no sign of fatigue Monday from Walker against the Angels. He gave up one run and four hits while striking out seven and walking none in a tight 96-pitch performance.
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The Mariners backed Walker (11-8) with a 12-hit attack that included a two-run homer and a RBI double from Seth Smith when the game was still in doubt.
Robinson Cano had two hits, including a two-run double in a six-run seventh inning that turned the game into a rout. Mark Trumbo and Shawn O’Malley, a pair of former Angels, each had two hits.
The six runs matched a season high for a single inning; the Mariners also scored six in the third inning on Sept. 4 in an 11-8 victory at Oakland.
The tentative plan is for the Mariners to skip Walker on their next cycle through the rotation and then re-evaluate. And that might hinge on whether the Mariners can claw their way back into postseason contention.
That remains a long shot even after winning for the ninth time in 13 games. The Mariners are 70-75 with 17 games remaining and trail Texas by seven games for the final American League wild-card berth.
But ... the Mariners head to Texas this weekend for a three-game series.
Angels starter Garrett Richards (13-11) labored through 100 pitches in five innings while giving up four runs on five hits and four walks. The Mariners’ six-run seventh came against Cory Rasmus and Cesar Ramos.
Walker breezed through the first inning with two strikeouts but quickly found trouble in the second when singles by David Murphy and C.J. Cron runners at first and third with no outs.
The Angels settled for one run when Erick Aybar grounded into a double play. That was all they would get against Walker, and the Mariners struck back later in the inning against Richards.
After Cano worked back from a 1-2 hole for a leadoff walk, Seth Smith crushed a 2-0 fastball for an estimated 408-foot drive to right for a two-run homer.
The Mariners weren’t done.
Trumbo reached on an infield single when Aybar couldn’t make a clean glove-to-hand exchange after a nice pickup. Trumbo went to second on Logan Morrison’s squibber to the mound.
O’Malley, from Southridge High in Kennewick, legged out an infield single to first as Trumbo took third. Richards then bounced a (blockable) pitch past catcher Carlos Perez that scored Trumbo for a 3-1 lead.
After Ketel Marte drew a two-out walk, Perez tried to pick off O’Malley at second, but the ball skipped and hit O’Malley in the head. O’Malley remained in the game.
Walker gave up a two-out infield single in the third to Mike Trout — but then picked him off before delivering a pitch to Albert Pujols.
Smith pushed the lead to 4-1 with an RBI double in the fifth. Nelson Cruz drew a two-out walk and went to second on Cano’s single to left before Smith sent a drive the hit the center-field wall.
A healthy Cano scores easily, but the Mariners settled for one run.
Cano’s two-run double came in the seventh against reliever Rasmus after one-out singles by Kyle Seager and Cruz put runners at first and third. James Jones replaced Cruz and scored from first.
Trumbo’s two-out double off the top of the center-field wall scored pinch-runner Stefen Romero.
The rout continued with an RBI single from O’Malley, a run-scoring wild pitch on John Hicks’ swinging third strike.
Marte added an RBI double before the inning ended.
TUESDAY: Angels (RHP Nick Tropeano: 1-2, 5.66 ERA) at Mariners (RHP Felix Hernandez: 17-8, 3.49), 7:10 p.m., Root Sports, 710-AM, 1030-AM