Seattle Mariners

Walker’s season ‘likely’ over; Nuno to start Friday for Mariners

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Taijuan Walker throws against the Texas Rangers during the first inning on Sept. 8. Walker will likely sit out the remainder of the season after pitching 169
2/3 innings.
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Taijuan Walker throws against the Texas Rangers during the first inning on Sept. 8. Walker will likely sit out the remainder of the season after pitching 169 2/3 innings. The Associated Press

Taijuan Walker’s season appears to be over — and that isn’t likely to change no matter what happens going forward with James Paxton’s troublesome finger.

Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon didn’t completely rule out Walker from another start prior to Thursday’s series finale against the Royals but conceded, “Taijuan is most likely done for the year.”

The issue is one of workload.

Walker, 23, has pitched a career-high 169 2/3 innings after being limited to 129 innings at all levels a year ago. Clubs are generally hesitant for young pitchers to go much beyond a 30-inning increase.

“I weighed a lot of things,” McClendon said. “Ensuring that he’s healthy and goes into next season feeling good about what he’s accomplished this year, that outweighed everything else.”

Even so, McClendon withheld a decision until Thursday — one day after a 4-3 loss to Kansas City in 10 innings stalled the Mariners’ late-season charge by dropping them to 74-78.

How much that loss swayed McClendon’s decision isn’t certain but, had the Mariners won, Walker said he expected to start Friday against the Angels in Anaheim, California..

“I was getting ready to pitch Friday,” he said. “We had a tough loss (Wednesday). If we would have won, I would have pitched.”

McClendon only admitted it would have been “tougher” to bypass Walker had the Mariners won and moved closer to Houston in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth.

Instead, the Mariners (74-78) entered Thursday trailing the Astros by 5 1/2 games with 10 games remaining. Houston had an open date in the schedule.

Lefty swingman Vidal Nuno will now start Friday at Anaheim and will likely draw another start Wednesday against Houston at Safeco Field.

If Walker is done, he finishes his first full big-league season at 11-8 with a 4.56 ERA in 29 starts. He recovered from a disappointing start by going 10-3 with a 3.62 ERA in his final 20 starts.

“I learned a lot,” he said, “about using my off-speed and mixing pitches. Just competing. That was the biggest thing. Learning how to compete. And how to just stick with it.

“I had a couple of bad starts, but if you keep working hard, eventually you’ll get rewarded.”

MILLER’S LEARNING CURVE

Converted shortstop Brad Miller drew a third consecutive start Thursday in center field; his 11th start there in 21 games since an Aug. 31 trade sent Austin Jackson to the Chicago Cubs.

His comfort level?

“Marginally a little better,” Miller said. “It hasn’t been too much time, and it’s still obviously new. Just trying to get as many reps as I can.”

The change coincides with a uptick in his production.

Miller is batting .333 (18 for 54) since Jackson departed. His overall average is up to .255, and his homer in Tuesday’s victory was his career-tying best 10th of the season. Miller also had 10 home runs in 2014.

WORKING OVERTIME

The Mariners set a franchise record Wednesday by playing their 22nd extra-inning game in a 4-3 loss to Kansas City in 10 innings.

They are 10-12 in those games.

The Mariners’ previous high was 21 extra-inning games in 2013 (6-15) and 1982 (9-12). The record low is seven on three occasions: 2007 (5-2), 2005 (2-5) and 2000 (3-4).

Extra innings, generally, have not been kind to the Mariners in their 39-year history.

They are 239-274 overall in extra innings (.466) and have only posted a winning record in 11 seasons (most recently at 6-5 in 2011). Their best year for extra innings was 1984, when they went 12-4.

LOOKING BACK

It was 24 years ago Friday — Sept. 25, 1991 — that the Mariners passed two million in home attendance for the first time when they drew 27,256 for a 7-1 loss to the Texas Rangers at the Kingdome.

The Mariners finished the season at 2,147,945.

This year’s club has drawn 2,077,078 with six home dates remaining. The franchise record is 3,540,482 in 2002.

SHORT HOPS

Rookie shortstop Ketel Marte opened the game with a bunt single that extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He is batting .396 (19 for 48) in that span and has raised his average from .261 to .297. … Outfielder James Jones turned 27 years old. … The Mariners, at 40-38, need one victory this weekend at Anaheim to clinch successive years with a winning road record. They haven’t done that since a four-year run from 2000-03.

ON TAP

The Mariners open their final road series of the season at 7:05 p.m. Friday when they play the first of three weekend games against the Angels in Anaheim.

Lefty swingman Vidal Nuno (1-3, 3.64 ERA) will face Los Angeles right-hander Garrett Richards (14-11, 3.73).

The Mariners conclude the season next week with six games at Safeco Field: three games against Houston and three against Oakland.

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com

blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners

@TNT_Mariners

MARINERS IN EXTRA INNINGS

Year

Extra-inning

games

Record

2015*

22

10-12

2014

11

4-7

2013

21

6-15

2012

15

5-10

2011

11

6-5

2010

14

3-11

2009

16

9-7

2008

12

5-7

2007

7

5-2

2006

16

8-8

2005

7

2-5

2004

17

11-6

2003

12

6-6

2002

17

11-6

2001

13

9-4

2000

7

3-4

1999

11

5-6

1998

8

3-5

1997

11

4-7

1996

11

7-4

1995

10

4-6

1994

11

6-5

1993

17

8-9

1992

14

5-9

1991

19

9-10

1990

10

4-6

1989

14

6-8

1988

13

6-7

1987

9

4-5

1986

19

8-11

1985

9

6-3

1984

16

12-4

1983

8

2-6

1982

21

9-12

1981

11

6-5

1980

18

9-9

1979

12

4-8

1978

13

5-8

1977

10

4-6

Totals: 39 years

513 games

239-274 record

* through Wednesday

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