Taijuan Walker left a start early for the third time this season with the same foot problem on Tuesday night against the Houston Astros, leaving the Seattle Mariners searching for how to eliminate the issue.
Luis Valbuena hit a solo homer and Colby Rasmus and rookie A.J. Reed added two-run shots in the fourth inning to back up a solid start by Dallas Keuchel and give the Astros a 5-2 victory.
Walker (4-7) yielded five hits and five runs before leaving after four innings with discomfort in his right foot. He also left early on June 14 and June 19 because of his foot.
“Taijuan obviously still isn’t quite right,” manager Scott Servais said. “He struggled, and he’s trying to pitch through it, but we probably have to re-evaluate where we are at here. We will have it looked at again.”
Walker is frustrated that this has lingered for so long.
“I feel like I just haven’t had my best stuff,” Walker said. “My (velocity’s) down. My change-up isn’t as sharp. Nothing is really as sharp just because I can’t get into my legs and get after it. It’s probably not best for me to go out there and pitch because I can’t give it 100 percent.”
Keuchel (6-9), last year’s American League’s Cy Young Award winner who has struggled this season, allowed five hits and two runs in six innings for his season-high third straight win. Will Harris, who was named to his first All-Star team on Tuesday, pitched a scoreless ninth for his ninth save.
The Astros trailed by one in the fourth inning when Rasmus launched his homer off Walker (4-7) to the bullpen in right-center field to make it 3-2. Valbuena drew a walk before, with two outs and two strikes, Reed hit his second career homer to left-center to extend it to 5-2.
“First two innings, was good. I was able to drive,” Walker said. “After the second inning, I had no legs. Everything was up. Everything was running back to the plate. I just couldn’t drive it in there.”
Nelson Cruz homered for the Mariners, who dropped their second straight to Houston.
The three home runs Walker allowed tied a career-high and all were by left-handers. He’s been plagued by homers by lefties this season and 13 of the 18 homers he has allowed have been to them.
Dae-Ho Lee singled with one out in the second before a double by Kyle Seager. The Mariners took a 1-0 lead on an RBI groundout by Chris Iannetta.
Valbuena’s homer, which landed in the second deck in right field, came with two outs in the bottom of the inning to tie it at 1-all.
Cruz’s 22nd home run gave Seattle a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning.
He was shaken up in the sixth inning when he fouled a ball off his left foot and leg. He limped around the plate for a couple of minutes while talking to Servais and a trainer before staying in the game to finish his at-bat.
“He’s sore. I expect that he will be in there (Wednesday),” Servais said. “He is going to be a little bit sore no doubt. He smoked the ball off the top of his foot.”
Hot in here – The air conditioning in Minute Maid Park was off for about three innings on Tuesday night because of a power outage outside of the building. It had been off for a bit when the team’s official Twitter account announced the problem at about 9 p.m. with the temperature outside the ballpark a balmy 86 degrees. Many people could be seen fanning themselves with their hands or pieces of paper as the temperature in the domed ballpark began to rise. Another tweet came in the eighth inning saying the problem was fixed and the air conditioning was back on.
Trainer’s room – Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez will throw a simulated game Wednesday. Servais said Hernandez will throw 45 pitches. Hernandez has been on the disabled list with a strained right calf since June 1.