Taijuan Walker’s return to the Mariners’ rotation Tuesday mirrored his season. There were tantalizing moments of promise that faded into disappointment. And a 5-1 loss to the New York Yankees.
Walker permitted just one hit through four innings, although that hit cost him a run, but he started the fifth by yielding a line-drive double to Ronald Torreyes.
Then came a two-run homer by Jacoby Ellsbury, whom Walker struck out in two previous at-bats. The Yankees had a 3-1 lead, added another run in the sixth inning, and that was it.
New York veteran left-hander CC Sabathia (8-10) delivered a turn-back-the-clock effort in limiting the Mariners to one run and three hits in seven innings before Tommy Layne and Dellin Betances closed the victory.
So it wasn’t just Walker. A punchless attack gets a portion of the blame. So, too, does a defense that coughed up two unearned runs.
The combination resulted in a loss that dropped the Mariners to two games behind Baltimore in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth with 37 games remaining.
The Mariners recalled Walker (4-8) earlier Tuesday from Triple-A Tacoma, where he served a two-start remedial tour after a disappointing Aug. 6 effort against the Angels.
Walker balked at the demotion, which came after he made just one start following a month-long stay on the disabled list because of tendinitis in his right foot.
Even so, he pitched well at Tacoma, which made him the obvious choice when an injury-thinned rotation forced the Mariners to sift through possibilities for a starting pitcher.
So this was an opportunity. A wasted one. Walker gave up four runs (three earned) in 5 2/3 innings. Not awful. Just not what he or the Mariners needed.
The game’s first run scored after a two-out error by third baseman Kyle Seager in the second inning. Walker then walked Aaron Hicks before Torreyes yanked an RBI double to left.
Walker limited the damage by striking out Ellsbury with runners at second and third.
Sabathia retired the first seven Mariners before Leonys Martin flicked a drive into the right-field corner that bounced away from Aaron Judge for a one-out triple in the third inning. Ketel Marte sent a broken-bat grounder up the middle through a shortened infield for an RBI single that tie the score 1-1. The Mariners got nothing more.
The Yankees boosted their lead to 4-1 in the sixth after Mark Teixeira’s leadoff double. He went to third on a grounder and scored on Judge’s sacrifice fly.
Notes – Seattle right-hander Tony Zych was recalled from a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma and activated off the 60-day disabled list. Zych was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 10 early season relief appearances before going on the 15-day DL (right rotator cuff tendinitis) in early May. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 24. To make room for Walker, the Mariners optioned right-hander Cody Martin to Tacoma. Infielder-outfielder Stefen Romero, who was called up Friday, also was sent back to Tacoma.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.