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Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

June 25, 2013 at 6:58 PM

Game thread, Rainiers vs. Grizzlies: Taijuan Walker’s Triple-A debut

Taijuan Walker, flanked by Alex Liddi, Rich Poythress and local kids during national anthem.

Taijuan Walker, flanked by Alex Liddi, Rich Poythress and local kids during national anthem.

Taijuan Walker's first pitch for the Rainiers.

Taijuan Walker’s first pitch for the Rainiers.

It’s over: Mariners win, 1-0 and Walker gets the victory in his debut.

Walker is done for the night, as Josh Kinney takes over in the seventh. Superb debut: six innings, three hits, no runs, two walks, four strikeouts. He was in complete control all night. 87 pitches, 56 strikes.

FRESNO SIXTH: With two outs, Walker gave up a walk and a single, the first time he’s had two baserunners in an inning. But he got out of it on a grounder to Miller for a force at second. He’s through 6 shutout innings, working on a three-hitter. Attendance is 2,673. Walker is at 87 pitches, 56 strikes. 1-0 Rainiers.

TACOMA FIFTH: Almonte tucks a homer inside the RF foul pole for a 1-0 Tacoma lead. Brad Miller follows with a single to extend his hitting streak to 21 games — five off the Tacoma record.

FRESNO FIFTH: Walker gives up his second hit of the game (and first since the first inning), a two-out single by Chris Dominguez. But he strikes out Carter Jurica looking at a beautiful curve, his second K of the inning and fourth of the game. Through five, a two-hit shutout. 0-0

FRESNO FOURTH: Walker continues to breeze, getting three routine fly outs. He’s working on a two-hit shutout through four, and is at just 56 pitches.

TACOMA THIRD: Runners on the corners with two outs, but Alex Liddi struck out. Big hit of the inning was a double off the left-field wall by Leury (pronounced Larry, I just learned) Bonilla. Still scoreless.

FRESNO THIRD: Walker’s velocity seems to be getting better, as he hit 97 mph this inning and was consistently at 94-96. He got two quick outs on grounders to short before issuing his first walk on a 3-2 pitch. Then he got a routine fly to center. Twice in that inning I thought he had a batter struck out but didn’t get the call. That was a 14-pitch inning, bringing his total to 43 (27 strikes).

TACOMA SECOND: For the second straight inning, the Rainiers couldn’t do anything with a leadoff walk, this one to Carlos Peguero, who stole second on strike three to Nate Tenbrink. 0-0

FRESNO SECOND: Another impressive inning for Walker — he gets Roger Kieschnick to line out to left on the first pitch, retires Cole Gillespie on a grounder to short (Brad Miller doing a nice job to stay with a bad hop), and then strikes out Todd Linden looking at curve. Walker fell behind 3-0, fired in two 95 mph fastballs for strikes, then caught the outside corner with the bender (though Linden argued the call). 0-0. That’s 29 pitches, 19 strikes. Walker’s pitch count tonight is between 90 and 100.

TACOMA FIRST: Abraham Almonte — who is just as short but stockier than I thought — led off with a walk and stole second, but Brad Miller, riding a 20-game hitting streak that has raised his average to .354, struck out. Almonte was then thrown out trying to steal third (they say not to make the first and last out at third; I guess the second out is acceptable). Alex Liddi flied out. 0-0

FRESNO FIRST: Perhaps it’s an omen, but the rain stopped and patches of blue appeared about the time Walker took the mound. He got off to a dazzling start, striking out leadoff hitter Gary Brown on three pitches — fastballs 93 to 95 mph. The second hitter, Kensuke Tanaka, singled up the middle on a 2-2 pitch, but Johnny Monell popped out to shallow right, and Brett Pill — whose spent time in the big leagues with the Giants this year — grounded out to shortstop. Walker got his fastball up to 96 mph in the inning but was mostly sitting 93 to 95. He mixed in some off-speed pitches, including a curveball that was nearly a called strike three.

Here are the lineups:

Fresno

Gary Brown 8

Kensuke Tanaka DH

Johnny Monell 2

Brett Pill 3

Roger Kieschnick 9

Cole Gillespie 4

Todd Linden 7

Chris Dominguez 5

Carter Jurica 6

Austin Fleet RHP

Tacoma

Abraham Almonte 8

Brett Miller 6

Alex Liddi 5

Carlos Peguero 9

Rich Poythress 3

Nate Tenbrink 7

Robert Andino 4

Jason Jaramillo 2

Leury Bonilla DH

Taijuan Walker RHP

It’s a very small crowd so far at Cheney Stadium, probably due to the weather. It’s been drizzling, and BP was cut short. But the tarp has been rolled up and it looks like they’re going to start the game on time.

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