PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Taijuan Walker faced his first bit of trouble so far in spring training but escaped a second-inning jam to help the Seattle Mariners defeat the Cleveland Indians 5-2 on Thursday night.
Walker, unscored upon in eight innings entering his fourth start of the spring, struck out five in four shutout innings. He walked two, gave up two hits and hit a batter with a pitch, but didn’t damage his bid to make the Mariners’ opening-day rotation.
“I was up with the fastball and threw too many fastballs,” Walker said. “Everything’s feeling good. Just that one inning I got in trouble, so I have to try to fix that and limit that, but I feel strong.”
Kyle Seager had three hits and Robinson Cano drove in two runs with a fifth-inning double for the Mariners. Dustin Ackley went 2 for 3 with two RBIs, raising his spring average to .455.
“Guys got some good swings on the ball and we were able to find some outfield grass,” Ackley said.
Ackley drove in the Mariners’ first run with second-inning single off Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco, who allowed a run and six hits in 3 2-3 innings. He struck out two and walked two.
Michael Brantley tied the game at 1 in the fifth with a two-out RBI single.
Ackley made a diving catch in left field to end the second inning.
Cleveland third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall took a hit away from Seth Smith in the third. Chisenhall lunged to his right for a hard-hit ball down the line and made a strong throw to first to get Smith.
The Indians turned a first-to-home-to-first double play in the fourth with no outs and the bases loaded.
Indians: Carrasco said he felt good about his outing after missing his last scheduled start due to illness. “More importantly, I think I hit my spots and I used more of my breaking pitches,” he said.
Mariners: Walker said he was able to better locate his fastball in the third and fourth. He threw 13 more pitches in the bullpen after his outing ended.
Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon has been impressed with the 22-year-old, who is among at least four candidates for a rotation spot. “He’s doing a nice job. He’s shown a lot of poise in camp from a pitching standpoint,” McClendon said. “He’s thrown more strikes. I’ve been very pleased. … We’ll see what happens.”
Indians: 2B Jason Kipnis was scratched from the lineup with back spasms and replaced by Erik Gonzalez. … INF Mike Aviles is day to day with right elbow soreness and did not travel to the game.
Mariners: OF Franklin Gutierrez is dealing with a groin injury that has limited him to five at-bats in two games. “He’s coming along, obviously not as fast as we would like,” McClendon said. Gutierrez is day to day.
McClendon was asked before the game about the perception of Safeco Field, home of the Mariners in Seattle, being a big park where it’s difficult to produce offense.
“It’s false,” McClendon said. “Go to Comerica (in Detroit) if you want to see a big ballpark. … Safeco’s not a big place. It used to be big. It’s not big anymore.
“It looks big when you’ve got guys that have their puppy muscles,” McClendon added. “They get their man muscles and it becomes small. It’ll be small for us now.”
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer makes his fourth spring training start Friday night in Goodyear against the Los Angeles Angels.
Mariners: LHP Roenis Elias, among those competing for a spot in the rotation, makes his third start and fourth appearance of the spring Friday against the Texas Rangers in Surprise.
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