Game 99, Blue Jays at Mariners
Taijuan Walker vs. Mark Buehrle, 1:10pm
Taijuan Walker’s had a very strange season, with two distinct slumps and a nice month or two of quality starts. This most recent slump covers his last three starts and 15 1/3 IP – three games in which he’s given up 18 runs and 5 HRs in total. The two games with Detroit highlighted his struggles this year with right-handed bats; righties have a slash line of .281/.340/.492 off of Walker with 10 HRs. Walker’s newfound command of his splitter helped him improve against lefties, but he’s all but abandoned his slider/cutter thing, giving him no real breaking ball. When he’s on, it hasn’t mattered a whole lot, but it still seems like a breaking ball he’ll use and has confidence in should be on his off-season to-do list.
Mark Buerhle is as remarkably consistent as Walker is volatile. This year, Buerhle’s walk rate has plunged below 4%, making him even more…Buerhle than ever. He’s missing fewer bats, though of course that’s never been a big part of his game. He’s also getting more ground balls despite using his four-seam fastball more so than he has in recent years. His sequencing and command are still elite, and he’s tweaked how he uses his change slightly. This has made his change a serious ground ball pitch, and pushed his overall GB% near 50% for the first time since 2008.
More notably, of course, today marks Randy Johnson’s official enshrinement in Cooperstown. I’ll have a post on RJ later.
1: Jackson, CF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Cruz, RF
4: Cano, DH
5: Gutierrez, LF
6: Trumbo, 1B
7: Taylor, 2B
8: Miller, SS
9: Zunino, C
Buehrle doesn’t have much in the way of platoon splits, but several of the M’s bats do, hence the distinctly right-handed line-up.
I can’t believe Ezequiel Carrera homered. I saw a lot of him in Tacoma in 2010 and thought his swing was the least powerful from a mechanical perspective than any other minor leaguer I’d ever seen. That year he hit 0 HRs for the slugging Rainiers, and posted a SLG% of .315 in the PCL. I know he’s homered in the big leagues before, but I simply couldn’t envision it. Thanks to Rodney, I now can. Carrera now has 4 HRs, one off of Chris Tillman, a very homer-prone starter, but the other 3 have all come off of ex-closers – Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, and Joe Nathan.
Tacoma got a walk-off win over Fresno when Jabari Blash homered in the 9th. The Rainiers struggled against Mark Appel, but mounted a furious comeback, scoring 5 in the 8th to take the lead. But Logan Bawcom gave up 2 runs in the 9th to tie the game at 7-7. Blash led off the 9th with his 5th AAA HR, and that was that. Jordan Pries starts today for Tacoma against Fresno’s Brett Oberholtzer.
Montgomery beat Jackson 11-6 despite DJ Peterson’s 7th HR. Misael Siverio gave up 7 runs in 2 2/3 and Jackson just couldn’t crawl out of that hole. Moises Hernandez gets the start for Jackson today against righty Jaime Schultz, who has 114 Ks (but also 71 walks) in 94 1/3 IP on the year.
Bakersfield beat San Jose 7-4 thanks in part to the red-hot Tyler O’Neill’s 19th homer. Tyler Pike had a recurrence of his control problems, walking 4 and K’ing 1 in 3 2/3 IP, but the Blaze bullpen was great, shutting the Giants out the rest of the way. Brett Ash shares the mound with San Jose’s Chase Johnson today.
Kodi Medeiros and Angel Ventura combined on a 4 hit shutout of Clinton. Medeiros only went 3, striking out 1, but Ventura pitched the final 6 innings with 11 Ks and 2 walks. Gianfranco Wawoe’s double was the only XBH for the Lumberkings. Pat Peterson starts today’s game against Wisconsin.
Spokane destroyed the AquaSox 10-1, with Luke Lanphere tossing 7 shutout innings for the Indians. Luiz Gohara struggled for Everett. Braden Bishop had 2 hits, extending his run at the plate – he had a 10 game hitting streak snapped the day before, and has 15 hits in his last 12 games, but is still slugging just .298.