Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Walker, Griffin face off to wrap AL West clash

Their first starts were an early indication this could be a big year for both the Mariners' Taijuan Walker and Rangers' A.J. Griffin.
The two right-handers will face each other on Wednesday afternoon in the final of the three-game series at Safeco Field. Both will be trying to build off their strong first outings of the season.
Griffin, who missed all of 2014-15 while recovering from Tommy John elbow-reconstruction surgery and some minor shoulder issues, pitched against the Angels on Friday night and allowed three runs in six innings. It was his first Major League victory since Sept. 12, 2013.
"It was good to know that I can go out there and play at this level," Griffin said. "I want to continue on that track, throw more innings and help the team win ballgames. I wouldn't say I had doubts. ... I expect good things when I go out there. I have always been a guy who just does it and doesn't worry about it."
Walker started the Mariners' home opener on Friday against the Athletics and allowed two runs in seven innings. The Athletics rallied to win in the ninth inning but it was still a promising beginning for Walker.
"I got into some jams, but was able to work out of them and get some big double plays," Walker said. "I feel that's kind of where I've matured this year, just controlling my emotions and making good pitches when I need."
Walker is 23 and was the 43rd overall pick in the 2010 Draft. He made 29 starts last season and was 11-8 with a 4.56 ERA over 169 innings.
Both pitchers are strike-throwers who can give up the home run. Walker averaged 2.12 walks per nine innings last year, the 12th lowest in the American League. But he gave up 25 home runs or 1.33 for every nine innings, the third highest in the AL.
In '13 while pitching with the Athletics, Griffin walked 2.43 batters per nine innings, the 15th lowest in the league. But he also led the AL with 36 home runs allowed.
Worth noting
• Adam Lind will be back in the Mariners' lineup against Griffin. Lind is expected to get the majority of time at first base this year as he's in a platoon situation with right-handed hitting Dae-Ho Lee, but the Mariners have faced five left-handed starters early in the season. Manager Scott Servais said, "He's got to get a little more consistent in his at-bats. He just hasn't been able to run out there for three, four, five consecutive days yet."
• Rougned Odor is 5-for-8 in his career against Walker while both Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder are 4-for-8.
• Griffin is 19-0 in his career when he gets four or more runs of offensive support.
• The Mariners are getting back-to-back starts from two pitchers born in Louisiana. Tuesday's starter Wade Miley was born in Hammond and Walker was born in Shreveport. The Mariners have had 11 pitchers born in Louisiana with Gi Meche (Lafayette) the leader with 143 starts and Norm Charlton (Fort Polk) first with 249 appearances.

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