Walker cruises through six shutout innings for win in his Blue Jays debut — Toronto Sun

BUFFALO — Soon enough, Taijuan Walker likely will ditch the aqua blue glove he brought with him from the Seattle Mariners. Read More

Walker cruises through six shutout innings for win in his Blue Jays debut — Toronto Sun

BUFFALO — Soon enough, Taijuan Walker likely will ditch the aqua blue glove he brought with him from the Seattle Mariners.

He’s a Toronto Blue Jay now and after six innings of stellar work in his debut with his new team, the big starting pitcher already feels right at home.

Walker cruises through six shutout innings for win in his Blue Jays debut

The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder made a strong first impression with his young and improving teammates, shutting out the Orioles and allowing just four hits on the way o a 5-0 Toronto win.

And more than that, Walker was a formidable figure on the Sahlen Field mound that will be his home for the remainder of the 2020 season.

“He’s a big man and he throws all his pitches for strikes,” Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said in his thumbs-up review. “There’s a presence there.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/q4lJqB7Ogo8?embed_config={%27relatedChannels%27:%20[],%27autonav%27:true}&autoplay=0&playsinline=1

The 92-pitch effort earned Walker the ‘W’ to improve to 3-2 as the Jays extended their winning streak to three games and moved to three games above .500 for the first time since May of 2018.

Though he lamented that his curveball was off, Walker was better than efficient in allowing three walks while striking out four. It didn’t hurt that his new teammates extended the welcome mat in the form of a nice early lead with a pair of runs in the first and three more in the fourth.

While pleased with being able to contribute in his first outing, Walker didn’t overthink the significance of making a strong first impression. He felt welcome when he showed up at the park here on Friday and figured the best way to fit in would be to deal from the mound.

“That’s just unwanted pressure It’s still baseball, still the same game. I just wanted to keep my same game plan and go out there and attack,” Walker said in a Zoom call afterwards. “I just wanted to come in here and pitch and keep the momentum going.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/ge6maZxFE-g?embed_config={%27relatedChannels%27:%20[],%27autonav%27:true}&autoplay=0&playsinline=1

The hope when general manager Ross Atkins acquired Walker was to add stability to the rotation and that the righty would continue to round into the form that made him a steady starter before missing most of 2018 and 2019 due to injury.

Over the half-dozen starts he’s expected to get, the Jays would gladly take much more of what Walker flashed on Saturday.

While still young, the 28-year-old used his injury downtime to recalibrate, with the hope that he could once again become a valued piece to a big-league rotation.

“It gave me a chance to step back from baseball,” Walker said prior to what was his 100th career start and led to the Jays first shutout win of 2020. “I’ve got a young son and I got to spend time with him and really reflect on how I want my career to go moving forward, what kind of player I want to be and what kind of person I want to be in the game.”

Walker didn’t completely abstain from baseball, however. He used the time to focus on some of the best arms in the game.

“I got to watch some of the best pitchers in Gerrit Cole and (Max) Scherzer and all those guys, watch how they attacked and how they went about their business on the mound,” Walker said. “I was able to learn a lot from them.”

The Jays didn’t acquire Walker to be MVP-calibre, like the two pitchers he referenced. But they certainly hope he’ll provide lengthy, efficient starts similar to what he displayed on a cool Buffalo Saturday night.

With the game well in hand and the emotional, week Walker had endured, there was no need to send him out for the seventh. But by not doing so, Montoyo extended his team’s dubious MLB record of not having a starting pitcher make it to the seventh inning to 63 games.

Walker was on board with ending his night when it did. Not only was he traded two days earlier, on Wednesday, Walker was influential in the Mariners postponing of a game in protest of racial injustice and early Friday his father and other relatives get wiped out by Hurricane Laura in Louisiana.

“With nine days off and everything that has unfolded the last nine days, I think it was smart going out there and getting the six innings in and feeling good out there,” said Walker, who received a rousing welcome when he returned to the dugout after the sixth.


It remains to be seen how much damage will result from the uncomfortable image of red-hot reliever Jordan Romano leaving the mound in the eighth inning on Friday due to an injured middle finger in his throwing hand.

The Markham, Ont. native underwent an MRI on Saturday and though the full extent of his injury is not known, the club placed him on the 10-day disabled list.

“When I went to the mound, his finger was numb,” Montoyo said. “He had no feel to it. He couldn’t grip the ball so we had to take him out.”

The grim news on Romano, which MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported could be a two-four week absence, was countered by the fact that injured closer Ken Giles (forearm) continues to progress. Montoyo said that Giles will throw a live batting practice session on Tuesday.


An interesting development on the infield here prior to Jays batting practice on Saturday. In a lengthy defensive drill session, the first-base reps were handled by Rowdy Tellez and recently acquired Daniel Vogelbach. Over at third, it was Guerrero and Travis Shaw splitting the workload … Montoyo has hinted that Guerrero would be ready for third-base action on a “just in case” basis, but this felt like more … Also in the pre-game activity, Bo Bichette was spotted in the outfield doing some light running. The injured shortstop (knee sprain) isn’t rushing back to the lineup, but certainly seems on target for a mid September return … The Jays got some early run support for Walker with a two-run single from Vlad Guerrero Jr., a line drive rocket off the wall in left. The blast extended Guerrero’s consecutive games hitting streak to a career best 11 games … With Romano on the injury list, reliever Sean-Reid Foley was added prior to Saturday’s contest.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s