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D-backs’ Taijuan Walker strikes out 10 in five innings to join rare company

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Taijuan Walker throws to the plate against the Colorado Rockies during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Taijuan Walker didn’t pitch very deep into his start Friday night against the Colorado Rockies, but he made hitters miss when he was in.

Walker struck out 10 in his five innings, becoming the third pitcher in franchise history to have 10 or more strikeouts in an outing that was five or less innings. The other two to meet those qualifications were Max Scherzer in 2009 when he struck out 11 Dodgers and in 2016 when Robbie Ray punched out 10 Reds hitters.

Of Walker’s 10 strikeouts, eight of them were swinging. His first six outs recorded were all strikeouts and all of them ended with a missed swing by a Colorado hitter. He allowed three hits and three walks in the outing.

While the 25-year-old did not give up a run, the number of hitters he faced had his pitch count rise in a hurry.

D.J. LeMahieu doubled in the first and Walker would walk two more in the inning.

After striking out the side in the second, two more runners reached base in the third. Another two runners were allowed in the fourth, and despite a perfect fifth, Walker’s pitch count was already up to 93.

With two runners on in the sixth for the D-backs and Walker due up, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo elected to use a pinch hitter and end Walker’s night.

Walker’s odd stat line made him the ninth player in MLB history to strike out 10 or more and not allow a run in an outing five innings or shorter. Five of those nine pitchers would pick up the win.

Walker’s start was the momentum Arizona needed to continue for a crucial series in Colorado. The D-backs entered the game white hot, winners of seven straight, but a series win against the Rockies would further extend their lead in the National League Wild Card race. Walker’s outing gave them a good shot of doing so Friday.

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