Mariners starter Brandon Maurer delivers a pitch against the Angels in… (Otto Greule Jr. / Getty Images )
SEATTLE — Brandon Maurer was the No. 3 starter in a superb 2008 Orange Lutheran High rotation that was led by Gerrit Cole, who went on to star at UCLA and was the first overall selection of the 2011 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Aaron Gates, who pitched at Pepperdine.
Maurer was also the least-touted of the "Big Three" pitching prospects the Seattle Mariners had at double-A Jackson (Tenn.) last season, a group that included Danny Hultzen, the second overall pick in 2011, and Taijuan Walker, a supplemental pick in 2010.
So, guess which one of those pitchers is drawing a big league paycheck today?
BOX SCORE: Mariners 6, Angels 0
That would be Maurer, the often-overlooked right-hander who allowed seven hits in 61/3 innings to lead the Mariners to a 6-0 victory over the Angels on Thursday night in Safeco Field.
Pitching aggressively with a 94-mph fastball, a sinking fastball, slider and curve, the 6-foot-6, 200-pound Maurer struck out six and walked one while inducing a pair of double-play grounders to drop the Angels, who turned five double plays themselves, to 8-13.
"The first inning, he showed 95 mph, then he went back to his sinkers," Angels right fielder Josh Hamilton said. "When he needed to come in with a little run on it, he would at 93-94 mph.
"The name of the game is keeping guys off-balance, so he did a good job."
A 23rd-round pick in 2008, Maurer made the jump from double A to the big leagues this spring and was nearly demoted to triple A after allowing 12 earned runs in 62/3 innings of his first two starts, losses to Oakland and Houston.
But Maurer rebounded to go 2-1 with a 1.89 earned-run average in his next three starts, including wins over Texas and the Angels, to solidify his spot in the rotation.
"He pounded the zone, especially after he got the lead," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He had a good slider going and he pitched in. He pitched a strong game."
Seattle took a 2-0 lead in the third when Carlos Peguero hit a solo home run to center field off Angels starter Garrett Richards that was estimated at 451 feet, the third-longest homer in Safeco Field history, and Kyle Seager hit a run-scoring single.
The Angels threatened in the fifth when Chris Iannetta walked with one out and Luis Jimenez singled. But speedy leadoff man Peter Bourjos hit a sharp grounder to Seager, and the third baseman made a quick throw to second to start a double play.
It marked the third time Bourjos had grounded into a double play this season after grounding into 11 double plays in 851 at-bats in his first 21/2 years.
"We had an opportunity to get back into the game and Peter hit a bullet to third that ended up being a double play," Scioscia said. "That changed the complexion of some things."
The Angels put two on with one out in the seventh when Iannetta, facing reliever Carter Capps, bounced into a double play.
The Mariners pulled away with Jason Bay's two-run single in the seventh off Richards and Seager's two-run homer in the eighth off reliever Nick Maronde.
The win was especially sweet for Maurer, who grew up in Costa Mesa and was a regular in Angel Stadium.
"That was definitely the team to watch when I was younger," Maurer said. "I made quite a few trips out there and played on an Angels Elite team, so I got to play in the stadium when I was in high school."