FRESNO – Seattle Mariners fans might be stunned to hear that Travis Blackley is still pitching.
They might be even more surprised to hear that he’s not even 30 years old.
The former Mariners and Tacoma Rainiers left-hander is now a member of the Fresno Grizzlies, and he pitched a terrific game against his former team in Fresno’s 7-1 win over the Rainiers on Sunday afternoon at Chukchansi Park.
Blackley (1-0) allowed one hit – a homer by Carlos Triunfel – in 5 innings in his first start of the season. The 29-year-old Australian walked one and struck out six.
“Blackley had a little more on his fastball than the last time we saw him – he topped out at 92 miles per hour,” said Rainiers manager Daren Brown, who was managing in Single-A when Blackley made his Mariners debut in 2004. “He had a good breaking ball and he threw strikes.”
Triunfel was a bright spot for Tacoma. The 22-year-old shortstop launched his first career Triple-A home run in the fourth inning, lifting a fly ball over the left-field fence.
“He’s putting in a lot of work in the cage,” Brown said. “I think there is power in there. You don’t see a lot of that at 20 or 21. I think we’ll see a few more.”
Triunfel added a single in the sixth inning, and his hits were the only ones Tacoma could muster until Luis Rodriguez singled in the eighth.
Triunfel has a six-game hitting streak, the longest by a Rainiers player this season. He boosted his batting average to .262.
Matt Fox (0-3) started for Tacoma, and he kept the Rainiers in the game until Fresno rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fifth, taking a 5-1 lead.
Former Central Kitsap High and Washington Huskies star Todd Linden opened the inning with a single to center, and Jackson Williams followed with a hit to left. Justin Christian doubled home Linden to make it 3-1.
After Fox struck out Skyler Stromsmoe, Brown summoned Oliver Perez from the bullpen to face Francisco Peguero. With the infield drawn in, Peguero singled through the left side to drive home Williams and Christian, making it 5-1. Christian was 3-for-4, raising his Pacific Coast League-leading batting average to .553.
Perez, the former Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets starting pitcher, struggled with his control. He walked three batters while allowing two runs in the sixth.
Mike Carp continued his rehabilitation assignment, going 1-for-3 with a walk as the Tacoma designated hitter. … Brian Sweeney retired all seven batters he faced in his 2012 debut.
The series wraps up with a 7:05 p.m. game today. Tacoma will start right-hander Jeff Marquez (1-0, 9.00 ERA) against Fresno left-hander Brian Burres (0-1, 8.10).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers