It’s hard to believe too many people were excited to hear the Seattle Mariners say D.J. Mitchell was the top prize for trading Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees last month.
But following another solid start in the Tacoma Rainiers’ 2-1 victory against the Las Vegas 51s on Sunday, he is on his way to making an impact with the Seattle organization.
Mitchell allowed no earned runs and three hits in 6 innings for his second consecutive win.
“I know what I can do,” said Mitchell, who has five quality starts (at least six innings, no more than three earned runs) in seven outings since joining Tacoma. “Coming to a new team, I just have to try to prove myself and help the team win.”
Mitchell’s earned-run averaged dropped to 2.95 as he never relinquished an early lead set up by early solo home runs from Alex Liddi and Carlos Peguero.
“I thought he did what he does,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said. “He is not afraid of his off-speed (pitches) and getting it into the strike zone. Hitters have been having a hard time with that.”
Mitchell’s only trouble in the Rainiers’ final home game of the season came in the fifth inning.
He allowed a leadoff single and walked another batter before a passed ball allowed both runners to advance to scoring position. Brian Bocock then singled to score Las Vegas’ first run – initially scored an earned run, but later ruled unearned because of the passed ball.
But Mitchell worked his way out of the jam when Danny Perales was caught in a rundown between third and home and the next hitter popped up to Nick Franklin at second base.
Liddi put the Rainiers (59-77) on the board early with a home run well over the left-field fence in the bottom of the first.
Peguero then led off the next inning with a blast that sailed over the scoreboard in right center – his team-leading 21st home run of the season.
Bobby LaFromboise relieved Mitchell in the seventh and pitched the rest of the way without allowing a hit to earn his fourth save.
Mitchell’s solid outings for the Rainiers aren’t going to propel him to the Mariners right away, but they are a step in that direction.
“When the opportunity comes, I have to continue to prove myself,” Mitchell said. “I would like to get up to the big (league) level, that is everyone’s goal, but at this time I just have to worry about today and go out there, work hard and see where that leads me.
“Hopefully I can go out there and live up to the expectations.”
Franklin Gutierrez sat out after playing seven games since starting his rehab assignment with the Rainiers. … The Rainiers handed out team awards after the game. Luis Jimenez was named offensive player of the year, Carlos Triunfel was the top defensive player and LaFromboise was the top pitcher. … Sunday was the late Greg Halman’s birthday. The Rainiers have worn patches with Halman’s number (26) this season after the former Mariners and Rainiers outfielder was killed Nov. 21 in the Netherlands.
The Rainiers finished their home portion of the season and start a four-game road series at Las Vegas today at 7:05 p.m. Tacoma will send right-hander Andrew Carraway (5-7, 4.51 ERA) to the mound against Las Vegas right-hander Sean O’Sullivan (9-2, 2.21). The game will broadcast on 850-AM.