Even with all of the Tacoma Rainiers who have been called up to Seattle this season, the door has swung both ways.
On Wednesday, the Rainiers’ lineup featured eight starters who have spent part of 2013 playing for the Mariners.
One of those was starting pitcher Brandon Maurer, who led the Rainiers to a 5-3 win over the Tucson Padres before a crowd of 3,414 at Cheney Stadium.
“He got his emotions under control, threw strikes, used four pitches and really had a very good outing,” manager John Stearns said. “If he keeps pitching like that, he’ll be at the next level someday.
“That’s what we need from him. He’s been struggling with getting mad and too worked up on the mound, and tonight he gathered himself, kept his poise and looked like a future big league pitcher.”
Maurer started the season with the Mariners and went 2-7 before being optioned to Tacoma on May 29. On Wednesday, he improved his record with the Rainiers to 3-4 by going 62/3 innings, allowing five hits and three runs with three walks and eight strikeouts. Brian Moran, Stephen Pryor and Logan Bawcom added 2 innings of scoreless relief.
That was enough for the win thanks largely to the offensive contributions of Tacoma’s two starters who haven’t been called up to the bigs: center fielder Abraham Almonte and third baseman Nate Tenbrink.
“Almonte is just really a good-looking player,” Stearns said. “You saw his range tonight in center field; you saw his speed on the bases. He scored three runs tonight, got three hits.”
Those three hits happened to be a single, a double and a triple. Had the Rainiers needed to bat in the bottom of the ninth, Almonte would have gotten his chance at the cycle.
“I wish I can have (the last at-bat), but I feel good with what I did today,” he said. “I think it was a good game.”
In the fourth inning, Tenbrink blasted his third home run in four games, which extended his hitting streak to five games in a row.
“Tenbrink had a big home run, a couple of nice hits today,” Stearns said. “He’s a guy who can play all over the field and be very valuable for us. He’s also a prospect who we think will play in the majors some day.”
The other Tacoma starters who already have been in the majors this season are Franklin Gutierrez, Michael Morse, Carlos Peguero, Jesus Montero, Carlos Triunfel, Brandon Bantz and Robert Andino. Most productive among those Wednesday was Gutierrez, who had two hits and drove in three runs.
“We just happen to have more (Mariners) right now because we have some rehab guys down here, so that adds on,” Stearns said. “It’s fun having those guys here. We had an interesting lineup tonight with Morse in there, and Montero, and Gutierrez. So, it’s fun. But we know our job is to get those guys ready so we can send them back and help our big league club.”
The Rainiers (58-47) and Padres (55-50) continue their series at 7:05 p.m. Thursday. The probable pitching matchup sends Tacoma right-hander Taijuan Walker (2-0, 0.86 ERA) against left-hander Robbie Erlin (6-3, 5.21). The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.email@example.com