Pryor survives shaky beginning, gets save

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comApril 16, 2014 

Fans at Cheney Stadium on Tuesday night didn’t get to see the top-prospect starting pitcher they had been expecting.

But they got to see a rehabbing Seattle Mariners reliever at the end as right-hander Stephen Pryor got the save in the Tacoma Rainiers’ 8-5 win over the Salt Lake Bees.

It wasn’t easy. Pryor opened with six balls in a row and allowed the first two batters to get on base. However, after the shaky introduction, he worked out of the inning without allowing a run.

“I think I was a little too excited, too eager to pitch,” Pryor said. “I had to slow things down toward the end and really focus in. ... I would have liked for it to be a one-two-three inning, but it was a positive inning for me. I felt good. I got myself in a jam, and I was able to get out of it.”

Pryor was placed on the 15-day disabled list March 29 while recovering from surgery on his right shoulder. He started the season with Double-A Jackson and pitched 3 innings over four appearances with the Generals.

This was his first appearance with the Rainiers this season after splitting time between Seattle and Tacoma over the past two seasons.

His short appearance was more than scheduled starter Taijuan Walker managed. Walker’s rehab start was scratched shortly before the game when he reported arm stiffness.

That forced Jimmy Gillheeney to take his turn in the rotation one day earlier than he had expected.

“Like I try to tell these guys: ‘You’ve got a uniform on, you’re a baseball player,’ ” manager Roy Howell said “... Gilly is that type of kid. You say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a little change, and you’re in there,’ and he said, ‘OK, Skip, I’m going.’ That’s what you want from any player.”

Gillheeney’s teammates made things easier by continuing their run of offensive production, staking him to a three-run lead after one inning and seven runs after two innings. Gillheeney (1-1) held an 8-1 lead when he left after five.

The result marked Tacoma’s fourth consecutive win and fourth game in a row producing eight or more runs. The latest eruption began in the first inning with second baseman Nick Franklin launching a two-run home run.

“I take the mentality of just trying to just trying to get a good pitch to hit and just trying to drive the ball,” said Franklin, who has four homers while hitting .395.

Tacoma’s final run came across in the fourth inning, when first baseman Jesus Montero tripled and was doubled home by catcher Jesus Sucre.

ON TAP

The Rainiers (6-5) and Bees (4-9) will continue the four-game series at 7:05 p.m. at Cheney Stadium. Probable starting pitchers are Tacoma left-hander Anthony Fernandez (0-1, 4.35 ERA) and Salt Lake right-hander Matt Shoemaker in his season debut.

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

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