Roenis Elias showed the Tacoma Rainiers why he skipped Triple-A.
Making a one-time spot start in the minors because of off-days in the Mariners schedule, Elias delivered five effortless no-hit innings and earned the win in Tacoma’s 4-2 victory over the New Orleans Zephyrs.
Elias — who jumped straight from Double-A to the big leagues after a strong spring training — allowed just one base runner, walking Kike’ Hernandez in the fourth inning. He struck out six.
The game served as a 62-pitch tune-up for Elias, who is expected to rejoin the Mariners and start on Monday in Philadelphia.
“He’s really come a long way from two years ago when I had him in (Class-A) High Desert,” said Tacoma manager Roy Howell. “He pitched in Venezuela the last two winters, and that propelled him to the big leagues.”
A native of Cuba, Elias started his career as an unheralded minor leaguer in 2011 after the Mariners signed him from a tryout camp.
“He’s done all of the work,” said Howell. “You can see it in his mound presence, in his confidence. He’ll throw any pitch at any time and he’s not afraid. I’m really proud of him.”
Matt Palmer relieved Elias with a 4-0 lead and carried the combined no-hit bid into the seventh inning, when Mark Canha led off with a double to center field. Justin Bour followed with a two-run homer for the Zephyrs’ final hit.
After allowing five runs in the final two innings on Tuesday, the Rainiers bullpen shut down the Zephyrs late on Wednesday. Lucas Luetge pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Todd Coffey set down the side in order in the ninth to record his eighth save.
Tacoma had scoring opportunities in every inning except the fifth against New Orleans starter Brian Flynn, who was the PCL leader in earned run average in 2013.
Justin Smoak led off the second inning with a double, and he scored on a single to center off the bat of Ji-Man Choi.
Stefen Romero came through in the clutch in the fourth inning, connecting on a two-out, two-run single to score Choi and Ketel Marte.
The Rainiers added another run in the sixth, when Julio Morban singled to plate Leury Bonilla.
Short Hops: Gonzaga product Steve Ames pitched scoreless relief for New Orleans. The Vancouver, WA native is a 2006 graduate of Hudson’s Bay High School.
On Tap: The series continues with a 5:05 (Pacific) game on Thursday night. Tacoma starts Forrest Snow (2-2, 1.56) against Alex Sanabia (5-5, 5.04) of New Orleans.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Rainiers.