Austin Jackson had an encouraging day at the plate in his first rehab outing on Saturday at Cheney Stadium, and he said the ankle he sprained two weeks ago is feeling much better.
But the Tacoma Rainiers did not have an encouraging ninth or 10th inning against the Las Vegas 51s, and so they lost, 6-3 in 10 innings, before a crowd of 6,819.
Jackson went 2 for 4 in his first appearance in a baseball game since spraining his right ankle against the Houston Astros on May 3. The veteran Mariners center fielder was placed on the 15-day disabled list the next day, and on Saturday he began what is expected to be a relatively brief rehab stint.
As the Rainiers’ designated hitter batting leadoff, Jackson struck out looking in the first inning, singled softly down the left-field line in the third inning, flew out to left in the fifth and singled just over the head of 51s second baseman T.J. Rivera with two outs in the eighth.
Rainiers manager Pat Listach said Jackson will play at least seven innings in center field on Sunday, and his rehab workload thereafter will depend upon how well his ankle responds to playing the outfield.
“It feels good,” Jackson said of his ankle. “I didn’t have any problems with it. I’ve been running the bases a little bit just to test it out, but it felt good to actually put it to test in a game situation, and I think tomorrow will be another test to play the outfield a little bit, so that will be a good test for it.
“… A big part of my game is being out in the field and defense. So I need to give it a test and see how it feels making different cuts at different angles.”
The Rainiers (15-22) were two outs away from victory in the top of the ninth, leading 3-2 with Dominic Leone on the mound and one out with nobody on. But Travis Taijeron, who also homered in the fourth inning, blooped a single just in front of a diving James Jones in center field, and Danny Muno’s double into the left-center field gap scored Taijeron from first base to tie the score and force extra innings.
It didn’t go well thereafter. Leone gave up a single to center fielder Darrell Ceciliani to lead off the 10th, and consecutive singles by Matt Reynolds, Cory Vaughn and Brandon Allen drove in a pair of runs before Taijeron’s fielder’s choice drove in another.
Listach watched the game from the clubhouse after being ejected at the end of the second inning, shortly after starting third baseman Carlos Rivero was tossed for throwing his bat in protest of a called third strike on an attempted check swing.
Listach said he simply asked the umpire if Rivero needed to be ejected, or if he could have been issued an equipment violation instead. Then, he got tossed, too.
“Obviously, he wants to show me he’s in control of the game, and he showed me,” Listach said. “I watched from the second inning up here. Made no sense, but that’s what it is. I’m not happy about it. I was very nice to the guy, and (he had a) quick trigger.”
Stefen Romero hit his eighth home run of the season with two outs in the first inning, driving in shortstop Ketel Marte to give the Rainiers a 2-0 lead, and Jesus Montero put the Rainiers ahead 3-2 with a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
Tacoma also benefited from a strong Triple-A debut by starting pitcher Stephen Landazuri, a 23-year-old right-hander who began the season with Double-A Jackson. He allowed seven hits and two runs in six innings, throwing 85 pitches with three strikeouts and one walk.
The Rainiers continue their four-game series against Las Vegas with a 1:35 p.m. game Sunday at Cheney Stadium. Right-hander Justin Germano (2-1, 1.74 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for Tacoma, and right-hander Matthew Bowman (2-3, 8.13) is scheduled to pitch for the 51s. The game broadcast can be heard on 850-AM.