It took two flights and 10 hours for the Rainiers to travel from Tacoma to Oklahoma City on Saturday, but that didn’t prevent Chien-Ming Wang from pitching like a younger version of himself.
Wang delivered a complete-game, three-hit shutout as Tacoma topped the Oklahoma City Dodgers, 2-0, in the opening game of an eight-game trip.
It was the 35-year-old Wang’s first shutout since 2009, and it came against the best team in the Pacific Coast League.
“Very impressive, very impressive,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “He’s a veteran guy; he was in control of the game.”
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Wang used his sinker to generate 18 groundouts, with just six outs recorded on balls hit in the air. There were two strikeouts and one key pickoff.
Dodgers starter Mike Bolsinger matched Wang inning for inning, and it was a 0-0 game with one out in the seventh when Tacoma’s Jabari Blash homered over the 400-foot sign in center field.
“He came in with a fastball for strike one, and I was looking for something to square up,” Blash said. “He came back with a cutter that floated over the middle of the plate, and I was able to put a good swing on it.”
Tacoma added a crucial insurance run in the eighth. Leury Bonilla hit a leadoff double against reliever David Huff, and Shawn O’Malley sacrificed him to third. With the infield in, Chris Taylor hit a one-hopper to first baseman O’Koyea Dickson. Fairly far from first when he fielded it, Dickson looked Bonilla back at third before turning around to run to first, retiring Taylor. Bonilla then sprinted home and scored with a head-first dive.
“He turned his back on him,” Listach said. “Their third baseman, Darwin Barney, is a good friend of mine, and he was screaming from third base ‘Don’t turn your back!’ He saw it coming. It was a very good base-running play by Bonilla.”
Wang’s 112-pitch masterpiece was his first shutout since a seven-inning victory over Columbus when he was on a rehabilitation assignment for Triple-A Scranton. His last nine-inning shutout was a two-hitter for the New York Yankees against Tampa Bay on July 28, 2006.
Rainiers outfielder Ramon Flores is out for the rest of the season with a compound fracture of his right ankle, the Mariners announced. Flores suffered the injury in pursuit of a ball hit into the right-center gap on Friday night in Tacoma. Flores hit .423 with a .524 on-base percentage in 14 games for the Rainiers. … Pitcher Jordan Pries will miss his next start — and possibly more — with a strained gluteal muscle.
Tacoma sends Edgar Olmos (1-1, 3.55 ERA) to the mound Sunday at 4 p.m. (PDT). He’ll be opposed by Joe Wieland (8-5, 4.90). The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.