Just throw strikes.
That’s all it took for Tacoma Rainiers starting pitcher Cody Martin with rain starting to pour in the third inning. Forget painting the corners, he said — just get them over the plate.
“Let them get themselves out,” said Martin, a Gonzaga University alum. “It was misty. Hard to see. I knew they couldn’t see the ball that well.”
Martin didn’t allow a hit through five innings and earned his second win in his second start for the Rainiers. Tacoma didn’t get its first hit until the bottom of the sixth inning in a 4-1 victory over the El Paso Chihuahuas on Thursday in front of 3,020 at Cheney Stadium.
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And what a way to end the opening homestand — the Rainiers depart for their first road trip with a 6-1 record.
“Unfortunately, they make us play on the road, too,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said.
Rainiers pitchers have allowed only 2.6 runs per game. The bats have produced 6.1 runs.
And Martin didn’t even have his best stuff, he said.
“I was just worried about not falling on the mound,” Martin said. “It was so wet and slippery.
“I had to change it up once it started raining. Just try to throw the ball over the plate. Once I started doing that, I started throwing the ball where I wanted to and the breaking stuff was good, cutter was good. You throw strikes and good things happen.”
You may or may not recall Martin as the first of a flurry of first-year Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto’s offseason acquisitions – before Dipoto went on to move 58 players on or off the 40-man roster between Oct. 19 and April 3.
Jeremy Guthrie — the veteran who pitched Game 7 of the 2014 World Series for the Kansas City Royals in a 3-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants — had a no-hit bid of his own through five innings.
The first hit of the game came in the top of the sixth inning. And El Paso made it count.
Jason Hagerty launched Martin’s 1-0 pitch through the rain and over the right field wall for a solo home run to lead off the inning. Martin had forced 10 consecutive outs prior to that pitch and walked two.
Except it only seemed to ignite the Rainiers, who erupted for four runs on two triples, two doubles and two singles in the bottom half of the inning and ran Guthrie out of the game.
Tyler Smith had the Rainiers’ first hit — a leadoff double. Boog Powell then singled him home.
Powell was picked off at first before Chris Taylor hammered a triple to the gap in left-center. Stefen Romero, two batters later, tripled over the center fielder’s head, and the Rainiers led 2-1. Mike Baxter followed with an RBI single before Ed Lucas scored him with a double.
Guthrie’s night ended after 5 2/3 innings with three runs allowed, two walks and two strikeouts.
“I’ve seen him in Baltimore, I’ve seen him in Kansas City — he’s a major league pitcher. And we beat a major league pitcher,” Listach said. “No doubt about it.”
Martin lasted six innings, allowed two hits, one run, two walks and struck out five on 82 pitches.
Justin De Fratus followed with two scoreless innings of relief before Mayckol Guiape sat El Paso down 1-2-3 in the ninth for his second save.
“It goes to show that the game plan that we go over with the starter before the game and the game plan we have with the relievers going in — it’s working,” Listach said. “Hats off to (pitching coach) Lance Painter and the catchers. They really watch a lot of video, find what hitters are struggling with and attack it.”
Mike Zunino got the day off for the second time in the Rainiers’ seven games. … Romero has the best average through the opening homestand at .367 with one home run and seven RBIs.
Left-hander James Paxton (0-1, 2.25 ERA) starts the Rainiers’ first road game. They head to Albuquerque, which will start right-hander Shane Carle (0-1, 24.75 ERA), for the first of an eight-game trip. Friday’s game starts at 6:05 p.m. and is on 850-AM.