Luis Sardinas spent the first six weeks of this season with the Seattle Mariners, but on Sunday was optioned to Tacoma so he could play more often — and “all over,” as Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
That’s already been true. Sardinas started at third base for Tacoma on Thursday night, the fourth position he’s played in four games with the Rainiers so far.
His bat proved useful, too.
With two outs in the sixth inning of a tie game against the Iowa Cubs, Sardinas rifled a single to left field that, thanks to a wild throw home, scored Stefen Romero from second base and lifted the Rainiers to a 2-1 victory before a crowd of 3,318 at Cheney Stadium.
“It was a big hit for us,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “He’s swinging the bat OK. He didn’t get a whole lot of at-bats in the big leagues, and for him to come down here and still be sharp, that’s a big plus. He made some nice plays over at third, too.”
Sardinas batted .154 in limited action with the Mariners before being sent down — Shawn O’Malley was called up to fill his spot on the big-league roster — with Servais saying at the time that the club simply wanted the 23-year-old utility man to have an opportunity to play every day.
He went 2 for 4 on Thursday and is 5 for 17 through his first four games with the Rainiers this season.
“He threw me another fastball away, I put on a good swing, tried to make good contact, and I got a base hit and we got the run,” Sardinas said of his decisive single.
Meanwhile, Tacoma starter Donn Roach pitched perhaps his best overall game of the season against his former team. He threw 95 pitches in 6 2/3 innings — the deepest into a game he’s pitched this year — allowed only four hits, had seven strikeouts and didn’t walk anybody.
The only run he allowed came on Iowa right fielder John Andreoli’s solo home run with one out in the third. Otherwise, Roach allowed only two Cubs baserunners past first.
“I think there was a little incentive to beat these guys, because he pitched for them last year,” Listach said. “And it’s funny, because when he was struggling — I think (Iowa manager) Marty Pevey will get a kick out of this — I called Marty and asked him, what did he do when Roach struggled, and he gave me some info, and he’s been lights out ever since.
“He’s really turned his season around from the way it started.”
David Rollins and Mayckol Guaipe combined to pitch 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief. Neither allowed a hit.
Tacoma (24-16) scored its first run in the second inning, when right fielder Mike Baxter hit a solo homer over the right-center field fence off Iowa starter Ryan Williams. It was Baxter’s third consecutive game with a home run — a career first — and he’s hit four homers in those three games.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Cubs turned one of the strangest double plays you’ll see. With runners on first and second and one out, Sardinas hit a blooper into shallow left field — but apparently not shallow enough to trigger an infield-fly call. Instead, the ball fell to the grass, and because the runners had to freeze with the ball in the air, there was little they could do as the left fielder threw to the shortstop covering third base for one out, then on to second base for another force out to complete the double play. The play was scored 5-7-6-4, because the third baseman touched the ball briefly before the left fielder picked it up. “They thought it was out of the ordinary. I thought it was a routine pop-up,” Listach said. “That’s not the first time I’ve disagreed with an umpire this week.” … Ex-Mariner Munenori Kawasaki started at shortstop and batted ninth for the Cubs. He went 0 for 3 with a strikeout.
Tacoma continues its four-game series against Iowa with a 7:05 p.m. Friday game at Cheney Stadium. Right-hander Joe Wieland (2-3, 9.10 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for the Rainiers, with right-hander Jake Buchanan (3-1, 3.86) slated to start for the Cubs. The game can be heard on 850-AM.