Dan Vogelbach made an instant impact in his first game as a member of the Seattle Mariners organization.
After flying all day from Des Moines, Iowa, to Salt Lake City to join the Rainiers for the opening game of a four-game series, Vogelbach was inserted into the lineup in the No. 5 spot as the designated hitter.
Vogelbach homered in his first plate appearance, hit a long run-scoring double in his second and singled in his third as the Rainiers beat Salt Lake on Friday night, 8-3.
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The 23-year-old — acquired by Seattle on Wednesday in a trade that sent pitcher Mike Montgomery to the Chicago Cubs — walked in his fourth at-bat before being pulled for a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning.
“We knew he could hit, and he showed it on the very first day with a home run, a double, a single, and a walk,” said Tacoma manager Pat Listach. “He had a great day, he traveled all day from Iowa, and what were the odds of him hitting a triple?”
All three of Vogelbach’s hits came against Salt Lake starting pitcher Nate Smith, who is regarded as the Los Angeles Angels’ top minor-league pitching prospect. Smith, a lefty, had the platoon advantage against the left-handed hitter Vogelbach.
“This guy is a professional hitter,” Listach said of Vogelbach. “He can hit lefties and righties.”
Vogelbach boosted his batting average to .325 on the season, and the home run was his 17th in the Pacific Coast League this year.
A .272 hitter last season in Double A, he credits an improved mental approach for his success this season.
“It’s attitude,” Vogelbach said. “I’m coming to the field every day with the attitude that I’m going to have a good day.”
Stefen Romero had a good day himself. Tacoma’s All-Star left fielder hit two home runs while going 3 for 5 with 3 RBIs. His two-run homer in the third inning was part of a five-run Rainiers rally.
Tacoma starter Joe Wieland delivered six innings to earn the win, improving his record to 8-5. Wieland allowed one run over six innings, walking one while striking out five.
Vogelbach homered against Salt Lake in consecutive at-bats while playing for two different teams. In his final at-bat for the Iowa Cubs on Monday, he homered against the visiting Bees. Tuesday’s game was rained out, he was traded prior to Wednesday’s doubleheader, reported to the Rainiers in Salt Lake City on Friday, and homered in his first at-bat with Tacoma.
The Rainiers send Zach Lee (0-2, 5.44 ERA) to the mound in the second game of the series on Saturday at 5:35 p.m. (PDT), while the Bees will start Chris Jones (3-8, 7.71).
The game can be heard on 850-AM.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Rainiers.