Jesus Montero was in the perfect spot Monday afternoon.
Not only did Montero have a hot bat coming in for the Tacoma Rainiers, he’s been hitting the lights out against the Las Vegas 51s this season. The combination worked perfectly again.
Montero helped end the Rainiers’ season with a double and a towering two-run homer in the third inning, leading Tacoma to a 5-0 win over Las Vegas in front of 3,137 at a warm Cashman Field.
After the homer, Tacoma manager Pat Listach decided to end Montero’s season on a high note by giving him the rest of the day off.
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Montero, who was sent down from Seattle on Sept. 1, finished 11 games against Las Vegas batting .421 (17 for 40) with three homers and 10 RBIs.
“I came down here to swing the bat, and that’s what they want me to do,” said Montero, who could be recalled to Seattle once the roster is expanded to 40. “I had a couple important hits. But the most important thing was we won the game.”
Tacoma starting pitcher Tyler Olson (3-5), a former Gonzaga University star, went six innings and allowing two hits while striking out six on an effective 77 pitches for the Rainers, who finish the season at 68-76.
“(Olson) made quality pitches, even though everyone was swinging (it being the last game of the season),” Listach said. “We made some good defensive plays behind him as well. It was a nice outing.”
Chris Taylor had an RBI single to center field in the third to extend his hitting streak to eight games. In those eight games, he hit .364 (12 for 33) with six runs, three doubles and two RBIs.
James Jones, Patrick Kivlehan and Steve Baron all had two hits each for Tacoma, which had 11 hits and held Las Vegas to two hits — both doubles.
“We swung the bats well and we played good defense,” Listach said. “Good pitching, good defense, it was a good team win.”
Tacoma relievers Kyle Schepel, Matt Anderson and Andrew Kittredge each pitched a scoreless inning in relief.
Las Vegas manager Wally Backman, who finished his playing career with the Mariners in 1993, used seven pitchers for the 51s (77-67), who were eliminated from the Pacific Coast League playoff contention Sunday night when the Rainiers won, 6-3.
Las Vegas starting pitcher Tim Stauffer (4-1) lasted three innings, allowing six hits and three runs.
Jabari Blash, who has a sore knee from attempting a diving catch in Salt Lake last week, did not see action for the Rainiers in Las Vegas.
This was the first time in six years the Rainiers won their last game of the season. They finished 8-8 versus the 51s this season.
Listach was invited by the Mariners to join the team for the rest of the season, but said he has other baseball obligations this month.
The Rainiers head in the offseason. Tacoma and the PCL open the 2016 season on April 7.