Donn Roach did just about everything you can do at Seattle Mariners spring training other than make the big league squad.
On Monday, the hot right arm that he flashed in Arizona translated to a cool Tacoma night as he led the Rainiers to a 6-3 win over the El Paso Chihuahuas before an announced crowd of 2,126 at Cheney Stadium.
“Donny Roach was phenomenal,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “He got a lot of ground balls. His sinker was really good tonight. I think he made one mistake with his split and left it up to (Alex) Dickerson, and that was a home run. … He’s keeping himself sharp, he’s ready, prepares himself like a professional, and goes about his business the same way. He’ll be ready if the chance arises (in Seattle).”
Roach’s spring with the Mariners included a streak of 15 scoreless innings — all in relief. But he was assigned to Tacoma, and in his first start went 5 2/3 innings allowing two earned runs on six hits to get the win.
He said he had no problems thinking about what might have been.
“It is what it is: the nature of baseball,” Roach said. “It wasn’t difficult. I’m fine with where I’m at. … I had my sinker today. I was able to get a lot of ground balls.”
The Rainiers took the lead with a three-run third that included five hits, all singles.
El Paso (1-3) worked back to within one run by the eighth, which Jemile Weeks led off with a triple. But Tacoma reliever Jonathan Aro stranded him there: pop out, strikeout, fly out.
“When you see a lead-off triple like that and the middle of the order coming up, you’re ‘OK, let’s just keep them to one,’ ” Listach said. “It was incredible to get out of there with a zero.”
Efren Navarro provided breathing room in the bottom of the inning with a two-out, two-run single.
With the victory, the Rainiers were pushed to 4-1 on the season, their best start since 2009 — when they went on to win the Pacific Northern Division.
“A well-played game,” Listach said. “The defense was really, really good tonight. The pitching was good. … We grinded out at-bats again, which we’ve really been doing a nice job of the first five days of the season. And it was good to see Navarro get a big knock right there to give us a three-run cushion.”
Tacoma and El Paso meet at 6:05 p.m. Tuesday for the second of a four-game series. Probable starting pitchers are right-hander Joe Wieland (0-0, 4.50) for the Rainiers against Chihuahuas right-hander Carlos Pimentel in his season debut.