Thursday’s game at Cheney Stadium drew a crowd of 5,643 spectators, many of them curious to get a look at Salt Lake starter and Washington native Tim Lincecum.
While he wasn’t counted in the attendance, Adrian Sampson was among the curious. He was Tacoma’s starting pitcher.
Sampson looks up to Lincecum, who graduated from Liberty High School (Issaquah School District) and pitched for the University of Washington.
On Thursday, not only did Sampson share the mound with Lincecum, he beat him. Sampson allowed one run over six innings in the Rainiers’ 6-1 win.
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“It was a very special moment for me,” Sampson said. “You don’t think about it during the game, but after you reflect on it. It was surreal to see him so close. I shared the mound with a two-time Cy Young Award winner.”
Sampson, 24, was a sophomore and junior at Skyline High School (also in the Issaquah district) when Lincecum, 31, was winning back-to-back Cy Young Awards with the San Francisco Giants. Lincecum signed with the Los Angeles Angels last month as he attempts a comeback after an injury and surgery.
With a 6-3 record and a 2.84 ERA, Sampson is making a name for himself in the Pacific Coast League — and the Seattle Mariners organization. He hopes to get his first major league call-up this season.
Consistency has been the key for Sampson. He’s delivered a “quality start” of six or more innings — with three or fewer earned runs allowed — in eight of his 11 starts.
The Mariners used their first pick in the 2015 draft on right-handed pitcher Nick Neidert, who was selected in the second round out of Peachtree Ridge High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
Because of his age — he’s 19 — the Mariners held Neidert back in extended spring training at the start of the season, so he wouldn’t log too many innings this summer.
The Mariners recently sent him to Low-A Clinton (Iowa) in the Midwest League, and so far the results have been impressive.
Neidert has made three starts, going 2-0 with a 1.15 ERA. In 15 2/3 innings, he’s allowed nine hits and three walks while striking out nine.
In his second start for Clinton, Neidert held Burlington (a Los Angeles Angels affiliate) to one hit over five shutout innings.
Another 2015 draftee with Clinton is heating up.
Outfielder Braden Bishop was the Mariners’ third-round pick in 2015 out of the University of Washington, and he’s starting to hit as he gets acclimated to his first full season of pro ball.
Bishop carried an eight-game hitting streak into Saturday, and has boosted his batting average to .288. He has a .365 on-base percentage, having drawn 20 walks in 177 at-bats.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.