There are the players Seattle Mariners fans might more easily recognize — such as Mike Zunino, Leonys Martin, Daniel Vogelbach and Boog
Then there’s 6-foot-3, 23-year-old right-hander Nathan Bannister.
Maybe it’s about time to get to know him, too.
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He was a member of high Single-A Modesto on Friday. By 2 a.m. Saturday he learned he was going to make his Triple-A debut as the Tacoma Rainiers’ starter, and he needed to catch a 10 a.m. flight out of Sacramento to get to Cheney Stadium in
“I think I really didn’t have time to think about it,” Bannister said. “It happened so quickly.”
So Bannister proceeded to pitch 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allow three hits, no walks and strike out six as he confounded New Orleans’ lineup, especially with his offspeed pitches. He was perfect through 14 batters before allowing his first hit.
This came after Bannister was 2-1 with a 5.96 ERA with the Modesto Nuts. The Mariners drafted him in the 28th round of last year’s draft, and Bannister then missed all of last season with an ulnar collateral ligament strain in his right elbow.
“He was great,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “He worked ahead, he threw strikes, he mixed in all his pitches. He was really, really, really good.”
Listach couldn’t say the same for his Rainiers batters, who for the second consecutive game fell quiet as Tacoma lost 1-0 in 10 innings against the New Orleans Baby Cakes in the series opener.
The Rainiers left 25 runners on base. D.J. Peterson, Tyler O’Neill and Tyler Smith combined to leave 16 on base.
“We put ourselves in position to win and we didn’t do it,” Listach said. “(Bannister) deserved to get the win today and we didn’t get it done.”
What were the Rainiers doing starting Bannister straight out of Modesto?
He is one of the Rainiers’ 84 transactions they’ve had in the first 36 days of the season. They had 201 in all of last season.
And that doesn’t include right-hander Andrew Moore. Listach confirmed that Moore was in Tacoma on Saturday, though he hadn’t been added to the team from Double-A Arkansas after pitching there Thursday. Moore is ranked as the No. 8 prospect in the Mariners’ organization in the TNT Top 10.
“I’ll get with (pitching coach) Lance Painter tomorrow and whenever it’s (Moore’s) turn to start, he’ll go,” Listach said.
Listach said even he is beginning to have a hard time keeping up. The Mariners have 11 players on their injury list.
“When you lose three-fifths of your starting rotation with (Drew) Smyly, Felix (Hernandez) and James Paxton, and you lose two guys from your bullpen, and other guys aren’t performing so you send them back — there’s just a lot going on,” said Listach, and he was watching one of his former Rainiers, Chase De Jong, pitching with the Mariners on his office TV. “But you got to go to battle with who you have.”
Rob Whalen was supposed to start for Tacoma, but he and Dan Altavilla were recalled to the Mariners, which set up Bannister’s long night.
“I was told at 2 a.m. and then it set in — back your bags and get ready for a flight,” said Bannister, a University of Arizona product. “But once I got to the ballpark and hung around the guys and just got to the locker room, got a feel for the field, it’s just baseball.”
PLAY OF THE GAME
Martin, Powell and O’Neill look like a major league outfield, especially since Martin and Powell have spent time with the Mariners this season. Martin threw out Destin Hood about 10 feet before he reached home plate on Matt Juengel’s single to center field with one out in the top of the 10th inning.
But New Orleans followed with the go-ahead run a batter later.
Powell struck out his first at-bat but responded with three quality at-bats, hitting a sharp single to right field and walking twice. He leads the Rainiers in walks this season with 15.
Bannister was impressive in his Triple-A debut, going 6 2/3 innings with three hits, no walks and six strikeouts. But the Rainiers didn’t provide him any runs. He didn’t allow his first hit until two outs in the fifth inning.
Seth Mejias-Brean singled in his first at-bat at Cheney Stadium after entering the game hitting .533 in his first four games for the Rainiers since the Mariners acquired him in a trade with the Reds. He finished Saturday’s game 1 for 5.
Right-handed reliever Casey Fien took the loss after being hit for three sharp singles in the top of the 10th.
The Rainiers wore their throwback Tacoma Cubs jerseys as part of the organization’s annual Throwback Weekend promotion. The Cubs were Tacoma’s PCL team from 1966-71.
First pitch is at 1:35 p.m. Sunday in the second of the three-game series with New Orleans, which will start left-hander Justin Nicolino (1-2, 3.58 ERA). Tacoma’s starter was to be determined.
The game will broadcast on 850-AM.