With the clock ticking, it only made Justin Germano and the rest of the Tacoma Rainiers pitching staff that much more efficient.
In his first start this season — filling in for Roenis Elias, who was called up by the Seattle Mariners — Germano allowed just two hits in 51/3 innings, and Forrest Snow and Lucas Luetge didn’t allow any hits in relief to complete the shutout in the Rainiers’ 2-0 Pacific Coast League victory over the Fresno Grizzlies on Friday at Cheney Stadium.
The game was the first that umpires could begin enforcing pitch and inning clock violations — with warnings for the first violation then balls (pitchers) or strikes (batters) added to the count for every subsequent one.
No violations occurred, and with Germano pounding the strike zone the game lasted 2 hours and 22 minutes.
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“I try to work guys quick anyway,” Germano said. “I don’t want to be out there any longer than I have to, so I just try to work as quick as I can and pound the strike zone.
The game was also notable for another first: Jesus Montero successfully stole home.
Montero’s hard single up the middle scored Ketel Marte for the first run in the bottom of the sixth. Later that inning Montero, oft-criticized for his lack of speed, hustled from first to third on Patrick Kivlehan’s single to right field.
With John Hicks batting, Kivlehan took off for second, and Montero broke for home on Fresno catcher Max Stassi’s throw to the bag.
Ronald Torreyes caught the ball in front of the second base and immediately threw back to Stassi to try to get Montero. His throw bounced in front of the plate and past Stassi to score Montero on the delayed steal and push the Rainiers’ lead to 2-0.
“He hasn’t stole home since little league,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach deadpanned. “And that was by mistake probably.”
Montero didn’t disagree.
“I was probably 7,” Montero said, laughing.
“(Listach) was telling me the whole time, ‘If he throws to second base, you go.’ ” So I was like, ‘I’ll do whatever you want.’ And we got it. And the run helped the team to win.”
It was the fourth stolen base of Montero’s career.
And the two runs were more than enough with the way the Rainiers’ pitching staff was dealing.
“I have a history with (Germano, a 16-year professional) back to his Cubs days,” Listach said. “He throws strikes, and he commands all his pitches. It makes it fun. Anytime you throw a shutout, it’s fun to watch.”
GUTIERREZ STUCK IN TRAFFIC
Franklin Gutierrez was removed from the starting lineup just minutes before the game because he was late to the field from a doctor’s appointment in Seattle. Listach said Gutierrez arrived to the field at 6:50 p.m. and he didn’t want to rush him into the game.
Right-hander Sam Gaviglio (1-2, 4.71 ERA) makes his fourth start of the season for the Rainiers and will be opposed by Fresno right-hander Brady Rodgers (1-1, 8.22 ERA). The game will broadcast on 850-AM.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677