Adrian Sampson showed on Sunday night why the Seattle Mariners dealt for him last week.
The right-hander, who came over to Tacoma in a trade with Pittsburgh for pitcher J.A. Happ on Friday, made his first start on the mound for the affiliate of his hometown Mariners.
He threw eight innings, giving up a three-run homer and just five hits to lead the Rainiers to a 6-4 win over the Las Vegas 51s in front of 2,413 at Cashman Field.
Sampson (1-0), who grew up in the Seattle area, surrendered that home run to left against Dilson Herrera in the sixth. But he was commanding through five.
“I was in the same situation before when I got moved up to Triple-A last year with the Pirates,” said Sampson, who walked none and threw 100 pitches, 68 strikes. “My biggest mistake was trying to impress the team. I tried to do too much. (Tonight), I was trying to stay within myself and get early outs. I was very pitch effective.”
“He changed speeds, he mixed it up,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “He threw strikes. He got ground balls when we needed him. Other than inning, it was a real clean performance.”
In the ninth, Rainiers reliever Danny Farquhar gave up three consecutive hits to start the frame, but managed to retire the last three Las Vegas batters. “Our pitching coach (Jaime Navarro) went out there and said, ‘Hey, here’s what we’re going to do,’” Listach said. “He executed. Danny has had a lot of success in the major leagues.”
Leadoff hitter Ramon Flores, who was traded to the Rainiers from the Yankees on Friday, led Tacoma (53-56) with three hits and three runs. Chris Taylor was at it again, going 2 for 5 with two RBIs.
Jabari Blash’s line-drive double down the left-field line in the first scoring Flores, who also scored the second run on a Justin Ruggiano RBI single in the third.
Tacoma opened it up in the sixth with four runs highlighted on Taylor’s two-RBI double to left field. Flores had an RBI walk and Stephen Romero had an RBI sacrifice-fly to center for the other runs.
The Rainiers continue their four-game series in Las Vegas Monday night at 7 p.m. They will start LHP James Gillheeney (1-2, 9.00 ERA) against 51s RHP Dillon Gee (5-1, 5.44).