Campillo Dominant in Rainiers 6-2 Win

FRESNO, Calif. – Wonder why the Seattle Mariners were so aggressive in signing Jorge Campillo over the winter? One need only look at the Mexican right-hander's pitching line Thursday against Fresno, his first outing as a member of the organization.

The 26-year-old went 6.2 innings against the Grizzlies, at one point retiring 18 in a row, and left having allowed only one run on three hits and a walk. He added four strikeouts.

"He was unflappable," said Tacoma manager Dan Rohn of the righty's impressive opening day start, which led to a 6-2 Rainiers win. "He was down in the zone with all of his pitches. He's a lot of fun to watch pitch."

Campillo was roughed up during spring training, causing many to question the Mariners' decision to sign him, but came out with a game plan that did the trick against the Grizzlies. That plan? Keep the ball low in the zone.

Fresno left fielder Adam Shabala singled sharply to right field on the first pitch of the game, but the Rainiers righty responded by retiring one Grizzlies hitter after another into the seventh inning. That's when former Rainier Mickey Lopez, acquired by the San Francisco Giants organization last week after spending all spring with the Mariners, singled up the middle with two outs to end Campillo's streak.

"I wanted to make sure that I was more concerned about the guy at the plate than the guy at first base," said Campillo, referring to the first inning. "I kept my composure and stuck with the game plan."

It worked. The Grizzlies had difficulties getting the ball in the air all game long.

"It's a good thing that I was able to get out of the first outing on the right foot, and hopefully I can continue to do what I did tonight all season," said Campillo.

Masao Kida and George Sherrill worked the final two-and-a-third innings to preserve the win for Tacoma. Both relievers gave up four-pitch walks to the first batter they faced, but each responded and pitched better afterwards. Sherrill earned the save, but Rohn was reluctant to call him the team's "closer" after the game, instead saying that the left-hander was one of several guys who could get the job done.

Justin Leone hit the only home run of the game, a rocket over the left-field wall in the seventh inning. That made it a 2-0 game, coming after a sacrifice fly by DH Kit Pellow that scored Jamal Strong in the fourth.

Tacoma added another run in the seventh, one in the eighth and two in the ninth to put the game away.

Strong, batting out of the leadoff spot, went 3-5 and added a stolen base to lead the Rainiers' offense.


GAME NOTES:

  • Felix to Start: Felix Hernandez will make his first start of the season on Friday, his 19th birthday, against Fresno's Jesse Foppert. In the weeks leading up to the season, there was some thought that Hernandez might start the year in the bullpen to allow his arm to stay fresh. That plan has apparently been abandoned.

  • Morse Masterful: Michael Morse got the start at shortstop and turned in the play of the day in the sixth inning, making a diving stab at a ball deep in the hole that surprised almost everyone in the ballpark. Morse moved to his right into shallow left field, made a diving stop, fell to his knees, stood up and fired a laser to Aaron Rifkin at first base to narrowly beat Fresno catcher Justin Knoedler.

    "It felt good to make a play like that," said Morse after the game, fielding questions from the media about the play. "I was playing him to pull, and he just smoked it and I thought I had a chance so I just dove at it. I got it, realized how far I was out there, and came up and put a good throw on it. I knew if I could put a good throw on it, it'd be a good play. It's always good to make plays like that so people see that just because I'm a tall guy it doesn't mean I can't play shortstop."

  • The Lefty in Left: After four years of playing exclusively in right field, Shin-soo Choo will play left field this season with the Rainiers in an effort made by the Mariners to get the Korean outfielder comfortable with a position unoccupied in the majors by Ichiro Suzuki.

  • In Transit?: Abraham Nunez, a 28-year-old outfielder claimed off of waivers by Seattle and then designated for assignment two days later, cleared waivers and is expected to report to the Rainiers on Friday. His addition to the club will likely come at the expense of Hyung Cho, who moved up to Triple-A to fill the temporary need for an outfielder. Two other outfielders, Chris Snelling (DL) and Greg Jacobs (serving suspension) are due to return later in the month, and when that happens further roster shuffling is inevitable.

  • Heaverlo Sighting: Jeff Heaverlo, limited to 5.2 innings last season with an injury to a muscle in his arm pit region, began warming up in the eighth inning but never entered the game. Though the University of Washington product came up through the minor leagues as a starter, it appears his new role could be that of a closer or late-inning setup man.

  • Up Next: After Felix's start in the rotation, Cha Seung Baek will face Brad Hennessey on Saturday in a meeting of right-handers. That game is set for 7:05 p.m. The Rainiers wrap up the four-game series on Sunday with a 2:05 afternoon game.



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