"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.
"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."