According to Brian Sanches, he was just doing his job.
A last-minute replacement for Yordano Ventura, Sanches pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings Wednesday night as Triple-A Omaha beat Oklahoma City, 3-1, in the opener of their best-of-5 Pacific Coast League semifinal series.
Ventura, the Royals' No. 2 prospect, was scratched due to an unspecified violation of team rules. Sanches, who went 10-3 with a 3.20 ERA in 13 starts and 14 relief appearances during the regular season, was more than up to the task of filling in on short notice.
"I found out about 30 minutes before the game that I would start," Sanches said. "I'd pitched three days prior. Today was my third day, so before [batting practice] I threw a 25-pitch bullpen [session] to get me right in case I got into relief tonight.
"It's no big deal. It's the role I'd be playing this year. There are a few times this year I had to make sudden spot starts. The good thing is they prepared me for this throughout the year."
The 35-year-old right-hander gave up four hits -- all singles -- and two walks while striking out two batters before being lifted with a 1-0 count on Brandon Laird and George Springer on second base.
"I think the main thing for me is I'm not going to overpower anyone, I rely on my split and my cutter," Sanches said. "I have to be aggressive, I have to get ahead in the count. My thought process is to always be ahead with all my pitches, just kind of play off their aggressiveness. I let their aggressiveness get them out."
Maikel Cleto came on in the sixth and walked the first two batters he faced -- although the first walk was charged to Sanches -- before striking out Japhet Amador to end the threat.
The RedHawks threatened again in the seventh as Cleto again walked the first two batters before turning things over to Michael Mariot. Both runners advanced on a throwing error by catcher Manny Pina and, after Mariot struck out Chris Epps, Jimmy Paredes broke his bat on a grounder that third baseman Anthony Seratelli failed to field for an error as Che-Hsuan Lin scored Oklahoma City's only run.
Jose Martinez flied to right field and Paulo Orlando threw out Carlos Perez at the plate as the potential tying run.
Royals No. 17 prospect Christian Colon, whose RBI double in the sixth inning had given Omaha a 2-0 lead, led off the ninth with a home run to left field.
Mariot walked pinch-hitter Raoul Torrez in the ninth but struck out Paredes to end the game and earn a three-inning save.
Game 2 is Thursday in Oklahoma City.
In other action:
Salt Lake 4, Las Vegas 3
Matt Long belted a two-out solo homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to complete an improbable comeback for the Bees in the opener of the other semifinal series.
Salt Lake trailed early, 3-0, before scoring two runs in the fourth and one in the eighth. Long, who walked and scored the Bees' first run in the fourth, homered to right field on the first pitch from reliever Robert Carson.
Game 2 is Thursday in Salt Lake at 8:35 p.m. Gameday box score »
Chris Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com.