Lawrence back in the groove for Rainiers

M's righty pitches six hitless innings in first start since May 3

Casey Lawrence has made 10 appearances, including two starts, with the Blue Jays and Mariners this season. (Jeff Halstead/Tacoma Rainiers)

By Michael Avallone / | June 18, 2017 8:52 PM ET

A career spent largely as a starting pitcher has taken a different turn this season for Casey Lawrence, but whatever gets him back to the Major Leagues quicker is fine by him.

The 29-year-old tossed six hitless innings, striking out five, in his first start with Triple-A Tacoma, which lost to Salt Lake, 4-3, on Sunday afternoon at Cheney Stadium.

Lawrence issued two walks in the first inning, which were the only baserunners he allowed.

Gameday box score

"I was just trying to be aggressive, pound the strike zone early and keep the ball in the park," the right-hander said. "I'm always looking to get some early contact and use my defense, which made several great plays behind me today.

"I probably noticed around the third inning that I hadn't allowed a hit, but at such an early point in the game I'm focused on executing pitches and just getting back into the dugout. I knew I was on a pitch count, but as a starter, it's my job to get as deep into the game as possible."

Beginning with the last out in the opening frame, the 29-year-old retired the last 16 batters he faced on 59 pitches. After pitching exclusively in relief since May 3, Lawrence was limited to 80 pitches and threw 21 in the first inning.

Video: Tacoma's Lawrence hurls six hitless innings

"I wore down a little in that last inning. I definitely wasn't as sharp as I had been from the second through fifth, that's for sure," the Albright College product said. "I gave myself a little self-talk to get me through the sixth, which I was able to do. I was happy to turn it over to the bullpen, but it just didn't work out today." 

Lawrence signed with the Blue Jays as an undrafted free agent in 2010 and made 169 Minor League appearances before making his Major League debut on April 8. He was designated for assignment on May 8 and claimed by the Mariners three days later, making six appearances in two separate stints.

"It was definitely different leaving the Blue Jays, but coming here is a good opportunity for me," Lawrence said. "I want to take advantage of it and show this organization what I can do. Whether in relief or in the rotation doesn't matter much to me.

"I guess this year was really my first year out of the bullpen. It's new for me and I like it, but starting is what I've always done. I felt I adjusted back pretty easily today after the first inning. I got into the flow of the game and took it from there. I mean, I really don't have a preference of what [role] I'd rather do. I'll just say whatever gets me back to the bigs quicker is fine by me. I'm open to either one." 

MiLB include

Salt Lake's Cesar Puello broke up the no-hitter and the scoreless tie with a one-out solo homer in the seventh off Cody Martin. The Bees entered the ninth down, 3-2, but rallied on sacrifice flies by Ramon Flores and Carlos Perez.

Video: Salt Lake's Puello blasts homer to break up the no-no

Angels No. 22 prospect Brooks Pounders worked around a hit and a walk in a scoreless ninth, striking out two, to earn his fourth save.

Mariners No. 21 prospect Boog Powell had two hits, including a three-run homer, for the Rainiers.

Michael Avallone is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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