Olson Flirts with No-Hitter in Tacoma
Garrett Olson is finding his groove in a new organization, and he's making the transition look easy.
The left-hander tossed 6 1/3 no-hit innings Thursday night as the Tacoma Rainiers cruised to a 6-1 victory over the visiting Fresno Grizzlies.
Olson, a supplemental first-round pick by the Baltimore Orioles out of Cal Poly in 2005, finally yielded a single to the Grizzlies' Matt Downs with one out in the seventh inning. He finished his night having allowed a run on one hit with six strikeouts in 6 2/3 frames.
"I tried to attack the zone mainly with my fastball," Olson said. "I used the curve to keep hitters off-balance, but I was concentrating on keeping my fastball down in the zone."
The Rainiers starter improved to 2-2 with a 3.08 ERA and is holding Pacific Coast League batters to a measly .138 average. He's allowed just 12 hits in 26 1/3 innings this season.
Olson is in his first season in the Pacific Coast League, having spent his first four professional seasons in the Orioles organization.
He was named Baltimore's Minor League Player of the Year in 2006 and made his Major League debut with the Orioles on July 4, 2007. The southpaw made 26 starts for Baltimore last year, going 9-10 with a 6.65 ERA over 132 2/3 innings.
But on Jan. 18, the Orioles traded him to the Chicago Cubs who flipped him to the Mariners just 10 days later.
The change of scenery seems to be suiting him well, and Olson said his new coaches have encouraged him to keep things simple and just pitch.
"I'm just trying to get on top of the ball and manage the game one pitch at a time rather than one at-bat or one inning," he said. "I've found a way to be more consistent getting on top of the ball this season."
On Thursday night, Olson had no problem getting on top of the Grizzlies as well. He fired four perfect innings before walking Jesus Guzman to lead off the fifth. Guzman was erased on a double play and Olson retired the next five batters before surrendering the single to Downs. He faced the minimum through 6 1/3 frames.
After the Downs single and a walk to Kevin Frandsen, Olson whiffed Jesus Guzman before giving way to reliever Denny Stark. Downs came around to score after two more walks, and Olson was charged with the earned run.
Olson was part of a combined no-hitter (with Tony Saipe) during his freshman year at Cal Poly, throwing eight innings against Southern Utah in 2003. Thursday night marked the first time he's come so close in professional ball.
The Tacoma pitching staff has allowed a league-fewest 150 hits in 185 innings, as Olson and fellow starters Jason Vargas and Andrew Baldwin have allowed significantly less than one hit per inning.
The Mariners are good now and have a ton of talent in the pipelines. While Olson isn't quite the stud prospect he was three years ago, I believe he can still be a quality, mid-rotation starter.
The Mariners look to be solid for years to come.