Informed he would be an emergency starter an hour before Game 1 of a first-round Pacific Coast League playoff series against the Oklahoma City RedHawks, Brian Sanches tossed 52/3 shutout innings to lead Omaha to a 3-1 win Wednesday night at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
The Storm Chasers' scheduled starter was 22-year-old right-hander Yordano Ventura, one of the Kansas City Royals top prospects. Ventura, though, was scratched an hour before the game for “violating team rules.”
Sanches, a 35-year-old veteran right-hander who pitched last season with the RedHawks when he was in the Astros' organization, surrendered only four hits to give Omaha a 1-0 lead in the best-of-5 PCL semifinal series.
“We knew at 6 o'clock Sanches was throwing,” said RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco. “Our guys made adjustments. They had plenty of time to prepare. Sanches did a great job keeping the ball down, moving it around. He made some pitches when he had to.”
Omaha manager Mike Jirschele wouldn't elaborate on why Ventura was yanked an hour before the game or whether Ventura might start a game later in the series.
“It's just disciplinary. It doesn't have anything to do with anything else,” Jirschele said. “I'll be talking with the front office to see what they want to do.”
Sanches was 10-3 with a 3.20 ERA this season for Omaha. A lifetime bullpen specialist with nearly 1,000 minor league innings and 235 major league innings with the Phillies, Nationals and Marlins, Sanches made 13 starts for Omaha. But in the previous nine seasons he had a combined nine starts.
“I've had this role a lot this year,” Sanches said. “A couple of times I've had to make (emergency starts) when someone got called up. This is not the first time this has happened this year. It comes with experience. You can't flip a switch, but I've always had a routine that's helped me get ready.”