Mike Zunino showed his power once again on Tuesday, and this time he did it with the bases loaded.
After struggling through his first three at-bats against a classic PCL-style left-hander, Zunino stepped up with the bases loaded in the seventh inning and connected on a first-pitch fastball for a grand slam off right-handed reliever James Simmons.
Zunino has homered in three straight games. He leads the PCL with four home runs, and his 16 RBI leads all of minor league baseball.
The slam turned a Tacoma 5-4 lead into a 9-4 lead and spurred the Rainiers towards their second straight win. Tacoma is now 4-2 on the year.
There were plenty of other highlights.
Alex Liddi continued his hot start to the season, hitting a two-run single in the first inning and a solo homer to right-center in the third. Liddi has three home runs already – we’d be talking about him all of the time if it weren’t for Zunino.
Triple-A rookie Denny Almonte connected for his first home run in the second inning. Almonte is a switch-hitter – he was batting right-handed, and he pulled a towering dive into a stiff wind for a two-run shot.
The Rainiers also had another strong start by Danny Hultzen. I’m sure everyone who followed him last year cringed when he walked the leadoff man in the first inning on four pitches – I know I was concerned. Thankfully, that was the only walk he issued in five innings, and he had six strikeouts. He gave up a two-run homer to Triple-A slugger Luke Montz but that was about it. He tossed 84 pitches in five innings.
Tacoma has scored 42 runs in six games, for a no-calculator-needed average of seven runs per game. Three times the Rainiers have scored nine runs in a game, and the team is batting .324 as a unit.
Will there be more offense tonight? Game time is 7:05, and Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (0-1, 4.50) against Sacramento RHP Jesse Chavez (0-1, 0.00). The broadcast airs on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here.
- We start, as always, with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
- Larry LaRue has the story of the day, on Kate Andrews and Ashley Roth – two behind-the-scenes women who help make the Tacoma Rainiers happen. The story includes a previously unknown Matt Tuiasosopo fact.
- Mariners moves: outfielder Casper Wells was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays, and we expect an announcement regarding a bullpen-related roster move before tonight’s game.
- The expected bullpen move is due to the fact that the Mariners lost yesterday, 16-9, and starting pitcher Brandon Maurer didn’t make it out of the first inning. These things happen a couple of times every season, and yesterday was the first time for the big club.
- Larry Stone has a good blog post on dealing with the aftermath of the blowout.
- Dustin Ackley feels like he’s hitting better than his batting average indicates.
- Todd Dybas asked Eric Wedge about Mike Zunino‘s hot start.
- Buster Olney is my new internet buddy (he keeps linking to my TNT stories about Zunino) and in today’s blog he shares some thoughts on Zunino and Jesus Montero (ESPN Insider required).
- Thank you, Baseball America, for this one-stop shop for minor league baseball park factors.
- In the PCL, here’s a .gif of one of the wind-blown hits from the Tucson-Colorado Springs game that was winded-out on Monday. Enjoy!
- The Sky Sox were snowed out yesterday and today’s game has already been postponed.
- Reno blasted Salt Lake, 11-3.
- Fresno topped Las Vegas and touted pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, 4-1.
- The Iowa Cubs lost to Round Rock last night, 4-2, and at 0-6 the I-Cubs are off to the worst start in franchise history. And they’ve been around for a long time…
- New Orleans beat Memphis in the 11th inning on a Gorkys Hernandez two-run single.
- Nashville lost to Oklahoma City, 5-3. The Sounds lost two players to call-ups. Nashville pitcher Hiram Burgos starred in the World Baseball Classic.
The Rainiers home opener is right around the corner: Friday night at 7:05! See you at Cheney Stadium.