Tacoma shortstop Carlos Triunfel is quietly having a solid season here in Tacoma, and he delivered for the Rainiers in a big way on Saturday night.
Triunfel already had two hits in the game when he stepped up to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, with the score tied and Alex Liddi at second base.
As Triunfel fell behind in the count 1-2 against Memphis reliever Sam Freeman, Liddi stole third. That didn’t matter much: unless Freeman uncorked a wild pitch, the Rainiers still needed Triunfel to get a hit to take the lead.
The 23-year-old shortstop fouled off another pitch before driving a solid liner down the left field line, scoring Liddi to give Tacoma a 4-3 lead.
Logan Bawcom pitched a scoreless ninth to nail down the save, and the Rainiers had a come-from-behind victory. The Rainiers need a win today to get a split of the series.
Triunfel is clearly improved in 2013. He still swings a lot – he has only six walks in 167 plate appearances – but his approach is better. In many at-bats, he looks to hit fastballs to the opposite field (right field), which helps him adjust to breaking balls and pull them with power to left.
He has really stepped up with runners in scoring position, hitting .342 overall with a ridiculous .462 with RISP and two outs (6-for-13). Small sample size or whatever, there is no question he’s been a clutch performer for the first six weeks of the season.
One other thing to keep in mind when considering Triunfel’s game: he has absolutely pulverized left-handed pitching at the Triple-A level. Last year, he hit .344 with a .951 OPS against left-handers. This season, he has a .742 slugging percentage and 1.154 OPS against lefties.
Triunfel is currently hitting .312 with three homers, 13 doubles, and an .836 OPS going into today’s game.
Today’s game is at 1:35, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM, streaming online via this link, or on your phone or iPad with this app. Tacoma starts LHP James Paxton (2-3, 3.93) against Memphis RHP Maikel Cleto (1-2, 7.66).
Here’s a fun fact for you: the Mariners signed Cleto when he was a teenager, and he had worked his way up to Class-A in 2010 when the team traded him to St. Louis for shortstop Brendan Ryan. Today will be the first time Cleto has ever faced Tacoma. By all accounts, Cleto throws some serious cheese. Gas. Heat. Queso. Whatever you call it, it’s gonna be fast.
- The novelist Dave Boling dropped by Cheney Stadium to write the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune.
- My minor league notebook for the paper focused on two former Rainiers and Mariners players currently in the PCL.
- The Mariners played a highly entertaining game on Saturday, but they lost in the bottom of the ninth.
- Over at the Seattle Times, the baseball-writing machine known as Larry Stone has his Sunday baseball package: an optimistic column about the Mariners turnaround and if it is sustainable, a major league notebook, and power rankings.
- In the PCL, Jurickson Profar swatted a pair of homers as Round Rock defeated Colorado Springs, 6-5. Tacoma is only a half-game out of first place.
- Randall Delgado tossed a gem last night, and Reno is going for the rare road sweep in Albuquerque today. In a fun newspaper feature, Reno players talked about their most memorable game-winning hits.
- Nashville whitewashed Salt Lake, 11-0. Caleb Gindl had four hits and Hunter Morris homered twice. This is a little bit ominous: the PCL’s worst team is heating up right before they come to Tacoma on Monday.
- Fresno hit a couple of big homers to beat New Orleans, 6-3.
- Former Rainiers slugger Brad Nelson is heating up for Iowa, but the Cubs lost to Tucson yesterday, 4-2. Mike Wilson went 1-for-5 with an RBI double in his Tucson debut.
- Sacramento’s Bruce Billings delivered seven shutout innings in a 6-3 win over Oklahoma City.
- Rob White wrote the truest sentence ever about Las Vegas outfielder Andrew Brown.