Rainiers Win In First Thriller Of The Season

The Rainiers played their first real tight game of the 2014 season, and things went Tacoma’s way.

The afternoon started on an unusual note, as the Rainiers changed their starting pitcher on the day of the game. With James Paxton (strained muscle in his back) hitting the disabled list in Seattle, the Mariners wanted Blake Beavan to start Wednesday instead of Thursday, to line him up as a possible replacement for Paxton (Taijuan Walker appears to be the other candidate). Beavan found out he was pitching when he showed up at the park in the early afternoon.

Spurred by an early solo homer by Jesus Montero, Beavan carried a 1-0 lead into the sixth inning. The lead disappeared when Kyle Blanks lined a two-run homer in the sixth (right after Tacoma centerfielder James Jones made a great throw to nab a runner at home plate).

Beavan was done after six strong innings, but he left trailing 2-1. When Cody Decker ripped Logan Kensing‘s very first pitch for a homer to lead off the seventh inning, El Paso took a 3-1 lead. Kensing settled down and combined with Logan Bawcom to pitch one-hit ball for the remainder of the game.

Nick Franklin came through in the clutch in the eighth, hitting a two-out, two-run, game-tying home run off veteran reliever Blaine Boyer. It was Franklin’s third homer of the season, and he is now 9-for-19 at the plate this year.

The Rainiers won the game in the bottom of the tenth, walk-off style. Chris Taylor pulled a sharp grounder down the left field line for a one-out double, and then Endy Chavez blooped a single in to shallow center (Taylor had to hold up to see if the flare would be caught, and thus only advanced one base). El Paso decided to walk Franklin intentionally, loading the bases for Cole Gillespie.

Facing right-hander Jorge Reyes, Gillespie worked a full count before lining a hard single to left field, scoring Taylor with the winning run. Everyone poured out of the dugout to greet Gillespie at first base after the game-winning hit.

The win improved Tacoma’s record to 2-3. After three straight losses, it was great to see the team come back and tie the game in the late innings, then finish the job in the 10th.

The Rainiers can finish the opening homestand with a .500 record with a win today.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. El Paso starts RHP Keyvius Sampson (0-1, 2.08) against Tacoma LHP James Gillheeney.

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune has quotes from Beavan, Gillespie, and manager Roy Howell.
  • The Mariners placed James Paxton on the disabled list and called up Rainiers reliever Lucas Luetge. It seems like we are going to have a lot of roster moves in the next 4-5 days.
  • TJ Cotterill has a blog post for the TNT on who might get the call to replace Paxton. Bob Dutton has more information along that line right here.
  • Much of the Mariners early season success has been due to an improved offense. That all changed last night, when the Mariners were held to one hit by Garrett Richards and the Angels.
  • Taijuan Walker had a very successful rehabilitation start at Double-A Jackson last night, striking out ten over five shutout innings.
  • In the PCL, Salt Lake’s Grant Green nearly hit a game-tying home run, but the ball was caught and the Bees lost to Fresno, 10-7. Adam Duvall hit a grand slam for Fresno.
  • Top prospect Noah Syndergaard struggled with his tempo and was dealt his first Triple-A loss in Sacramento’s 7-4 win at Las Vegas.
  • Reno scored six runs in the first inning and waltzed to a 9-2 win over Albuquerque.
  • The big news was in the American Conference, where Omaha lashed 29 hits and whacked Memphis, 20-3. Omaha leadoff man Brett Eibner went 5-for-5 with two singles, a double, a pair of 3-run homers, and finished with 9 RBI. Rainier Beach High School product Matt Fields went 5-for-6 for Omaha.
  • Iowa Cubs starter Carlos Pimentel struck out ten batters over six strong innings in a 6-1 win over Nashville.
  • Walks doomed New Orleans in the ninth inning of a 3-2 loss to Oklahoma City, and the Zephyrs have lost six in a row.
  • Nick Tepesch pitched a nice game and Round Rock defeated Colorado Springs, 7-1. The Express added Jurickson Profar‘s little brother Juremi to the roster.
  • Baseball America’s daily round-up is here.

There is no Mariners game tonight. It’s Thirsty Thursday at Cheney Stadium. Do as you see fit.

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