Searching For Pitching And Defense

The Rainiers dropped their fifth straight game on Friday night in Sacramento, 11-5.

Sacramento scored seven runs in the first inning, knocking out starter Andrew Carraway before he recorded an out. Tacoma got four back in the top of the second, but Sacramento kept tacking on runs and won with ease.

Tacoma (18-20) needs to get some better starting pitching performances to get back on track – and improved defense would certainly help, too.

No Tacoma starter has lasted six innings in the month of May, and it has happened only seven times over the first 38 games of the season. Blake Beavan‘s seven-inning start on opening day remains the longest outing by a Tacoma pitcher this season.

This has a profound affect on the bullpen. Everyone in the bullpen is now a long reliever, throwing multiple innings day after day. That means that when the Rainiers get into the late innings of a close game, they do not have a selection of fresh relievers that Roy Howell can use to create advantageous match-ups. He can only use the one guy whose arm isn’t hanging, or he has to stick with the same reliever who has already been in the game for two innings.

Defensive issues are compounding the problem. The Rainiers have made 11 errors during the five-game losing streak, and Tacoma ranks dead last in the PCL in fielding percentage (.968).

The good news is that this is the first bad streak the team has been on this season. Even the best Tacoma team I have seen – the 2001 club – had an eight-game losing streak. It happens to everyone at some point.

Hopefully this is the nadir. Tacoma can still emerge from this 12-game road trip with a respectable 5-7 record by winning these last two games in Sacramento.

Saturday’s game starts at 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jordan Pries (2-2, 2.00) against Sacramento RHP Zach Neal (2-1, 4.50).

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