Playing in just his fourth game as a member of the Tacoma Rainiers, Justin Ruggiano launched three home runs during a 14-4 victory over El Paso on Saturday night at Cheney Stadium.
Ruggiano’s first two homers were opposite-field three-run shots against Chihuahuas starting pitcher Robbie Erlin. Erlin is a lefty who has made 20 career major league starts, and Ruggiano specializes in hitting left-handed pitchers.
His third homer was a solo blast pulled to left field against reliever Justin Hershiser. Orel’s kid was making his second career appearance above A-ball.
Ruggiano had an opportunity to hit a fourth homer, but he never got to swing the bat when he walked on five pitches in the eighth inning.
He’s the first Tacoma player to hit three home runs in a game since Jabari Blash did it last June – coincidentally, that also happened against El Paso, but it occurred on the road.
Ruggiano is strictly serving as the designated hitter for Tacoma right now. He’s dealing with a sore elbow which prevents him from making throws from the outfield.
Yesterday: Just two Tacoma Rainiers combined to hit five home runs in a 14-4 blasting of El Paso. In addition to Ruggiano’s three dingers, Jesus Montero hit a pair. Tacoma is now second in the PCL with 75 home runs (Las Vegas leads with 77).
Today: El Paso (38-37) at Tacoma (37-39), 1:35 (Pacific).
Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.
Season Series: El Paso leads, 6-4.
Starting Pitchers: LHP Jason Lane (6-4, 4.59) at RHP Justin Germano (6-3, 3.15)
Hot Rainiers: Um, Ruggiano. Shawn O’Malley has hit safely in six straight games and is batting .354 in the month of June. Reliever David Rollins has not allowed a run in five outings; the Mariners have to make a decision on the Rule 5 Draft pick around July 4th.
Look Out For: Jedd Gyorko went 0-for-4 yesterday, ending his nine-game hitting streak. Cody Decker has three homers in his last six games – he’s always been a streaky hitter in the PCL, so look out.
Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 1:20 (Pacific) on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here. It’s a Sunday home game so Bob Robertson joins me in the booth.
PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.
- We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. For lots of additional comments from Justin Ruggiano and video of the third homer (that pitch was a ‘cookie’), check the MiLB.com story.
- My weekly Minor League Notebook for the paper is about Patrick Kivlehan leaving the Rainiers for two weeks to play for Team USA in the Pan American Games, and a recent wave of call-ups from the PCL.
- The Mariners lost to the Angels and Robinson Cano suffered a freak injury on Saturday – although Cano is apparently OK.
- Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook gets to the bottom of the team’s closer situation.
- Ryan Divish reviews the Mariners preseason Top 10 prospects list to see how they are doing. It includes comments from Director of Player Development Chris Gwynn regarding D.J. Peterson‘s disappointing first half.
- John McGrath has his MLB power rankings, and a column about Pete Rose and gambling.
- In the PCL, Tacoma received some big help from the Reno Aces, who swept a day/night doubleheader from first place Fresno. Gabriel Arias and Justin Marks both tossed gems, and Tacoma is now seven games out of first. Former No. 1 pick Mark Appel got creamed in his Triple-A debut.
- Salt Lake’s C.J. Cron had a big game in an 8-6 win over Albuquerque.
- Las Vegas catcher Anthony Recker went 4-for-4 in a 7-1 win over visiting Sacramento.
- Top prospect Kyle Schwarber needed a triple to ride out of Principal Park on a cycle after Iowa’s 6-1 win over New Orleans.
- Round Rock picked up a 5-1 win at Omaha, Good news for the Texas Rangers: Martin Perez pitched four innings in his continued comeback from elbow surgery.
- Nashville scored early and beat Oklahoma City, 7-2.
- Hiram Burgos tossed a gem and Colorado Springs shut out Memphis, 2-0.