Baxter Sends Storm Chasers Indoors

The Rainiers had their first walk-off win of the season on Monday night, and it was about as dramatic as could be.

Trailing 5-4 with two on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Mike Baxter launched a 2-2 pitch from Omaha reliever Malcom Culver over the wall in right-center for a 7-5 victory.

It was Baxter’s second home run of the game, and third of the season. Here’s the video of the walk-off – just click on it if it doesn’t come up automatically:

I laughed in the middle of the celebration because someone dumps the water cooler, and when the pile separates it’s a confused Dario Pizzano who is standing there covered with ice water.

The homer completed a pretty big comeback: Omaha scored five times in the top of the second inning against James Paxton, but did not score again the rest of the way.

Paxton averaged 96 miles per hour on his fastball and topped out at 98. Manager Pat Listach said it was the best stuff Paxton has had this season – but, in that second inning he got into some bad counts and left pitches in the middle of the plate where they could be hit hard.

Paxton, Justin DeFratus, Kraig Sitton, and Jonathan Aro combined to pitch seven straight shutout innings and enable the comeback.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma enjoyed its first walk-off win of the season, with Mike Baxter’s three-run homer ending it in a 7-5 win. The Rainiers will go for a series win today.

Today: Omaha (21-16) at Tacoma (22-16), 11:35.

Opponent Affiliation: Kansas City Royals.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 2-1.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Luke Farrell (2-0, 3.73) at RHP Adrian Sampson (4-2, 3.05).

Hot Rainiers: Mike Baxter has eight hits and two walks in his last five games, with the two homers last night… Ed Lucas has hit safely in five straight games… Rob Brantly has gone 7-for-20 over a five-game hitting streak, with a pair of homers… Dario Pizzano has hit safely in nine straight games, going 12-for-30… Chris Taylor has reached base via hit or walk in 33 of the 36 games he has played in.

Look Out For: Brett Eibner homered three times on Thursday against Memphis, including two in the fifth inning alone. He became the 21st player in PCL history to homer twice in one inning… defending PCL batting champion Jose Martinez is 6-for-12 with a homer in this series… 2013 first round draft pick Hunter Dozier might be breaking out this season – he went 3-for-4 last night, and has hit safely in six straight games.

Local Guy: Mill Creek native Travis Snider is on Omaha, trying to play his way back to the big leagues. Jackson High School Class of 2006.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 11:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

  • Mike Baxter wasn’t sure it was gone, we learn in the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • Matt Calkins has a column on the evolving pitching style of Felix Hernandez. I like Felix’s comments here.
  • The Mariners open a series in Baltimore tonight, and it’s a return home for catcher Steve Clevenger.

PCL Game Reports:

Early game today, and then an off-day on Wednesday. I’m taking the day off, too – our next blog post will appear Thursday early-afternoon, before Tacoma hosts Iowa.

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