Tacoma played its wildest game of the season yesterday, taking down El Paso 16-15 in a game that reached the new heights of ridiculousness – even by Pacific Coast League standards.
The win put Tacoma 20 games over the .500 mark for the first time since the final day of the 2001 season. That team finished the year 26 games over, at 85-59, which is the second-best record in Tacoma franchise history.
Some of the things that happened last night absolutely boggle the mind. To witness:
- El Paso hit a leadoff home run in each of the first three innings, and lost.
- El Paso scored 11 runs over the final three innings, and lost.
Think about that again: a leadoff homer in innings 1, 2, and 3. Eleven runs over innings 7, 8, and 9. And a loss.
After the game, Pat Listach said that one of the craziest things about the game was that the Rainiers were in control pretty much all game. He’s right.
Tacoma took the lead in the top of the third, when two El Paso mistakes (a dropped strike three, and a dropped ball by the first baseman) extended the inning long enough for Rob Brantly to launch a three-run homer and give Tacoma a 6-3 lead.
The Rainiers methodically built a 10-4 lead going to the 7th inning stretch. Things appeared pretty normal at this time: Tacoma was taking advantage of the opponents mistakes, and was cruising toward another easy win.
Then El Paso scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game, 10-10. And the way it happened was terrifying: ten batters came to the plate, and eight had hits. Every hit was a scorched line drive. It was rockets all around the ballpark. Three Rainiers pitchers were needed in this inning, and each of them was giving up lasers.
The final out was recorded when Taylor Lindsey doubled deep to left field, and the Rainiers made a perfect relay from Dario Pizzano to Mike Freeman to Rob Brantly, nailing the go-ahead runner at home plate for the final out.
In what could serve as a microcosm of this terrific Tacoma Rainiers season, the team responded by immediately scoring six runs of their own in the top of the eighth inning.
They were back on top in a flash, with Freeman hitting a one-out single and Stefen Romero blasting a tape-measure two-run homer to left-center making it 12-10.
Tacoma kept adding on, taking advantage of another El Paso error to score four more unearned runs. Included was a big two-out, two-run single by Tyler Smith – one of his four hits on the night.
The 16-10 lead was anything but safe, with El Paso launching dingers left and right.
Chihuahuas veteran catcher Hector Sanchez went deep in the eighth, making it 16-13. Manuel Margot blasted a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth, and it was 16-15. Finally Carlos Asuaje flied out to center for the final out, and Tacoma had the win.
Here are some Thursday Night Fun Facts:
- El Paso out-hit Tacoma, 20-16.
- El Paso out-homered Tacoma, 5-2.
- El Paso also out-errored Tacoma, 3-1. This was crucial: Of Tacoma’s 16 runs, eight were unearned to El Paso pitchers. Good teams take advantage of the opponent’s mistakes.
- Manuel Margot went 5-for-6 with two doubles, two homers, four runs, and four runs batted in.
- Stefen Romero had his first four-hit game of the year, and drove in five runs. He had three RBI singles and the two-run tater.
- Mike Freeman became the first Tacoma player to score five runs in a game this season. He had two hits and two walks, and reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring every time.
- Tyler Smith went 4-for-5 , giving him 12 hits during a five-game hitting streak.
- El Paso relievers Keith Hessler and Eric Yardley each pitched 1.1 scoreless innings. How they did it is a mystery for the ages.
- For the first time this season, Hunter Renfroe did something against the Rainiers. He doubled and homered as a part of a three-hit game, and scored four runs. He ranks first or second in the league in several hitting categories, yet Tacoma has held him completely in check – until yesterday.
- It was the first Rainiers game this season in which both teams scored double-digit runs.
On the broadcast, the last out felt like a relief. We escaped!
Now we have two more games here.
Yesterday: See above – the Rainiers picked up a ridiculous 16-15 win at El Paso, and moved 20 games over .500 for the first time since 2001.
Roster Move: Busy day yesterday: the Mariners called up Blake Parker, optioned Donn Roach to Tacoma, and released Mayckol Guaipe to create a 40-man roster spot. Tacoma transferred Marvin Gorgas to Everett. The Mariners acquired outfielder James Ramsey from the Dodgers in exchange for “cash considerations.” Ramsey was with Oklahoma City, where he hit .264/339/433 with eight homers and 38 RBI in 83 games. He’s a former first round draft pick out of Florida State. Today, pitcher Robert Dugger was transferred to Everett.
Today: Tacoma (66-46-1) at El Paso (62-51), 6:05 (Pacific).
Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.
Season Series: Tacoma leads, 10-4.
Starting Pitchers: RHP Jarrett Grube (1-2, 3.83) at RHP Carlos Pimentel (11-5, 5.37)
Hot Rainiers: Tyler Smith is 12-for-22 over a five-game hitting streak, he went 4-for-5 yesterday… Daniel Robertson has hit safely in 12 of his last 14 games, going 19-for-59… Zach Shank has hit safely in five straight games, and he has walked eight times in his last ten games, with one strikeout (31 at-bats).
Look Out For: Nick Noonan has a seven-game hitting streak coming into tonight’s game… PCL home run leader Hunter Renfroe does a lot of damage in his home ballpark, where he is batting .395 with 16 homers. He’s hitting .249 with 11 homers on the road… Diego Goris has gone 8-for-22 during a six-game hitting streak. Obviously, he was born to be a Padre.
Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:50 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.
- The Rainiers game story is kind of a whirlwind.
- The Mariners took a tough 3-2, 11-inning loss to the Red Sox last night. The offense managed only six hits – three by Shawn O’Malley.
- Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook points out that the team has a new starting catcher.
- A Mariners pitcher made this week’s edition of Baseball America’s Prospect Hot Sheet.
- The El Paso Chihuahuas and San Diego Padres announced a two-year extension of their Player Development Contract, through 2018. There had been rumors around the league that the Houston Astros (currently in Fresno) were eyeing El Paso as a possible fit for next year.
PCL Game Reports:
- Fresno split a doubleheader in Las Vegas, winning the first game. Apparently the 51s responded to a “tongue lashing” in between games.
- Reno and Salt Lake also split a doubleheader. Shelby Miller pitched a complete game shutout in the first game, and Cal Towey hit a grand slam in game two to help Salt Lake salvage the split.
- Sacramento at Albuquerque got rained out.
- Down 10-1 going to the bottom of the ninth, Oklahoma City made it interesting before losing to Round Rock, 10-7. The Dodgers have dropped five games in a row.
- Albert Almora drove in three runs to help the Iowa Cubs to a 7-4 win over New Orleans.
- Memphis first baseman David Washington hit his 22nd homer of the year in a 3-2 win over Omaha.
- Nashville held on for a 5-4 win at Colorado Springs.