• Tacoma 14, Salt Lake 0
Apparently, the Tacoma Rainiers had enough of losing and scratching out just a handful of runs per game this week.
The Rainiers unleashed their full offensive fury on the Salt Lake Bees on Friday night, wrapping up their homestand with a 14-0 rout at Cheney Stadium, snapping a four-game losing streak in the process.
And while the Rainiers have shown the capability to put up gaudy offensive numbers, they absolutely mauled Salt Lake pitching Friday.
The Rainiers set season highs in runs scored (14) and hits (19) – seven of which went for extra bases, including three home runs, and every player that came to the plate registered a hit, including call-up Bennett Billingsley, who got his first Triple-A hit.
Who had the best offensive night for the Rainiers?
Catcher Jeff Clement certainly is a candidate. After missing the last three games to be with his wife and newborn son, Jake, Clement went 4-for-4 with a monster two-run homer, a double and scored four runs.
“I don’t know how I did it,” Clement said. “I’ve hardly slept the last three days. Maybe the ball was a little blurry from lack of sleep and I wasn’t jumping at it.”
A year ago, his former teammate Rob Johnson returned after the birth of his first child and tore up PCL pitching.
“He was absolutely on fire,” Clement said. “Maybe the same will happen for me. I think I was a little anxious and amped up in some at-bats earlier this season, but this game I just didn’t have it in me to be that way.”
If not Clement, perhaps it was first baseman Mike Carp. The left-handed slugger broke out of a 1-for-17 slump Friday.
Carp sat out Thursday’s game, then went 4-for-5 with three runs scored and four RBI on Friday.
“You know he’s 22 years old, he’d played in every game and he needed a break,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said. “It’s just the mental break for an everyday player to sit and watch a game.”
Carp ripped a solo homer to right in his first at-bat, then added a double that hit off the center-field wall to score two runs.
“That guy can flat out hit,” Clement said of his teammate.
Lost in the all the offense was an outstanding pitching performance from starter Jason Vargas. The lefty shut down a Salt Lake offense that had roughed up Rainiers pitching for a good portion of the series.
“They came out swinging from the first game,” Vargas said.
But the Bees were doing a lot of swinging and missing on Vargas (1-1), who recorded a season-high eight strikeouts while working six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and walking one.
“It was good tonight,” he said. “I got in a good rhythm. Jeff and I were in sync.”
Vargas made it look easy.
“He has four solid pitches that he can throw for strikes and he mixes it up very well,” Clement said.
The Rainiers open a four-game series with the Colorado Sky Sox today in Colorado Springs. Left-hander Garrett Olson (1-1, 4.05 ERA) will start for Tacoma against lefty Kurt Birkins (0-0, 3.60 ERA) First pitch is set for 4 p.m. PDT (850-AM).