OKLAHOMA CITY – Tacoma Rainiers manager Daren Brown could only shake his head.
The Rainiers had scored 29 runs on 45 hits during the three previous games – all wins – and things looked good going into Monday’s doubleheader at Oklahoma City.
The trend didn’t hold. Instead, the Rainiers got swept by the RedHawks. In fact, Tacoma was one out away from being shut out in both games.
“Didn’t see it coming,” Brown said. “We swung the bats pretty well the last three days – probably as well as we’ve swung it all year.”
The Redhawks won the first game, 3-0, behind the combined pitching efforts of Doug Mathis, Bryan Corey and Brian Gordon.
Mathis (3-2) shut out the Rainiers through the first six innings with a gritty performance that required 115 pitches.
Mathis got some help in the fourth inning from an unlikely source: A Tacoma baserunner.
Mike Morse was at second base and Mike Carp was at first with one out in the fourth. Bryan LaHair ripped a pitch off the wall in center field, 400 feet from home plate. However, Morse thought that center fielder Julio Borbon had a play on it, so he stayed near second base. When the ball hit the fence and bounced to Borbon, only then did Morse advance to third.
Had Morse been running, he would have scored and LaHair would have had a double, leaving runners at second and third. Instead, the bases were loaded – and Jamie Burke grounded into an inning-ending double play.
“That cost us two runs, which probably makes it a different ballgame,” Brown said.
Luis Munoz (0-3) took the loss. He gave up a two-run home run to Esteban German in the first inning and another run in the second before settling down. Munoz retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced and ended up allowing three runs in six innings.
The second game was a 9-1 Oklahoma City rout. The RedHawks scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning, with Royce Huffman capping the outburst when he lined a three-run homer to left field.
Tacoma starter Chris Seddon (1-3) allowed six runs in four innings. He walked three straight batters during the third inning – the final one coming with the bases loaded, forcing in a run.
Justin Thomas also issued a bases-loaded walk. Tacoma pitchers walked eight and allowed 16 hits in the second game.
Tacoma (20-19) finally scored with two outs in the ninth inning. Prentice Redman blooped a broken-bat single to center field, scoring Michael Saunders with the only run of the long, dismal day.
The Rainiers finished the road trip with a 4-4 record, splitting both series at New Orleans and Oklahoma City.
“We’ve got a couple of days off to get (first baseman Chris) Shelton and (shortstop Chris) Woodward healthy, and hopefully we’ll be ready to go Thursday.” Said Brown.
Shelton missed the last three games of the Oklahoma series after a batting practice ground ball tore the fingernail of the index finger on his throwing hand. … The Rainiers had not been swept in a doubleheader since Aug. 25, 2006, at Tucson.
The Rainiers have two days off before opening an eight-game homestand against the Memphis Redbirds on Thursday. Tacoma will start Andy Baldwin (2-2, 3.43 ERA), while the Memphis starter has not been announced. Game time is 7 p.m.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.