Let’s see, the Tacoma Rainiers started fireballer Michael Pineda on the mound, hit a season-high seven home runs, and benefited from four errors committed by the Portland Beavers.
So, of course, they added to their lead in the Pacific Coast League Pacific Northern Division with a dominant win on Thursday night at Cheney Stadium. Right?
The Rainiers managed to lose, 17-12, to the Beavers.
How did they do it?
Well, the Beavers hit four home runs, including a grand slam from the No. 9 hitter, and also banged out 19 hits, while roughing up Pineda in what could be his final start of the season.
The teams combined for 29 runs, 40 hits, 11 home runs and five errors. They used 11 pitchers with just one 1-2-3 inning in 3 hours, 43 minutes of baseball.
And, yet, with Salt Lake losing to Colorado Springs, the Rainiers maintained their 21/2-game lead over the Bees and moved closer to clinching a division title. Their magic number is 10.
But for Pineda, this could have been his final start of 2010. The big right-hander simply didn’t have the usual command with his fastball. He couldn’t throw it for strikes consistently, and when he did, it was up in the zone and it was hit.
He lasted 32/3 innings, giving up six runs on eight hits with a walk and five strikeouts. He threw 81 pitches.
Pineda has thrown 139 innings this season – nearly triple the 47 he threw in an injury-shortened season last year.
The Mariners have said they are going to be cautious with Pineda’s workload, and the outing against Portland may be a sign he is wearing down.
And yet as much as Pineda struggled, he didn’t suffer the loss. He left with the Rainiers trailing 6-4 with two outs in the fourth. By the end of the fourth, Tacoma had a 7-6 lead thanks to a solo homer from Greg Halman to start the inning and Mike Carp’s second homer of the game – a two-run blast that hit off the Foss High School tennis court fences well past the right-field wall.
Halman’s homer was his 30th of the season and he became just the fifth player to reach the plateau in the team’s history. The last player was Dan Rohrmeier, who hit 33 in 1997.
The Rainiers’ lead lasted about 10 minutes as reliever Edward Paredes (0-1) loaded the bases.
Rainiers manager Jose Castro went to right-hander Steven Shell to face Portland’s No. 9 hitter Dusty Ryan, who jumped on the second pitch he saw for a grand slam to give Portland a 10-7 lead. The Beavers would never trail again.
They added three more runs in the sixth, powered by a two-run homer from Sean Kazmar. Portland tacked on four more in the ninth off of Rainiers closer Dan Cortes. Center fielder Cedric Hunter hit his second homer – a three-run shot – to cap off impressive night.
Hunter led the Beavers’ onslaught, finishing 5-for-6 with a double, two homers, eight RBI and three runs scored.
For Tacoma, Tug Hulett had a similar night, going 5-for-6 with a double, a homer and four RBI.
FINALE TIME CHANGE
Fans wishing to bid farewell to the current version of Cheney Stadium will be doing so earlier than originally scheduled. The final game at the stadium on Sept. 2 against Colorado Springs will start at 6 p.m. because of a postgame party for fans.
Ryan Feierabend (3-6, 5.47 ERA) goes for the Rainiers against Portland’s Cesar Ramos (5-6, 3.26) in a 7 p.m. game on Comcast Sports Northwest.
Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 firstname.lastname@example.org