A sore knee took Carlos Peguero’s scorching-hot bat out of the Tacoma Rainiers lineup on Sunday.
The man who took his place in the cleanup spot – 280-pound Luis Jimenez – provided a towering home run that landed two-thirds of the way up Tightwad Hill beyond the right field wall. But that wasn’t enough as Tacoma fell to Salt Lake, 8-2, before a crowd of 2,581 at Cheney Stadium.
“(Batting fourth) doesn’t affect anything,” Jimenez said. “I just try to do my things, you know. I’ve been struggling the first three games. We worked today to do some drills (with Jeff Pentland), the hitting coach. It worked today. I tried to get behind the ball, and see the ball, get ready early and just make contact.”
Jimenez’s fourth-inning home run was his first hit of the season. He followed it with a single in the sixth, moving his average to .143 after four games.
The man he replaced – Peguero – sizzled his way through most of spring training with the Mariners and continued that with seven hits in his first 10 at bats with the Rainiers. A home run he hit Saturday was estimated by club officials to have traveled at least 425 feet.
He was penciled into manager Daren Brown’s original lineup Sunday, but then scratched.
“His knee was a little bit sore,” Brown said. “We’re still early in the season. … Obviously, if it’s a little bit sore we’ll check it out. As of right now, it’s a score knee and precautionary taking him out. … He’s been running the bases a lot these first three games. Maybe he’s a little bit tired.”
Tacoma (2-2) could have used all available the firepower as the Bees (2-2) quickly jumped on struggling starter Forrest Snow, a former Washington Huskis pitcher from Shoreline.
Until Sunday, Snow had never walked more than four batters in a professional game. On Sunday, he walked five batters and hit another.
He managed to weave out of trouble for the first couple of innings, although Bees reached scoring position in each.
Then Salt Lake broke through for four runs in the third. Two of those runners who scored had reached base by walking. But two punched their own tickets. Kole Calhoun and Hank Conger launched back-to-back homers to right.
“Snow wasn’t as sharp as what I’ve seen him before,” Brown said. “He kind of got by with it for a couple of innings. I think he had leadoff walks the first three innings; five walks (total). That’s not him. He got behind a little bit and paid for it.”
Jimenez’s blast cut Salt Lake’s lead to 4-1 after four. However, the Bees added a run in the sixth and three more in the seventh.
The Rainiers had rallied from five runs down on Friday. But they didn’t have another one of those in them Sunday – just a solo home run from Guillermo Quiroz in the eighth.
“I’m not worried about being behind,” Brown said. “I think we’re capable of coming back. But it’s not going to happen every night. We just kind of got down a little bit, and then really two solo homers was all we could muster offensively.”
The Rainiers begin a four-game series with Colorado Springs at 7:05 tonight at Cheney Stadium. Probable starting pitchers are right-hander Alex White for the Sky Sox against left-hander Anthony Vasquez.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 email@example.com