Two-out rallies leave Rainiers feeling blue
Tacoma couldn’t close out innings against Sacramento on Tuesday at Cheney Stadium.
The River Cats scored seven runs with two outs on the way to an 8-1 win.
“It’s something we’ve been doing for a while,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said, “having trouble shutting down innings.”
Until Brandon Moss’ solo home run in the eighth inning gave the River Cats an 8-0 lead, all of Sacramento’s runs came with two outs. Daric Barton delivered the biggest blow when he popped a two-out, three-run homer in the first inning.
Tacoma starter Jeff Marquez (4-6) lasted five innings and took the loss. The right-hander allowed six earned runs on nine hits and two walks.
Marquez’s counterpart, Sacramento right-hander Graham Godfrey, hurled a gem. In six innings, Godfrey (4-0) didn’t allow a baserunner past second, while holding Tacoma (24-35) to three hits and striking out nine.
After starting the season in Oakland’s rotation and struggling – Godfrey lost his first three starts – he has been nearly untouchable in two stints with Sacramento (38-22). Godfrey has held opponents scoreless in four of his seven starts and has a 1.03 ERA.
Tacoma catcher Ralph Henriquez, who went 2-for-3, provided Tacoma’s only run – hitting a solo homer in the eighth inning off Travis Banwart.
Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who started a 20-day rehab assignment Saturday, is progressing well, Brown said. He went 2-for-4, recording a hit in his third straight game.
“Any time you’re talking abut a rehab guy it’s about how they feel and not necessarily about results,” Brown said. “He looks good at the plate, his timing and stuff. You wouldn’t know he basically missed all spring training.”
Sacramento designated hitter Manny Ramirez, a 12-time big league All-Star, did not play for the third straight day because of hamstring tightness.
Tacoma moved starting pitcher Forrest Snow (1-3, 8.32 ERA) to the bullpen Tuesday. The right-hander has struggled in 11 starts, allowing fewer than five earned runs only twice.
With Snow out of the rotation, right-hander Brian Sweeney will start Thursday against Salt Lake. Brown wouldn’t say what pitcher would permanently take over the spot in the rotation.
“Sweeney will start for us on Thursday,” he said, “and we’ll take it from there.”
With Snow in the bullpen, Tacoma has only four true starting pitchers plus a couple of guys, like Sweeney, capable of filling in, leading to speculation that the Rainiers would need to add a starter, perhaps top prospect Danny Hultzen of Double-A Jackson.
In 11 starts for the Generals, Hultzen is 6-3 with a 1.44 ERA. In 62 innings, he has allowed 32 hits and 30 walks while striking out 67. Hultzen has a 0.77 ERA since allowing five earned runs in his first start of the season.
The Rainiers are off today and begin a four-game series against Salt Lake on Thursday at Cheney Stadium. Sweeney (1-0, 3.90 ERA) will face Bees left-hander Greg Smith (1-3, 3.69) at 7:05 p.m.