It hadn’t been since the icy chill of April that the Tacoma Rainiers were shut out at Cheney Stadium.
And on a cool night Thursday that felt more like April than June, the Rainiers were held scoreless again.
Six Salt Lake City Bees pitchers combined to hold Tacoma to four hits in a 3-0 loss in the opener of the four-game series.
It was the fourth time the Rainiers (24-36) have been shut out this season. They were shut out twice all of last season.
“We haven’t been swinging the bats really well the last week,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said. “We need some guys to step up.”
Thanks to six walks issued by Salt Lake, there were opportunities, but the Rainiers never followed with hits.
“We just couldn’t string anything together,” Brown said.
In the third inning, Vinnie Catricala struck out with runners on first and third to end the threat. In the fourth inning, Franklin Gutierrez grounded out with runners on second and third.
Tacoma was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded five runners on base.
The Rainiers got a solid outing from Brian Sweeney, who was making his first start since May 24.
Sweeney gave Tacoma 5 innings, allowing two runs on a pair of solo homers.
“He did what he does, throw strikes and keep us in the game,” Brown said of Sweeney. “I’m sure he’d like to have those two innings back.”
Albert Rosario led off the fourth inning with a solo blast to left field to put the Bees up 1-0. In the fifth inning, Adam Heether hit a two-out homer to left.
Sweeney was lifted with one out in the sixth for Oliver Perez, who gave the Rainiers 12/3 innings of hitless baseball, while striking out four.
Forrest Snow made his first appearance in relief this season. A leadoff walk and an error by Luis Jimenez on a bunt set up a run on a sacrifice fly, but Snow managed to pitch out of the bases-loaded, one-out jam after that.
Snow pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, which Brown said was a positive.
“We just need to get him some confidence,” Brown said. “Getting out of the eighth with just the one run was big. And the clean ninth is what we want to see.”
Greg Smith picked up the win for Salt Lake. Reliever LaTroy Hawkins, who is on a rehab assignment, started the game and threw one inning.
The Rainiers send right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (3-1, 3.34 ERA) against former Mariners right-hander David Pauley (2-0, 2.19 ERA) tonight at 7:05 on 850-AM and email@example.com 253-597-8483 @RyanDivish