SALT LAKE CITY – Could back-to-back three-hit games be a sign of good things to come for Vinnie Catricala?
The Tacoma Rainiers certainly hope so. The Seattle Mariners 2011 Minor League Player of the Year, Catricala was 3-for-5 with a double, a home run, and five runs batted in as Tacoma defeated Salt Lake on Saturday night, 13-5.
The third-baseman also had three hits Friday, and he is 6-for-8 over the last two games. He’s boosted his batting average from .229 to .242 in just two days.
“It’s two games in a row for Catricala, and it’s what we’ve been waiting to see,” said Tacoma manager Daren Brown. “We’ve seen one game here and there, but as far as putting something together for a four- or five-game stretch, that’s just consistency. The last two days have been good to see.”
Last year, Catricala hit .349 with 25 home runs and 106 RBI splitting his season between Class-A High Desert and Double-A Jackson. An excellent spring training camp this year gave hope that he could be an offensive force for Tacoma.
It’s not yet out of the question.
Tacoma (37-51) scored five runs in the top of the first inning, with four coming after Salt Lake center fielder Kole Calhoun dropped Mike Wilson’s fly ball that would have been the third out.
Salt Lake scored four runs over the first two innings against Rainiers starter Blake Beavan, making it 5-4.
Tacoma started pulling away in the fifth inning. Trayvon Robinson launched a deep home run to right field off Eddie McKiernan to open the inning.
With two outs, Nick Franklin and Wilson singled before Catricala roped a three-run homer to left, giving Tacoma a 9-4 lead.
The Rainiers made it 11-4 in the eighth and Catricala added a two-run double to left-center in the ninth off former Mariners and Rainiers reliever Sean White.
Tacoma’s All-Star designated hitter Luis Jimenez was available for pinch-hitting duty. Jimenez injured his elbow in the post-game celebration after collecting the game-winning hit in the 12th inning Monday. He is the starting DH for the PCL in the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday in Buffalo, N.Y. The game will be telecast on the MLB Network and be broadcast locally on 850 AM, with first pitch set for 4:30 p.m. PDT.
The series wraps up with a game Sunday at 12:05 p.m. PDT, with the three-day All-Star break to immediately follow. Tacoma will start Jarrett Grube (0-5, 9.70) against Salt Lake’s Greg Smith (4-5, 3.50).Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.