TUCSON, Ariz. – The nine-game, home-and-home series between Tacoma and Tucson came down to a two-out, two-strike, two-run single in the ninth inning – and Tacoma won the final game of the marathon series, 3-2.
Carlos Triunfel grounded a two-run single to center field off Tucson closer Erik Hamren, turning a 2-1 deficit into a one-run lead.
It was a clutch moment for Tacoma’s 22-year-old shortstop, who worked a 2-2 count before connecting on the game-winning hit.
“Triunfel puts the ball in play a lot,” said Tacoma manager Daren Brown. “It was two strikes, he got the barrel to it, and found a hole.”
Triunfel’s hit gave Tacoma reliever Stephen Hensley (2-4) the win. Bobby LaFromboise pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth, earning his second save.
Tacoma starter D.J. Mitchell had a strong outing, lasting seven innings in his second start since being acquired from the Yankees in the Ichiro Suzuki trade.
Mitchell gave up two runs – but both were unearned, set up by errors in the infield. Mitchell walked one batter, allowed five hits and struck out four.
“Mitchell threw the ball really well,” said Brown. “He threw a lot of quality pitches. We kind of gave them two runs with defensive misplays, but he kept making big pitches and held them there.”
Triunfel’s throwing error with two outs in the first inning allowed Matt Clark to single home the first run.
Tacoma tied it in the third. Scott Savastano lined a leadoff double against Tucson starter Colt Hynes. Darren Ford drove in Savastano with a single to center.
That was the only run Hynes allowed. After tossing seven shutout innings against Tacoma in his previous start Thursday, he went 62/3 innings this time, allowing one run.
Tucson took the 2-1 lead with an unearned run in the fourth inning, and it appeared that would be the final score.
Justin Smoak led off the ninth with a walk, and Hamren balked him to second base. A one-out wild pitch sent Smoak to third.
Hamren intentionally walked Alex Liddi after falling behind 3-0 in the count.
The play backfired when Liddi stole second while Vinnie Catricala struck out on a full count, putting two men in scoring position for Triunfel.
Outfielder Carlos Peguero, optioned to Tacoma after Monday’s Seattle game, is expected to join the Rainiers today. … Mike Wilson missed Tuesday’s game after fouling a ball off his foot on Monday. … Nick Franklin (left knee) could return today.
The Rainiers open an eight-game homestand at 7:05 tonight against the Oklahoma City RedHawks. Tacoma will start Steve Garrison (0-3, 4.64 ERA) against Jake Buchanan (0-0, 9.00).Mike Curto is the Rainiers’ radio broadcaster.