Danny Hultzen wishes he could make his first-inning performance Sunday disappear.
The Seattle Mariners’ top pitching prospect had trouble finding the strike zone in the first against the Reno Aces. He threw 30 pitches, allowing three walks and an earned run and got an early visit from Tacoma Rainiers pitching coach Dwight Bernard.
“I was missing everywhere,” Hultzen said. “I think I was trying to spin or throw it too hard.”
He settled down after the first, and although he left with a no-hitter intact after five innings and 80 pitches, he took a no-decision in Tacoma’s 4-3 come-from-behind victory over Reno in front of 5,957 fans at Cheney Stadium.
The No. 2 overall pick out of Virginia in 2011 might’ve lasted longer than five innings Sunday had it not been for his high pitch total in the first. Manager Daren Brown said Hultzen was on a pitch limit of 75 or 80 pitches.
His pitches-by-inning dropped after the first to 12 (second inning), 18, 13 and 10. Hultzen exited after the fifth inning with six strikeouts, but trailed 1-0 after a sacrifice fly by Cole Gillespie gave Reno the early lead.
“After that (first inning), I settled in,” Hultzen said. “Just staying straight on line was a big thing. … That’s when I started to feel a little better.”
Said Brown: “I like the way he battled out of it. It could’ve been worse. He was really good the next four innings.”
Tacoma’s offense came alive after the exit of 6-foot-7 Reno starter Daniel Cabrera after six innings. Three of the four runs came off Reno’s bullpen and all four runs came via home runs.
Tacoma (55-74) took its first lead in the eighth with two outs. Tied at 2 and with Franklin Gutierrez on first base after an infield single, Alex Liddi hit a 2-1 pitch off Aces reliever Jensen Lewis into the bullpen for a go-ahead home run. It was hs seventh homer of the season.
Nick Franklin (sixth inning) and catcher Brandon Bantz (seventh) each hit solo home runs for the Rainiers. Tacoma relievers Brian Sweeney, winning pitcher Bobby LaFromboise and Danny Farquhar, who got his third save, combined to allow four hits in four innings of relief.
PINK IN THE PARK
For the second consecutive year, the Rainiers teamed with Carol Milgard Breast Center for the Pink in the Park day at Cheney Stadium to help increase awareness of early detection of breast cancer. The Rainiers wore special blue jerseys with pink trim, which were auctioned after the game.
The Rainiers and Aces continue their four-game series with a 7:05 p.m. game today. Tacoma will send right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (4-3, 4.05 ERA) against Reno right-hander Charles Brewer (9-7, 6.14).