Danny Hultzen has collected plenty of strikeouts in his time with the Tacoma Rainiers, which has overshadowed his command issues.
Those issues were glaring Friday in his final home start at Cheney Stadium.
Hultzen didn’t make it out of the first inning in the Rainiers’ 4-2 loss to the Las Vegas 51s – his worst start of the season.
Hultzen allowed four runs, two on bases-loaded walks before manager Daren Brown pulled him after 40 pitches (16 strikes).
“Obviously he had some command issues,” Brown said. “When you can’t get out of the first inning, it’s obviously not what he was looking for and not what we are looking for.”
Hultzen’s night began with a leadoff walk on five pitches to Jonathan Diaz and it never got better. He allowed RBI singles to Kevin Howard and Ricardo Nanita, loaded the bases with another walk and proceeded to walk Danny Perales and Paul Phillips on back-to-back at-bats to give Las Vegas two more runs.
“It’s a learning experience,” Brown said. “I expect he will learn from it and move on.”
It was a sign of continued command issues for the 22-year-old left-hander.
While Hultzen’s 51 strikeouts in 42 innings in Tacoma suggest he has dominant stuff, he has also issued 33 walks since being promoted from Double-A Jackson.
Hultzen’s shortest outing of the season came one start after one of his best, when he gave up no hits and struck out six in five innings against Reno on Sunday.
But Friday’s start won’t help Hultzen (1-3, 5.14 ERA) make a case to join the Mariners when the roster expands to 40 in September.
“Some nights its not your night,” Brown said. “The best ones move on, and I have no doubt that is what he will do.”
Carlos Peguero cut the Rainiers’ deficit and put Tacoma on the scoreboard with an RBI double in the fourth. He later came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning and drove in Franklin Gutierrez on a sacrifice fly.
Daren Ford reached second with one out in the ninth on Diaz’ missed catch in center field, but Nick Franklin and Gutierrez both flew out to end the game.
While Hultzen struggled, Tacoma’s bullpen prevented further damage.
Brian Sweeney came in and shut Las Vegas down with 5 scoreless innings and allowed only two hits. Cesar Jimenez and Steven Hensley didn’t allow any runs over the next three innings.
Hultzen is expected to make one more start before the Rainiers season ends Sept. 3. ... Jimenez struck out two in two scoreless innings in his first appearance since being reinstated off the disabled list. He took the roster spot made available by the suspension of David Pauley.
Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (4-3, 4.43 ERA) will take the mound today for the Rainiers in a 7:05 p.m. game against Las Vegas lefty Brett Cecil (1-1, 2.43 ERA) that will be broadcast on 850-AM.