Tacoma Rainiers manager Daren Brown entertained behind closed doors in his office before the game Wednesday. Read into that what you want – but his team was hitting just .176 on the current homestand.
Well, the Rainiers warmed up all right on this cool April night – the buzzed right through Fresno, 8-0, before a crowd of 1,716 at Cheney Stadium.
Brown isn’t one to divulge trade secrets, or even discussion points between him and his players. But the word “toughness” was mentioned as something it would take for the Rainiers to raise that low batting average in colder climes.
“All the games count now, even though it is cold,” Brown said. “We can’t sit around and wait for it to warm up.”
Shortstop Carlos Triunfel entered his name in the franchise’s records book by hitting for the cycle Wednesday – all before the fifth inning closed.
Triunfel, a non-drafted signee in 2006 who is in his third season with the Rainiers, opened the first inning against Fresno starting pitcher Michael Kickham with a triple that clipped the right-field line.
In the third, he tried that same area, lacing a double against Kickham in the right-field corner.
An inning later, the 23-year-old took the left-hander deep to left center for his first home run of the season. That gave Tacoma a 4-0 lead.
Kickham was gone by the time the Dominican Republic native came up in the fifth inning to face right-handed reliever Drew Bowlin.
On Bowlin’s first pitch, Triunfel crushed a line drive over first baseman Brett Pill’s head that landed just inside the foul line. He took a wide turn at first base and appeared intent on getting to second.
But about 25 feet into it, Triunfel stopped, gathered himself and retreated back to first base to complete the team’s first cycle since Raul Ibañez did it against Albuquerque in August of 1997.
“I thought about going for a double the whole way to second, but once I saw (second baseman Carter Jurica) cut the ball off quickly, I held up halfway and turned back,” said Triunfel through teammate Denny Almonte, who served as an interpreter.
“That is when all the guys started cheering. I knew what was going on.”
Tacoma starter James Paxton threw six scoreless innings for his first Triple-A victory.
Stefen Romero, the organization’s 2012 minor league player of the year (23 HR, 101 RBI in Single- and Double-A), flew into Tacoma on Wednesday. Fully recovered from an oblique injury suffered during spring training, Romero could play as early as today, Brown said. The former Oregon State standout will shift between third base and left field. ... Third baseman Alex Liddi (jammed big toe), who left the game Tuesday, was out of the lineup Wednesday but felt better and did some pre-game work. Brown said he expects him back in the next day or two.
Fresh up on promotion from Double-A, Hector Noesi (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his 2013 Rainiers’ rotation debut today. He will be opposed by Fresno’s Boof Bonser (0-1, 5.40). Game time is 7 p.m.