OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — The Tacoma Rainiers have hit a speed bump in Oklahoma City.
Winners of 12 of the prior 13 games heading into the series, Tacoma has lost three in a row to the RedHawks, including a 3-1 decision Thursday night. The Rainiers need a win on Friday to avoid being swept.
Oklahoma City pitchers Asher Wojciechowski, Rhiner Cruz, and Jose Valdez combined to limit the potent Tacoma offense to six hits.
Wojciechowski (1-0) was able to duck and dodge jams during six scoreless innings to earn his first Triple-A win. Tacoma had runners on first and second with nobody out in the first, second, and fourth innings – only to come away with no runs. Twice, Wojciechowski got Carlos Triunfel to ground into a rally-killing double-play.
“We had a couple of early-inning things rising, but couldn’t get any big hits with runners in scoring position,” said Tacoma manager John Stearns.
Tacoma was 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
The Rainiers remained in the game due to a strong start by Blake Beavan. Making his second start of 2013 for Tacoma, Beavan allowed three runs (two earned) in 5 2/3 innings.
Beavan (0-2) gave up just an unearned run through the first five innings, before allowing a pair of two-out hits in the sixth. Brett Wallace hit an RBI double that knocked him out.
“Blake Beavan was much improved from last time,” said Stearns. “He had the ball down in the zone, much better fastball command. That was a nice outing for him.”
Tacoma finally scored in the ninth inning. Mike Zunino opened the inning with a double down the left field line, went to third on a ground out, and scored on a Rich Poythress grounder to shortstop.
The Rainiers committed two errors in the second inning to allow the first run to score. Triunfel booted a grounder at shortstop, and Nick Franklin made an errant throw after a nice pick-up behind the second base bag.
Zunino was 2-for-4 and is now 5-7 in the series – continuing his trend of hitting in road games. Zunino is batting .385 on the road and .043 at home, with all five of his home runs on the road.
The series concludes with a 5:05 p.m. (PDT) game Friday. Tacoma starts Jimmy Gillheeney (2-0, 2.84) against Oklahoma City’s Brett Oberholtzer (1-3, 7.71) in a battle between left-handers. The broadcast airs on 850 AM.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers