Every pitcher has a nemesis or two.
For Andrew Carraway, one of those continues to be hard-hitting catcher Luke Montz.
The rest of the Pacific Coast League has seemingly had its issues figuring out the Tacoma right-hander – his 2.98 earned-run average from April-May reflects that – but Montz was the beastly presence that turned the game upside-down Tuesday.
Montz went 4-for-5 with all six RBI in Sacramento’s 6-2 victory over the Rainiers in front of 5,457 sun-soaked spectators at Cheney Stadium.
It started with Montz’s two-run double off the base of the wall in left field in the first inning. He then broke it open with a three-run home run on the first pitch he saw from Carraway in the fifth inning.
“He has been on me well before,” Carraway said, “so I wanted to give him a different look – change speeds.”
The two go back a couple of seasons. Carraway said he has had a tough time getting Montz out in the past, and Tuesday just followed suit.
In the first inning, Carraway threw Montz a 3-2 change-up.
“That is a pitch most guys aren’t looking for,” Carraway said.
And in the next two at-bats, Carraway said he changed it up with different pitches. None of it mattered.
“Carraway got a couple of off-speed pitches up in the zone on him,” Tacoma interim manager John Stearns said. “He had him a little out front, but he kept his hands back and was able to get the big part of the bat on the ball.”
Stearns knows Montz – who had spent a month with the Oakland Athletics before being sent back down Saturday.
“He played for me in the Washington Nationals system. I was his Double-A manager (at Harrisburg),” Stearns said.
Carraway left after five innings, giving up five earned runs. Montz had an RBI single off reliever Brian Sweeney in the seventh.
The Rainiers scored a pair of unearned runs on Stefan Romero’s two-run infield single in the seventh. And in the eighth, the Rainiers loaded the bases with a chance to tie the game, but second baseman Dustin Ackley grounded out.
Outfielder Abraham Almonte, who drove in the winning run for the Rainiers in the 14th inning late Monday, saw his 13-game hitting streak snapped Tuesday. He went 0-for-3 with a walk.
Shortstop Brad Miller, who was promoted from Doubl-A Jackson last month, extended his hitting streak to seven games with a first-inning double.
The Rainiers are off Wednesday, then begin a four-game home series against Las Vegas on Thursday. Tacoma is scheduled to start Blake Beavan (3-2, 4,91 ERA), and the 51s are likely to counter with former Rainiers’ pitcher D.J. Mitchell (2-1, 6.61). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.