Brandon Maurer recorded another solid outing, allowing only one earned run for the second time in two starts since his May 29 demotion to the Tacoma Rainiers from Seattle.
But the bullpen wasn’t as sharp, and the Rainiers struggled against hot Las Vegas 51s pitcher Carlos Torres as Tacoma fell, 7-1, in front of an announced crowd of 6,781 on Sunday at Cheney Stadium.
Torres earned his second consecutive complete-game victory after tossing a shutout in his last start against Sacramento. He has allowed three earned runs in his last four starts and is well in line for Pacific Coast League pitcher of the week.
“Sometimes in baseball, you are going to get your butt kicked out there,” Rainiers manager John Stearns said. “Their pitcher did that to us today. He shut us down. I take my hat off to him.”
Maurer was throwing just as well. He gave up an RBI single to Wilmer Flores in the first inning but locked in after that, even striking out five consecutive batters at one point.
Maurer has posted a 1.42 earned-run average in two Tacoma starts since going 2-7 with a 6.93 ERA in Seattle to start the season.
“I’ve just made my delivery a bit more fluid,” he said. “I feel like I was rushing things a lot up there (in Seattle). I’m definitely feeling more comfortable here. Big time.”
Said Stearns: “He looks like a solid guy for the future of our organization. If he pitches like that, he will be back in the big leagues again before too long.”
Maurer had thrown 95 pitches through six innings, and Stearns replaced him for the seventh.
Then the game broke loose.
Lucas Luetge’s second pitch turned into an Eric Campbell solo home run. In the next inning, Luetge didn’t record an out before loading the bases.
Stearns took him out and called on Jonathan Arias, who walked home a run before teeing up a belt-high, middle-of-the-plate offering for Brandon Hicks, who sent it over the left-field wall for a grand slam.
“He wasn’t throwing strikes with his other pitches, and the hitter just sat on fastball,” Stearns said of Arias. “He honed in on that, got it and hit it out.”
Torres, meanwhile, never slowed down.
He got Abraham Almonte swinging to end the sixth for his 13th consecutive out. He retired 18 of 19 hitters, with Eric Thames’ single in the second as the only ding on his pitching line.
But Brad Miller caught him off guard with a leadoff bunt in the seventh and made it to first. Stefen Romero followed with a walk, and Miller moved to third on Carlos Peguero’s fielder’s choice before scoring on Rich Poythress’ groundout for Tacoma’s lone run.
The two Rainiers hits tied a season low. They had tied a season high with 11 runs at home Saturday.
Catcher Jason Jaramillo went 0-for-3 in his Rainiers debut. He was added to the lineup earlier after his release following 23 games with the Oklahoma City RedHawks. Dustin Ackley did not play because of an ingrown toenail. It was his first time out of the lineup since joining the Rainiers on May 27. He’s batting .444 his past 10 games.
Tacoma begins a 12-game trip Monday at Las Vegas. Hector Noesi (0-0, 10.80 ERA) will start for the Rainiers, and Chris Schwinden (3-5, 5.72) will go for the 51s. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677 firstname.lastname@example.org @Cotterill44