LAS VEGAS — “Dollar Beer Night” served as the perfect backdrop Thursday for a going-away party for 51s right-hander Zack Wheeler, the Mets’ top pitching prospect who is expected to make his major league debut for New York on Tuesday in Atlanta.
But Tacoma’s Erasmo Ramirez and Carlos Peguero helped the Rainiers crash the party and host their own bash at Cashman Field with an 11-0 rout of Las Vegas.
Ramirez and Josh Kinney combined on a five-hitter, and Peguero, Rich Poythress and Nate Tenbrink hit back-to-back-to-back homers in the eighth inning for Pacific Coast League-leading Tacoma (41-27), which scored 10 runs over the final three innings.
Ramirez, who improved to 2-1 with a 0.87 ERA, scattered five hits in eight innings, with seven strikeouts and no walks.
“He threw strikes all night and kept them at bay the whole time,” Rainiers manager John Stearns said. “They never even sniffed him.”
Peguero homered off Wheeler (4-2) in the fifth inning for the only hit against the 23-year-old, who is rated the No. 8 prospect by mlb.com and had seven strikeouts and two walks in 5† innings while consistently hitting 96 and 97 mph.
“Those first five innings, he was just outstanding,” Stearns, a former Mets catcher, said of Wheeler. “Throwing in the mid-90s with his fastball and two or three other pitches he’s got, he’s going to be a big league No. 1 or 2 starter for a long time, in my opinion.”
Peguero was mired in a 2-for-34 slump before breaking out for three hits — including a homer and double — and five RBI on Monday. The left-handed Dominican slugger went 2-for-5 with two homers and three RBI on Thursday to lift his average to .245 with 11 homers and 39 RBI.
“He had a breakout night and we’ll see if he can keep it going as we move forward,” Stearns said.
Tacoma launched four homers off Gonzalez Germen in its five-run eighth, which Abraham Almonte led off with his first homer of the season. Brad Miller singled to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, and Peguero launched a two-run, two-out blast to right-center to start the string of three straight.
Tenbrink went 2-for-4 with a homer, double and three RBI for the Rainiers, who scored three in the seventh on Tenbrink’s two-run double and catcher Brandon Bantz’s RBI triple.
Tacoma went 5-3 in its home-and-home series against Las Vegas (34-31).
“At the beginning of the series, I looked at it if we can go 5-3, I’d be very happy, and that’s exactly what happened,” Stearns said.
Dustin Ackley, who played center field after manning left field on Wednesday, singled to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, scored twice and is batting .406 for Tacoma.
Tacoma moves to Sacramento for a 7:05 p.m. game Friday. Rainiers right-hander Brandon Maurer (0-1, 1.42 ERA) will oppose River Cats left-hander Justin Thomas (3-4, 4.06). The game can be heard on 850-AM.