There were two sides to Brandon Maurer’s start Monday night against the Fresno Grizzlies.
One was the Maurer who struck out a season-high nine batters.
The other was the Maurer who was disgusted with himself after giving up four earned runs in two innings, including two home runs launched so hard and deep, his outfielders barely took a step.
The damage done by the Grizzlies was minimal, however, thanks to a 10-run outburst by Tacoma through four innings on its way to a 14-4 win at Cheney Stadium.
The Rainiers maintained their 21/2-game lead in the Pacific Coast League Northern Division standings over Colorado Springs.
Maurer cruised through three innings with five strikeouts and no hits.
But Fresno’s Brett Pill and Johnny Monell teed off for homers among the Grizzlies’ five hits in the fourth and fifth innings.
Maurer called them “dumb pitches” after he was lifted after 95 pitches.
“I feel like I could’ve thrown a few more change-ups,” Maurer said, “but other than that, I commanded the zone well.”
“His velocity was up to 93, 94, 95 (mph),” Rainiers manager John Stearns said. “He’s a tough guy to hit. If you’re a hitter and he’s throwing strikes, you have your work cut out just to get a hit off his guy. He’s not there yet. He needs to learn how to pitch a little more and when he does, he’s going to be a very good pitcher.”
The Rainiers had 10 runs through four innings, including five in the third.
Nate Tenbrick and Brandon Bantz, batting No. 7 and No. 8 in the order, each drove in a pair of runs.
Brad Miller continued his hot hitting by going 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles to extend his PCL-leading hitting streak to 20 games.
Carlos Peguero (4-for-4) and Alex Liddi (2-for-4) combined for six RBI and five runs scored.
WALKER DEBUTS TUESDAY
Touted pitching prospect Taijuan Walker makes his Triple-A debut Tuesday night in the series finale against the Grizzlies.
The 20-year-old right-hander, rated as the organization’s second-best prospect behind Mike Zunino by Baseball America, was promoted from Double-A Jackson on Friday after posting a 2.46 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 84 innings.
James Paxton was named the Pacific Coast League pitcher of the week after striking out 16 batters in two games (12 innings), including a season-high 11 in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Fresno.
The Rainiers and Grizzlies conclude their four-game series with a 7:05 p.m. game Tuesday. Walker (debut) goes up against Fresno right-hander Austin Fleet (0-1, 4.43 ERA). The game will be broadcast on 850-AM and online at www.tacomarainiers.com.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com theolympian.com/southsoundsports @MegWochnick