Tacoma Rainiers starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez had been lights out against Las Vegas, refusing to give up an earned run in 33 innings pitched over five previous starts against the 51s.
The trend stopped Saturday night as the 51s scored four runs off Ramirez – all earned – in a 4-1 win over the Rainiers in front of 5,239 fans at Cheney Stadium.
The loss, combined with the Colorado Spring Sky Sox’s 5-2 win over Tucson, cuts the Rainiers’ first-place lead in the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific North Division to two games.
Three of those four runs were home runs off Ramirez – Wilmer Flores’ two-run shot in the first and a solo home run by Rylan Sandoval in the fourth that gave Las Vegas (42-38) a 3-1 lead.
It’s not like Ramirez pitched poorly. He gave up 10 hits, but struck out five over six innings.
Rainiers manager John Stearns said most other games, Ramirez might’ve won had it not been for the offense producing just four hits. Tacoma had 19 batters in a row retired by 51s starter Jacob deGrom and reliever Greg Burke. Carlos Triunfel’s single to left with one out in the ninth gave Tacoma (48-35) its fourth hit.
“This game could’ve been different if our offense was working,” Stearns said. “With our team in the past, we would’ve had a chance to win. We’ve lost some of our players we had earlier. It’s not going to be easy from now on.”
In the past two games, Las Vegas has outscored Tacoma, 13-1, and put up 25 hits resulting in two consecutive losses for the Rainiers.
The long ball has been the difference for the 51s. Ten of their 13 total runs have come via six home runs.
SPECIAL FIRST PITCH
Larry Cook got a surprise he wasn’t anticipating during Saturday’s ceremonial first pitch. Expecting to throw the pre-game pitch to a Rainiers player, it was actually his son, Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeff Cook, who is stationed in Qatar, dressed in a full Rainiers uniform and catcher’s mask.
But Larry Cook didn’t know it was his son until after the pitch was thrown, when his son walked up to the pitcher’s mound, took off the mask and revealed his identity.
The Rainiers and 51s wrap up their four-game series at 1:35 p.m. Sunday. Tacoma sends right-hander Brandon Maurer (2-1, 3.33 ERA) to the mound against Las Vegas right-hander Matt Fox (2-2, 5.32). The game can be heard on 850-AM.email@example.com