TUCSON, Ariz. — Stefen Romero had a big homecoming game, but he was upstaged by Tacoma starter James Paxton in the Rainiers’ 7-0 win over the Tucson Padres on Monday night.
Paxton pitched a complete-game five-hit shutout, walking just two batters while striking out four. It was Paxton’s first career complete game and the first nine-inning shutout by a Tacoma pitcher since 2010.
Romero, a Tucson native, went 3-for-4 with a grand slam and five RBI in his first professional game in his hometown.
“Romero back in his hometown, he had probably a hundred people here today, and he goes off for three hits and five RBIs — that shows you what kind of player he is,” Tacoma manager John Stearns said.
Paxton was masterful. Only one runner reached third base against him, and in another inning when runners were at first and second with one out, he promptly induced a double-play grounder.
“I focused on keeping my fastball down in the zone,” Paxton said. “I also got some great plays in the field — (Scott) Savastano made a catch at first base and doubled a runner off, and (Carlos) Peguero ran down a ball in right field.”
Paxton (6-6) kept his infielders busy. He recorded 14 outs on infield grounders, compared with four outs on fly balls to the outfield.
“I got some ground balls on change-ups, but most of them were on fastballs at the knees,” Paxton said.
Paxton threw 104 pitches — 66 of them for strikes — in the first nine-inning shutout by a Rainiers starter since Chris Seddon did it on June 15, 2010, at Colorado Springs.
The win pushed Tacoma’s record to 54-38, marking the first time the team has reached 16 games over the .500 mark since the final day of the 2008 season.
Tacoma holds a four-game lead over second-place Salt Lake in the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific North Division.
Several roster moves were made prior to the game. Catcher Jason Jaramillo was placed on the temporarily inactive list because his wife is having a baby. Catcher Daniel Torres drove down from the Arizona Rookie League to serve as Brandon Bantz’s backup while Jaramillo is away. Reliever Lucas Luetge was called up by Seattle, so Forrest Snow was activated from Tacoma’s disabled list to fill his spot. Pitcher Danny Hultzen was placed on the disabled list, opening a spot for Andrew Carraway, who was promoted from Double-A Everett and will start Tuesday. Carraway has started 12 games for Tacoma and two for Everett this season.
The middle game of the series starts at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday. Tacoma will start Carraway (6-2, 3.41 ERA in Triple A) against Tucson’s Burch Smith (3-1, 2.57). The broadcast airs on 850-AM.Mike Curto is the Tacoma Rainiers’ radio broadcaster.