TUCSON, Ariz. — Tacoma center fielder Abraham Almonte put on a show, and the Rainiers held on for a 6-5 win over the Tucson Padres to wrap up a road trip Wednesday night.
Almonte’s speed and throwing arm were game-changers, helping the Rainiers win the series in Arizona, two games to one. Tacoma went 4-3 on the seven-game trip.
With the score 2-2 in the top of the fourth inning, Almonte came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out.
The speedster pulled an apparent inning-ending double-play ball to second, but shortstop Dean Anna threw away the relay to first base, allowing two runs to score. Almonte’s speed down the line forced Anna to rush his throw.
After that play, Almonte was at first base with two outs. He stole second, and catcher Eddy Rodriguez’s throw sailed into center field. Almonte took third, then noticed that Tucson center fielder Jaff Decker was lobbing the ball in to second base — so he bolted home and scored easily to make it 5-2.
Starting pitcher Brian Sweeney (8-3) earned the win for Tacoma. He left the game with two on and one out in the seventh inning, holding a 6-2 lead.
Things got interesting when Tacoma reliever Jonathan Arias allowed both runners to score, on an error, an infield hit and a bloop single.
The Padres had the tying runners on with two outs when Ben Francisco singled to center. Almonte fielded the ball on one hop and threw a perfect strike to the plate, nabbing Rodriguez for the final out of the inning.
Logan Bawcom earned another tough save, entering the game with the tying run in scoring position and one out in the eighth.
A sacrifice fly and a strikeout later, and the inning was over — but it was 6-5.
Bawcom set down the side in order in the ninth, earning his 16th save of the season.
Tacoma pitcher Taijuan Walker is on his way to New York City to participate in Sunday’s MLB All-Star Futures Game. The Reno Aces will be without the entire left side of their infield for the series starting Thursday in Tacoma while third baseman Matt Davidson and shortstop Chris Owings are playing in the Futures Game.
The Rainiers return home for a four-game series against Reno starting with Thursday night’s 7:05 game. Tacoma is expected to start right-hander Brandon Maurer (2-3, 4.37 ERA) against a Reno starter to be announced. The broadcast will air on 850-AM.Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.