RENO — It takes a masterful pitching performance to shut down an offense at Aces Ballpark — generally considered to be the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the Pacific Coast League.
Tacoma’s James Paxton and Reno’s Zeke Spruill both threw masterpieces Saturday night, with Spruill outdueling Paxton and pitching the Aces to a 1-0 win.
It was the first 1-0 game at Aces Ballpark, which opened in 2009.
“It’s very unusual and very unlikely,” Reno manager Brett Butler said. “You had two starters who mixed their pitches well, used both sides of the plate, kept hitters off-balance and were able to get some key defensive plays behind them.”
Tacoma had three hits in the first two innings against Spruill, but Carlos Peguero was stranded at third base in the second inning.
Little did the Rainiers know that would be their best scoring opportunity.
Spruill (4-3) lasted eight innings, giving up six hits and one walk while striking out five. He threw 98 pitches and was lifted for reliever Kevin Munson in the ninth.
“His last start, he just came off the disabled list and only threw 64 pitches,” Butler said.
Reno (43-65) scored the only run in the bottom of the second inning.
Alfredo Marte singled to right field with one out, and Brad Snyder reached on an infield single off Paxton’s glove.
Paxton uncorked a wild pitch, moving the runners to second and third. It was an untimely moment for Paxton’s only bit of wildness all night, as Tuffy Gosewisch followed with a sacrifice fly to score Marte.
Paxton (7-8) retired the next 11 batters, and he allowed just two hits the rest of the way. He tossed an eight-inning complete game, striking out four with no walks.
“In Paxton’s last four starts, he’s pitched like a guy who is going to the next level,” Tacoma manager John Stearns said. “His command was impeccable. He used four pitches. He was outstanding. It’s too bad we couldn’t score a run and win for him.”
Paxton’s streak of success actually goes back eight starts. He has posted a 2.41 earned-run average in his past eight outings, allowing 14 earned runs in 52 innings. Paxton has not issued a walk in 26 innings.
Tacoma (60-48) saw its three-game win streak come to a halt.
Before the game, the Seattle Mariners called up Tacoma starter Brandon Maurer and optioned Hector Noesi to the Rainiers. Noesi was working in long relief for the Mariners, but he’ll move into Maurer’s slot in the Tacoma rotation and start Monday in Reno. … Taijuan Walker’s next start will be Tuesday night at Cheney Stadium in the series opener against the Omaha Storm Chasers.
An evening game is on the schedule for Sunday, with first pitch in Reno set for 6:05. Tacoma will start right-hander Andrew Carraway (6-3, 4.05 ERA) against Reno right-hander Charles Brewer (4-9, 5.47).Mike Curto is the Tacoma Rainiers’ radio broadcaster.