TUCSON, Ariz. — If there is one team James Paxton has dominated during his first season of Triple-A baseball, it’s the Tucson Padres.
Tacoma’s starting pitcher had allowed just one run in 19 innings against Tucson after taking the Rainiers into the bottom of the fifth Thursday night with a 5-0 lead. Paxton was even working on a no-hitter.
But after one misplay at second base, Tucson rallied to score eight runs in the fifth and beat the Rainiers, 9-6.
The turnaround was quick.
Three straight singles opened the fifth, loading the bases. Chris Robinson then hit a grounder to shortstop Carlos Triunfel, who fielded the ball one step from second base. Triunfel tried to step on second and throw to first for a double play, conceding a run in exchange for two outs.
Disastrously, Triunfel missed the bag with his foot and no out was recorded at second base. When the next hitter grounded out to second base, it should have ended the inning – but instead it was only the second out, and another run scored.
Paxton then lost control of the situation, walking Dean Anno before giving up four straight hits – including a go-ahead two-run triple to Ben Francisco, who had two hits in the inning.
“We couldn’t recover from the mistake, and we let this one slip away,” said Tacoma manager John Stearns. “It was a very quick turnaround.”
It was a sudden reversal after the Rainiers seemingly had everything going their way. The team scored four runs in the third inning against Tucson starter Robbie Erlin, with Joe Dunigan (triple), Abraham Almonte (double) and Carlos Peguero (double) all getting extra-base hits.
“That’s baseball,” Stearns said. “This was a unique thing. We lost a big lead in a hurry.”
Almonte added his 10th homer of the season, a solo shot to left field in the seventh inning. It was the first right-handed homer of the year for the switch-hitter, as he went deep off lefty Arturo Lopez.
Tacoma did not lose any ground to first-place Salt Lake, which lost in Reno. The Rainiers are four games back in the standings with 11 games remaining.
Outfielder Stefen Romero missed his seventh straight game with a minor knee injury; he’s expected to return to the lineup soon. ... Stearns was ejected during the seventh inning stretch, for questioning home plate umpire Jordan Farrell on why there was no appeal on a check-swing strike-three call to Carlos Peguero.
Andrew Carraway (6-6, 4.82 ERA) takes the mound for Tacoma in the third game of the series at 7:05 p.m. Tucson is slated to start Matt Andriese (1-5, 4.53).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.