Rainiers win one, lose one in season-opening doubleheader

Staff writerApril 4, 2014 

Opening day of Tacoma Rainiers baseball came one day later than scheduled.

But it came all the same Friday, with the return of Rhubarb the reindeer, fireworks and the whole Cheney Stadium experience.

The players seemed eager to get the season going, too.

Nick Franklin was 5-for-8 with a home run in two games, Chris Taylor – the Mariners’ minor league player of the year last season – slapped a 2-RBI double for his first career Triple-A hit and Blake Beavan allowed one run in a seven-inning complete game.

It helped the Rainiers to an 11-1 victory against the Albuquerque Isotopes – the most opening day runs the Rainiers have scored since 2005 and their first opening-day win since 2009. It kicked off the team’s 20th season as a Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.

The Rainiers weren’t quite as sharp in the second game, though, losing 6-3.

The Rainiers scheduled season opener was rained out Thursday, so they played two seven-inning games Friday, instead. Portland native Cole Gillespie, who signed as a free agent this offseason, recorded Tacoma’s first hit of the season with a single in the first inning. He then scored its first run two batters later, and had the Rainiers’ first home run in the second game of the doubleheader.

Gillespie’s single in the opener’s first inning was the first of five consecutive 2-out hits from the Rainiers. Nate Tenbrink and Ji-Man Choi drove home three runs with back-to-back doubles and the Rainiers left their first inning of the season with a 4-0 lead for Beavan.

Beavan didn’t blow hitters away in his opening day start, but opponents couldn’t seem to figure him out, either. The lone ding on Beavan’s pitching line came from Jamie Romak, who led off the fourth inning with a first-pitch home run.

That was minimal damage compared to what the Rainiers offense unleashed. They cushioned a 5-1 lead with six insurance runs in the sixth inning.

Franklin’s single was the first of eight hits in the inning. Jesus Montero capped a 3-for-4 game with a two-RBI double to score Franklin and Endy Chavez.

Montero had a big season opener after a troubling spring in which he showed up 40 pounds overweight. That came after he was suspended 50 games for performance-enhancing drugs last season.

Rainiers newcomer Taylor capped the sixth with his first hit as a Rainier – a double down the first-base line to score two runs. He hit .314 between Single-A High Desert and Double-A Jackson last season.

Beavan eased through the seventh inning to collect the win. He allowed four hits and struck out six.

The Rainiers weren’t as on fire offensively in the second game and got a shaky start from Nick Hill, who threw 1 1/3 inning and allowed three runs.

Top Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson hit a home run off Zach Miner in the fifth then scored another run in the seventh after stealing second and third before coming home on a sacrifice fly.

The relief staff was good, with Brandon Maurer pitching a scoreless fourth. The Rainiers pulled to within 4-3 after home runs from Gillespie and Franklin.

But Logan Bawcom allowed two runs in the seventh, with former Mariners’ catcher Miguel Olivo driving in his fourth run of the game.

ON TAP

Anthony Fernandez starts for the Rainiers at 5:05 p.m. Saturday after Thursday’s rainout pushed his start back. Zach Lee will start for Albuquerque. The game will broadcast on 850-AM.

TJ Cotteril: 253-597-8677

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