Isotopes rock Tacoma Rainiers pitchers

Staff writerApril 7, 2014 

The rain finally held off, but the Tacoma Rainiers’ pitching staff could not do the same to the Albuquerque Isotopes.

After a rainout Saturday, the second postponement of the embryonic season, the Rainiers’ pitching staff was knocked around Sunday during a 9-3 loss to the Albuquerque Isotopes under bloated gray clouds at Cheney Stadium.

Tacoma fell to 1-2.

The Triple-A debut for Rainiers starting pitcher Anthony Fernandez did not go well. The left-hander progressed through the third and fourth innings with relative calm and efficiency. Otherwise, turbulence.

The first batter Fernandez faced produced the Isotopes’ first hit. The second batter picked up their second.

A blend of walks and crisp knocks sent Fernandez to an 0-1 record after he allowed eight hits and four earned runs in 4 innings.

“Got behind,” Tacoma manager Roy Howell said. “Once you get behind, you got to come back with something back out over the plate. We were behind all day. Do that, you get into fastball counts and you get hit.”

Fernandez allowed runs in the first, second and fifth innings. He had one dandy inning, when he went 1-2-3 in the third.

The Dominican Republic native spent last season at Double-A Jackson, where he was 9-8 with a 4.43 earned-run average in 22 starts.

“(He was a) little tentative the first couple innings,” Howell said. “Third and fourth inning, you saw the ball coming out of his hand a little bit easier. Sometimes, that’s a little too late.”

Cole Gillespie had two hits for the Rainiers, as did James Jones, who scored twice.

Gillespie doubled to left in the fourth to score Jones, who had walked to reach base.

Nick Franklin rolled a grounder to the right side to push Gillespie over, and Jesus Montero hit a sacrifice fly to center to get him in.

Franklin and Montero, both searching for a route back to the big leagues, combined to go 1-for-7. After losing the shortstop competition in spring training to pal Brad Miller, Franklin came into Sunday a brisk 5-for-8. He grounded out twice and struck out against the Isotopes before singling to left in the ninth to score Jones.

Montero also had a quiet day at the plate. His sacrifice fly to center traveled farther than the other three balls he hit combined. One was a simple grounder to shortstop, and another dribbled back to the pitcher.

In his final at-bat, he hit a stern one-hopper to short that produced a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Rainiers relievers Jonathan Arias, Lucas Luetge and Carson Smith were part of the battering, too. Arias allowed a run in 12/3 innings. Luetge gave up two in his inning, thanks to two hits and a walk. Smith walked three to help produce two Isotopes runs in two-thirds of an inning.

Logan Kensing left with his head held high. He was the only Tacoma pitcher to face more than one batter and not allow a hit.

Carlos Triunfel, who was Seattle Mariners property until the Los Angeles Dodgers claimed him off waivers and assigned him to the Isotopes last week, had two doubles and drove in two runs.

Triunfel was tagged as the Seattle shortstop of the future at one point during his seven years in the organization, but 55 of his 66 big-league at-bats have resulted in outs.

Albuquerque starter Zach Lee (1-0) picked up the win.

ON TAP

The Rainiers start a four-game series with the El Paso Chihuahuas at 6:05 p.m. Monday at Cheney Stadium. Chance Ruffin will start for the Rainiers and Branch Kloess for El Paso. The game will air on 850-AM.

todd.dybas@ thenewstribune.com @Todd_Dybas

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