ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For seven innings on Friday night, Tacoma Rainiers pitchers were in complete command in one of the Pacific Coast League’s toughest places to pitch.
The eighth inning pushed memories of what happened before deep into the past.
Albuquerque took advantage of three walks to rally for five runs, emerging with a 6-3 victory in front of home-opener crowd of 11,550.
Tacoma starter Anthony Fernandez was brilliant for six innings, mixing his fastball, slider and change-up to keep Isotopes batters off-balance. Fernandez allowed one run on three hits while striking out eight, and he left the game with a 2-1 lead.
Jonathan Arias replaced Fernandez, and he protected the one-run lead by retiring the side on three straight ground-outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Even after Tacoma failed to capitalize on a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the top of the eighth, things still seemed in control when Arias struck out the first batter he faced in the bottom of the frame.
Former Rainiers infielder Carlos Triunfel started the rally with a one-out single, and Joc Pederson followed with his own single to center. Arias then walked Jamie Romak to load the bases.
Manager Roy Howell brought in Nick Hill to face Isotopes clean-up hitter Clint Robinson, creating a left-vs.-left match-up. Hill walked Robinson on a full-count pitch, forcing home the tying run.
Then Logan Bawcom was brought in to face Miguel Olivo, and Bawcom walked the difficult-to-pass Olivo on five pitches, forcing in the go-ahead run.
Nick Buss followed with a long triple to left-center field, clearing the bases and making it 6-2.
The Isotopes rally spoiled the excellent start by Fernandez, as well as good offensive games from young Rainiers Ji-Man Choi and Chris Taylor. Choi went 2-for-4 with an opposite-field home run, and Taylor was 3-for-5 with a double and a triple.
It was the first road game of the season for Tacoma, which fell to 2-5.
The game was delayed for 25 minutes in the top of the third inning when three brand-new Isotopes Park light standards suffered a power outage. Once they were re-ignited, there were no more problems. … Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda spoke as a part of the pregame festivities. Lasorda managed the Albuquerque Dukes to a 92-56 record and the PCL title in 1972.
The second game of the four-game series is Saturday at 6:05 p.m. (PDT). Tacoma starts Chance Ruffin (0-1, 14.41) against Albuquerque’s Henry Sosa (1-0, 1.50). The broadcast airs on 850-AM.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.