Tacoma manager Roy Howell isn’t about to blame hitter-friendly Aces Ballpark for the Rainiers’ 11-7 loss Friday night.
“This ballpark plays fair – you’ve still gotta hit it,” said Howell.
Reno hit it harder and more often than the Rainiers did in the final two games of the series. The Aces scored 26 runs on 31 hits, out-homering the Rainiers 5-0 over the final two games.
The back-to-back wins salvaged a split of the series for Reno. Tacoma pitchers held Reno to just three runs in the first two games of the series – both Tacoma wins.
Tacoma starter James Gillheeney (1-3) allowed four runs in the bottom of the first inning, when four of the first five Reno batters had hits. Andy Marte capped the rally with a two-run homer to left field.
Tacoma scored early against Reno starter Randy Wolf (5-1), getting two-run doubles by Ty Kelly and Humberto Quintero to even the score 4-4 going to the bottom of the third inning.
Wolf – who left the Mariners under contentious circumstances at the end of spring training before signing a minor league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks – settled down and lasted six innings, striking out a season-high nine batters.
Reno took the lead for good in the bottom of the third. After Gillheeney issued two walks, he faced Roger Kieschnick with runners at first and second and one out. Kieschnick hit a grounder to second baseman Ty Kelly, who threw the ball past Chris Taylor while trying for a force-out at second base. Nick Evans scored the go-ahead run from second base,
Reno added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, and one of those was unearned to reliever Logan Kensing due to a throwing error by first baseman Jesus Montero.
“We made some mistakes defensively that cost us, and we also made mistakes pitching that cost us,” Howell said.
Still, Tacoma was never out of the game. Seven of Tacoma’s 11 hits were doubles, and the Rainiers constantly had runners in scoring position.
Kelly went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs batted in, while Montero, Jabari Blash, and Leury Bonilla each had two hits.
“We had plenty of opportunities,” said Howell. “The bottom line is we just came up short.”
The Rainiers travel to Las Vegas for the second leg of the three-city, 12-game road trip. Saturday’s game starts at 7:05, and Tacoma starts Andrew Carraway (2-1, 3.38) against Las Vegas top prospect Noah Syndergaard (4-2, 3.58).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers