Pitching, defense plague Rainiers

Contributing writerMay 17, 2014 

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Any manager will tell you that pitching and defense wins baseball games. The Tacoma Rainiers are learning what happens when both areas struggle.

Tacoma made two more errors and witness another short starting pitching performance in an 11-5 loss to Sacramento on Friday night. It was Tacoma’s fifth straight loss.

Sacramento scored seven runs in the bottom of the first inning, knocking out starter Andrew Carraway before he recorded an out. Two errors on the same play by first baseman Jesus Montero contributed to the rally.

During the five-game slide, Tacoma has committed 11 errors. The Rainiers starter has not lasted more than three innings in the last three games.

“Less than two weeks ago we were in first place and had the least amount of errors, and now it’s the exact opposite,” said Tacoma manager Roy Howell. “Defense has been poor, pitching’s been poor, and we haven’t been getting the hits when we need them.”

The starting pitching is of particular concern. No Tacoma starter had pitched six innings in May. Tacoma has had the starter make it through six or more innings only seven times in the first 38 games.

“That makes it tough on your bullpen - those guys are accumulating innings,” said Howell. “We can’t sustain that situation where (the bullpen) had to keep coming in and pitching more than half of the game.”

The short start by Carraway was surprising. He had two starts of six or more innings in April and seemed like a logical candidate to provide a longer outing. Instead, he lasted just five batters and 38 pitches while taking the loss.

Howell was quick to point out that the Rainiers are out of sync in multiple areas – not just the starting pitching.

“Every team goes through it,” said Howell. “I’d rather do it now than in August when a title is on the line.”

SHORT HOPS

Relief pitcher Clay Rapada had x-rays taken on his left ankle, which he injured on the final play of Thursday’s game. Initial reports indicate that it is not broken... after striking out a season-high 15 times on Thursday, the Rainiers are no longer the toughest team to strike out in the PCL. They entered Friday ranked third-toughest, at 7.0 K’s per game.

ON TAP

The Rainiers send Jordan Pries (2-2, 2.00 ERA) to the mound on Saturday night in Sacramento at 7:05. The River Cats are scheduled to start Zach Neal (2-1, 4.50).

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.

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