Roy Howell seemed tired enough of the cold nights in Reno, wind storms in Las Vegas and near 100-degree temperatures in Sacramento, which the Tacoma Rainiers endured on their recent 13-day trip — not to mention the eight losses they suffered in 12 games.
He was pleased to be back at Cheney Stadium on Monday to begin a 12-day homestand with the game-time temperature at 67 and sunny. But he was even more so with the Rainiers’ dominant pitching and hitting that led to an 11-0 Pacific Coast League victory against the Reno Aces.
“We came out for (batting practice) and it was just gorgeous. It just felt good to be home,” Howell said. “It seemed like every place we went (on the road trip) we were hit with something unusual.
“The guys played relaxed today, got big hits, good pitching and when you do that – what are you going to do? That’s how you win baseball games.”
Abraham Almonte, Ty Kelly and Leury Bonilla each had three hits, and Jesus Montero hit his team-leading eighth home run.
It was Almonte’s first game at Cheney Stadium since the Seattle Mariners demoted him May 4 after he hit .198 in 27 games. He was 3-for-3 his first three at-bats Monday.
“As soon as I got here today, it started to feel a little more like home and I felt really comfortable today,” said Almonte, who hit .314 in 94 games with the Rainiers last season. “I’m going through a tough time hitting right now, so I just want to start to get my feeling at the plate, and I was feeling good today.”
Rainiers starter Matt Palmer safeguarded the Rainiers’ 3-0 lead through five innings. But the cushion ballooned to a 9-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth, sparked by Kelly’s RBI double and Bonilla’s bases-clearing double over the center fielder’s head.
Montero extended the lead to 10-0 with a two-out solo shot in the sixth. Montero also had a 2-run single to get the Rainiers on the scoreboard in the first inning.
It was more than enough for the Rainiers’ pitching staff, which came off the 13-day trip with a 6.14 ERA.
Palmer allowed just three hits and struck out five in five innings before being pulled after 78 pitches. It was his second start of the season – first at home – after starting the season on the disabled list with a sore shoulder.
“That road trip just wasn’t productive for us,” Howell said. We got it handed to us a few times. But when you hit like we did today and you have those two guys we had who just dealt out there, it sure makes it a fun day.”
James Gillheeney (1-3, 7.88 ERA) starts for the Rainiers and will be opposed by Reno right-hander Zeke Spruill (1-1, 6.04) at 6:05 p.m. Tuesday. The game will broadcast on 850-AM.
RAINIERS 11, ACES 0
E—Noriega (5), Bonilla (5). LOB—Reno 8 Tacoma 7. 2B—T.Kelly 2 (8), Bonilla 3 (8). HR—J.Montero (8). RBIs—J.Montero 3 (32), T.Kelly 2 (23), Noriega (6). CS—Campana (2), A.Almonte (2). Runners left in scoring position—Reno 5 (Gregorius 3, Campana, Lalli); Tacoma 4 (Noriega, A.Almonte, Avery 2). RISP—Reno 0 for 6; Tacoma 6 for 14.
Schultz L, 2-4498831856.23
Palmer W, 1-0530025781.17
Ruffin S, 1420003496.75
Inherited runners-scored—Eitel 3-3. WP—Ruffin. Umpires—Home, Brian Reilly; First, Alex Ortiz; Third, Jordan Ferrell. T—2:44. A—2,698.TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677 firstname.lastname@example.org @TJCotterill