With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the seventh inning at Cheney Stadium on Thursday night, Tacoma Rainiers reliever Mike MacDougal knew he had to get out of a jam.
He did, helping the Rainiers end a five-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Salt Lake Bees before 2,909 fans.
MacDougal had just taken over for starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez. A Mariner at the beginning of the season but demoted to Tacoma, Ramirez had pitched a gem through the sixth inning, not allowing a run and striking out three.
But he faltered in the seventh.
“I got a little tired, but mostly they are good hitters, and they made good swings that went to the right places,” said Ramirez, who owns a 4.94 ERA.
Ramirez gave up two of his five hits that inning, including a double to Tommy Field, and was responsible for two of the runners on base.
But MacDougal came in and was able to get Roberto Lopez to ground into a 6-4-3 double play, ending the inning.
“It’s nice to get back on that side of the fence — the fence kept getting taller, we didn’t know if we could jump over it,” Rainiers manager Roy Howell said. “We got some base hits when we needed them, got some home runs.”
Those home runs proved to be more than enough offense to back up Ramirez. Logan Morrison, who’s on assignment from the Mariners to rehabilitate a strained hamstring, started at first base for the second time this season, and got the Rainiers going in the first with a double to left.
A home run to left by Ty Kelly in the next at-bat scored Morrison, putting Tacoma up 2-0 early, a lead they never relinquished.
“It’s just a matter of timing and seeing what his leg can do,” Howell said of Morrison’s progress. “He’s starting to see the ball better, and starting to take pitches and understand the speed better.”
The Rainiers scored three more runs to put the Bees away, including a solo home run by Leury Bonilla in the sixth.
Ramirez said he was happy with the way he threw, and that even though his control wasn’t where he wanted it to be, he was able to fix his mistakes easily.
“I was just trying to throw pitches that worked — sliders, curves, whatever,” he said. “When the adjustments had to be made, I made them, and going six innings was what I wanted to do.”
Ramirez threw 91 pitches, 62 of them for strikes, and was awarded the win.
“It was nice,” Howell said of ending the five-game slide. “It was a game that we should have won, and we did win.”
The Rainiers will host the Bees again tonight, wrapping up a 13-game home stand. Matt Palmer (1-1, 2.31 ERA) will start for Tacoma, while Hector Santiago (0-1, 16.87) will take the mound for the Bees. The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.