Rainiers try too hard, make bad choices in loss to El Paso

Contributing writerJune 2, 2014 

EL PASO, Texas — The Tacoma Rainiers’ long stretch of losing is primarily due to poor play, but bad luck isn’t helping.

Little breaks went El Paso’s way on Sunday evening, and the Chihuahuas emerged with a 5-4 victory over the Rainiers.

It was the third loss in a row for Tacoma — each by one run. The Rainiers have lost 20 of the past 25 games — six of those games were one-run defeats.

El Paso scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning against Tacoma starter Jordan Pries. The way it happened was unfortunate: with two outs, El Paso hit three straight slow grounders through the infield for singles before Cody Decker had the lone hard-hit ball of the inning with a triple to right field.

Frustrated Rainiers manager Roy Howell is ready to resort to outside forces to try to turn things around.

“We’re going to sacrifice two frogs and a goat tomorrow,” cracked Howell.

After the first inning, Pries allowed just two singles over the next five frames and retired the final nine batters he faced. He left the game with Tacoma trailing 3-1, as the Rainiers bats were silenced by Chihuahuas starter Matt Wisler.

El Paso went up 5-1 in the bottom of the seventh before Tacoma rallied to score three runs with two outs in the eighth. Jabari Blash drove in a run with a hard double to left field, and Gabriel Noriega looped a two-run single to left-center to make it 5-4.

El Paso reliever Blaine Boyer recorded the final four outs to earn the save.

Tacoma (22-33) made two costly baserunning mistakes, which were representative of the club’s recent play.

Trailing 3-1 in the top of the seventh with two out and Logan Morrison at the plate, Abraham Almonte was picked off by reliever Dennis O’Grady. O’Grady made five pickoff moves in a row without throwing a pitch to get Almonte.

With the score 5-4 in the eighth and pinch-hitter Xavier Nady at the plate, Noriega was caught stealing second to end the inning.

Both questionable plays took the bat out of the hands of two of Tacoma’s most dangerous hitters.

“It’s not understanding what is going on,” Howell said. “We had a little meeting about it. Everybody wants to win so bad and get us out of this, they are trying to do too many things and do too much.”

SHORT HOPS

Taijuan Walker will make his second rehab start with the Rainiers on Tuesday in El Paso. … Tacoma went 9-21 during the month of May, tying Salt Lake for the worst record in the Pacific Coast League. The Rainiers were tied with Sacramento in the Pacific North Division entering the month, and finished May 12 games behind the River Cats.

ON TAP

The third game of the four-game series is at 5:35 p.m. (PDT) Monday. Tacoma starts James Gillheeney (1-4, 7.24 ERA) against El Paso’s Odrisamer Despaigne (0-1, 9.00).

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.

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