EL PASO, Texas — The Tacoma Rainiers’ woes continued in El Paso, and it is getting difficult to believe how it is happening.
Tacoma lost its fourth consecutive game, and each one has been by a margin of a single run. The Chihuahuas claimed a 3-2 victory Monday night, sending Tacoma to its 21st loss in the past 26 games.
Monday’s game had a few key turning points.
Tacoma took advantage of early scoring opportunities against El Paso starter Odrisamer Despaigne, getting a two-out RBI-single from Jesus Montero in the third inning and a sacrifice fly from Patrick Brady in the fourth for a 2-0 lead.
A Cuban defector making his fourth pro start, Despaigne retired the final eight batters he faced and made it through six innings, giving up two runs.
Rainiers starter James Gillheeney looked improved, limiting El Paso to one hit over the first three innings. A leadoff triple by Jace Peterson in the fourth inning resulted in a run, and then El Paso scored two in the fifth.
Jake Goebbert hit a one-out single and scored on a long double to left-center by Jonathan Galvez.
When center fielder Abraham Almonte needed two tries to pick up the ball on the warning track, Galvez advanced to third. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Greene, and El Paso had a 3-2 lead.
Gillheeney lasted five innings, allowing four hits and three runs (two earned). He struck out six and walked one. Not a bad start for a pitcher who entered the game with a 7.24 ERA.
“Gillheeney has been working hard on making pitches at the right times, and being aggressive,” Tacoma manager Roy Howell said. “Sometimes when pitchers get runners on base, they try to be too fine, instead of attacking the zone. Gillheeney gets in that a little bit, but he attacked the zone all day.”
It was an encouraging outing for Gillheeney, but he still took the loss and fell to 1-5 on the season.
“He left a couple of balls up in the zone in the fourth and fifth innings,” Howell said. “They could have popped them up real easily, but the way we’re going, they went for doubles and triples instead.”
After the fourth inning Tacoma did not get another base runner until the ninth. Hits by Ty Kelly and Gabriel Noriega put runners on first and third with one out, but El Paso’s Hector Ambriz struck out Humberto Quintero and got Brady to fly out to end the game.
The Rainiers announced Thursday’s home game against Albuquerque has been selected as the Minor League Baseball game of the week and will be televised nationally by the CBS Sports Network.
Game time is 7:05 p.m. and it will be the first live televised game at Cheney Stadium since it was renovated in 2011.
The series concludes with a 5:35 p.m. (PDT) game Tuesday. Tacoma starts Taijuan Walker (0-1, 12.00 ERA) against El Paso’s Keyvius Sampson (2-4, 5.82).Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.