Rainiers can’t keep big hits coming in loss

Contributing writerJune 8, 2014 

Jesus Sucre stood on third base, hunched over gassed after coming up with a triple — an uncommon feat for the Tacoma Rainiers’ catcher.

Teammate Xavier Avery provided a rarity of his own, starting the game with a home run.

Unfortunately for the Rainiers, they actually received the least amount of value from both big hits as each came at inopportune times.

“You love having those types of hits,” Tacoma manager Roy Howell said. “I just wish we had them at different points in the game.”

Alex Liddi, a former Rainier and Mariner, and Joc Pederson each homered, Trayvon Robinson, also an ex-Rainier and Mariner, had a two-run double, and the Albuquerque Isotopes went on to post a 7-2 victory over the Rainiers on Saturday at Cheney Stadium.

“We had plenty of opportunities. We had plenty in the first inning alone,” Howell said. “We just didn’t capitalize on any of them. I think if we take advantage of any of those chances and knock (Isotopes starting pitcher Red Patterson) out early, it’s a completely different game.”

Tacoma (25-36) went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

The Rainiers took a quick lead when Avery took the first pitch he saw and smashed it over the right-field wall. It was the first leadoff home run in the first inning for Tacoma since Avery did it last season against Sacramento on Sept. 1.

It appeared to be the start of a big inning for Tacoma as Logan Morrison followed by drawing a walk. He was soon knocked over to second on Xavier Nady’s single, but the Rainiers squandered the early scoring opportunity.

It was more of the same in the third. Tacoma again placed runners on first and second with no outs before Patterson (3-5) pitched out of the jam unscathed.

In the fourth, Pederson tied the score with his 16th home run of the season, and Liddi added a solo shot to give the Isotopes their first lead.

Sucre’s seventh-inning triple — his first since Aug. 8, 2010, with the Double-A Mississippi Braves — cut Albuquerque’s lead to 4-2.

Sucre’s drive bounced off the center-field wall, rolling away from Pederson and opening the door for the three-bagger.

Beating the throw by a large margin, Sucre took a beat during a timeout to catch his breath while his teammates jokingly attempted to cool off the catcher by throwing water in his direction from the dugout.

“He smoked it. He hit the hell out of it,” Howell said. “I told him he didn’t have to slide. (The throw) wasn’t going to be close.”

Albuquerque (29-33) scored once in the eighth on Mike Baxter’s double and added two runs in the ninth on a double from Robinson, who played for the Rainiers in 2011 and 2012.

ON TAP

Tacoma will try to avoid its seventh series loss in a row when it hosts Albuquerque at 1:35 p.m. Sunday. Left-hander James Gillheeney (1-5, 6.68 ERA) will start for the Rainiers against Isotopes right-hander Jeff Bennett (2-1, 3.65).

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