Winning is music to Rainiers’ ears

Contributing writerJune 14, 2014 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — James Gillheeney threw six strong innings, earning the win as the Tacoma Rainiers won the opening game of a four-game series in Nashville against the Sounds, 8-1, on Friday.

To Rainiers manager Roy Howell, it was an appropriate outing for Gillheeney in Music City.

“His rhythm was really good, and his tempo was better,” Howell said. “He threw his fastball for strikes, he threw his cutter for strikes, he threw his change-up for strikes, and he threw his curveball for strikes.”

Gillheeney (2-6) allowed one run on six hits, striking out five. He did not walk a batter.

The 26-year-old left-hander benefited from some early run support — a developing trend for the Rainiers. For the third consecutive game, Tacoma put five runs on the scoreboard before the end of the fourth inning.

The Rainiers scored twice in the second inning, which included a delayed double-steal.

With Jabari Blash at third base, and Xavier Avery at first with two outs, Avery took off for second. When catcher Robinzon Diaz threw to second base, Blash broke for home plate. Both runners were safe, and Tacoma had a 2-0 lead.

Blash doubled the lead in the fourth inning, lining a two-run homer to right field off Nashville starter Taylor Jungmann. It was his 10th home run since joining the Rainiers, and his sixth in his past 13 games.

Additional extra-base hits brought home insurance runs for Tacoma. Avery doubled in a run in the fourth inning, and a Chris Taylor triple factored heavily in a two-run ninth.

The Rainiers were cruising to an easy win before hitting an unexpected bump in the bottom of the ninth. Reliever Logan Bawcom was pulled from the game with an injury after throwing a pitch to Eugenio Velez.

“I think it’s an oblique, but we don’t know yet until they take a look at him and see,” Howell said.

The Rainiers have won back-to-back games on the road for the first time since May 6-7 at Reno.

SHORT HOPS

The Rainiers placed starting pitcher Matt Palmer on the seven-day disabled list with right-shoulder inflammation. … Forrest Snow was promoted from Double-A Jackson and will start in Palmer’s spot on Sunday. Snow pitched for the University of Washington from 2007-10.

ON TAP

The Rainiers send Taijuan Walker (0-1, 6.30 ERA) to the mound against Nashville’s Brad Mills (4-1, 1.57) at 5:05 p.m. (PDT) on Saturday.

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.

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