Tacoma’s stellar pitching continued in a 2-0 victory over Albuquerque before a crowd of 5,223 Saturday night at Cheney Stadium.
This time it was a combined effort: starter Ryan Weber allowed only two hits with zero walks in five innings, and left-handed reliever Dillon Overton blanked the Isotopes through three innings while allowing a single hit and with one walk to earn the victory. Jean Machi worked the ninth to earn the save.
Rainiers (5-4) pitchers have allowed only two runs in their last four games.
“Unbelievable,” manager Pat Listach said. “The pitching’s been really, really good. I don’t even know what to say. Overton came in, piggybacked Weber and finished where he left off.”
Listach said Overton is likely headed for starting duty in the future. The club wanted him to throw 45 pitches on Saturday, and he finished with 42.
“He didn’t have a good feel for his breaking ball in the first inning, but he found it eventually,” Listach said. “Just getting back on the mound and working was really good for him.”
Albuquerque starter German Marquez was excellent, too, though he was on a pitch count and left the game in the fourth inning after striking out seven and allowing two hits.
Tacoma scored both of its runs in the sixth inning. Center fielder Boog Powell led off with a single and shortstop Gordon Beckham was hit by a pitch to set up an advantageous circumstance for first baseman Daniel Vogelbach.
Facing a 1-2 count, the left-handed-hitting Vogelbach reached out and poked an RBI single into left field to give the Rainiers a 1-0 lead. Then, surprisingly, Vogelbach stole second base – his first steal since 2015 – as the Isotopes were more concerned with not allowing Beckham to sprint home from third.
Beckham scored anyway one batter later when right fielder Ben Gamel lifted a sacrifice fly to center field for Tacoma’s second run.
The Isotopes did bring the go-ahead run to the plate in the top of the ninth against Machi – two singles and a passed ball put runners on first and third – but designated hitter Chris Denorfia grounded out to shortstop to end the game.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Vogelbach’s RBI single qualifies. He had watched two called strikes go by, then barely fouled off the next pitch before extending his arms and punching a single into left field to get the Rainiers on the board.
“It was huge,” Listach said. “He had a 9-1-1 swing the pitch before and hit one in the dugout. That just shows that he’s battling and not giving in. Huge at-bat.”
PLUS: Listach said Weber is likely headed to the bullpen eventually, but he’s done what the Rainiers have needed in both of his starts this season, allowing a total of four hits in eight scoreless innings. … With two outs in the eighth inning, left fielder Tyler O’Neill ripped a stand-up triple into the left-center field gap. … Right-hander Jean Machi allowed two singles in the ninth, but stranded both runners to escape unscathed and record his second save of the season.
MINUS: The Rainiers stranded four runners in scoring position, and two of those reached scoring position with fewer than two outs.
“We’re still not swinging the bats great, but we scored just enough,” Listach said. “When the pitching’s like this, you’ve only got to score a couple.” … Tacoma batters totaled 10 strikeouts.
STAT PACK: The shutout was Tacoma’s first against Albuquerque since April 23, 2015. … Vogelbach went 2-for-4, and second baseman Tyler Smith went 2-for-3 with a double.
QUOTABLE: “Early in the game, the first couple innings, their starter came out and was mighty impressive. Throwing 97-98 miles an hour and locating. When you’re doing that and locating, it’s going to be a long day. Thank goodness he was on a pitch count and we got him out of there. That’s a promising young arm that the Rockies have there.” – Listach on Marquez