This lights-out start the Tacoma Rainiers pitching staff has delivered during the last two weeks is not what manager Pat Listach was expecting.
Not at all. But, he’s pleasantly surprised to have a staff this productive in April.
“We had a lot of guys who were working on some things in spring training, and they’ve figured it out,” Listach said. “They’ve been really, really good. Every one of them.”
Tacoma’s pitching staff leads nearly every statistical category in the Pacific Coast League after its first nine games.
Fewest runs allowed (20), fewest hits allowed (55), complete games (two) — name it.
Righties Sam Gaviglio and Chris Heston both tossed complete games (seven innings) during a double-header against El Paso on Thursday.
“The PCL is an offensive league,” Listach said. “To be where we are, and throwing the number of shutouts we are, and keeping the score low, it’s great.”
The Rainiers carry a three-game winning streak into Sunday’s game against Albuquerque, and have allowed just one run during that span.
They’ve allowed just two runs in the last four games, but dropped one game in the El Paso series despite Gaviglio’s one-run gem, during which he retired 17 straight batters to close the game.
“The park this time of year is a little more defensive,” Gaviglio said. “I think if we keep making our pitches, and starters keep having quality starts, we’ll have a good chance to win.”
Gaviglio was the only familiar name returning to the starting staff after right-hander Cody Martin was injured during spring training.
“The other guys really stepped up,” Listach said. “It’s been fun to watch these guys going out and putting zeroes up. I think it’s a little competition now, seeing who can put the most zeroes up.”
Who is winning so far?
Well, Ryan Weber — who isn’t usually a starting pitcher — has made two starts for the Rainiers, and tossed eight scoreless innings.
Christian Bergman didn’t allow any runs in five innings against El Paso, and he struck out seven batters in the win.
Gaviglio and Chase De Jong each allowed just one run in their first starts, and Chris Heston has allowed one across two starts while striking out 15 batters.
Guess it’s a toss-up.
“Just attacking hitters,” Gaviglio said. “No one is giving anything away for free.”
The starting staff has combined for a 1.57 ERA. Mix in the bullpen, and the Rainiers rank second in the PCL in ERA (2.31).
“It’s been fun,” Gaviglio said. “Everybody is meshing well. A lot of team chemistry. That’s keeping us going.”
The Rainiers wrap up their series against Albuquerque at 11:35 a.m. on Monday at Cheney Stadium before hitting the road for eight games.
Two right-handers will take the hill in the finale. Christian Bergman (1-0, 0.00) is scheduled to pitch for Tacoma, while Zach Jemiola (1-0, 7.94) is scheduled for the Isotopes. The game will be broadcast on 850 AM.