The Tacoma Rainiers sent 10 batters to the plate and scored six runs in the third inning of their 11-8 victory over the New Orleans Baby Cakes on Tuesday night at Cheney Stadium.
Also encouraging: catcher Mike Zunino homered to left-center field in his first game with the Rainiers since being optioned to Triple-A last week. And right-hander Andrew Moore was mostly sharp in his Tacoma debut, striking out five batters while allowing three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings to earn the victory in his first career Triple-A start.
Moore’s biggest mistake was a fastball that Baby Cakes left-fielder Moises Sierra crushed for a two-run homer over the left-field fence in the second inning. He gave up another run on a two-out, RBI single by second baseman Steve Lombardozzi in the fifth.
“He did a nice job. Kept us in the game,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “Gave up the two-run homer in the second. I think he’s had better command in the past. Got his pitch count up there real high. I know he wanted to go deeper in the game, but we got him up above 90 pitches, and that’s enough for him this time of the year. But he was good. He had some easy innings and he had a couple of tough ones where he threw 25, 26 pitches in the middle innings, but overall, it was a good first start.”
But Tacoma’s third inning was so productive that it didn’t matter. Zach Shank, Leonys Martin, Seth Mejias Brean and Tyler O’Neill all doubled. Boog Powell and Daniel Vogelbach drove in two runs apiece via singles. Even the final out was recorded on a positive play for the Rainiers: Tyler Smith, who led off the inning nine batters prior, singled to score Vogelbach from third, but O’Neill was thrown out at the plate to end the onslaught.
“We strung together a nice little run there, everybody included,” Listach said. “They all contributed and did a nice job from top to bottom. It was a good effort by the entire team. All nine players contributed tonight.”
The Rainiers (20-11) added another run on Zunino’s solo homer to left-center in the fifth off New Orleans starter Vance Worley, who allowed 12 hits and eight runs in six innings. Powell recorded his third RBI of the game with a two-out single in the sixth, and the Rainiers added two more runs in the seventh against New Orleans reliever Victor Payano.
Tacoma scored again in the eighth when Zunino hit a two-out pop-up that landed on the pitcher’s mound amid miscommunication by the Baby Cakes’ infielders.
New Orleans (11-21) scored its fourth run in the seventh inning when center fielder Isaac Galloway knocked a two-out, RBI single into left field against Rainiers left-hander Nick Hagadone. And the Baby Cakes added four more in the ninth thanks to three singles and two doubles against right-hander Michael Rivera.
PLAY OF THE GAME: With one out, runners on first and second and the Rainiers trailing 2-0 in the third inning, Martin laced a double into the right-field corner to drive in Tacoma’s first run — and start a big inning that led to a big offensive night.
PLUS: Moore threw 93 pitches — 60 of them for strikes — in what Listach described as a “good first start,” though his command wasn’t at its best. … Zunino, who batted .167 in 80 plate appearances with the Mariners this season, hit a home run in his third at-bat. He also drew a walk.
MINUS: Rivera was hit hard in the ninth, allowing five hits and four runs to make the final margin a little less impressive.
STAT PACK: Powell went 2-for-4 with three RBI and a walk. Martin went 2-for-5 and was robbed of an extra-base hit on a flyout to right field in the eighth. … Six Rainiers drove in runs and seven Rainiers scored runs. … Vogelbach reached base safely for the 22nd consecutive game, maintaining the second-longest streak in the PCL this season.
QUOTABLE: “That’s one of the highest popups I’ve ever seen in my life at twilight. So, I wouldn’t want to be under it.” — Listach on the pop-up to the pitcher botched by the Baby Cakes in the eighth inning.