Abraham Almonte set the tone with a leadoff home run, and the Tacoma Rainiers didn’t stop hitting for the first five innings Tuesday night at Smith’s Ballpark.
Tacoma scored five runs in the first, had nine by the end of the third, and led 14-1 in the middle of the fifth before taking their foot off the gas in a 14-7 victory against the Salt Lake Bees.
Almonte greeted Salt Lake starter Justin Thomas with a line-drive homer to left field for his second leadoff homer of the season (fifth overall).
The next three batters singled, Chris Taylor walked to force in a run, and Jesus Montero delivered a two-run single. It was 4-0 before Tacoma made the first out of the game.
“(Almonte’s leadoff homer) gets everybody started, it gets everybody ready,” said Montero. “Then we get a bunch of base hits.”
Montero and Stefen Romero each homered in the third inning off Thomas. Montero’s was a two-run line drive onto the berm in left to make it 9-1. He finished the day 2-for-5 with four runs batted in.
“Yesterday was a rough day, a travel day,” said Montero. “We feel good today. We took a nice batting practice today, and we get a couple of runs right away.”
Tacoma (43-48) struck for six straight hits to open the fifth inning, resulting in five more runs. Ty Kelly had a two-run double during the rally, and Justin Smoak contributed a two-run single.
“Sometimes it gets a little bit contagious, and they just rocked and rolled from there,” Tacoma manager Roy Howell said.
Salt Lake got to Tacoma starter Jordan Pries for four runs in the bottom of the fifth, and added two more in the sixth.
With the Rainiers lead down to 14-7, Lucas Luetge struck out Luis Jimenez with two runners on base to end the sixth inning.
The thought of a 14-1 lead evaporating in the high elevation of Salt Lake City wasn’t a new one for Howell.
“I coached in High Desert,” said Howell, referring to the Mariners’ Advanced-A affiliate in the high-scoring California League. “You get hot like that, go get four hits. Don’t be satisfied with two, go get four.”
But Tacoma didn’t need to tack on more runs. Luetge, Forrest Snow, and Todd Coffey held Salt Lake scoreless the final three innings to end the game.
With Jesus Sucre promoted to Seattle, the Rainiers added catching prospect John Hicks from Double-A Jackson. Hicks was hitting .296 with three home runs and 27 RBI in 53 games for Jackson, while posting an OPS of .780. Hicks threw out 43 percent of opposing base stealers.
Rainiers right-hander Andrew Carraway (4-4, 5.18 ERA) makes his team-leading 17th start of the year at 6:05 (PDT) on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. The Bees counter with right-hander Caleb Clay (1-1, 3.44 ERA).