The Tacoma Rainiers combined for 12 hits against the Sacramento River Cats on Friday night.
A three-hit shutout by the pitching staff didn’t hurt, either, giving the Rainiers a 7-0 win at Cheney Stadium.
“The guys hit the ball really well tonight,” Rainiers manager Roy Howell said. “They took good at-bats and made good swings, and it showed — especially in the first couple of innings.”
The win moved the Rainiers to 53-53, the first time they’ve been at .500 since May 13. It also brought them seven games behind the River Cats, who lead the division.
Tacoma loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first, and left the inning with three runs after a single by Justin Smoak scored two. Another run scored when Nate Tenbrink, recently brought off the disabled list, hit into a double play.
The Rainiers had five consecutive singles in the inning before Tenbrink’s double play.
“They were throwing a lot of off-speed pitches,” Howell said. “But our guys stayed patient, and got some good pitches to hit. We probably could have scored more, but we hit a couple of hard line drives right at guys, so give them credit for a good night at the plate.”
Tacoma’s next two runs came courtesy of wild pitches, one that scored Humberto Quintero in the second and one that scored Nick Franklin in the fourth. A double by Abraham Almonte in the fifth to score Quintero made it 6-0.
The offense was clicking, but so was the pitching. Tacoma started right-hander Matt Palmer, who earned his second win of the season. Palmer threw six innings, allowing two hits and striking out six.
“I had a pretty rough outing last time in Reno,” Palmer said. “So it was nice to be home, back at our altitude and feel really good. I had a lot of command on my pitches and was just throwing strikes.”
Palmer gave up nine hits and seven runs in that July 20 game against the Aces in Reno. He said his control was much better Friday, and his sinker was working for him. After being taken out in the sixth, relievers Logan Kensing and Blake Beavan finished the night, throwing three combined no-hit innings.
“Palmer did a nice job mixing his pitches,” Howell said. “Working the ball on both sides of the plate, that’s what we expect out of him, because that’s the type of pitcher he is.”
The Rainiers host the River Cats in a doubleheader Saturday. Tacoma will start left-handed pitcher James Gillheeney (3-7, 5.75 ERA) against right hander Zach Neal (3-5, 4.48 ERA) in the first game at 6:05 p.m. Forrest Snow (1-1, 1.07 ERA) will start the second game for Tacoma against a pitcher to be determined.