In his Pacific Coast League career, Roy Howell has visited Albuquerque as a player, hitting coach, and manager.
The Rainiers manager had some words of advice for Erasmo Ramirez — words that worked out brilliantly for Tacoma’s starting pitcher in a 5-2 series-opening victory over the Isotopes.
“The manager said before the game, juts keep the breaking ball down, keep the fastball down, and when you go inside, go really inside or they’ll make you pay,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez did just that, allowing two unearned runs and seven hits over 62/3 innings to earn the win. All seven hits he allowed were singles — and three of them were infield hits.
“I was trying to throw as hard as I can, no matter who was hitting, because they have a lot of good hitters and they have power,” Ramirez said.
The Isotopes came into the game ranked second in the Pacific Coast League with 130 home runs. Their lineup features last year’s PCL home run leader Brock Peterson, and one of this year’s top power prospects Joc Pederson.
Tacoma scored three runs with two outs in the top of the first inning against Albuquerque starter Barry Enright, with Justin Smoak and Ty Kelly contributing RBI doubles.
The Rainiers maintained the lead for the remainder of the game, although twice they had to deal with Pederson when he represented the tying run.
Pederson — who ranks second in the PCL with 23 home runs — was up with two runners on base and Tacoma leading 4-1 in the fifth inning, and Ramirez got him to pop up.
He was at the plate again with two on and two outs in the seventh trailing 5-2. Logan Kensing came in from the bullpen and struck him out to end the inning.
Kensing pitched a perfect eighth inning, and Carson Smith did the same in the ninth to earn the save.
Tacoma welcomed two outfielders back from the major leagues. Stefen Romero contributed a two-out RBI single in the top of the seventh inning, and James Jones went hitless but made a diving catch in center field to rob Jamie Romak of a hit in the third inning.
In addition to adding Jones and Romero from Seattle, Tacoma filled up its 25-man roster by activating pitcher Matt Palmer from the 7-day disabled list. … Six of Tacoma’s 10 hits were doubles, including the first five. … Former Rainiers and Mariners infielder Carlos Triunfel played second base and went 2-for-3 for the Isotopes.