Tacoma’s game at Fresno on Sunday afternoon turned in favor of the Grizzlies in a two-pitch span in the second inning, magnifying how quickly a mistake or two can be costly.
Tacoma third baseman Carlos Rivero made throwing errors on back-to-back plays, leading to three unearned runs in Fresno’s 3-2 victory over the Rainiers.
The normally smooth-handed infielder’s mistakes made things difficult for Rainiers starter Trey Cochran-Gill, who was making his Triple-A debut after being recalled from nearby Single-A Bakersfield.
After tossing a scoreless first inning, Cochran-Gill walked Jon Singleton to lead off the second. He then induced a grounder to third base off the bat of Matt Dominguez, but Rivero’s throw to second base to start a double play sailed into right field.
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On the next pitch, Andrew Aplin bunted up the third base line. Rivero made a barehand pickup, then threw wildly past first base, allowing Singleton to score.
Three batters later, Nolan Fontana singled home a pair of runs to make it 3-0.
It was a three-run rally, on one single, two walks, and two errors.
“It was disappointing to see errors on back-to-back pitches,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “It allowed them to score three runs, and that was the ballgame.”
A relief pitcher for Bakersfield, Cochran-Gill (0-1) lasted 2 2/3 innings before giving way to Andrew Kittredge. Kittredge tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing the Rainiers to attempt a comeback.
But Tacoma did not get a baserunner until the fifth inning against Fresno starter Jake Buchanan. Tacoma had numerous line drives and hard-hit balls that were turned into outs.
Ketel Marte was particularly unlucky, roping a pair of line drives that were caught by infielders as his hitting streak ended at 15 games.
The Rainiers scratched a run across in the fifth inning when Jesus Montero beat out an infield single and eventually scored on Shawn O’Malley’s sacrifice fly.
Stefen Romero crushed a homer to left in the sixth inning, making it 3-2. It was Romero’s team-leading sixth home run of the season.
Romero drew a two-out walk in the top of the eighth, which was the end of the line for Buchanan. Fresno brought in Tyson Perez to face Montero.
With the outfield playing deep, Montero lined a pitch to the left-center gap but left fielder L.J. Hoes made a diving catch to end the inning.
“Montero got robbed by a diving catch with a runner on,” Listach said. “It probably would have scored the tying run.”
The Rainiers added outfielder Leon Landry from extended spring training, where he was recovering from an illness. Landry hit .280 with 25 stolen bases for Double-A Jackson in 2014. ... The additions of Landry and Cochran-Gill filled Tacoma’s 25-man roster.
The trip concludes with a 12:05 p.m. game Monday. Tacoma will start Justin Germano (1-1, 1.50 ERA) against Fresno’s Dan Straily (2-2, 4.44).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers