Tacoma itters came up clutch through the first four games of the Rainiers’ current winning streak, but the fifth game was strictly about the bullpen.
After a rain delay of 1 hour, 25 minutes in the middle of the third inning prematurely ended the day for starting pitcher James Gillheeney, four Tacoma relievers combined to pitch seven scoreless innings and the Rainiers defeated El Paso, 5-1, on Wednesday night.
Tacoma took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third inning, when Justin Ruggiano homered to center just as the rain was starting. Quickly a thunderstorm moved in, and the umpires called for the tarp.
After the storm passed through, Logan Kensing and Mayckol Guaipe each pitched two scoreless innings. New reliever J.C. Ramirez made it through 12/3 innings, and Tyler Olson recorded the final four outs to earn the save.
Jesus Montero was the Rainiers’ offensive force, going 4 for 5 with a solo homer and three runs batted in. His homer came in the eighth inning, and he had an RBI single in the ninth as Tacoma tacked on insurance runs.
Rainiers outfielder Jabari Blash went 0 for 3, ending his streak of four consecutive games with a home run. He left the game with an apparent head injury after colliding in shallow right field with second baseman Leury Bonilla. Blash walked off the field under his own power.
D.J. Peterson Promoted
The Rainiers added corner infielder D.J. Peterson from Double-A Jackson, and sent utility man Zach Shank back to the Generals.
Before the season, Peterson was considered one of the top prospects in the Mariners’ system. He’s been promoted to Triple-A despite batting .223 with seven home runs and 44 RBIs in 93 games. In 358 at-bats, he had 90 strikeouts with 31 walks.
Peterson said he was not expecting the promotion — in fact, when he was called into the manager’s office, he thought he had been traded.
“My manager (Jackson’s Roy Howell) played a joke on me,” Peterso saidn. “I thought I might have been traded, and he told me I was going to the Tokyo Giants.”
Peterson had improved his performance. Since the Double-A All-Star break in mid-June, Peterson batted .259 with three homers in 29 games. He said reverting to his college hitting mechanics has helped.
“I got back to being myself, what I was in college,” said Peterson, who was a first-round draft pick out of the University of New Mexico in 2013. “I watched game film from college and when I was in (Single-A) Clinton, and I went back to where I was then, rather than the changes I made in the offseason. Some of the changes I made built some bad habits.”
Peterson went 2 for 4 with a pair of singles in his Triple-A debut.
The series continues with a 6:05 p.m. (PDT) game on Thursday. Tacoma starts right-hander Forrest Snow (7-7, 3.61 ERA) against El Paso’s Robbie Erlin (5-5, 6.19).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.