Little went wrong for the Tacoma Rainiers on Sunday afternoon at Cheney Stadium.
They hit and hit and hit, battering Albuquerque Isotopes starter Shane Carle for 12 runs and 12 hits in four-plus innings. They scored four runs in the first inning, two each in the second and fourth, and five more in the fifth. Stefen Romero belted Tacoma’s first home run of the season, a two-run blast over the trees in left-center field, and finished with four RBI. Every player in the Rainiers lineup recorded a hit.
And this 13-1 victory over the Isotopes remained a blowout behind the arm of Rainiers starter Adrian Sampson. The Skyline High School product allowed only one hit over six shutout innings, at one point retiring 13 consecutive batters. He walked two and struck out two in between Tacoma’s offensive rampage.
So the Rainiers (3-1) bid farewell to Albuquerque after taking three victories in this season-opening, four-game series.
“Guys are just putting together really good at-bats,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “There’s really no weaknesses in our lineup as far as guys making the pitcher throw strikes. We’re trying to eliminate the chases and we’re trying to go deep in counts and make pitchers work, and we did a really good job of that today.”
After being shut out on Saturday, the Rainiers scored their first run on Sunday before Albuquerque recorded an out. Boog Powell led off the bottom of the first with a double and later scored on Efren Navarro’s RBI single. Tacoma catcher Mike Zunino drove in another run with a single, and third baseman Ed Lucas plated two more with a two-out double.
The Rainiers added two more in the second on Romero’s two-run single with the bases loaded, and Romero added another two runs when he launched a long home run over the left-center field fence with two outs in the fourth.
“That was one of the longest ones I’ve ever seen him hit,” Listach remarked.
Through Tacoma’s first four games, Romero, who played first base on Sunday for the first time this season, is hitting .471 with a team-best six RBI and 12 total bases. That’s after he hit .357 in 17 games during spring training.
“Just see something in the middle of the zone and put my A-swing on it,” Romero said. “Go up every at-bat not giving away pitches, not giving away an at-bat, focusing on just trying to get on base, and if I get that pitch that I can hammer, don’t miss it.”
Tacoma didn’t miss many on Sunday. Powell finished 3-for-5 with three runs and an RBI. Shortstop Chris Taylor had two hits and scored twice. Navarro, Lucas and Daniel Robertson, who tripled as part of Tacoma’s five-run fifth inning, drove in two runs apiece.
Meanwhile, Sampson cruised. The 24-year-old right-hander, acquired from Pittsburgh last season as part of the deal that sent pitcher J.A. Happ to the Pirates, gave up a single in the first, hit a batter and walked a batter in the second, then didn’t allow another baserunner until a two-out walk in the sixth.
“He was impressive all spring,” Listach said of Sampson, a Sammamish native who also played at Bellevue College. “For us to come out and give him a big lead, he did a nice job. He had the one inning where the tempo really slowed down and he walked a couple guys, threw six straight balls, but he picked it back up right where he should have been.”
Albuquerque (1-3) scored its only run in the seventh inning, off Rainiers reliever Justin De Fratus, on an RBI groundout by Tim Smalling.
Tacoma begins a four-game series against the El Paso Chihuahuas at 6:05 p.m. Monday at Cheney Stadium. Right-hander Donn Roach is scheduled to pitch for the Rainiers, with right-hander Carlos Pimentel slated to start for El Paso. The game will be broadcast on 850 AM.