Mike Zunino hit two more home runs, but they were no match for the Albuquerque Isotopes’ barrage of singles.
Albuquerque hit nine singles and two doubles in the first two innings on Monday, resulting in 10 runs, and the Isotopes coasted to an 11-6 victory over the Tacoma Rainiers. The win gave Albuquerque a split of the four-game series.
Tacoma starter Joe Wieland took the brunt of it. Albuquerque sent eight batters to the plate in the first inning, with three runs scoring. Then 12 more Isotopes batted in a seven-run second.
Wieland lasted 1 1/3 innings, giving up 10 hits and 10 runs. It was his third start of the season, and his ERA rose from 3.00 to 11.32.
“They came out very aggressive, swinging at the first pitch,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “They saw his last start when he threw all fastballs the first three innings, and they were looking for the fastball and they were hitting it. By the time he started mixing in his change-up and his curveball, it was a little late.”
Isotopes leadoff man Tim Smalling was 3 for 3 before the end of the second inning. Third baseman Chris Nelson went 4 for 4, driving in four runs. Nelson added a solo home run in the fourth.
All of that Albuquerque offense couldn’t detract from another big game from Zunino.
The Tacoma catcher swung at the first pitch he saw from Albuquerque starter Matt Flemer in the second inning, pulling a long drive over the left field fence.
Batting in the eighth against left-handed Yohan Flande, Zunino lifted an opposite-field fly ball which carried in the thin air and landed just beyond the fence for a three-run homer. It was his sixth homer of the young season.
“He’s the best player on the planet right now,” Listach said, possibly joking. “He’s seeing the ball good, he’s working on some things with (hitting coach) Scott Brosius, and it’s good to see things pay off for him.”
Zunino has homered in five consecutive games, which is two shy of the Pacific Coast League record: Claude Westmoreland homered in seven straight games in 1977, and Dallas McPherson tied the record in 2008. Both sluggers played for Albuquerque.
Zunino was named Pacific Coast League Player of the Week for the period covering April 7-17. Zunino hit .441 with four home runs and 11 RBI. He’s the first Tacoma position player to win the award since Nick Franklin, April 22-28, 2013. … Chien-Ming Wang won the Pitcher of the Week award last August.
The road trip moves on to El Paso, where the Rainiers open a four-game series on Tuesday at 5:35 (Pacific). Tacoma starts Cody Martin (2-0, 2.38) against El Paso’s Jeremy Guthrie (0-2, 6.23).