The Tacoma Rainiers were shut out for the first time this season, 5-0, on Thursday night.
The odds of this happening must have been quite long.
Tacoma entered the game leading the league in runs scored, team batting average, hits, home runs, doubles, triples … pretty much every offensive category.
On top of that, the El Paso Chihuahuas had the worst team ERA in the Pacific Coast League — the 5.85 mark ranking 16th out of 16 teams.
El Paso didn’t even have a regular starting pitcher. With rotation member David Hale recently called up by the San Diego Padres, El Paso manager Rod Barajas tabbed long reliever Aaron Northcraft to make Thursday’s start.
Northcraft pitched four shutout innings. Left-hander Daniel Moskos followed with 2 2/3 scoreless frames. Then it was the submarining Seattle U. product Eric Yardley who recorded four outs. Frank Garces finished off the Rainiers with a scoreless ninth inning.
Four pitchers, combining on a five-hit shutout. The Rainiers didn’t even advance a runner to third base.
“It was one of those days,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “We’ve played 14 games, and that was the first (bad) one. We’ve been pretty consistent for 13 of them.”
Adding injury to insult, Tacoma center fielder Boog Powell was forced to leave the game in the sixth inning with a hip contusion.
Powell suffered the injury chasing a deep fly to right-center off the bat of James Loney. After a long run, Powell attempted a sliding catch on the warning track and just missed making a spectacular play. He got up gripping the back of his left thigh.
“He’s fine,” Listach said. “I took him out for precautionary reasons; he’ll play tomorrow. He dove and landed on his hip, and got a little hip contusion.”
Tacoma starter Adrian Sampson took his first loss of the season, allowing five runs in five innings. The last three runs scored in the fifth inning, when Carlos Asuaje drove a run-scoring double off the top of the right field fence, and power-hitting prospect Hunter Renfroe launched his first homer of the season.
OF Stefen Romero missed his second straight game with back stiffness. Listach said he expects Romero to play on Friday. … Chris Taylor singled in the eighth inning, extending his hitting streak to 11 games.
The road trip concludes with a 6:05 (Pacific) game on Friday. Tacoma starts RHP Donn Roach (1-0, 8.38) against El Paso’s RHP Greg Reynolds (0-1, 7.27).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers