Mother Nature decided it wanted a hand in the beginning of a four-game series between the Tacoma Rainiers and the Sacramento River Cats on Saturday.
A lengthy rain delay gave fans and players some relief from soggy conditions. However, the rain tapered off and baseball continued at Cheney Stadium.
The Rainiers’ fortunes did not change after the delay, however. The River Cats prevailed, 8-4, after a flurry of early runs gave them a comfortable lead.
Six of those runs came in the second inning, when Sacramento batters chased Rainiers starter Joe Weiland.
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In the first, Weiland took a line drive to the back. He told manager Pat Listach that he was fine, but Listach wasn’t so sure.
“When you come back out after (being hit) and throw five pitches in the same spot, I think it did (affect him),” Listach said.
Trailing 2-1 entering the second, the River Cats nipped away with three runs of small ball before Jarrett Parker found a more effective way to drive in runs. On a 2-0 count, he smashed a ball over the right field fence for a three-run homer to put Sacramento up by five.
Weiland lasted 1 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits and seven earned runs.
“He’s got to go more than an inning and a third,” Listach said. “His last couple starts, that’s what he’s done. We’re going to get into the video room and see if there’s something we can find to get him back on track, because that’s not who he is.”
The meat of Tacoma’s lineup produced some early offense. The lineup that leads the Pacific Coast League in just about every offensive category led off with two singles. After a Mike Zunino ground out advanced the runners, Stefen Romero’s single down the left field line scored both.
It was a continuation of Romero’s scorching start. He went 2 for 4, with two RBIs. He is batting .414 and has 14 RBIs this season.
The Rainiers’ offense scored only two more runs after that early success, not enough to overcome the big deficit.
The relief staff stepped up big after Weiland exited. Casey Coleman was particularly effective, throwing two innings of scoreless ball with two strikeouts.
Mayckol Guipe did not give up a hit in two innings of work, with one strikeout and no walks. Listach was impressed with his effort.
The bullpen is in good shape for Sunday’s game, according to Listach. He said, however, that he needs at least six innings from starter Cody Martin.
Tacoma’s Chris Taylor extended his hitting streak to 13 games. That is the longest streak of his career, topping a 12-gamer last year with the Rainiers.
Right-hander Cody Martin (3-0, 3.78 ERA) starts for Tacoma on Sunday; right-hander Chris Stratton (1-2, 7.16) starts for Sacramento. First pitch is at 1:35 p.m. at Cheney Stadium.