Tacoma Rainiers outfielder Daniel Robertson is a lot of things: a fast runner, patient hitter, a good defensive outfielder, even “scrappy.” He is not, however, a power hitter.
At least, he never has been before.
Robertson launched a grand slam in the top of the ninth inning on Thursday, helping the Rainiers to a 9-5 win over the Fresno Grizzlies.
It was Robertson’s third home run of the season — all of which have come in the last five games. He hit one home run for Salt Lake last year, and his career high for home runs in a season is six, set in 2010.
Robertson’s slam broke open a close game in which Tacoma took a 4-2 lead into the ninth.
Rainiers starter Adrian Sampson delivered eight strong innings, allowing two hits and two runs. He gave up an infield single and an unearned run in the first, and didn’t allow another hit until Nolan Fontana doubled and scored in the sixth inning.
Sampson struck out Fontana with his 92nd pitch to end the eighth, wrapping up the longest start by a Tacoma pitcher this season.
Tacoma took the lead in the second inning with a two-run rally. Mike Baxter started the inning with the first of his four hits, an infield single. After Ed Lucas singled and Tyler Smith walked, Baxter scored on a groundout by Robertson. Chris Taylor followed with an infield single, driving in a run to make it 2-1.
Lucas’ sacrifice fly in the fifth scored Mike Zunino, making it 3-1. Zunino had led off the inning with a double; he went 3 for 5.
Taylor connected on atwo-out, RBI double in the eighth to give the Rainiers a 4-2 lead. Taylor’s hit came off hard-throwing, left-handed relief prospect Reymin Guduan. Taylor also went 3 for 5.
In the ninth, Tacoma loaded the bases against Jandal Gustave with another Baxter single and two walks. Smith singled in a run, knocking out Gustave, and that brought up Robertson.
Facing new pitcher Kevin Chapman, Robertson pulled a deep fly down the left field line for his first grand slam since 2011, when he was playing for Double-A San Antonio.
The Rainiers’ trip concludes with a game at 7:05 p.m. Friday. Tacoma RHP Donn Roach (2-2, 8.28 ERA) will face Fresno RHP Joe Musgrove. A well-regarded prospect, Musgrove is making his Triple-A debut after going 2-1 with a 0.34 ERA in six games for Double-A Corpus Christi.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Rainiers.