The Tacoma Rainiers on Sunday wrapped up a homestand so solid they didn’t want to it end.
It was extended a bit — a 39-minute rain delay in the top of the third inning — but concluded with an 8-1 win over the Iowa Cubs before an announced crowd of 6,688 at Cheney Stadium.
“Nice way to end the homestand,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “Clutch hitting and a big three-run home run by (Mike) Zunino. Unfortunately, for the rain delay we had to get (starting pitcher Brad Mills) out of there. He’s coming off an injury and we didn’t want to sit him for that long. The bullpen did a good job again.”
The game was even at 1-1 when the rain began. When it resumed, the Rainiers struck for four runs in the third and were on their way. The eruption started with a leadoff homer by Boog Powell and concluded with that three-run shot by Zunino.
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It was Zunino’s 11th home run of the season, good for the team lead and third in the Pacific Coast League. His batting average has climbed to .306, and he said the hits and the homers come from the same improvements in his swing.
“It’s been nice to work on those things and to fine-tune them,” he said. “And always to see results is a good thing.”
Powell’s blast was his second of the season, and Stefan Romero capped the scoring with his seventh homer, a two-run shot in the seventh inning.
Sunday marked the 28th time this season that the Rainiers have scored three or more runs in an inning, and they moved to 16-4 in games with at least one such inning.
“We have a great group of guys here, and I think the good thing about that is everyone just kind of knows themselves,” Zunino said. “We have good, quality at-bats, and it translates. It’s nice when the team can do it as a whole — it leads to games like today.”
The result keeps the Rainiers (27-16) atop the PCL, gave them their first sweep of the Cubs (18-23) since 2005, extended their winning streak to a season-high six games, and wrapped up the homestand at 7-1.
“The guys feel comfortable here,” Listach said. “They know the field, the way it plays, and the pitchers pitch according to the dimensions. And the hitters are seeing the ball real good now.”
The Rainiers begin an eight-game trip with the first of four games at Round Rock, Texas, starting at 5:05 p.m. (PDT) Monday. Probable starters are RHP Adrian Sampson (4-2, 3.00 ERA) for Tacoma and LHP Michael Roth (3-1, 1.55) for the Express, the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Round Rock is the PCL attendance leader, averaging 8,476 per home game.