Sports

Tacoma embraces the long ball, beats up on Memphis

If any Tacoma Rainiers fan happened to be standing somewhere past left field under the scoreboard at Cheney Stadium, they probably left with more than a few souvenirs.

Tacoma wasn’t shy about playing long ball Monday against the Memphis Redbirds, cranking five home runs in a 10-6 win over its Tennessee-based competition.

The home run parade started in the first inning. After Memphis took an early 1-0 lead, Justin Ruggiano quickly decided he wasn’t particularly fond of that and rectified the situation with a two-run smash.

In the second, Jabari Blash crushed a 1-1 pitch that easily cleared the left-field wall. Blash has been a revelation for the Rainiers since the All-Star break. He has 18 home runs and 35 RBI in Tacoma this season.

The Rainiers weren’t done. Offensive lynchpins Chris Taylor and Stefen Romero joined in on the bases-clearing fun with their own home runs, in the third and fourth innings, respectively.

“We came out against a guy that has 11 wins (Nick Greenwood) and put up some home runs against him early,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “That may have been our best offensive game in terms of hard-hit balls and good at-bats all around.”

By the end of the four-inning onslaught in which Tacoma scored at least two runs in each, they had a comfortable 9-3 lead.

Patrick Kivlehan would tack on a solo shot in the seventh inning.

“I didn’t create this quote, but hitting is contagious,” Listach said. “Everybody tries to outdo the last guy. It’s contagious.”

Every Rainier recorded a hit Monday, with four tallying multihit games as Tacoma racked up 15 hits. It was a welcome sight during a rough month in which the Rainiers have hit a third-worst .255 during August in the Pacific Coast League.

The run support was necessary after another up-and-down performance from Adrian Sampson.

The right-hander from Skyline High School in Sammamish and Bellevue College tossed 5 1/3 innings but gave the Rainiers a chance to win.

He labored at times, allowing 12 hits and five runs.

But Sampson struck out four and limited the damage, allowing Tacoma’s hitters to take over the game.

The bullpen isn’t in great shape right now, Listach said.

He is hoping for at least seven innings from Chien-Ming Wang on Tuesday to preserve the relief staff.

SHORT HOPS

Blash entered Monday with 15 home runs since July 16, which leads all MILB players. … Ji-Man Choi has struggled in limited action this season, but swung the bat well. He went 2 for 3 with a walk and an RBI… Tony Zych threw another scoreless inning for Tacoma. This was his fifth consecutive scoreless relief appearance.

ON TAP

Tuesday’s matchup with the Redbirds will feature Rainiers right-hander Wang (3-3, 4.78 ERA) against left-hander Tyler Lyons (8-5, 3.21). First pitch from Cheney Stadium is at 7:05 p.m.

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