Manager Pat Listach doesn’t mind the occasional ninth-inning nailbiter as long as the Tacoma Rainiers keep winning at home.
Chris Heston pitched nearly six innings of scoreless baseball, and Tacoma wiggled out of a late-game jam to beat Sacramento, 2-0, on Sunday afternoon at Cheney Stadium.
The win pushed the Rainiers’ home winning streak to nine games. They are 10-1 in Cheney Stadium.
This one appeared headed to a stress-free conclusion in the ninth inning as Sacramento was down to its final out with nobody on base.
But reliever Dan Altavilla, making his third Rainiers appearance after being demoted April 21, gave up a single to Justin Ruggiano.
He then walked Austin Slater and Tim Federowicz before being pulled for Mark Lowe.
“I did not want to use Mark, especially with (new starter Rob) Whalen on a short pitch count tomorrow, and us going to Las Vegas on Tuesday,” Listach said.
After going to the mound after the walk to Slater, Listach gave Altavilla a chance to get out of the jam. But he also wasn’t thrilled with the right-hander’s pitch selection.
“The 3-1 slider to Slater I didn’t really care for,” Listach sadi. “I asked him why, and he said he had a better chance to throw it for a strike than the fastball.
“It is a learning lesson.”
Lowe came in, and also went to a 3-1 count on Juan Ciriaco, the River Cats’ No. 9 hitter.
Ciriaco fouled off the next pitch, then struck out on a Lowe slider in the dirt to end the game.
Heston (2-0) outdueled his former club’s top prospect Tyler Beede, getting all the run support he needed on Mike Freeman’s RBI single in the first inning.
Recently-demoted outfielder Leonys Martin had his first multi-hit game Sunday since joining Tacoma – with three hits, all to right field. He led off the game with a long double high off the right-center wall. … Freeman’s first-inning single extended his hitting streak to five games, longest on the team. He was awarded the RBI late in the game after an official scoring review. Initially, it was scored as a single, error and unearned run to Beede. …
Puyallup golfer Ryan Moore threw out the first pitch Monday. He has done that the past three seasons with the Rainiers – and twice with the Mariners. A full-time Las Vegas resident, Moore said he has never thrown out the first pitch for the other hometown team, the 51s.
The Rainiers and Sacramento conclude their five-game series Monday at 6:05 p.m. Right-hander Rob Whalen (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his debut for Tacoma. Joan Gregorio (1-2, 2.42) pitches for the River Cats. All action can be heard on 850-AM.