It didn’t matter who stepped up to the plate, Memphis pitcher Jack Flaherty was going to win the battle.
Flaherty dominated from the mound in Cheney Stadium on Sunday, striking out all but two members of Tacoma’s lineup while handing the Rainiers a 6-0 loss.
“I like him,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “I think he’s probably gonna pitch in St. Louis sometime this summer.”
Flaherty did a good job of limiting Tacoma (56-58) baserunners; he retired 13 of his first 14 batters faced and didn’t allow a hit until Daniel Vogelbach’s single in the bottom of the fourth. He pitched seven innings, had nine strikeouts and allowed three baserunners.
Tacoma starter Andrew Moore, who has pitched 36 2/3 innings for Seattle this year, continued to struggle with allowing home runs. He gave up 11 home runs while in Seattle, and the Redbirds (74-39) pushed the lead to 5-0 on a pair of solo shots from Aldemys Diaz and Jose Adolis in the fourth. Both shots landed in the R Yard beyond the left-field wall.
“He’s fine, he just has to make his pitches,” Listach said. “His last couple starts haven’t been very good. He hasn’t won games like he normally does.”
The Redbirds scored their first and second runs in the third inning thanks to Nick Martini and Tyler O’Neill, who each contributed an RBI.
Martini lofted a fly ball to right-center field. Ian Miller tracked the ball and dove a couple feet short. This allowed Martini to get an RBI triple for the game’s first run. Martini scored on Tyler O’Neill’s sacrifice fly in the next at-bat. Listach said Miller’s dive cost the Rainiers two runs.
The Rainiers were without usual leadoff hitter and outfielder Boog Powell, who was traded to the Athletics on Sunday morning for All-Star first baseman Yonder Alonso. Powell was hitting .340 with 33 RBIs for Tacoma. Miller hit leadoff in Powell’s place but went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Memphis’ offensive production slowed when Moore was pulled from the game. Moore took the loss. The Rainiers’ bullpen pitched well, allowing only one run in five innings.
“A lot of stuff going on today,” Listach said. “But you still gotta play the game and you gotta go out and compete.”