Seth Mejias-Brean’s sixth home run of the season — a three-run bomb into the home bullpen in left field — proved to be the difference in the Tacoma Rainiers’ fourth straight victory, a 5-2 win over the Iowa Cubs.
Iowa reliever Daury Torrez hung a changeup over the outside corner, and Mejias-Brean didn’t miss.
“I just saw it up,” Mejias-Brean said. “I was sitting fastball, and I thought they might be busting me in. I kind of got a little cookie there and executed.”
Mejias-Brean finished 2-for-3 with a run scored and four RBI. Mike Marjama added a two-hit day of his own. While it wasn’t the scoring output of the game last night, it was plenty for the performance starter Ross Detwiler and the Tacoma bullpen gave.
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A day before a scheduled bullpen game, the Rainiers need Detwiler to eat up innings, and that’s just what he did, scattering two runs on six hits across 6 ⅓ innings.
“He did a really nice job of mixing his pitches tonight,” pitching coach Lance Painter said. “He had his curveball that he could land in the strike zone, which I thought was the biggest separator. He threw some good fastballs, he used his changeup effectively, and really just kept hitters off-balance.”
Tyler Higgins and Shawn Armstrong combined to see the game out, allowing just one hit and striking out four.
Armstrong came in to pitch the ninth, got the first two batters to strike out on six pitches, and went out in front of Bijan Rademacher 0-2 before getting him to fly out to end the game.
“His fastball tonight was the best fastball he’s had,” Painter said.
The I-Cubs broke onto the scoreboard first on an RBI double from David Bote in the top of the fourth, but the Rainiers came back in the bottom of the frame with a two-spot to take a 2-1 lead.
Iowa tied it back up in the top of the sixth, but once again, Tacoma responded in its half of the inning, with Mejias-Brean’s homer putting the game away.
Give a hand to the relievers, who've played a big role in the Tacoma Rainiers recent run of success.
In the recent run — eight wins in nine games — the Tacoma bullpen has allowed just four earned runs in 30 2/3 innings. they've struck out 37 batters in that span.
Painter credits consistency on the roster to consistency on the hill.
“There was a period of time where guys were shuffling between the big leagues and here,” Painter said. “Now we’re starting to get guys back and put them in spots where their experience helps us.”
One new arm available for Tacoma is Mike Morin, back after a pair of appearances with the Mariners.
“Mike has had a really good year here, and I want him to keep doing the same thing that he’s been doing,” Painter said.
Morin appeared in 20 games for the Rainiers before the promotion, posting a 3.24 ERA in 25 innings. He allowed a combined three hits and one run in a pair of one-inning outings for the Mariners.
The experience of being with the Mariners, who are in second place in the American League West after their run of success, was special, Morin said.
“Just the atmosphere around the team and in the clubhouse, it was cool to see,” Morin said.
It wasn’t his first career call-up, but Morin focused on having a different mindset in his first stint with Seattle.
“For a long time I didn’t really appreciate getting called up,” Morin said. “So the whole time I was (in Seattle), just having true appreciation for how awesome it really is to be in the big leagues.”
The bullpen faces a different challenge on Tuesday. With Wednesday being a travel day, the bullpen is being counted on from start to finish.