The Tacoma Rainiers came back from the All-Star break on a positive note, opening up a short homestand against Fresno with a 4-3 win over the Grizzlies Thursday night.
The Rainiers drew 11 walks — tying a season high — led by Seth Mejias-Brean’s three. Andrew Aplin went hitless, but scored two runs.
“It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but we got the big hits, made the pitches, and made the plays when we needed to,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said after the game.
Tacoma spotted Fresno an early 2-0 lead, but started chipping away immediately, with a significant helping hand from the Grizzlies. In the bottom of the second inning, three walks loaded the bases, and a fourth scored Andrew Aplin to cut the lead in half.
The Rainiers tied the game on a John Andreoli infield single in the bottom of the fourth, before plating two in the fifth to take a 4-2 lead.
Bryan Evans turned in yet another solid start for the Rainiers, allowing a pair of solo home runs in the top of the second, but nothing else in terms of scoring. He scattered three other hits and a walk across six innings, his second six-inning, two-run start of the season.
“This guy knows how to pitch,” Listach said. “He probably could have gone back out for the seventh, but with the three days off, I was trying to get the other guys some work.”
Ryan Garton pitched a scoreless seventh. Tyler Higgins loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth, but limited the damage to one run on a sacrifice fly. With Shawn Armstrong off after coming back from the Triple-A All-Star game, Ryan Cook came in for the ninth and earned his third save of the season.
Frequent flyer catchers
For Mike Zunino, a turned ankle running the bases meant time on the disabled list. For Joseph Odom, it meant travel.
Lots and lots of travel.
The Rainiers needed a replacement for David Freitas, who had flown with the team to Albuquerque to wrap up the first half of the season, only to turn around and fly back to Seattle as soon as they landed because the Mariners needed him.
Odom, who had been in Corpus Christi with Double-A Arkansas, bussed with the Travelers to their next series in San Antonio, but instead of staying there, took the next available flight to New Mexico, where he started the final three games of the series, going 2-for-12.
“You never truly know what’s going to happen in this game,” Odom said at Cheney Stadium before Thursday night’s game. “I prepare every day to be ready for that opportunity, and I was lucky enough that I got the call.”
Odom, in his first season in the Mariner’s organization, had a slash line of .273/.337/.398 with 11 doubles and 20 RBIs in 45 games for Arkansas.
During the All-Star break, Odom racked up even more miles, going back to Little Rock to pick up his belongings and receive treatment for a turned ankle he suffered in Tacoma’s last game in Albuquerque. He returned to Tacoma Thursday morning to be back in the dugout for the Rainiers’ game in the evening.
“I’ve had a whirlwind of travel these past couple of days,” Odom said.
So for now, the picture behind the plate in Tacoma looks comparatively stable, with Odom and Garrett Kennedy. That present situation is all that manager Pat Listach is certain of.
“I go with the flow and wait for them to call me,” Listach said. “I just know it’s going to be a minimum of 10 days.”
After over a month on the disabled list, Dario Alvarez is back in the Tacoma bullpen. The 29-year-old left-hander went on the DL on May 31 and began his rehab stint July 3 with the AZL Mariners. In three rehab appearances (two in Arizona and one in Everett), he posted three shutout, no-hit innings.
“I feel good. I feel strong, I’m ready to help the team,” Alvarez said through trainer Derek Mendoza. “I’m excited to be here.”
Alvarez joins a Tacoma bullpen that went into the All-Star break as one of the best in Triple-A, but was short on left-handed arms. Now, the Rainiers have two lefty relievers — Alvarez and Daniel Schlereth.
“It’s always good to have two lefties, at least two,” Listach said. “I wouldn’t be opposed to having three.”
Outfielder Cameron Perkins was sent back to the disabled list with a minor hamstring injury. Perkins had played in 15 games since returning from a finger injury that kept him out for nearly a month, but this time, Listach is much more confident in a quick return.
“It’s not major,” Listach said. “He’ll probably be less than a week.”