Adam Law’s bases-clearing triple in the bottom of the eighth inning proved to be the difference Saturday night, as Tacoma won a back-and-forth game 8-5 over El Paso.
After jumping out to an early on the back of a quality start by Bryan Evans, a rough transition to the bullpen put the Chihuahuas on top, but a David Freitas home run tied the game at 5-5. An inning later, Law hit a ball to the gap with the bases loaded and just kept running.
Tacoma jumped ahead with a three-spot in the bottom of the second on an RBI single by Seth Mejias-Brean and a 2-RBI double by Zach Vincej in his first game back in Tacoma since clearing waivers.
The Rainiers added another in the third to make it 4-0, and even after El Paso scored two in the fourth, Evans kept cruising, ending his night with his seventh strikeout.
“He’s got a couple of deceptive pitches,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said after the game. “We can’t tell from the side what they are, but he tricks a lot of hitters.”
Dan Altavilla replaced Evans for the seventh, but after getting the leadoff man out, things went south quickly. Four of the next five batters he faced logged hits — three of them doubles — and the Chihuahuas grabbed a 5-4 lead before Pat Listach pulled Altavilla for Tyler Higgins.
“He threw more breaking balls today than fastballs, and that’s not like him,” Listach said. “We’ve got to get him back on track with that. But the important thing is that he felt good.”
The El Paso lead didn’t last long, though, as Freitas yanked his third home run of the season just inside the foul pole in left to tie the game back up.
Higgins, after striking out Francisco Mejia to end the seventh, came back with two more punchouts in a flawless eighth and ended up earning his first win of the season.
“If he keeps pitching like this, hopefully he’ll get rewarded in September,” Listach said. “He’s really pitched like he belongs in a better league.”
Despite the loss, the Chihuahuas were probably the happier team in Tacoma within five minutes of the last pitch. Just as they walked back to their clubhouse with the Rainiers shaking hands on the field, Fresno walked off against Salt Lake, clinching the division for El Paso
First pitch Sunday from Cheney Stadium is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. Ross Detwiler is scheduled for his first start since pitching for the Mariners.