In a series opening game at Cheney Stadium against Las Vegas, the Tacoma Rainiers lost a lead late in a close contest, 5-4.
Clinging to a 4-3 lead heading into the eighth, reliever Reggie McClain stepped onto the mound hoping to close the game out and start the series off with a good outing.
McClain struck out the first two batters he faced, but after a walk, a single, and then three consecutive walks, the Rainiers saw their lead disappear and faced a one-run deficit with two half-innings left to make it up.
“[McClain] has been good for us so far, tonight’s the first night we’ve seen that,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said. “He is that guy that at any point he could strike out that last guy. So he has a bit of a longer leash thinking he might do that, but it didn’t look like it was going to happen tonight.”
In the bottom of the eighth, Tacoma failed to get on base, and in the ninth, it appeared Jake Fraley might take matters into his own hands after a ball was hit deep into center, but it came up just a few feet short of the wall and the Rainiers weren’t able to even the score. On the night, they left 10 runners on base.
“We feel like we gave it away,” Brown said.
After a scoreless first and second inning, the Aviators scored first in the top of the third. Outfielder Mark Payton got all of a ball and sent it over the left center field wall. Payton’s homer was Rainiers starter Mike Wright’s first given up all season for Tacoma in seven appearances.
But the Rainiers responded in the bottom of the inning. Infielder Tim Lopes went yard for the seventh time this year to score both Jake Fraley and John Andreoli and give Tacoma a 3-1 lead.
The teams traded more blows in the fifth and sixth. An error from Ryan Court at first base led to Skye Bolt notching an RBI single for Las Vegas, but in the bottom of the inning Court bounced back with an RBI double, scoring Lopes.
Coming in to relieve Wright, recently transferred right-hander Nabil Crismatt looked strong for the Rainiers. In three innings of work, he only allowed three hits, one earned run, and struck out seven. But one of those hits came off the bat of Dustin Fowler, who launched a ball into right field, narrowing the gap to one run.
“We’d seen him earlier, he did a good job of giving us length there,” Brown said of Crismatt. “It was just a tough way to lose it there at the end.”
Aaron Northcraft relieved McClain in the final 1.1 innings, allowing no further damage and striking out two in a solid performance.
The Rainiers are back in action tomorrow at Cheney Stadium against the Aviators. First pitch is scheduled for 11:35 a.m.
Brennan hoping for a brief stint in Tacoma, quick return to Mariners after injury
A month ago, Brandon Brennan’s season took a detour. He hopes after some time in Tacoma, he can get back on track and return to the major leagues.
Before straining his right shoulder and being placed on the injured list on June 14, the rookie reliever had made quite a splash with the Seattle Mariners. Brennan has spent time rehabbing the injury, and was expected to pitch for the Rainiers against Las Vegas on Monday at Cheney Stadium as the next step in his recovery.
Brennan pitched an inning recently for the Mariners’ Arizona summer league team, striking out three and giving up one hit while throwing 17 pitches. Triple-A hitters are next before returning to Mariners, who could use his arm in the bullpen.
Brennan, who had gone 2-6 with a 5.56 ERA for the Mariners in 30 games before going on the IL, had no issues with his first performance back.
“It was good, it just felt good to be back on the mound,” Brennan said Monday before the game. “That’s all I really took out of it, I wanted to feel good after, and I did, so it was good for me.
“It hasn’t been difficult, it’s just been different. Going from being in the bullpen every day, potentially going to throw to sitting on the side and doing some random shoulder stuff from time-to-time is different.”
Brennan said he hopes to get back in Seattle as soon as he can, to continue a season that he had felt good about before his injury.
“Until the last week of the season I’d had a pretty damn good season,” Brennan said. “I tried to throw through what I had going through my arm, and my arm said no. Those teams pick up on your mistakes or when you’re not feeling your best, but overall, my season as is has been pretty good.”
In Monday’s game, Brennan pitched a scoreless seventh inning, allowing no hits, no runs, walking one, with a strikeout.
Pitchers on the move
Aside from Brennan, the Mariners made a slew of moves involving pitchers before the Rainiers matchup with the Aviators. Perhaps the most important was right-hander Sam Tuivailala getting activated to the Mariners from the 60-day IL.
Tuivailala had pitched a solid performance in his first game with the Rainiers on Friday, giving up just one hit and striking out two in one inning . Saturday’s performance wasn’t as clean, as the reliever allowed two hits and one earned run in less than an inning.
Additionally, right-handers Parker Markel and David McKay were optioned to the Rainiers by Seattle. Markel is active for Monday’s game against Las Vegas, along with 24-year-old Nabil Crismatt, who was transferred from Double-A Arkansas. Crismatt is fresh off a complete game shutout performance for the Travelers. The right-hander allowed just two hits and struck out 14 in a dominating performance.