The Rainiers got their homestand off to a winning start in a wild way, beating Omaha 3-2 in 10 innings on a walk-off wild pitch.
Jake Newberry’s 0-1 offering to Jose Lobaton with one out and the bases loaded was a fastball in the dirt that nicked off of catcher Nick Dini and rolled just outside of the dirt circle. Kelby Tomlinson started to hold off of third base, but when it became obvious that Dini couldn’t find the ball and Newberry chased after it himself, he came home, barely beating the throw back to the plate to win the game.
“It’s not a play you see a whole lot,” manager Daren Brown said.
Tacoma was only in the situation to win because of its pitching. The Rainiers couldn’t make anything out of opportunities in the fourth, the sixth, and the ninth, but couldn’t cash in, grounding into two double plays and leaving nine men on base.
“Our pitching and defense did a nice job of keeping us there, and we finally took advantage of a mistake,” Brown said.
Anthony Misiewicz struck out eight — his most in a Tacoma uniform — in six innings of work, allowing three hits. Omaha put up two runs (one earned) in the top of the fourth on a triple, a muffed fielder’s choice, a stolen base with an error on the throw down, and a sacrifice fly.
“I thought he did a better job of commanding his fastball today,” Brown said. “If he commands his pitches, he’s got good stuff. It’s just a matter of getting the ball in the strike zone more and getting it in the area he wants to get it to. I thought tonight was one of his better outings.”
Brandon Brennon threw 22 pitches in another rehab appearance, getting two outs and allowing a hit in the top of the seventh. Matt Festa finished the inning and pitched another two in his longest outing of the season. In the 10th, Tacoma turned to Matt Carasiti, who allowed a single but didn’t allow Omaha to score its free runner.
Tacoma came back in the bottom of the fifth with back-to-back doubles by Jaycob Brugman and Jordan Pacheco to get on the scoreboard. Later in the inning, John Andreoli hit an RBI single to tie the game at 2-2.
With the game still tied going to the bottom of the 10th, Brown let John Andreoli swing away instead of having him bunt Tomlinson over. When Andreoli walked, he had the newly-acquired Daniel Castro put down a sacrifice to move the two runners into scoring position. Omaha walked Jake Fraley intentionally to set up the double play, bringing Lobaton to the plate.
“I do believe in getting the runner to third base,” Brown said. “Keeping the pressure on the pitcher and the catcher on balls in the dirt. Just what happened tonight.”
Tacoma will wrap up its month of July on Wednesday night at 7 p.m., with Sean Nolin scheduled to start against Arnaldo Hernandez.
With trade deadline coming up, Rainiers are feeling the repercussions in Triple-A
With Major League Baseball’s trade deadline — Wednesday at 1 p.m. — looming, pressure is being felt in clubhouses around the nation. Even in Triple-A.
At the Triple-A level, some players could be thrown in as chips in a trade. As likely (if not more for an organization like Seattle) trading away a big name could open up a spot with the big league club — or bring in prospects that force someone already on the roster down a level or even out of the organization entirely.
In the face of such uncertainty, manager Daren Brown can only tell his players to ignore it.
“You don’t have any other choice,” Brown said Tuesday before the Rainiers opened up their three-game series against Omaha. “That’s what I expect. Again, you’re talking about things that are out of guys’ control. All you can control is where you’re at today and what you’re going to do today. It’s not something that I really hit on.
“I let them know that’s what I expect, and we just go from there. I know there could be distractions, but you’ve got to fight through that.”
It’s not like the rest of the year is a calm one in Tacoma as far as roster changes go. The list of roster changes in the Rainiers’ media guide is over halfway into its third full page, currently sitting at 217 on the season with Connor Kopach’s reassignment to high Single-A Modesto.
Currently, there are six players who were on both Tacoma’s opening day roster and the one the Rainiers had Tuesday night. Only two of those players — Jose Lobaton and Ian Miller — have stayed in Tacoma the whole season.
With all of the movement, the Rainiers came back to Tacoma with five players who weren’t on the roster when they left for their six-day road trip: Matt Festa, Kevin Santa, Eric Filia, Matt Carasiti and Daniel Castro.
“You kind of get used to seeing a lot of transactions at any organization,” said outfielder John Andreoli, whose in his fifth season of Triple-A ball. “The main thing is if you’re trying to play the numbers game, I try to tell guys you’re never really going to be able to predict anything. The only thing you can predict is how you prepare for the game and how you compete that night.”
Andreoli would know a thing or two about moving around. In the past calendar year, he’s changed organizations six times.
For his part, Brown can only focus on preparing his players for the move to the big leagues. Three of the most recent Tacoma transactions were the call-ups for Kristopher Negron, Tim Lopes, and Ryan Court, the latter two of whom made their major league debuts in the past week.
“I think you’re always trying to prepare them for the things that are going to happen in the big leagues,” Brown said. “Telling guys, ‘We want you to be a good Triple-A player,’ I don’t think any player wants to hear that. They want to hear what they’re going to need to be a good big league player.”