The Rainiers had enough offense in them to come back from one grand slam, but not two in a wild 14-11 loss to Omaha.
Tacoma entered the bottom of the ninth down 14-9, and the first two batters of the frame went down in order. John Andreoli homered to give the Rainiers a little bit of life, and Eric Filia and Jaycob Brugman both walked to bring Jordan Pacheco to the plate with the tying run on deck.
Pacheco flipped a single into right to score Filia from second, but Brugman was hosed at third to kill the rally and end the game.
“You don’t want to make the last out of the game at third base, but sometimes those things happen,” manager Daren Brown said after the game.
Both teams scored in the first, second, and third innings, with Omaha jumping out to a 9-2 lead before the Rainiers dropped seven runs in the bottom of the third to tie it up at 9-9.
Daniel Castro led off the rally with a double, his first hit in a Tacoma uniform. Later in the inning, Pacheco extended his current hitting streak to 11 games with an RBI double.
After that, though, the Storm Chasers had a fair bit of offense still left in them. Jorge Bonifacio hit a grand slam — Omaha’s second of the night — to put the Storm Chasers up 13-9 in the top of the sixth. A sacrifice fly in the seventh gave them their final run of the day.
Tacoma starter Sean Nolin finished with an ugly line, allowing nine runs on nine hits and four walks in three innings of work. His counterpart, Omaha’s Arnaldo Hernandez, wasn’t any better, giving up eight runs in 2.2 innings.
Former Mariners prospect Erick Mejia hit the Storm Chasers’ first grand slam of the game in the top of the third inning off of Nolin.
“Most nights, if you give up two grand slams, I don’t think you expect to win,” Brown said.
Jake Fraley, who had been hitting just .158 in his past 10 games, went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles.
Behind Nolin, Andrew Moore allowed five runs in six innings of work, striking out two in the loss.
The rubber match of Tacoma’s three-game series with Omaha will start at 7:05 p.m.
No longer just a prospect, Matt Festa embraces the grind between Seattle and Tacoma
Last summer, Matt Festa was the hot prospect out of the bullpen for the Mariners, making the jump from Double-A Arkansas straight to the big leagues for a pair of two-day stints before coming up when rosters expanded in September.
Now he’s taking the more traditional route between Tacoma and Seattle. The 26-year-old right-hander has had three stints with the Mariners this season, including a one-day trip in May and, most recently, a five-week-long one.
“It’s way more of a mental grind because it’s the first time in my career,” Festa said before Wednesday night’s game at Cheney Stadium. “You get promoted, you get demoted, you get promoted, you get demoted. It’s how you look at it each way; you try not to look at it as a demotion, you just try to look at it all as learning curves. It’s part of everyone’s career. But it’s definitely a little more mentally exhausting.”
In his last outing with Seattle — July 21 against the Angels — Festa struck out five in two innings of work, allowing a run on a solo homer.
“I feel really good out there,” Festa said. “The month and a half I just spent up top in the Show was a really big development part from me. It was a constant battle every day just trying to clean some stuff up. My last outing in the big leagues really showed all of that stuff coming together.”
Festa has appeared in 20 games for the Mariners this season, striking out 21 batters in 22.1 innings. His second year on the 40-man roster, 2019 has been a season of learning at the big league level every time he’s up in Seattle.
“You get kicked in the teeth a few times up there and you learn, ‘OK, maybe what I’m doing isn’t right, maybe I need to do something more consistently or a little bit better,’” pitching coach Lance Painter said. “I think Matt has always taken the challenge of that. I think he’s a very good self-evaluator, and I know he’s a hard worker. When you have those two in combination, a lot of the time positives come out of it.”
In Tacoma, Festa is sporting a 3.20 ERA in 19.2 innings in 15 games with a .181 batting average against and a 1.07 WHIP. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in a Rainiers uniform in 10 straight games since April 27.
Tuesday night against Omaha, Festa struck out two in 2.1 hitless innings — his longest outing since 2017.
“He’s got three pitches that he can throw for strikes,” Painter said. “He’s got a presence on the mound when things are going right that you can tell (he’s) in control and (he’s) going to beat you.
“When we see that in him, normally he has a lot of success.”