The Rainiers fell behind by the long ball, but came back to win Friday night with the long ball, blasting two home runs in a 5-2 win over Omaha.
Jaycob Brugman hit the first one, a two-run blast the other way in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at 2-2. His 15th home run of the season was the third hit in a 3-for-4 night.
An inning later, Jake Fraley put the Rainiers ahead for good with a three-run blast on a 2-2 count yanked onto the hill behind the right-field fence.
““We know he’s got power,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said after the game. “With two strikes, you think he’s just battling, but at the same time he got a pitch he could handle and it ended up being the difference in the game.”
Nabil Crismatt threw six innings — his longest outing in a Tacoma uniform this season, striking out eight and allowing three hits. The only problem was that two of those hits left the ballpark to put the Storm Chasers up 2-0.
“He’s had a few games like the last one, so I thought he was better tonight,” Brown said. “I think he made a couple of mistakes, but for the most part the results were good. I’d still like him to command the fastball a little bit better, I think it would make some easier outs for him. But I thought it was better. It’s a good confidence-builder for him.”
Omaha starter Foster Griffin was even better in his first five innings of work, but Brugman put the Rainiers on the board in the sixth.
Brandon Brennan only needed 13 pitches to work a perfect seventh and earn the win. Darin Gillies struck out the side in the eighth and Aaron Northcraft retired the side in a clean ninth to earn his fourth save of the year.
Tacoma will open up its only series against Iowa of the season Friday at 7 p.m.
Back in the U.S., Jordan Pacheco brings wide range of experience to the Rainiers
After batting practice wrapped up Thursday at Cheney Stadium, Tacoma Rainiers players came off the field and shuffled into the clubhouse, with two hours to prepare for their game against Omaha.
All, that is, except infielder Jordan Pacheco. The five-year MLB veteran sat in the dugout, pulled out a cutting tool, and began taking the pine tar off of his bats.
“Every ounce counts,” Pacheco said, completely seriously — or in the most solid of deadpans.
If anyone on the Rainiers roster would have the experience to come up with such a trick, it would be Pacheco, whose career has turned into a wild ride the past couple of years.
“I think more than anything, it shows the desire for him to play the game,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said. “Especially for a guy that played in the big leagues, trying to work his way back.”
Pacheco made his MLB debut for the Rockies in 2011. After six years of bouncing between the big leagues and Triple-A, he found himself without a franchise in 2017, winding up playing a season in Independent ball with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League.
After a year in the Twins organization, Pacheco ended up in the same situation to begin 2019. This time, he went south of the border, playing for Los Acereros del Norte of the Mexican League. (Fun fact: after Pacheco left, Los Acererors hired former Tacoma manager Pat Listach to lead them.)
On the way, Pacheco has gotten to experience very differing baseball cultures, and picked up lessons from each.
“I think they all have their different characteristics to them,” Pacheco said. “Mexico, yeah it’s a little more laid back, but it’s all about winning. Here, you have prospects, you’ve got to develop your prospects, the big league club is the one that needs to win.
“In Mexico, that’s their big leagues. You’re there to win baseball games, and it’s cutthroat. It’s fun; it’s good competition.”
Pacheco joined the Rainiers on June 21. Currently on an 11-game hitting streak, his .279 batting average leads all active Tacoma players.
“Obviously it’s a day-to-day thing, but it’s nice to get in a rhythm,” Pacheco said. “The opportunity I’m getting to play, and doing something with it, especially at my age. Helping the team win. Not proving to myself, but giving myself some confidence every game to just get a little bit better.”
Trying to get one more shot at the big leagues, Pacheco has his wide range of experiences — from the big leagues to Indy ball, from Mexico to Tacoma — to pull from, both for himself and to help his younger teammates learn for someone who has played in 377 major-league games.
“I’ve learned that you really can’t be too far in front of yourself, you’ve got to be where you’re at. I think that’s the biggest thing, no matter where you’re at,” he said.
“Being in Indy ball, having fun with the guys, still being able to play, just being wherever your feet are is what I’ve learned these past couple of years. Even in Mexico this year, I had no plans or expectations to come back here, but I was given an opportunity. Hopefully I can do as much as I can with it in this last month.”