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The Rainiers were able to rally back and tie it late, but a ninth inning home run given up by David McKay led to a 5-4 loss to Iowa at Cheney Stadium.
It was on a 2-1 count that the Cubs’ Phillip Evans crushed a ball toward left field that would give them the lead for good after a strong Iowa start. While the Rainiers came back from a three-run deficit to tie it with some timely hitting in the seventh, they couldn’t manage a hit in the ninth to come back once more.
“Those things happen, that’s happened to us probably too many times this year,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said after the game. “McKay didn’t make a very good pitch to Evans with the game on the line, and we got beat.”
Tacoma was able to deliver the first blow, however, in the first inning when Jake Fraley hit a sacrifice fly that scored leadoff batter Ian Miller. But that was all the damage they could muster after back-to-back hits to start the inning.
The Cubs responded immediately, where in the top of the second inning a single by Donnie Dewees and an ensuing sacrifice bunt from Dixon Machado helped Iowa take a 2-1 lead.
The teams traded scoreless innings before the Cubs doubled their score in the fourth, where a double by Dewees scored two to take a 4-1 lead.
But after the Rainiers scored a run in the sixth from a Jordan Pacheco double, they were able to tie the game in the seventh thanks to some timely batting and baserunning from Miller. Infielder Kevin Santa was able to lead the inning off with a double, and after advancing to third, Miller knocked him in with a single shot to left field.
Then, after a single from Tim Lopes, Miller was able to score from third when Fraley grounded out at first to tie the game at four.
“He’s been coming around a little bit,” Brown said. “He had a couple of hits tonight, neither one he hit real good but the results were good at the end… We had some chances and didn’t get the hit we needed in the end when it’s a tie-game.”
The Rainiers will try again to get their first win of the series tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. against the Cubs at Cheney Stadium.
Miller hopes old swing and new haircut help him break out of post all-star funk
Before the Tacoma Rainiers game against Omaha on Wednesday, outfielder Miller made a deal with manager Daren Brown. If he didn’t get two hits, Brown would get to cut off Miller’s hair after the game.
Known for his long locks that fell to his shoulders, Miller was sporting a new look after a one-hit performance in that game. While it was the team who cut off a portion of the 27-year-old’s hair, Miller said he had it worked on a bit afterwards.
Now, almost as if a good-luck charm, Brown has some of Miller’s hair tied up and taped to the top of the door frame of his office.
“We thought someone killed a squirrel by the door when we came in,” Rainiers hitting coach Roy Howell said. “He’s done it before, I’ve been with him more than any coach… He’s a fun guy and he does stuff like that. Whatever a guy needs to do, if that helps him out, I’m all for it.”
Since the Triple-A all-star break in early July, Miller has fallen into a self-described lull. Miller has had just one multi-hit game, and has seen his batting average drop from .285 to .269. And he has not been happy with his at-bats of late.
“I try not to ever be happy with where I am,” Miller said. “That hinders progress a little bit. I try to keep building it everyday.”
Howell, who has worked with Miller for well over 10 years, said Miller just needs to get back to doing what he had been doing at the beginning of the season.
“Sometimes he gets out of balance when he swings the bat,” Howell said. “We try to stay as firm and balanced as we can. He starts to rotate with his upper body a little bit and he comes across the ball and it doesn’t jump off his bat.”
But Howell has no doubt that one of the Rainiers top threats on base will get back into his groove, and has the capacity for a big night every time he steps onto the field.
“He’s a defense’s nightmare, but you can’t walk back to the dugout and be a threat,” Howell said. “He has to make contact and stay in better balance.”
Maybe the combination of old swing and new haircut breaks the funk. Miller’s said he’s going to remain positive.
“I just go to the park every day and have fun,” Miller said. “I love what I do, and I’m going to do it until they tell me I can’t do it anymore and rip the jersey off my back.”
Lopes back in Tacoma
After a concussion shortened his first stint with the Mariners last week, Tim Lopes is back in Tacoma on rehab assignment after making his major league debut on July 24. He was batting second and playing DH in Friday’s loss to the Iowa Cubs, where he went 3-for-4 on the night.
Lopes played in two games for Seattle before getting struck in the head by a fastball during an at-bat. He was diagnosed with a concussion and was placed on the seven-day IL.