The Rainiers came from behind Thursday night to open their four-game series against Fresno with a 8-4 win.
Jaycob Brugman broke a 3-3 deadlock in the bottom of the seventh, coming up to the plate with the bases loaded against a new pitcher and lining the first pitch he saw up the middle to drive a run home.
“It’s not any situation he hadn’t been in before,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said after the game. “It’s just a matter of getting a good pitch to hit and not trying to do too much.”
Joseph Odom followed that with an RBI single of his own to double the lead and make it 5-3.
Brugman ended up going 3-for-5, also hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game.
The home run is his 16th of the season and his first since Aug. 1.
Jake Fraley led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, and two walks loaded the bases with one out and ended Michael Blazek’s night. The Grizzlies brought in George Kontos to face Brugman with a drawn-in infield, but the Tacoma designated hitter didn’t wait around to put the Rainiers ahead.
Darren McCaughan looked great through four innings, but allowed solo home runs on back-to-back pitches in the top of the fifth, then another in the sixth to fall behind 3-1. He only allowed one hit that didn’t leave the yard, and struck out three in six innings of work.
“He was able to do a nice job,” Brown said. “He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win.”
Dan Altavilla, making his second rehab appearance since suffering a forearm strain in early July, pitched a scoreless seventh inning. He threw 16 pitches — 10 for strikes — walked one, and struck out two, earning the win in the process.
“He was good,” Brown said. “Ball was coming out good, around the plate with all his pitches. That was good to see.”
Altavilla will have Friday off, then pitch again on Saturday if all goes according to plan.
Darin Gillies struck out two but also allowed a pair of singles in the top of the eighth. He gave way to Matt Festa, who induced an easy pop-up to get out of the jam, then saw the ninth through to earn his third save of the season.
The Rainiers jumped out to a very early lead quickly in the bottom of the first, when Fraley sent Logan Ondrusek’s second pitch of the game out to right-center to make it 1-0. He ended up going 3-for-4 with two runs scored, and also reached on a hit-by-pitch.
Tacoma added three more in the bottom of the eighth on an Eric Filia RBI single and a two-run Ryan Court homer.
The Rainiers and Grizzlies will continue their series Saturday at 7 p.m.
After first career call-up, Ryan Court is back in Tacoma with big league experience
As soon as Ryan Court got back to the Tacoma Rainiers clubhouse from his first career stint in the big leagues, the questions started coming in from his teammates.
“A lot of guys have asked, more for advice on what to expect,” Court said before Tacoma’s series-opener against Fresno on Thursday. “Anything I can tell them that’ll help them, I’m more than willing to do. A lot of good players down here, I want to see a lot of guys get seen.”
After nine years in the minors, Court finally got his first MLB call-up on July 26, and spent just over two weeks with the Mariners. He picked up his first big league hit in his first start the next day at T-Mobile Park.
“It was awesome,” Court said. “A dream come true, and it was cool to have my family and friends there for it.”
Now back in Tacoma, he’s got plenty of advice to give, not just on how to get up to the big leagues, but how to stay there. His first few days, he was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of resources — coaches, video, training equipment — that just trying to do it all made him exhausted even before gametime.
Once he got his routine settled, the comfort level rose.
“It felt good,” Court said. “It felt like I belonged, so that was good. That was a big thing for me, to be able to be up there and show that I can play at that level.”
Court started four games and came off the bench in four more in his stint with the Mariners. He was sent down to clear roster space for Dee Gordon’s return from the injured list, but in the last game of his run with Seattle, he ticked off another milestone, hitting his first career home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of the Mariners’ Aug. 9 loss to Tampa Bay.
“I guess bittersweet, right?” Court said. “If you’re going to have your last game up there before you come down, end it on a good note.”
With Shed Long still on the Injured List, Court is the only Tacoma position player on the 40-man roster. And where before he could help out younger teammates by sharing his experience from nearly a decade in the minor leagues, now he can help them prepare for a possible call-up.
Tuesday’s game was Court’s third with the Rainiers since coming back. He rejoined the team in New Orleans, and wrapped up the road trip with a 2-for-4 outing. He’s currently hitting .279 in 39 games with Tacoma with nine home runs in and 39 RBIs.
Manager Daren Brown has already seen Court’s outlook changed a little bit.
“Getting there is hard, but staying there is probably harder,” Brown said. “Obviously, it probably gives him a little hunger to get back, but at the same time, you’re trying to do things in order to stay once you get there.”
So with eight games’ worth of experience on his resume and a home run ball back at his home, Court can reflect on his first-even call-up, but also get ready for his next one.
“It’s great, it’s the big leagues,” Court said. “It’s why we all play for so long, and what we want to do. It’s what you dream of as a kid. It was great, but I’m glad to be back here in terms of working, getting ready, and getting better. If they need me again, I’ll be ready to go.”