Getting shut out for the second time this weekend, the Tacoma Rainiers dropped another contest to Las Vegas, 2-0, to extend their losing streak to five games.
The winning run came from Aviators leadoff man Nick Martini, who blasted a two-run homer into right field in the eighth in what was previously a scoreless tie.
Behind yet another dominating performance from the Aviators’ pitching staff, the Rainiers were held to just five hits, struck out nine times, and went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, stranding 10 on base. However, the Rainiers made it interesting in the ninth, loading up the bases with no outs.
But after Kelby Tomlinson stuck out and Joe Odom hit into a fielder’s choice that got the leadoff runner out at home plate, Braden Bishop struck out to end the game.
“I don’t think all of them were strikes that we swung at,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said of the final inning. “It’s being able to control your emotions a little bit in that situation. It’s easier to say than it is to do. We put ourselves in a good spot, we just didn’t get the hit we needed.”
However, the Rainiers were kept in the game by a dominant pitching performance from Darren McCaughan, who threw six scoreless innings and only allowed two hits in one of his better outings in Tacoma. The 23-year-old righty has been with the club for a little over a month now, and entering the contest he had struggled mightily in seven starts with an ERA of 10.38 and an 0-6 record.
Today’s performance dropped McCaughan’s ERA to 8.67 in Triple-A.
“I thought he threw the ball well,” Brown said. “He threw it in and out, up and down, he threw his off-speed in the zone and was able to throw it just out of the zone to get chases. It’s probably what he needs to do each time he goes out and I thought he did a nice job today.”
Rainiers’ reliever Austin Adams held the Aviators off the scoresheet in the seventh, but in the eighth, Ryan Garton entered and allowed a Trace Loehr single and then the game-winning home run to Martini. Combined, the Rainiers’ pitching staff allowed just four hits, struck out 10, and allowed just two baserunners to get past first base, but didn’t get any run support to avoid the sweep.
“I just want to give us a chance to win,” Brown said. “We had a chance to win today, we had a chance to win yesterday. Give us a chance to win in the seventh, eighth, and ninth and we’ll win our share. Offensively, some guys kind of cooled off here in the last three or four, some of its a credit to them on the other side. Hopefully we’ll go on the road and some guys will get it going here in the last week.”
Sunday’s game marked the last home contest of the year for the Rainiers at Cheney Stadium, as they’ll finish their season on the road against Fresno starting Monday and then in Las Vegas for a three-game series on Friday.