Two hits were all the Tacoma Rainiers could muster Thursday night in losing to the Albuquerque Isotopes, 6-0, at Cheney Stadium.
Broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network, it was the Rainiers’ second shutout loss of the season, the first coming May 20 against Reno. Tacoma registered its first official sellout of the season, with an announced crowd of 6,633 packing the stands.
“I didn’t think their pitching was overpowering or anything like that; we just didn’t put anything together,” Rainiers manager Roy Howell said. “We got behind in the count and couldn’t put anything in play, couldn’t get anything together.”
Right-hander Matt Palmer (1-2, 2.14 ERA) started for Tacoma and pitched well, but was pulled after just three innings. He threw 48 pitches, 26 for strikes, and recorded three strikeouts.
Howell said he was told to keep Palmer on a strict pitch count of 55, but he didn’t know if the Mariners were considering calling him up to fill a rotation hole that has been in limbo since James Paxton’s shoulder injury April 8.
“We just went by the pitch count and took him out. We just made sure he got his pitches in and pulled him out of there,” Howell said. “I don’t know their plan for him. That’s above my pay grade.”
The Mariners most recently had called up Erasmo Ramirez to fill the hole, but the 24-year-old got rocked in Tuesday’s start against the Atlanta Braves. He allowed five runs and eight hits in three innings.
Palmer allowed one run Thursday, when Jeremy Hazelbaker knocked a liner deep to center in the third. Former Rainier Carlos Triunfel, on second after a walk and a wild pitch, scored on Hazelbaker’s triple.
Another former Rainier, Alex Liddi, added to the Albuquerque lead in the sixth, when he hit a two-run homer to left, giving the Isotopes a 3-0 advantage.
Things got worse for Tacoma in the eighth. A throwing error by Jabari Blash let a run score from third, and Albuquerque tacked on two more before the inning was over.
Tacoma was coming off a 13-4 win over the El Paso Chihuahuas on Tuesday, which featured three homers by Blash, one short of tying the Pacific Coast League record. Top Mariners prospect Taijuan Walker pitched the first two innings of that game, but he couldn’t find command of his fastball. He threw 56 pitches with four strikeouts and four walks.
The Rainiers haven’t won back-to-back games since May 6-7.
Tacoma hosts Albuquerque in a double-header Friday. Both games will last seven innings. The Rainiers are set to start right-hander Andrew Carraway (2-4, 4.44 ERA) against righty Carlos Frias (3-3, 6.02 ERA). Starters for the second game haven’t been announced. Both games will be broadcast on 850-AM.