Tacoma Rainiers

Tacoma Rainiers struggle to get going, fall 4-3 to El Paso

The Tacoma Rainiers baseball equipment finally arrived in El Paso, although for five innings it looked like the bats were still missing.

El Paso starter Donn Roach carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, eventually earning his first Triple-A win as the Chihuahuas nipped the Rainiers, 4-3.

The loss ended Tacoma’s win streak at four games, and it was only the third loss for the Rainiers in their past 14 games.

“We got out on the field early, took infield, got the guys moving around a little, but we just didn’t play very well,” said Tacoma manager Roy Howell.

How Roach kept Tacoma off the scoreboard until the sixth inning is a mystery worth dwelling on. He walked the leadoff batter in the first, third, and fourth innings —usually a recipe for disaster. Roach was fortunate the Rainiers had several hard-hit balls that went directly at El Paso defenders.

“We hit line drives all over the place and they didn’t hurt him,” said Howell. “Those walks will usually get you in trouble, but we just couldn’t get anything to fall in.”

Roach walked the leadoff man for a fourth time in the sixth inning, allowing Chris Taylor to reach first base. After Corey Hart lined out sharply to the shortstop, Justin Smoak pulled a double to the right field corner for Tacoma’s first hit of the game.

Smoak’s hit led to two runs scoring — Ji-Man Choi grounded out to plate Taylor, and Gabriel Noriega singled in Smoak. But that still left Tacoma a run shy of the lead, at 3-2.

El Paso added an insurance run in the seventh inning, on a long two-out RBI double by former Rainiers and Mariners catcher Adam Moore.

Hart led off the eighth with a long double to right field, and was replaced by pinch runner Abraham Almonte, who scored on Nick Franklin’s two-out single off the glove of former Mariners and Rainiers pitcher Bobby LaFromboise to make it 4-3.

Short Hops

Choi made his first career appearance in the outfield, starting in left field. Only one ball was hit his way, a flare off the bat of Travis Buck which fell in for a single. … Stephen Kohlscheen pitched 11/3 scoreless innings. He has not allowed a run in his first 62/3 innings of Triple-A ball.

On Tap

To make up for Thursday’s postponement which was due to the Rainiers equipment not arriving to the ballpark in time, a day/night doubleheader will be played Saturday. The first starts at 11:05 a.m. PDT and pits Tacoma’s Andrew Carraway (3-4, 4.52) against El Paso’s Chris Smith (PCL debut). The second game starts at 6:05 PDT and Jordan Pries (4-5, 2.65) will face Matt Wisler (4-4, 5.62). Both games will broadcast on 850-AM.

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