Triple-A baseball is often about players trying to get back to the major leagues, and it was those players who were the biggest factors in Omaha’s 5-2 win over the Tacoma Rainiers on Wednesday.
Rehabilitating Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Rios launched a two-run home run in the first inning, and Rainiers reliever Danny Farquhar, recently demoted by the Seattle Mariners, gave up a two-run homer to Brett Eibner in the eighth.
That pair of two-run homers pretty much settled the game on a night in which the Tacoma offense could muster only six hits.
On the Royals disabled list since a pitch fractured his left hand on April 13, Rios was playing his third rehabilitation game Wednesday. The 12-year major league veteran launched a fastball from Tacoma starter Stephen Landazuri deep over the left field fence to give Omaha a 2-0 lead.
“Rios is a big-time professional. He has a lot of years in the major leagues, and that happens,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said.
Landazuri shook off the homer and made it through five innings, giving up just one more run when Rey Fuentes singled home Lane Adams with two outs in the fifth. It was an improvement for Landazuri, who was knocked out in the second inning of his previous start Friday at Iowa.
“The ball Fuentes hit shot off the hard dirt right in front of home plate and got through,” said Listach. “On a normal field that’s not dried up and hard, that’s an out.”
Farquhar entered the game with a runner at first base and nobody out in the eighth, when Tacoma was trailing 3-2. He struck out Rios looking with a curveball, but Eibner connected on a fastball for his sixth homer of the year to left-center.
“The big blow was the home run in the eighth,” Listach said. “We were in striking distance, and that made it a stretch for us to come back in the ninth inning.”
Tacoma scored its only runs with four consecutive hits in the fourth inning against Omaha starter John Lamb. Carlos Rivero and Shawn O’Malley had run-scoring singles to tie the game, 2-2.
On Tuesday in Tampa, Florida, the Mariners hit their first grand slam since 2013. The Rainiers also are in a bit of a grand slam drought; They are one of four PCL teams that have not hit one in 2015. Tacoma has had 42 bases-loaded plate appearances this season. … Tacoma has lost five of its past six games and matched a season-worst nine games under .500 (19-28).
Tacoma is scheduled to start Justin Germano (3-2, 2.95 ERA) in the final game of its road trip at 4:35 p.m. (PDT) Thursday. Omaha is scheduled to start Andy Ferguson (1-1, 1.50).