It was a sterling day for baseball at Cheney Stadium, so much so that the Tacoma Rainiers and Nashville Sounds decided it would be a good idea to play two games in one day.
In the opener, the Rainiers won, 6-5, in eight innings. In the nightcap, Nashville got even with an 8-4 win.
On Saturday, high winds and rain on the horizon postponed that night’s game until the following day. To fit both games in with each squad’s travel schedules, each game was shortened to seven innings.
The first game ended up going to extra innings anyway. In the seventh, Joe Beimel had a chance to save the game, clinging to a 5-4 lead. He couldn’t hang on, however. He walked leadoff hitter Bryan Anderson and then wild pitched him to second. After a groundout, Joey Wendle tied it with a single.
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The Rainiers won it an inning later, though, as James Jones singled in Patrick Brady for the winning run. Jones, fresh off a rehab assignment, was playing in his second game with the Rainiers since July 10.
“I was just looking for a pitch to hit,” Jones said. “I hit that line drive off a pitch up in the zone.”
Rainiers manager Pat Listach was pleased to have Jones back in the lineup.
“He makes this team better,” Listach said. “Not just with the way he plays on the field, but the way he carries himself in the clubhouse. It’s nice having him back. He’s always smiling.”
The game started poorly for the Rainiers with starter Adrian Sampson allowing two quick runs in the first inning. He ended up settling down and not allowing a run the next four innings .
Listach said Sampson threw well, noting the home run that he allowed was actually a good pitch.
Tacoma answered early. In the second, Patrick Kivlehan’s double brought in one run. One inning later, Mike Zunino hit a single down the line that scored two. Jabari Blash’s sacrifice fly tacked on another run, giving the Rainiers a 4-2 lead.
The nightcap was forgettable for the Rainiers. Chien Ming-Wang took the mound and promptly gave up three runs in the first inning. Listach said he left a few pitches up and Sounds hitters took advantage.
The Rainiers struck back with a two-run homer from Blash in the bottom of the first, but that’s as close as they would get. Blash added a second home run in the sixth inning, a mammoth solo shot that hit the scoreboard in right-center field.
Listach said he thinks the Mariners might be taking a look at Blash sooner rather than later.
“He’s put himself on the radar,” Listach said.
Zunino also added a home run later in the game, but at that point Nashville already had a commanding five-run lead and the two solo home runs did little to put a dent it.
The Rainiers announced their player awards for this season. Jesus Montero was deemed offensive player of the year, playing well enough to earn a promotion to Seattle. In 98 games, Montero accrued 130 hits, 16 home runs and 75 RBIs while hitting .346. John Hicks, also recently promoted, was awarded defensive player of the year. Forrest Snow earned pitcher of the year, sporting a 10-8 record and a 4.11 ERA. Community service players of the year were awarded to Snow and pitcher Logan Bawcom. ... Tacoma celebrated its second highest attendance figures in franchise history this season, with 352,521 fans attending games.
Following the doubleheader, it’s a quick turnaround for the Rainiers as they head out on their last road trip of the season. Salt Lake will host Tacoma for a four-game series beginning at 6:05 p.m. Monday. Left-hander Tyler Olson (2-4, 5.19 ERA) starts for the Rainiers. He will face Bees lefty Nate Smith (1-3, 8.00).