The Tacoma Rainiers continued their season-long struggle against the last-place Salt Lake Bees, dropping a 4-2 decision Thursday night in the final meeting of the year between the two clubs.
Salt Lake (57-83) has had the worst record in the Pacific Coast League for the majority of the season — but when the Bees play the Rainiers (66-74) they look like a division winner. Salt Lake won 11 of 16 games against Tacoma this season.
“They match up well against us,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “You look around the league, we played well against Las Vegas and Fresno, and they have good records. We didn’t play well against Reno and Salt Lake.”
Thursday’s game was frustrating for the Tacoma offense. The Rainiers had 11 hits in the game but scored only two runs.
Salt Lake starter Jo-Jo Reyes carried a shutout into the eighth inning, scattering 10 hits. Nine of the Rainiers’ 10 hits were singles, and Reyes did not walk a batter. He induced two double-play grounders to get out of trouble, and twice Tacoma ran into unnecessary outs on the base paths.
“We made too many mental mistakes and took ourselves out of the game,” Listach said. “They didn’t beat us, we beat ourselves.”
Salt Lake scored in each of the first three innings against Tacoma starter Forrest Snow, who had difficulty getting ahead in the count early in the game.
Daniel Robertson went 4 for 4 for Salt Lake, including run-scoring singles in each of the first two innings. His second RBI single was the back end of consecutive two-out run-scoring hits for the Bees.
Trailing 4-0 in the eighth, Tacoma catcher Steve Baron hit a leadoff double, and Chris Taylor followed with an infield single to chase Reyes. Reliever Jeremy McBryde allowed a sacrifice fly to James Jones, and Jesus Montero followed with an RBI single to center.
With Mike Zunino at the plate representing the tying run, McBryde picked Montero off first base before striking out Zunino to end the inning.
“He made a base-running mistake with Zunino up, possibly tying the game,” Listach said.
Bees closer Vinnie Pestano pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn the save.
DUFFY NAMED MVP
Fresno third baseman Matt Duffy was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player, but Tacoma’s Montero was one of three other players to receive votes. Tacoma has had just one PCL MVP in franchise history: Dick Phillips of the 1961 Tacoma Giants.
The Rainiers travel to Las Vegas for the final series of the season, beginning with Friday’s game at 7:05 p.m. Tacoma starts Adrian Sampson (2-3, 6.82 ERA) against Las Vegas’s Dillon Gee (7-3, 4.87).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.