These Tacoma Rainiers make baseball look pretty fun.
But Boog Powell said he knew it would be like this.
“As soon as we got here, we were all talking about it for the three days we were here at practice,” Powell said. “This team is insane. Our pitching staff, the coaches are awesome, the players – we’re all good.”
The Rainiers’ 9-3 victory over El Paso on Wednesday in front of 2,368 fans at Cheney Stadium puts them at 5-1. This is their best start to a season since 2005, and they’re averaging 6.5 runs per game.
Meanwhile, the Seattle Mariners stopped a five-game home losing streak earlier in the day. That tied the longest home losing streak to start a season in franchise history.
But this Tacoma team is sure having fun – even if these series wins are against the Isotopes and Chihuahuas.
“We got a great group of guys, great team — it’s fun,” Rainiers catcher Mike Zunino said after hitting his first home run of the season.
“This is probably the best talent-wise team I’ve been on,” said Powell, who went 2 for 3 with a walk, a run, an RBI and threw out a runner at home from center field.
Start with Powell’s night. He led off the bottom of the first with a single before coming around to score. Then he fired a rope to Zunino at home to beat Hunter Renfroe and save a run in the top of the second.
“Everyone has always said I have an average arm, and I do have an average arm,” Powell said. “But I pride myself on getting the ball out quick.
“It was Renfroe and I know he’s not that fast. As soon as the ball came out of my hand I was like ‘That’s right on line. OK. Keep going, keep going. All right.’ It was good,” he said, smiling.
Then Powell came to the plate in the bottom of the second and hit an RBI single.
(Boog Powell) plays the game a lot like Lenny Dykstra did. He’s that type of player. He gets after it, he plays hard all of the time, he goes after it on defense, goes after it in practice, he goes after it in the cage. He’s a fun guy to have around.
Rainiers manager Pat Listach
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto had said during spring training that the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Powell probably won’t end up being a “marquee-type” player. But Powell’s so far proving he’s got some game to go with his name.
“He’s got a lot of tools,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “He’s a young kid (23 years old), he’s got speed, he’s got power, he’s got the ability to bunt, to hit a few home runs, he can steal some bases. That’s the reason we traded for him is because he’s got some tools. He just needs to refine those tools a little bit more to become a major leaguer.
“And to be honest – he’s not very far from it.”
Efren Navarro drove in two runs with a two-out, bases-loaded single later in that second inning. Five of his six hits have come with runners in scoring position this year.
And Rainiers catcher Mike Zunino launched his first home run — sending a 1-2 pitch over the left-field wall. He’s hit in all five games he’s played this season.
“He’s getting his hits here and there and that’s why he’s here is to get at-bats,” Listach said. “But I think the most impressive thing I’ve seen so far is how he’s handled the pitching staff and how he calls a game and how he blocks. Just to see it on an everyday basis is impressive.”
Joe Wieland allowed one run and struck out seven in five innings before being pulled. Listach said it was because Wieland’s 30-pitch fifth inning that took him to 85 for the game. “We’re going to need him in August and September if he’s still here. At some point they’ll need him in Seattle, as well.” … Ed Lucas has now hit safety in five consecutive games. … Stefen Romero (.370) and Chris Taylor (.353) both recorded two hits, including a double for Taylor.
Veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (0-1, 9.00 ERA) is scheduled to make his second start for El Paso after the San Diego Padres signed him to a minor league deal following his release from the Texas Rangers.
He’ll go against Rainiers right-hander Cody Martin (1-0, 3.38 ERA) in the 7:05 p.m. game Thursday. The game will broadcast on 850-AM.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677