On Tuesday night, the Tacoma Rainiers pitched their first shutout of the season. And a day later, the Round Rock Express still haven’t scored.
Tacoma made it back-to-back shutouts with a 4-0 win on Wednesday evening, with five pitchers combining on a six-hitter.
Joe Wieland started, and he pitched the first 5 1/3 innings before leaving with a tight right tricep.
Then it was mix-and-match from the bullpen for the remainder of the game: Paul Fry recorded two outs, Jonathan Aro was good for 1 2/3 innings, David Rollins retired both batters he faced, and Mayckol Guaipe got the final two batters out.
“The bullpen has been putting up zeroes all year,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “It’s really great to see the starters come out and give us shutouts two days in a row.”
This shutout required a save — and not one by a closer.
With two outs in the ninth, Round Rock’s Drew Robinson drove a deep fly ball to right field. Mike Baxter went back to the fence, timed his leap, and stole a potential home run for the final out of the game.
“Heck of a catch by Baxter in right field,” Listach said. “I thought it was a home run off the bat.”
Catcher Rob Brantly provided the brunt of the offense. With Tacoma leading 1-0 in the top of the fourth inning, Stefen Romero singled and Baxter drew a walk against Round Rock starter Nick Martinez, bringing up Brantly.
Brantly pulled a line drive toward the right field corner. The ball was hooking toward foul territory, but it somehow stayed fair and clanged off the foul pole for a three-run homer. It was Brantly’s fifth home run of the season, and it raised his RBI total to 19 in 80 at-bats.
Tacoma has won eight of its last nine games, improving to 29-17. The Rainiers are 12 games over .500 for the first time this season.
Wieland’s injury is not considered serious.
“The same place he got hit by a line drive in his last game started to tighten up on him,” Listach said. “We took him out for precautionary reasons. He could probably make his next start, but we’re not going to guarantee that.”
Optioned to Tacoma late on Tuesday night, infielder Chris Taylor flew from Seattle to Round Rock and arrived just in time for first pitch — although he was not in the lineup. … Tacoma lowered its team ERA to 3.92, which is the second-best mark in the PCL.
The series ends with a 5:05 p.m. (PDT) game on Thursday. Tacoma starts James Paxton (4-2, 4.54 ERA) against Round Rock’s Nick Tepesch (3-2, 3.72).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Rainiers.