After back-to-back games with five or fewer hits and the loss of top hitter Stefen Romero to the Mariners, concerns about the Tacoma Rainiers’ offense were justified.
Or maybe not.
Tacoma banged out 11 hits and drew four walks in a 7-3 win over New Orleans on Saturday night as the Rainiers (30-19) became the first team in the Pacific Coast League to reach 30 wins on the season.
Triple-A rookies Tyler Smith and Dario Pizzano had three hits apiece, while Mike Zunino reached base four times and hit a long home run.
“You’re definitely concerned about scoring runs when you lose O’Malley, Sardinas, and Romero,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “We shook the lineup a bit tonight, and it was good to see Pizzano get three hits against a lefty.”
The offensive support was mostly not needed while Adrian Sampson was on the mound. The Sammamish product pitched seven shutout innings in his longest stint of scoreless baseball this season. He allowed five hits, walked two, and struck out six.
“He’s been throwing the ball as consistently well as anyone has since day one,” said Listach. “He probably could have gone longer, but we had some guys who needed some work.”
Sampson earned the win, improving his record to 5-3 and lowering his earned run average to 2.95.
Zunino had a patient day at the plate. After being hit by a pitch for his PCL-leading sixth time in his first plate appearance, Zunino walked his next two times up. A bases-loaded groundout in the seventh drove in a run, and then came his final at-bat in the ninth.
Facing left-handed reliever Matt Tomshaw, Zunino got ahead in the count 3-0. Tomshaw came into the strike zone with his next pitch, and Zunino launched a towering home run to left-center field. It was his team-leading 12th home run of the season.
LINCECUM TO PITCH AT CHENEY STADIUM
Salt Lake has listed former University of Washington star Tim Lincecum as their scheduled starting pitcher on Thursday at Tacoma. The two-time Cy Young winner last pitched at Cheney Stadium in April 17, 2007, with Fresno. Lincecum’s outing Thursday is expected to be the first of two starts for him in Triple-A before joining the Los Angeles Angels rotation.
The series continues at 11 a.m. Sunday as Tacoma starts Donn Roach (4-2, 5.51 ERA) against New Orleans’ Jarred Cosart (1-3, 4.60).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Rainiers