By now, Seattle Mariners and Tacoma Rainiers fans have an accurate picture of what catcher Jesus Sucre brings to the table: great defense behind the plate, a strong throwing arm. Not much of a hitter. Slow runner.
Sucre did the unexpected on Saturday night in El Paso, collecting three hits — including a game-breaking two-run triple in the eighth inning — as the Rainiers beat the Chihuahuas, 7-5.
It was just the fifth triple of Sucre’s professional career — a career that started in 2005.
With runners at second and third, one out, and the Rainiers clinging to a 4-2 lead, Sucre lifted a fly ball deep into the right field corner. El Paso outfielder Nick Torres just missed making a tumbling catch, and the ball got past him into the corner. Dan Vogelbach and Zach Shank scored, Sucre slid into third base safely, and the Rainiers had a 6-2 lead.
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“When he got to third base, I told him that may be the last triple of his career,” said Rainiers manager Pat Listach, who was coaching third base. “He smoked the ball tonight. All three of his hits were hit really good.”
Sucre’s triple helped punctuate terrific games by Tacoma starting pitcher Joe Wieland and new outfielder James Ramsey.
Ramsey, acquired Thursday in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, hit a two-run homer in the second inning to give Tacoma a 3-1 lead. He added a two-out RBI single in the fourth, and followed Sucre’s triple with another run-scoring single in the eighth. He was 3 for 3 with four runs batted in.
“Big night for him,” Listach said. “He’s fitting right in.”
Wieland (11-5) turned in a strong start, striking out a season-high 10 batters over 6 2/3 innings. He gave up five hits and two runs, while walking one.
Rainiers reliever Emilio Pagan recorded four key outs, finishing off the eighth inning and getting two in the ninth, before David Rollins got Carlos Asuaje to fly out to end the game. Rollins was credited with his first Triple-A save.
Daniel Robertson hit the second pitch of the game for a home run, making it two straight games in which Tacoma’s leadoff man homered. Mike Freeman hit a leadoff homer on Friday. … Listach said he expects newly acquired switch-pitcher Pat Venditte to join the Rainiers on Sunday in Tacoma. … Tacoma finished the season series with an 11-5 record against El Paso.
The Rainiers return home to host Sacramento in a four-game series that starts with at 6:05 p.m. Sunday. Tacoma will start right-hander Zach Lee (0-4, 5.74 ERA) against Sacramento right-hander Chris Stratton (8-5, 4.81).
Mike Curto is the Rainiers radio broadcaster.