Tacoma Rainiers

Early runs, walks lift Tacoma Rainiers past Sacramento River Cats

The Tacoma Rainiers had a few things going for them Tuesday night facing Sacramento River Cats bullpen starter Alex Torres.

In Forrest Snow’s spot start, the Rainiers coaches wanted five innings and 75 pitches, and he threw five and 76. Ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte debuted with two solid innings and reliever Emilio Pagan threw a perfect eighth.

The pitching staff as a whole allowed just one run as the Rainiers defeated Sacramento 5-1 in front of 4,446 in Cheney Stadium. Tacoma scored twice in the second and fourth innings and once in the seventh along with accumulating nine walks in the game.

“We couldn’t capitalize on all the walks,” manager Pat Listach said. “But it’s a good solid game, well pitched. I’d like to see our offense score more than five runs when we get nine walks, but they get four double plays in the first four innings. … We’ll take the win.”

The River Cats’ pitcher was a different story.

Tacoma jumped on Torres, who Sacramento had summoned from the bullpen for a spot start. Shortstop Tyler Smith made Torres pay for his two walks to start the second inning by hitting a two-run double to give the Rainiers a 2-1 lead.

“Two hitters before me, they had about eight-pitch at-bats,” Smith said. “I know he was a bullpen guy anyways, he was on a pitch count. I knew he just wanted to get ahead and it ended up being a good pitch to hit, just got the barrel out and drove it down the line.”

Torres was replaced after 1 1/3 innings allowing two hits, two runs and four walks.

Earlier in the top of the first inning, the River Cats had runners on first and third with one out. Snow struck out Travis Ishikawa, then Jesus Sucre threw to Smith to try and catch Chris Denorfia on a steal attempt to second. Sucre failed, but on the play Austin Slater tried to steal home, but was caught in a rundown and was put out to end the inning.

Pitching was the River Cats’ Achilles’ heel.

Torres and Vin Mazzaro, his replacement, gave up eight combined walks in four innings.

In the fourth inning, Dan Robertson popped a two-RBI triple down the right field line to give Tacoma a 4-1 lead.

Snow exited after five innings, and was replaced by Venditte.

After giving up a double on the first at-bat in the fifth, Venditte retired the next three batters with two strikeouts and a fly-out. Venditte, who per MLB rules must declare an arm before each at-bat, would switch hands throwing left-handed to left-handed hitters and vice versa.

“It was actually neat to watch,” Listach said. “I’ve seen it before, but haven’t seen it in a long time.”

Mike Freeman scored the fifth run in the seventh off of a DJ Peterson ground out. Reliever Emilio Pagan helped keep the lead with a gem of an eighth inning: nine pitches, three strikeouts.

Kittredge, who hadn’t thrown in four days, threw a one-hit ninth to end the game.

Sacramento’s one run came in the first inning off of an Austin Slater RBI double.


Left fielder Dario Pizzano was optioned down to Double-A Jackson Tuesday to clear up a roster spot for utility player Freeman. Pizzano spent all season in Tacoma and slashed .259/.302/.364 in 77 game with the Rainiers this season. Freeman was optioned down to Tacoma to clear space for shortstop Ketel Marte, who was recalled. … Taijuan Walker will make his scheduled start for the Rainiers Friday in Memphis.