Good riddance, Las Vegas 51s.
The team that inexplicably had the Tacoma Rainers’ number all season did it by mashing the baseball.
So why not try something unconventional to counter it?
The Rainiers did Tuesday, but out of necessity. With Taijuan Walker being promoted back up to the big club, the PCL Pacific Northern Division leaders were left to roll out a cast of relievers to try and contain the hot-hitting 51s.
And it worked. Paul Fry, Emilio Pagan, Pat Venditte and David Rollins combined to hand the 51s a 4-0 loss in the teams’ final meeting of the season at Cheney Stadium.
Stefen Romero and Dae-Ho Lee homered to give Tacoma just enough run support as it finished off a four-game homestand with a split.
Las Vegas still captured the season series, 10-6, on the strength of what Rainiers manager Pat Listach called “a big league lineup” — led by outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto.
Fry, the organization’s reigning minor league relief pitcher of the year, made his first start with the Rainiers. And he was good.
“I had a spot start last year that didn’t go so well,” Fry said. “So it was good revenge.”
On a 40-pitch limit, Fry tossed three scoreless innings, retiring nine of the 10 hitters he faced. Four were done in by strikeouts. Four more grounded out.
“It was a really good three innings,” Listach said. “He put zeroes on the board.”
Romero and Lee supplied all the offense in the fourth inning.
On Darin Gorski’s 3-0 pitch, Romero — who was just sent back to Triple-A on Tuesday — blasted his 20th home run of the season, a two-run shot over the left-center wall.
The next batter was Lee, who homered to the same exact spot of the ballpark as Romero, and Tacoma led 3-0.
Romero’s return should help offset the loss of third baseman D.J. Peterson, who was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a fractured left pinkie finger. Listach said Peterson will remain in Tacoma while the team is on the road starting Wednesday.
Rob Brantly jokingly called it the “clinic … (former Mariners’ catcher) Dan Wilson would be so proud of.”
For the first time in his professional career, the 27-year-old Brantly played something other than catcher. He came on in the second inning during the 5-2 loss Monday at third base after D.J. Peterson left with a left finger injury.
Brantly was perfect on his one fielding opportunity, but it wasn’t pretty. He called it the “block-and-throw” method on Matt Reynolds’ ground ball before gunning him out by a half-step in the fifth inning.
“It is crazy,” Brantly said. “No gear on, and you get to shuffle before you throw.”
When Brantly was with the Miami Marlins, the organization asked him to go to instructional league after the season to learn first and third base.
“By the time I finished there, I was extremely confident in my ability,” Brantly said.
But that was two years ago. During pregame workouts now, Brantly still likes to take grounders at third base and throw over to first as a way to “generate some velocity from different arm angles.”
After Peterson came to the dugout Monday, Listach gave Brantly the option to go in and play third base or right field (Zach Shank would have come in to man third base).
Brantly did not let Listach finish the question before grabbing one of Mike Freeman’s gloves and heading to the hot corner.
“It was a lot of fun to get out there. I had to make the most of the opportunity,” Brantly said.
Ryan Strausborger and Listach were ejected in the fourth inning Tuesday after the outfielder slammed his bat after a disputed called third strike to end the inning. … Needing bullpen help, the organization signed free agent right-hander Al Alburquerque and assigned him to Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday. The 30-year-old has played six seasons in the major leagues, starting this year with the Angels before being optioned to the minors in May. … It was “Curtis High School Night” at the ballpark Tuesday.
The Rainiers go back on the road Wednesday to begin a four-game series at Reno. Right-hander Zach Lee (0-6, 545 ERA) goes for his first victory with Tacoma. Right-hander Matt Koch (2-2, 2.54) counters for the Aces. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m., and all the action can be heard on 850-AM.