Suddenly, the Tacoma Rainiers are experts when it comes to winning extra-innings games.
The team is on a hot streak right now, winning six of the last seven games including four in a row. And these have been some close games: five of the last six wins have been one-run games, with four of them being won in extra innings.
Extra inning games have really changed with the placement of the automatic runner at second base to start the inning. Preventing that automatic runner from scoring becomes the primary focus, and if you are the home team and can get out of the top of the inning without that runner scoring your chances of winning skyrocket.
In two of the Rainiers three extra-inning wins on the last homestand, Tacoma won because reliever Matt Koch stranded the automatic runner in the top of the tenth inning, before the Rainiers were able to score their automatic runner in the bottom of the inning.
Now the Rainiers are on the road, changing the equation a bit. The away team’s goal is to use the automatic runner as a springboard to score multiple runs in the top of the tenth – something that nearly happened for the Rainiers last night, but a baserunning blunder led to just one run scoring in the top of the tenth inning despite the Rainiers getting two hits.
The Rainiers caught a break in the bottom of the tenth, and then made a terrific defensive play to seal the win.
Reno’s automatic runner represented the tying run at second base, and the Aces made a curious decision to use a pinch-hitter to lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner to third. The bunt worked and the tying runner was at third, but the Rainiers were very thankful to get the first out as a gift with strikeout machine Matt Brash on the mound.
Tacoma brought the infield in with the tying runner at third and one out, and Cole Tucker at the plate. Tucker made contact against Brash, hitting a sharp grounder to the right of the mound. Second baseman Alex Blandino backhanded the ball and threw home to catcher Brian O’Keefe, who put the tag on Jancarlos Cintron for the second out of the inning.
Brash then retired Yonny Hernandez for the final out of the game, and the Rainiers had themselves another one-run extra-inning victory.
Up until a week ago the Rainiers season record in extra-innings games was just 1-5, and now they are 5-5.
The Rainiers have not won five games in a row yet this season, and they’ll try to change that tonight at 6:35.
Tacoma shortstop Mason McCoy turned in a true web gem last night. Gonna just leave this here:
Wow what a play by Mason McCoy! pic.twitter.com/8iAK8gEpzi
— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) July 7, 2022
YESTERDAY: Tacoma made it four straight wins with a 3-2 win over Reno in ten innings on Wednesday night. Kevin Padlo hit a two-run double off the center field wall in the fourth inning, and Drew Ellis singled home the go-ahead run in the top of the tenth. Tacoma used eight pitchers who combined to work the entire game without allowing an earned run.
TODAY: Tacoma Rainiers (34-45) at Reno Aces (41-39), 6:35.
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: Arizona Diamondbacks.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Gil Velazquez.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 7-7.
PITCHERS: RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon (4-7, 7.11) at RHP Drey Jameson (2-6, 7.15)
ROSTER MOVES: Haven’t had any since Monday. Is everyone in the Seattle office ok?
HOT HITTERS: Jarred Kelenic has hit safely in ten of his last 11 games… Erick Mejia drove in the winning run in extra innings in back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday… Forrest Wall has reached base safely in 16 straight games… Brian O’Keefe has hit safely in six of his last seven games, going 11-for-29 with five home runs and eight RBI.
OPPONENT NEWS: Reno just played a six-game home-and-home against Sacramento. They went 1-2 against them at home, and then 2-1 at Sacramento… Jake McCarthy is back in Triple-A, where he is hitting .379 for the season (he’s hit .228 in the big leagues with Arizona this year). He has a six-game hitting streak… Wilmer Difo has a five-game hitting streak… the Aces are taking a look at former Pittsburgh Pirates starting shortstop Cole Tucker.
BROADCAST: All games will be broadcast free on a live audio stream which is available right here.
Unfortunately, there is no traditional terrestrial radio station carrying the games at this time.
PCL SCOREBOARD: Follow all league games in real-time with links to broadcasts and Gameday screens right here.