The Salt Lake Bees continue to lead the Pacific Coast League in team earned run average, which has been one of the stunning developments of the season. Seeing one of the high-elevation mountain teams atop the league ERA leaderboard is unheard of.
Tacoma opened up the six-game road series on Tuesday by out-pitching the Bees in a 2-0 victory. Darren McCaughan, Matthew Boyd, and Drew Steckenrider combined on a five-hit shutout.
Salt Lake may have the best ERA in the league, but the Rainiers pitchers are better than them at one thing: tossing shutouts. Yesterday was Tacoma’s eighth shutout of the season, and no other PCL team has more than five. It was also the second shutout that Tacoma has pitched at Salt Lake this season.
Darren McCaughan was stingy, tossing six scoreless innings and lowering his ERA to 4.55. That ranks as the sixth-best ERA among qualified pitchers in the league, and it’s something of a surprise to see McCaughan appear on that leaderboard after the rough start to the season he had back in April. He could finish in the top five in the league pretty easily, although the top spot held by Sugar Land’s Hunter Brown (2.83) is far out of reach (while qualified at the moment, Brown still needs another 17.2 innings pitched to qualify for the year-end ERA title).
McCaughan earned his eighth win, which is part of a six-way tie for second in the league. Reno’s Ryne Nelson is the league leader with nine.
With seven strikeouts last night, McCaughan is now tied for second in the league with 123. That’s seven behind Brown, who leads the circuit with 130. No Tacoma pitcher has had more than 123 strikeouts in a season since 2013, when James Paxton struck out 131.
Five games remain in this series, played in a ballpark that traditionally features high-scoring games. Will the pitching continue to prevail?
YESTERDAY: Three Tacoma pitchers combined to shut out the Bees on five hits in a 2-0 series-opening victory on Tuesday night, improving the Rainiers record in road trip openers to 8-1 this season. Darren McCaughan started and went six innings, Matthew Boyd followed with two scoreless, and Drew Steckenrider finished it up. Taylor Trammell homered on the first pitch of the game, and Drew Ellis singled in the second and final run for Tacoma in the second inning.
TODAY: Tacoma Rainiers (54-64) at Salt Lake Bees (55-63), 5:35 (Pacific).
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Lou Marson
SEASON SERIES: Salt Lake leads, 13-12.
PITCHERS: LHP Justus Sheffield (6-6, 6.97) at LHP Adam Seminaris (0-3, 9.00)
ROSTER MOVES: The Rainiers have gone a season-high six days without a roster move. Will today make it seven in a row?
HOT HITTERS: Erick Mejia has a 12-game hitting streak, and he has reached base safely in 17 straight games… Jarred Kelenic had his seven-game hitting streak end last night, but he still reached base twice… Mason McCoy has a six-game hitting streak, going 11-for-19 with three homers during the six games, and he has homered six times over his last 13 games… Taylor Trammell has a four-game hitting streak.
OPPONENT NEWS: Salt Lake is returning home from Reno, where the Bees lost four of six games including the last three in a row… Matt Thaiss has a six-game hitting streak, and he has reached base in 16 straight games… Salt Lake has former Rainiers Dillon Thomas, Mike Ford, Jonathan Aro, and Brian Moran… Federal Way native Janson Junk is still with the Bees.
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.