SALT LAKE CITY — Extreme wind. A power outage. Sideways rain. A shortage of available pitchers.
Tacoma not only survived it all, the Rainiers thrived in an 18-2 win at Salt Lake on Thursday night.
The emphatic victory gave Tacoma a split of the four-game series, and the Rainiers return home having posted a winning record on the road trip at 4-3.
The game started with Tacoma knowing that only three relief pitchers were available, so the club was hoping for a long start from James Gillheeney.
That didn’t happen. Gillheeney tossed two scoreless innings, but he had trouble getting loose for the third inning after the Rainiers had a couple of long offensive innings prior to an 18-minute delay due to a power outage that knocked out the stadium lights.
Gillheeney threw eight consecutive balls to start the third inning before being relieved by Logan Kensing.
Kensing tossed three scoreless innings, Todd Coffey added one, and Carson Smith pitched in with two shutout frames.
By the time the bottom of the ninth inning rolled around, Tacoma held an 18-0 lead.
Tacoma’s Ty Kelly took advantage of a strong wind blowing out to left field, lifting a pair of home runs. His three-run shot in the second inning looked like an ordinary fly ball that was blown over the fence. His second homer was also to left field, a grand slam in the eighth inning that made it 15-0.
Kelly finished the game 3-for-4 with two walks, four runs scored, and seven RBIs.
With the wind still howling out to left, rain started pouring down in the seventh inning as Tacoma continued to tack on runs.
Jesus Montero factored into five scoring rallies, going 5-for-6 with three singles and two doubles. He has 18 hits in his past 36 at-bats for the Rainiers.
With outfielder Roberto Lopez pitching in the top of the ninth for Salt Lake, Gabriel Noriega and John Hicks hit back-to-back home runs.
Out of pitching, the Rainiers went to infielder Leury Bonilla to pitch the bottom of the ninth. He promptly walked four batters in a row.
Catcher Humberto Quintero relieved Bonilla and recorded three outs in his first career pitching appearance.
Reliever Stephen Pryor is expected to rejoin the Rainiers on Friday. He was optioned to Tacoma after Wednesday night’s Mariners game. … The 18 runs marked Tacoma’s season high, and the 20 hits tied it.
Tacoma opens a three-game home stand against Fresno on Friday night at 7:05. Tacoma is expected to start Erasmo Ramirez (1-4, 4.54 ERA) against Fresno’s Mike Kickham (6-5, 3.61).
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.