It was the kind of taxing road trip that could tip any Triple-A baseball team on its side.
The Rainiers left for seven games at El Paso and Albuquerque on April 17, and saw two of its starting pitchers, its starting first baseman and its starting left fielder called up as reinforcements by Seattle.
“We lost both starters (Chase De Jong, Chris Heston) on that trip in two different cities,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “Those are not good places to have that happen, wearing your bullpen out.”
Back in the familiar ballpark, the Rainiers found balance and rest a little more to their liking heading into a brief five-game homestand.
And they got a rain-shortened win Thursday night over Sacramento — 4-0 — at Cheney Stadium.
Christian Bergman tossed five scoreless innings, and all of Tacoma’s runs came in a sloppy second inning by River Cats’ pitchers.
Ricky Romero, who won 52 games in a three-year stretch with Toronto in the big leagues, could not locate the strike zone Friday night.
After giving up a leadoff single to Mike Freeman, Romero walked five of six batters at one point, leading to two runs.
His bases-loaded walk to Boog Powell in the No. 9 spot gave Tacoma a 1-0 lead.
“We had some really good plate appearances,” Powell said. “I got up there … and fouled off his off-speed pitches. I told some of the guys, I was going up there looking to walk because he was wild.”
And in the next at-bat to Leonys Martin, who reported to the team Thursday after being designated for assignment Sunday, Romero uncorked a low pitch that catcher Trevor Brown could not handle, leading to the Rainiers’ second run.
With Sacramento trailing 3-0 with two outs in the second inning, Romero was pulled after 47 pitches with the bases loaded.
And the Rainiers made it 4-0 when outfielder Tyler O’Neill took a low 3-2 pitch from reliever Matt Reynolds, scoring Powell.
Bergman improved to 4-0, and has now posted two home shutout victories. He has given up just three runs in 16-plus innings at Cheney Stadium.
Infielder Gordon Beckham (hamstring), who missed the final two games of the road trip and was out Thursday, might be put on the 7-day disabled list. The Rainiers added Joseph Rosa for insurance Thursday. … Backup catcher Steven Baron (hamstring, ankle) could return to the Rainiers as soon as Friday. In the meantime, Alexander Capriata will continue to be No. 2 behind Tuffy Gosewisch. … Former Tacoma infielder Shawn O’Malley received good news Wednesday — the birth of his first child. He and his wife welcomed a daughter (Millie Jean) in Kansas City. Listach anticipates O’Malley (appendix, shoulder) will spend some rehab time with the Rainiers next month. … The organization debuted its new party deck Thursday in time for its popular “Thirsty Thursday” promotional.
The Rainiers and Sacramento continue their five-game series Friday at 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Ryan Weber (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his debut for Tacoma. Michael Roth (2-1, 4.26) pitches for the River Cats. All action can be heard on 850-AM.