It's becoming a common and troubling occurrence for Mauricio Robles since joining the Tacoma Rainiers.
The talented left-hander has followed a pattern in each of his starts. He will pitch outstanding for about three to four innings and then simply lose command and fall apart after that point.
And on Monday night it was no different. About 60 pitches into his start, Robles had his typical struggles. However, his teammates supplied enough timely hits and scored enough runs to overcome his troubles and give the Rainiers a 6-3 win over the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.
With the win, the Rainiers (71-65) lowered their magic number for clinching the Pacific Coast League Pacific North division title to four games.
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But Robles’ mid-innings issues are something of a concern for the Rainiers and interim manager Jose Castro.
“That’s more mental than anything,” Castro said. “It’s happened every outing. The first two or three innings, he’s solid, and then he loses command. And I don’t know if it’s second time around the lineup or what it is.”
Robles pitched five innings, allowing three runs – two earned – on three hits and four walks, with four strikeouts.
His teammates allowed him to get the win. They scored a run in the bottom of the fourth on a fielder’s choice from Dustin Ackley. And then in the fifth, Greg Halman ripped an RBI double to left and Rob Johnson pushed a single up the middle of a drawn-in infield to score Hal-man from third.
Johnson followed with an even bigger hit in the seventh. Tug Hulett doubled to center and the Sky Sox brought in right-hander Andrew Johnston to face Johnson. But the move didn’t work. Johnson got a hanging slider and drove it to right for a double to score Hulett.
“It was a good job of hitting,” Castro said.
While Robles picked up his second win, the Rainiers’ bullpen did plenty of work. Right-hander Steven Shell pitched three innings allowing one hit, and Josh Lueke came in and pitched the ninth to pick up his second save.
Halman hit his team-high 31st home run of the season in the third inning. It tied him for the fourth most in a season in franchise history with Kelvin Moore (1981).
BEAVAN EARNS AWARD
Blake Beavan may be a member of the Seattle Mariners organization, but he picked up some honors for his time in the Texas Rangers organization.
The tall right-hander, who was sent to the Mariners along with Rainiers teammates Justin Smoak and Lueke in a trade for Cliff Lee, was named the Texas League (Double A) pitcher of the year.
Beavan went 10-5 with a 2.78 ERA with 68 strikeouts and 17 walks in 17 starts and 110 innings pitched for the Frisco Roughriders.
The Rainiers will send right-hander Yusmeiro Petit (3-2, 5.72 ERA) to the mound at 7 p.m. today. The Sky Sox will go with Ching Lung Lo (0-0). The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.