WEST SACRAMENTO, CALIF. - The Tacoma Rainiers opened the 2011 Pacific Coast League season on the road in order to give work crews a little extra time to complete the Cheney Stadium renovation.
That worked out to the Tacoma fans’ benefit, too: the Rainiers didn’t exactly look like the defending Pacific Coast League champions in a 6-2 loss to the Sacramento River Cats in front of 10,387 fans at Raley Field on Thursday night.
Luke French made the start and took the loss for Tacoma. The 25-year-old left-hander went 11-3 with a 2.94 ERA last year and finished second in the PCL Pitcher of the Year voting, but in the 2011 opener he struggled with his command.
French allowed six runs and 10 hits in four innings of work. He fell behind in the count, and when he threw strikes, they were often high in the zone.
“He didn’t have his good command,” said Tacoma manager Daren Brown. “He was up in the zone quite a bit and he paid for it. We’ve seen him a lot better than that and I have no doubt he’ll be much better his next time out.”
Sacramento scored four runs in the second inning, taking control of the game.
Steve Tolleson led off the inning and singled to right field, taking second when Tacoma’s Carlos Peguero made a wild throw. Adrian Cardenas followed with a base hit of his own, and Wes Timmons drew a one-out walk to load the bases.
That brought Jemile Weeks to the plate, the younger brother of Milwaukee’s Rickie Weeks and one of Oakland’s more interesting prospects. Weeks pulled a drive over the head of Tacoma left fielder Mike Carp for a triple – and Weeks was able to scamper home when Sean Kazmar’s relay throw was wild, giving Sacramento a 4-0 lead.
“We were sloppy in the second inning,” said Brown. “We were just kind of throwing the ball around, getting the jitters and kinks out, I guess.”
Mike Wilson had Tacoma’s first hit of the season, a long one-out double to left-center in the fourth. He scored on a line-drive single by Josh Bard, but at that point it was 6-2.
Outman lasted four innings and allowed two runs. The left-hander was appearing in his first game since June 19, 2009 when he tore the ligament in his left elbow during a major league game against the Padres.
Vinnie Chulk (1-0) picked up the win for Sacramento, delivering two perfect innings of relief.
Brown was pleased with the performance of Tacoma’s bullpen. Edward Paredes, Manny Delcarmen, and Dan Cortes combined to pitch four scoreless innings.
Bob Robertson, the legendary radio voice of Washington State football, is taking on more work at the tender age of 82.
Robertson, a longtime resident of University Place, will share the broadcasting duties with Mike Curto during Monday home games of the Tacoma Rainiers.
Robertson broadcast PCL games for 25 years on television and radio. He stepped down after last season as full-time broadcaster of the Spokane Indians of the short-season Class A Northwest League.
The game tonight starts at 7:05 at Raley Field. Tacoma’s Blake Beavan (0-0, 0.00) is scheduled to start on the mound against Sacramento’s Guillermo Moscoso (0-0, 0.00). The game will be broadcast live on 850-AM.