The Tacoma Rainiers are slowly getting guys back from injury while other young players are starting to get comfortable playing at the Triple-A level.
If Monday night was any indicator, those factors might mean the Rainiers will start piling up some wins in renovated Cheney Stadium.
The Rainiers tied a season-high for runs and earned their second victory in nine attempts at their new digs, knocking off the Tucson Padres, 12-6.
“We didn’t have (Mike) Wilson, (Matt) Mangini and (Carlos) Peguero the last homestand,” Tacoma manager Daren Brown said. “We had some guys kind of beat up. We’ve got some guys back and we’ve played pretty well on the road.”
Also helping the Rainiers was Franklin Gutierrez, who missed much of spring training and the first 29 games of the season with Seattle because of intestinal problems.
He started his rehab stint by batting leadoff. He was the designated hitter, keeping his Gold Glove center field talents in the dugout.
With the Rainiers trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first, Gutierrez lined a 1-2 pitch against Tucson starter Jeremy Hefner off the wall in left center field for a triple. Second baseman Dustin Ackley then doubled down the first-base line to tie the score.
After Peguero reached on a wild pitch on a strikeout, Alex Liddi crushed his third home run in two days, bouncing his team-best fifth homer off the roof of the left field ticket office.
“Liddi is starting to get going a little bit,” Brown said. “We’ve got a few guys swinging the bat pretty well.”
Tacoma (9-16) got another run on a sacrifice fly by Sean Kazmar, making it 5-1 after one inning.
The Rainiers added to the lead in the second, when Josh Bard hit a two-run single and Wilson stroked a two-run home run, pushing the lead to 9-1.
Wilson and Bard had three hits apiece for the Rainiers, who banged out 13 hits.
Tucson (12-13), formerly the Portland Beavers, scored a run in the fourth and three in the fifth, chasing Tacoma started Fabio Castro after 4ª innings. The left-hander allowed four earned runs on six hits while walking five.
Reliever Edward Paredes picked up the win for Tacoma, working 2† innings and giving up just two hits.
Gutierrez finished 1-for-4 with a strikeout, a flyout and an infield popout, leaving after the fifth inning.
“He felt good and it was good to see him out there,” Brown said. “We’ll play him in center field and stretch him a little bit. Remember, he’s going through his spring training.”
The series continues today at 7:05 p.m. Tacoma will send Luke French (0-3, 5.13 ERA) to the mound to oppose Tuscon’s Will Inman (0-2, 6.65). The broadcast will be on 850-AM.