Pat Listach remains a true optimist: The Tacoma Rainiers are due for a win.
It didn’t come on Sunday, though. Even after a 9-7 loss to El Paso — the Rainiers’ third in a row and seventh out of eight — Tacoma’s manager continues to praise what he sees from his club.
The defense? Good, the skipper said. The hitting? It was there, too: 12 hits to match El Paso, but timing was the issue. Tacoma was 5 for 16 with runners in scoring position, and perhaps no at-bat was more pivotal than Stefen Romero’s eighth-inning strikeout (his third of the afternoon) with the bases loaded and trailing by two runs.
This after Tacoma (3-8) led 5-0 after two innings, including a first-inning 2-run home run by Franklin Gutierrez, as he was one of eight hitters in the lineup with at least one hit.
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“We’re not playing bad baseball,” Listach said.
Only two innings — the fourth and eighth — doomed the Rainiers. They featured two bases-clearing triples by Chihuahuas hitters, accounting for six of the team’s nine runs and setting El Paso up for a possible series sweep. That’s the big-inning Listach wants to try to eliminate.
Alex Dickerson’s eighth-inning three-bagger off reliever Joe Saunders drove in three gave the Chihuahuas (7-4) the lead at for good at 9-6, and spoiled what would have been starter Jordan Pries’ first win of the season.
Instead, Pries got his second no-decision in three starts. While he impressed Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon during Cactus League play in spring training, his early success hasn’t carried over quite as well since being assigned to Triple-A. He threw four scoreless innings Sunday, but had one shaky inning — a five-run fourth, resulting in five earned runs as El Paso batted around, highlighted by Taylor Lindsey’s 3-run triple that tied the game at 5.
Still, Pries exited after five innings with a 6-5 lead and five strikeouts, earning praise from Listach for his command, pitching both sides of the plate and having 1-2-3 innings in the second and third.
For Pries, it’s about finding a level of consistency, and he noted he’s been working on his sinker.
“I thought I did really well with that today,” said Pries, who lowered his ERA to 9.20. “I just have to stay on the attack and stay with what I’m trying to do and not try to be someone I’m not.”
The Rainiers and Chihuahuas conclude their series at 6:05 p.m. Monday. Tacoma sends LHP Roenis Elias (1-0, 8.44 ERA) against El Paso RHP Aaron Northcraft (1-1, 12.15). The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.