Now that the Fourth of July has come and gone, Tacoma Rainiers manager Pat Listach is willing to look at the standings.
The Tacoma Rainiers beat the first-place Fresno Grizzlies on Sunday evening, 7-4, and that improved Tacoma’s situation.
Sitting alone in second place, the Rainiers pulled six games behind the Grizzlies. The Rainiers have 60 games left in the season, and six of them will be against the team they are chasing.
“This is an important series,” Listach said. “You don’t get many opportunities to gain ground head-to-head.”
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New Rainiers pitcher Vidal Nuno drew the start, lasting six innings and giving up four runs. He was efficient with his pitches, getting ahead of hitters and working quickly.
Tacoma staked Nuno to an early lead by scoring three runs in the third inning. Catcher Steve Baron delivered the key hit in the outburst, a two-run double off the right-field fence.
Baron had three hits. In his past five games, he has eight RBIs.
“He had two doubles, he’s swinging the bat well, he even stole a base,” Listach said. “He’s really done well since he’s been here.”
Fresno took the lead in the fourth inning when Max Stassi lifted a two-run homer to left field, making it 4-3.
But Tacoma had an immediate answer in the fifth — and Baron got it started with a one-out double on a ground ball that bounced off the third-base bag.
After a walk to Leury Bonilla, Stefen Romero doubled to left, scoring Baron with the tying run.
Fresno manager Tony DeFrancesco elected to intentionally walk Jesus Montero, loading the bases with one out for Justin Ruggiano. It looked as if the ploy might work when Ruggiano lined out to third base for the second out.
But Carlos Rivero hit a two-out, two-run single to center, giving the Rainiers a 6-4 lead.
“Ruggiano smoked the ball, but we hit it right to them,” Listach said. “Rivero stepped up and got a big two-out hit.”
Erik Kratz capped the rally with a run-scoring double — his first hit as a member of the Rainiers.
Tacoma reliever Edgar Olmos shut out Fresno in the seventh and eighth innings, and Logan Kensing delivered a scoreless ninth to earn his first save of the season.
PCL All-Star Forrest Snow (7-4, 2.24 ERA) will start for Tacoma in the third game of the series at 7:05 p.m. Monday. He’ll face Fresno’s Brady Rodgers (6-4, 4.68).