It was another forgettable night at Cheney Stadium for the Tacoma Rainiers, a team that has severely trended downwards since the All-Star Break. They received another walloping, this time from the Fresno Grizzlies, who cruised to a 9-3 victory.
James Gillheeney started for the Tacoma Rainiers. But like Chien-Ming Wang the night before, Gillheeney struggled early and was never able to settle into a groove. His issues started with his first batter. It only took three pitches for Jonathan Villar to find one he liked, to the tune of a leadoff home run that he tattooed to left field.
Gillheeney escaped the first without any more trouble, but it would find him again in the second. The first three batters of the inning safely reached, loading the bases without an out on the board. Tyler Heineman then singled on a line drive that scored two runs, giving Fresno a 3-0 lead.
“Obviously he left too many pitches down the middle because they hit him pretty good,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “Even the lefties had good at-bats against him. They grinded at-bats out.”
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The fourth inning is where things fell apart and Gillheeney was chased from the game.
The Rainiers were buried under Fresno’s four-run avalanche and Gillheeney was yanked before he could finish the inning. Tyler Olson came in relief, but also allowed two runs in the sixth.
Gillheeney’s final line was unimpressive. He gave up eight hits and seven earned runs after lasting only 32/3 innings. He recorded three strikeouts and walked two.
The Rainiers’ offense struggled at the plate the day before and only got worse Friday. They didn’t record their first hit until the sixth inning when Ketel Marte hit a line drive into center field. One night after recording five hits, Tacoma managed only two before the ninth inning.
“We haven’t swung the bats the last two nights,” Listach said. “I wish I had the reason why.”
Listach said his batters have to trust the scouting reports and drag out at-bats.
Tacoma did rally in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with no outs and capitalizing for three runs. But the deficit was too great to overcome.
It was a dominant performance from Grizzlies starter Dan Straily, who threw eight innings of two-hit baseball, striking out seven and allowing just a single walk.
Listach said he knows what to expect from Fresno’s starter Mark Appel on Saturday, having spent time in that organization. Listach noted that Appel has even better stuff than Straily.
Zach Shank entered Friday’s game with a four-game hitting streak. That was snapped with an 0 for 3 effort. ... Tyler Olson pitched for the first time since Tuesday, when he allowed three runs in the ninth inning in a 6-5 loss to the Salt Lake Bees. He fared a little better this time, throwing 21/3 innings with five hits and two earned runs. ... Tony Zych, in his first action with Tacoma since July 3, pitched a shutout eighth with two strikeouts.
The second game of a four-game series at Cheney Stadium continues against Fresno Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Rainiers All-Star right-hander Forrest Snow (7-7, 3.51 ERA) takes the mound against Grizzlies right-hander Mark Appel (1-2, 6.52).