It took the Tacoma Rainiers’ offense just a day to figure out how to thrive without Jesus Montero and Ketel Marte.
After being held to one run and five hits without the two stars Thursday, Tacoma bounced back with a 15-hit attack in a 7-3 win over the El Paso Chihuahuas on Friday night.
Six players had two hits apiece for the Rainiers.
New outfielder Ramon Flores was a factor in his first game. The left-handed hitter was acquired from the New York Yankees in a trade for Dustin Ackley on Thursday, and Tacoma manager Pat Listach inserted him into Marte’s vacated leadoff spot.
Flores singled up the middle to start the game, went to third on a base hit to right by Chris Taylor, and then used some daring on the basepaths to score the first run.
Stefen Romero grounded back to pitcher Bryan Rodriguez. As soon as Rodriguez turned his back on Flores to throw to first base, Flores bolted toward the plate. He beat first baseman Jason Hagerty’s throw home on a close play.
“That was a very smart play,” said Listach. “Heads-up base running. The pitcher turned his back to him and he took off.”
Flores came through with runners in scoring position in the fourth inning. Tacoma held a 3-2 lead, and had Patrick Kivlehan at third and John Hicks at second with one out. Flores pulled a hard grounder over the first-base bag for a two-run double, giving Tacoma a three-run cushion.
That provided Jordan Pries with the run support he needed. Pries lasted 62/3 innings, giving up 10 hits but just three runs. He pitched deep into the game and gave Tacoma’s overtaxed bullpen a break.
“That was exactly what we needed from Pries,” Listach said. “We had two ‘bullpen days’ in a row and we needed that from him.”
Tyler Olson relieved Pries with two on and two outs in the seventh and escaped that jam before working a scoreless eighth, and Tony Zych kept El Paso off the scoreboard in the ninth.
New acquisition Adrian Sampson is expected to join the team in Las Vegas and start for the Rainiers on Sunday. The Skyline High School product made 21 starts for Indianapolis in the International League, going 8-8, 3.98 ERA. … Chien-Ming Wang has been placed on the temporarily inactive list while he tends to a family matter. He’s expected to return to the Rainiers shortly.
The road trip continues with four games in Las Vegas, starting at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. Tacoma will start Roenis Elias (3-0, 6.75 ERA); the Las Vegas starter is to be announced.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.