How can you tell a baseball team is playing good defense? Easy: Keep your ears open. If the crowd is ooh-ing and ahh-ing more than it’s groaning, the defense is usually solid.
In their recent run of success, the Tacoma Rainiers have given the fans at Cheney Stadium plenty to cheer about. The Rainiers, going into Saturday's game, had made just five errors in the past 13 games.
“We’ve really played some good defense,” pitching coach Lance Painter said after the Rainiers’ 5-2 win over Iowa on Monday. “Our guys are playing great up the middle. I just feel really confident every time a ball is put in play that we’re going to make a play on it.”
Gordon Beckham and Zach Vincej have traded off starts at shortstop, with each making just one error each in that 13-game span.
Seth Mejias-Brean has started every game in the field since being called up to Tacoma on May 14 — primarily at third — and hasn’t made an error in June.
As good as the infield has been, the outfield has arguably been better, with some combination of Andrew Aplin, Ian Miller, John Andreoli, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis tracking down nearly everything.
“I feel like we have good chemistry out there,” Andreoli said recently. “We have a lot of guys that can really go get it. I feel like we have four center fielders that can all play all three spots. It’s a lot of fun to play alongside those guys.”
The four current Tacoma outfielders haven’t committed an error since May, and have just six on the season, matched up against five assists.
As long as the Rainiers defense continues to be a spectacle to see (and hear), Tacoma will be in a position to continue the blazing run it’s on. Entering Saturday's game in Salt Lake City, Tacoma has won 10 of its last 13.
“Hopefully we can continue it,” Vincej said. “Defense wins ball games, and that will continue to keep us in ball games for the rest of the year.”