Mike Marjama’s three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning broke a 2-2 deadlock and powered the Rainiers (34-34) to a 5-2 win over Omaha (30-36), giving Tacoma back-to-back series wins for the first time in June.
Marjama’s fifth homer of the season was a 385-foot bomb just inside the foul pole in left.
“He works as hard as anybody, and it’s nice to see him get a big hit like that,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “That’s one of the hardest balls I’ve ever seen hit in this ballpark.”
Casey Lawrence (5-2) went 7 ⅓ innings in the start for Tacoma (34-34) for just the second time this season, scattering seven hits and allowing just two runs.
“Once he got through the lineup one time, he saw exactly what their hitters were trying to do, and he countered it,” Listach said.
Matt Tenuta faced three batters to finish off the eighth inning, and Tyler Higgins earned his second save of the season with a clean ninth.
Omaha starter Josh Stautman struggled with control early, and the Rainiers made him pay, scoring two runs before the Storm Chasers (30-36) recorded an out on three straight walks, bookended by a pair of singles.
Omaha came back to tie the game with runs in the third and fourth, but Lawrence bounced back, retiring the last seven batters he faced.
“I knew I was on a little bit of thin ice because of my pitch count, so I knew I had to be pretty efficient with it,” Lawrence said. “Just trying to go out there and get strike one, get some early contact, stay on the offensive, and just go right at them.”
Tacoma hosts Iowa at Cheney Stadium on Saturday. First pitch is set for 5:05 p.m.
After being optioned from the majors, baseball players are given up to 72 hours before they have to report to their minor league team. When Daniel Vogelbach learned he was being sent back to the Rainiers on Thursday, though, he didn’t even consider taking that long.
“Obviously I want to play in the big leagues, but the opportunity right now wasn’t to play up there,” Vogelbach said Friday at Cheney Stadium. “
I’m not just going to pout and take three days and not play. I still have to prove something every single day.”
So as soon as the move was made, with the Mariners bringing up Rob Whalen and Nick Rumbelow for Vogelbach and Mike Morin, Listach heard the news from the man himself.
“He called and he said ‘Hey, I just got sent down, I want to play tonight,’” Listach said.
Play he did, getting the start at DH and going 0-for-3 with a walk. Friday night, Vogelbach was back in the starting lineup at first.
The drive between Seattle and Tacoma is a short one — at just over 33 miles, it’s the shortest distance between an MLB team and its Triple-A affiliate in baseball. It’s a trip Vogelbach has made four times already this season, and three times in the past three weeks.
His previous stint in Tacoma lasted 11 days, which led into a six-day run with the Mariners that included one start and three at-bats. Coming back down south gives Vogelbach more game action against live pitching.
“I haven’t played in a week, so it’s just coming back, getting my timing back, and getting back in the groove,” Vogelbach said.
Ljay Newsome’s first stint at Triple-A lasted just one day, but the right-handed starter impressed in his spot-start, coming up from high Single-A Modesto.
Newsome retired the Omaha lineup in order his first time around, going five innings and allowing three runs in a no-decision. With a fastball topping out at 89 miles per hour, Newsome is the definition of a control pitcher, and did well moving the fastball around the zone and working in his offspeed.
“He threw the ball great,” Listach said. “We knew he was a strike thrower, and that’s what he came in and did, throw strikes.”