Tacoma Rainiers

Tacoma Rainiers blast El Paso Chihuahuas, 17-5

Two days into the Tacoma Rainiers season, there are still many questions to be answered. One of those questions is whether the Rainiers are going to play a close game this year.

After losing on opening day 11-4, the Rainiers turned around and bashed the El Paso Chihuahuas on Friday night, 17-5.

Tacoma broke out a 20-hit attack and coasted to an easy win. Every single Rainiers starter had at least one hit, one run, and one RBI.

“Last night we swung the bats okay, and hit a lot of balls hard,” said Rainiers manager Pat Listach. “Tonight they just found holes. We took advantage of some mistakes that (El Paso) made as well.”

Stefen Romero and Carlos Rivero paced the offense, collecting four hits apiece. Franklin Gutierrez hit two doubles — both in the same inning. Pat Kivlehan doubled and homered in his Triple-A debut.

It was that kind of night for the Rainiers — but it sure didn’t look like it was going to be a good one in the first inning.

After Tacoma didn’t score in the top of the first, Roenis Elias took the mound in the bottom half of the inning. The first two batters reached base on an error and an infield single, then Tommy Medica launched a long home run to left-center putting El Paso up, 3-0.

The Rainiers responded with a big inning in the top of the second, sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring seven runs. Four of the runs came after there were two outs, with Romero hitting the go-ahead two-run double and Gutierrez adding a two-run double of his own which knocked out El Paso starter Aaron Northcraft.

Romero drove in four runs to go along with his four hits.

“This guy (Romero) is a big-league hitter, and he’s just playing in Triple-A right now,” Listach said. “We want to make sure he gets as many at-bats with runners in scoring position as we can get him.”

Kivlehan served as the designated hitter and collected his first Triple-A hit in the fifth, a two-run double to right-center off reliever Scott Elbert that gave Tacoma a 15-4 lead.

Kivlehan’s first Triple-A home run comes with an asterisk. El Paso manager Pat Murphy didn’t want to burn another relief pitcher trailing by 11 runs, so he had position player Mike McCoy pitch.

SHORT HOPS

Carlos Rivero’s home run in the season opener on Thursday came in his first at-bat with the Rainiers. The last Tacoma player to homer in his first at-bat with the team was current Mariners outfielder Dustin Ackley in 2010.

ON TAP

Rainiers right-hander Sam Gaviglio will make his Triple-A debut on Saturday at 6:05 (PDT). He’ll be opposed by El Paso left-hander Robbie Erlin.

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