Fire on the Mountain

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After half a season, the Tacoma Rainiers appear to have found their mojo. Following a successful road trip to Memphis and Nashville, the hometown boys returned to Cheney Stadium on Wednesday, June 13, to begin a seven-game home stand against the Omaha Storm Chasers and the Iowa Cubs. If the Rainiers were going to make the most out of their home field advantage this season, this was going to be a good starting point.

Once the dust settled and the seven-game stretch was complete, Tacoma had run their record to a season-best four-games over .500 at 38-34. With eight victories spanning the last 10 games, the Rainiers have been doing everything in their power to stay within striking distance of first place in the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific Northern Division.

While the recent string of wins has helped maintain Tacoma’s second-place position in the standings, the first-place club hasn’t been doing the Rainiers any favors. The Fresno Grizzlies not only lead the division, but they also own the best record in the PCL with a 44-27 record. The Oklahoma City Dodgers own the second-best record at 41-26, with the Memphis Redbirds (43-29) and Salt Lake Bees (41-31) all owning the top spot in their respective divisions.

Tacoma trails the Grizzlies by 6.5 games. The Reno Aces (33-39) and the Sacramento River Cats (33-39) are currently tied at the bottom of the division standings, trailing the Grizzlies by 11.5 games.

The Rainiers will now head south to face the first-place Bees for a four-game series beginning on Thursday, June 21. Following a matinee game to close-out the series, Tacoma will fly back home to begin a four-game series with the Las Vegas 51s beginning on Monday, June 25. The Rainiers will then host the Reno Aces for a five-game set beginning on Friday, June 29. The Reno series will feature not one, but two fireworks shows within five days.

Tacoma’s recent home stand began with a 5-3 victory over the Storm Chasers on Wednesday, June 13. A three-run sixth inning put Tacoma ahead 3-2, but Omaha answered in the top of the eighth inning with a game-tying run. The Rainiers pushed two across the plate in the bottom of the inning to take the lead. Reliever Ryan Garton took the mound in the top of the ninth and put Omaha down in order for his second save of the season. Andrew Aplin hit two doubles, with Mike Marjama and Danny Muno each adding one as well.

Omaha exacted a little revenge the following night, dropping the Rainiers by the same score of 5-3. The home town boys were only able to muster six hits, with Muno delivering two doubles, and Ian Miller adding his own. Reliever Ashton Goudeau was saddled with the loss, despite pitching just one inning, and surrendering a single run.

A big crowd of 6,195 fans came out to see the Rainiers knock off Omaha by a score of 5-2 on Friday, June 15. Starting pitcher Casey Lawrence was masterful on the mound. The right-hander pitched 7.1 innings, giving up just a single earned run, while striking out six Storm Chasers. Reliever Tyler Higgins would bid Omaha a fond farewell in the ninth inning, sending all three Storm Chaser batters down in order. Marjama would crush his fifth home run of the season in the fifth inning, while Daniel Vogelbach added a double. Tacoma would need just four hits on the night to create their five runs.

The fans came out in force the following night as 7,156 folks made their way into Cheney Stadium. It would be a comeback win for Tacoma on this night, as the Rainiers would put three runs on the board in the bottom of the eighth inning to edge the Iowa Cubs by a score of 5-4. Starting pitcher Christian Bergman was solid in six innings of work, but was stung by three home runs. Anthony McIver would earn the win with an inning of work in the eighth, while Shawn Armstrong would earn his second save of the season in the ninth. The Rainiers were powered by doubles from Chris Hermann, John Andreoli and Zach Vincej.

Another big crowd showed up for the afternoon game on Sunday, June 17, and the Rainiers gave the fans their money’s worth. Tacoma would score 12 runs on 12 hits, as they hung a 12-3 drubbing on the Cubs. Tacoma reliever Lindsey Caughel would earn the win with two innings of work. Aplin would smash his first home run of the season in the first inning, while Andreoli added a triple, and Vincej added a double.

The win by Caughel wasn’t enough for him to keep his job, as he was released from his player contract the following day.

It would be another solid outing for Tacoma on Monday, June 18, as the Rainiers topped the Cubs by a score of 5-2. Starting pitcher Ross Detwiler earned the win after pitching 6.1 strong innings. Detwiler gave up just two earned runs, while striking out three Cubs. Higgins would hold his own in relief and then gave over to Armstrong for his third save of the season in the ninth inning. Seth Mejias-Brean crushed a three-run home run in the sixth inning to give Tacoma the lead.

The series concluded on Tuesday, June 19, with Tacoma bringing out the broom on the Cubs. The home town boys would need just seven hits to take a 5-4 win over Iowa and secure the four-game sweep. Tacoma would send a total of eight pitchers to the mound throughout the evening, and they were able to get the job done. Reliever Matt Tenuta would be credited with the win, while Armstrong earned his fourth save of the season. Andreoli and Muno each recorded doubles at the plate.

For tickets and more information, visit tacomarainiers.com, or stop by the Cheney Stadium box office.

UPCOMING TACOMA GAMES AT CHENEY STADIUM

Monday, June 25 – 6:05 p.m.
vs. Las Vegas 51s

Tuesday, June 26 – 6:05 p.m.
vs. Las Vegas 51s

Wednesday, June 27 – 11:35 p.m.
vs. Las Vegas 51s

Thursday, June 28 – 7:05 p.m.
vs. Las Vegas 51s

Friday, June 29 – 7:05 p.m.
vs. Reno Aces (Fireworks Show)

Saturday, June 30 – 5:05 p.m.
vs. Reno Aces

Sunday, July 1 – 1:35 p.m.
vs. Reno Aces

Monday, July 2 – 7:05 p.m.
vs. Reno Aces

Tuesday, July 3 – 7:05 p.m.
vs. Reno Aces (Fireworks Show)

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