Tacoma’s John Andreoli slides into second base just in the nick of time. Andreoli is currently batting .287 through 43 games with 13 stolen bases. Photo by Rocky Ross

After a successful road trip through the music cities of Memphis and Nashville, the Tacoma Rainiers return home for what could be the most important home stand of the season. When Tacoma squares off against the Omaha Storm Chasers on Wednesday, June 13, at Cheney Stadium, they will begin a 20-game stretch where 16 games will take place at home.

While they didn’t necessarily set the baseball world on fire with their 4-3 mark against Memphis and Nashville, the wins were much-needed to keep within striking distance of first place in the standings.

The Fresno Grizzlies remain atop the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific Northern Division standings with a 38-26 record, as of Tuesday, June 12. Following their recent road trip, the Rainiers now trail the Grizzlies by 6.5 games with a 32-33 mark. The two teams will finally meet to begin a four-game series on Thursday, July 12. You’re going to want to get your tickets for this set of games.

Tacoma began its road trip with a solid 5-0 thumping of the Memphis Redbirds on Tuesday, June 5. However, the tables turned quickly for Tacoma the following night when the Redbirds edged the Rainiers by a score of 2-1. Despite a solid six innings from starting pitcher Christian Bergman, the Rainier bats couldn’t drum up much support. The right hander gave up just two runs, while Shawn Armstrong and Nick Rumbelow were perfect in relief. The only fireworks of the night were delivered by a triple from designated hitter Kirk Niewenhuis.

When it really comes down to it, there’s nobody in Tacoma who draws a crowd like Rhubarb. Photo by Rocky Ross

Things got worse for Tacoma in their series finale with the Redbirds. Four Memphis pitchers stymied the Rainier bats, limiting Tacoma’s output to just three singles in a 6-0 loss. Memphis put together 12 hits, as they bid the Rainiers farewell. Two innings of work was enough to earn Ashton Goudeau the loss, as he gave up three runs on seven hits.

The Tacoma bats came alive for their series opener at Nashville on Friday, June 8. However, even though they managed to knock around 12 hits, it didn’t turn into many runs for the Rainiers, who fell 11-3. Starting pitcher Ross Detwiler was sent to the dugout after just 1.2 innings of work. Making his first start of the season, Detwiler struck out four batters, but also gave up six runs on five hits and three walks. Tacoma was powered by two doubles from newcomer Evan White, and a home run by Seth Mejias-Brean.

With three games remaining on their road trip, Tacoma finally caught fire the following night. It would be a pitchers’ duel between Tacoma’s ace Rob Whalen and Nashville’s Edwin Jackson. Whalen would earn his seventh win of the season after shutting out the Sounds for six innings. Jackson surrendered just one run in his own six-inning effort, but that was all that was needed for the 1-0 Rainiers’ victory.

It was another tight affair on Sunday, June 10, as the Rainiers eked out a 5-4 victory in 10 innings. Starting pitcher Casey Lawrence was impressive through six innings, giving up just one run on five hits, while striking out seven Nashville batters. Tacoma would take a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, but Nashville pushed a run across to send the game into extra innings. Three runs in the 10th were enough to overcome Nashville’s two in the bottom of the inning. Gordon Beckham went two-for-five on the night with a double, with Mejias-Brean going two-for-four with a triple.

Teammates congratulate Chris Herrmann on his home run. Herrmann is currently spending some time with the Seattle Mariners. Photo by Rocky Ross

The series finale was another exciting contest, as Tacoma put together four runs in the eighth inning and three runs in the ninth to take an 8-6 victory. Tacoma reliever Matt Tenuta earned the win with 1.2 innings of shutout pitching. Ian Miller and Beckham each hit two doubles, with John Andreoli adding his own. Catcher Garrett Kennedy had a two-run triple.

On Monday, June 11, the Pacific Coast League honored Lawrence with its pitcher of the week honors. Lawrence gave up just one run over 15 innings of work, while giving up just eight hits. His complete-game shutout on Tuesday, June 5, was the hallmark of this run, as the right-hander completed the nine-inning blackout of the Memphis Redbirds with just 95 pitches. 

Tacoma returns home for a three-game series with the Omaha Storm Chasers on Wednesday, June 13. The Rainiers will then host the Iowa Cubs for a four-game set beginning on Saturday, June 16. After a four-game series in Salt Lake City, Tacoma will return home to begin a four-game set with the Las Vegas 51s, followed by a five-game series with the Reno Aces.

There will be a fireworks show following the Friday, June 15 game against Omaha, and the Friday, June 29 game with Reno. The Rainiers’ big fireworks night will be Tuesday, July 3, as Tacoma wraps its series with the Aces.

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