Despite having to face two big-league regulars on the mound, the Bees were able to earn a split against the Tacoma Rainiers (AAA affiliate of the Seattle Mariners) in a very competitive four-game series. Tacoma took game one thanks to a masterful performance from Seattle ace Felix Hernandez in his last rehab start, but the Bees answered with another late comeback win in game two before winning game three against another Seattle regular in Hisashi Iwakuma. With a chance to become only the second road team all season to win a series in Tacoma, some defensive lapses cost Salt Lake dearly as the Rainiers claimed game four to give each team a pair of wins in the series. The Bees will enjoy an off-day on Wednesday as they travel to scorching Las Vegas for a four-game series against the 51’s where the temperatures are expected to hit a high of 116 degrees. Salt Lake will be looking to keep its’ three-game lead over Albuquerque in the Pacific Southern Division before they head home for an eight-game home stand beginning June 26th against the Reno Aces.
Game 1: Salt Lake 0, Tacoma 2
Another gem from King Felix! Final line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K! pic.twitter.com/G4ZZxytgxS
— Tacoma Rainiers (@RainiersLand) June 18, 2017
Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez threw a six-inning shutout in his final rehab start for Tacoma and the remaining four pitchers from the bullpen finished the job as the Rainiers took game one of the four-game series. Salt Lake batters could only manage to tally four hits against Hernandez (including two from Matt Williams) and didn’t record a single hit against any of his relievers as Tacoma blanked the Bees for the third time this season. After Salt Lake went down in order to start the game, Tacoma took the early lead thanks to a pair of lead off doubles. Leonys Martin sent his 13th double of the season into center field and he was sent home in the next at-bat when Zach Shank looped a soft liner into right field. In the bottom of the fifth, after Salt Lake starter Luis Diaz put the lead off batters on base with a walk and a HBP, Tuffy Gosewisch doubled the Rainiers’ lead with a line-drive single that sent home Danny Muno. The Bees put their first runner in scoring position in the top of the sixth after Michael Bourn singled and stole second base, but the promising start was quickly extinguished when Kaleb Cowart grounded into a double play that erased Bourn’s efforts. Salt Lake had another chance to dig into the lead in the top of the seventh after Carlos Perez and Nolan Fontana each drew a walk in the inning, but Tacoma’s Emilio Pagan entered the game and struck out Williams to end the threat. The Bees went down in order in the eighth and ninth innings to cap off their fifth shutout loss of the season.
Game 2: Salt Lake 4, Tacoma 3
Cesar Puello breaks up the no-hitter and the 15 inning scoreless streak with a to LF. His first Bees homer
T7| Bees 1, Tacoma 0 pic.twitter.com/SLZDBuFjOZ
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) June 18, 2017
After going nine scoreless innings the night before, the Bees failed to score for another six innings in Sunday’s matinee. But, after a defensive hiccup in the seventh, Salt Lake employed another ninth inning Rally as the Bees won their league-leading 12th game after trailing through six innings. In the top of the seventh, Cesar Puello finally ended Salt Lake’s offensive woes when he smacked his team-leading seventh home run over the left field wall, but the lead didn’t last long as Tacoma answered in the home half of the seventh with a homer of their own. With two outs and nobody on base, Troy Scribner put Andrew Aplin on first with a walk before being advanced to second via a Tyler O’Neill single. Scribner was replaced by Deolis Guerra but the change in arms made little difference as Boog Powell popped his first four-bagger of the season out of right field to put the Rainiers up 3-1. Having struggled mightily to bring home runners in scoring position over the past few weeks, the Salt Lake bats did just enough to earn the win as the Bees’ final three runs were all scored via sac-fly’s. Shane Robinson sent a deep fly ball to center field that allowed Nolan Fontana to tag up and score to make it 3-2 in the eighth, then Ramon Flores tied the game with his own sac-fly to center field that brought home Jefry Marte. After Tacoma’s Jean Machi intentionally walked Fontana to load the bases with one out in the ninth, Carlos Perez retook the lead for the Bees with a deep ball to center field that allowed Puello to score from third. The Rainiers had a chance to answer in the bottom of the ninth with two men on and one out, but Brooks Pounders was able to strikeout Zach Shank before forcing pinch-hitter Danny Muno into a ground-out to end the game. Despite being out-hit 7-4, Salt Lake evened the series while remaining three games up on El Paso for the division lead.
Game 3: Salt Lake 6, Tacoma 3
SL Bees Headlines: Marte Powers Bees Past Tacoma – Jefry Marte belted two home runs to help lead the Salt Lake … https://t.co/tImyPyDrlo
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) June 20, 2017
L.A. Angels assignee Jefry Marte went yard twice Monday night as the Bees won their second consecutive game to give themselves a chance at another series victory on the road. Despite the Rainiers starting a big-league regular for the second time in three games, Hisashi Iwakuma had a rough outing as the Mariners starter allowed four runs on four hits in just two innings of work. After each team scored a run in the first inning, the Salt Lake batters began to frustrate Iwakuma in the second when the opening five batters all reached base. Carlos Perez got it all started with a walk before Cesar Puello singled. Dustin Ackley then walked and Rey Navarro followed with a single to left field that scored Perez and Puello to give the Bees a 3-1 lead. Nolan Fontana would then single to load the bases with nobody out and two batters later Ackley would score thanks to a fielding error by Tacoma third baseman D.J. Peterson. After a quick defensive half-inning from Salt Lake, Marte would hit the first of his solo homers in the top of the third to inch the lead to 5-1. The Rainiers would score a pair of runs in the fifth with RBI hits from Tuffy Gosewisch and Gordon Becham to cut the Salt Lake led to 5-3, but after retiring six of the seven Tacoma batters in the sixth and seventh innings, Marte would put the Bees back up by three with his second solo shot way out of left field. Eduardo Paredes and Damien Magnifico would each retire three of the four batters they faced in the eighth and ninth innings respectively to end the game as the Bees upped their lead in the Pacific Southern Division to 3.5 games over second place Albuquerque.
Game 4: Salt Lake 6, Tacoma 7
Peterson, Bullpen Boosts Rainiers in 7-6 Victory over Salt Lake
— Tacoma Rainiers (@RainiersLand) June 21, 2017
A Salt Lake error and three unearned runs for Tacoma in the fourth inning proved to be the difference as the Rainiers staved off a late run by the Bees to win game four and finish the series with a split. Shane Robinson quickly gave Salt Lake the first lead of the game with his first home run of the season in the first, but Tacoma would respond in the home half with three runs off the bats of Gordon Beckham and D.J. Peterson. Trailing 4-1 entering the third, Kaleb Cowart got the Bees back in the game with an RBI single to cut the lead to 4-2 before Ramon Flores followed suit with his own RBI single to make it 4-3. After a Dustin Ackley sac-fly scored Robinson from third, the game was back to square one as the Bees and Rainiers were tied at 4-4 going to the fourth. But, the bottom of the fourth proved to be Salt Lake’s downfall in game four as a comedy of errors plagued the infield early. It all started with Tacoma lead off hitter Jean Segura reaching first base thanks to a throwing error by Bees shortstop Rey Navarro. With Leonys Martin batting, Segura was able to advance to second via a wild pitch from Salt Lake’s Daniel Wright. It appeared as if Wright had settled down after earning a strikeout from Martin and a ground out from Daniel Vogelbach, but things only deteriorated from there after Beckham singled to score Segura and retake the lead at 5-4. Boog Powell and D.J. Peterson each followed with a single to grow the lead to 6-4 before Danny Muno also singled to give the Rainiers their three-run lead back at 7-4. After a Navarro solo shot in the sixth made it 7-5, it looked like the Bees were going to make another late comeback when Navarro hit a sac-grounder to score Nolan Fontana and cut the deficit to one run at 7-6. Salt Lake had the potential tying run at third in Tony Sanchez, but Michael Bourn was unable to bring him home as he hit a soft grounder to pitcher Pat Light who threw him out at first to end the threat. The Bees were able to get their lead off man aboard in the top of the ninth when Robinson singled to center field, but what followed was three-straight fly outs from Salt Lake batters as they came up one run shy of extending the game and possibly winning the series.