After narrowly escaping a four-game sweep in the previous series against El Paso, the Salt Lake Bees finished their eight-game home stand with a split against the Tacoma Rainiers (AAA affiliate of the Seattle Mariners) in which each team won a pair of games. After slipping into second place in the PCL’s Pacific Southern Division, the Bees were unable to leapfrog Albuquerque back into first place as they try to deal with continual player departures to the L.A. Angels. Up next for Salt Lake is a four-game series against the Chihuahuas in El Paso before heading back home for the longest home stand of the season with series against Las Vegas, Albuquerque and Reno.
Game 1: Salt Lake 8, Tacoma 4
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) May 28, 2017
After their recent five-game slide, the Bees won their second straight game in game one of the series by outhitting the Rainiers 14-7 including three lead off home runs. After Garrett Nuss retired the first three Tacoma batters in order to start the game, Eric Young Jr. wasted little time giving the Bees an initial lead when he belted a ball over the right field wall on the second pitch he saw. Rey Navarro led off the second inning with a solo homer of his own to double the Salt Lake lead to 2-0 and Matt Williams would follow suit in the bottom of the fifth with yet another lead off homer. C.J. Cron would also record an RBI double in the fifth to put the Bees on top 4-0 before the Rainiers responded in the seventh with two runs via a Tyler O’Neill homer and an Andrew Aplin RBI double. Salt Lake retaliated in the home half of the seventh with RBI hits from Kaleb Cowart and Dustin Ackley to go back up by four runs and Carlos Perez would send a single into center field in the bottom of the eighth to give the Bees their largest lead at 8-2. Salt Lake would allow a late rally by Tacoma in the bottom of the ninth when a throwing error by Cron allowed Danny Muno to score and bring the score to 8-4, but Bees’ closer Damien Magnifico was able to force Zach Shank into a ground out that resorted in a force out at second before Tuffy Gosewhisch grounded out one batter later to end the game. Despite the Bees batting a mere 5-for-16 with runners in scoring position, their early long balls proved to be enough of a cushion to keep the Rainiers at bay as the Bees moved within a game of the Pacific Southern Division lead behind Albuquerque.
Game 2: Salt Lake 7, Tacoma 9
Huston Street's final line on his rehab appearance today: 2/3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 K. Bees trail Tacoma 8-6 B7 pic.twitter.com/9J0d6tDpWL
— Carter Williams (@cwilliamsKSL) May 29, 2017
After scoring four runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 4-2 lead over Tacoma, the Rainiers responded with a four-run inning of their own in the top of the seventh as they evened the series at a game apiece. Trailing 2-0, Salt Lake got the scoring started in the fourth when Dustin Ackley singled on a blooper into center field to bring home Carlos Perez. Rey Navarro then doubled to bring home Ackley before Ramon Flores reached base on a fielding error by Tacoma left fielder Tyler O’Neill to give Navarro a free jog across home plate. A Matt Williams single would bring Flores home to give the Bees a 4-2 lead heading to the fifth. The two teams would each score a pair of runs in the fifth before the Rainiers began their big inning with an RBI single by D.J. Peterson off L.A. Angels regular Huston Street. Making his second appearance for the Bees in his AAA rehab assignment, Street would allow another hit before being replaced by reliever Greg Mahle. Andrew Aplin took advantage of the pitching change by slapping a double into right field to tie the game at 6-6 before Zach Shank gave Tacoma their first lead with an RBI triple that scored Aplin. Now trailing 8-6, Salt Lake got the comeback attempt off to a decent start in the seventh when Kaleb Cowart led off the inning with a double to center field. C.J. Cron would bring in Cowart two batters later with an RBI single through the middle of the diamond, but neither Ackley nor Navarro were able to bring the tying run across as the Bees still trailed by a score of 8-7. O’Neill would drive in one last run for the Rainiers in the top of the eighth with an RBI double that scored Daniel Vogelbach and the pitching of Mark Lowe, Dean Kiekhefer and Jean Machi would hold Salt Lake scoreless through the final two innings as the Bees were unable to retake the division lead.
Game 3: Salt Lake 2, Tacoma 1
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) May 30, 2017
It was a momentous Memorial Day for all at Smith’s Ballpark Monday night with the home crowd enjoying a fireworks display after the Bees won game three against the Rainiers 2-1 thanks to a walk off hit in the bottom of the ninth. Tacoma took the initial lead in the top of the second when Andrew Aplin sent a solo homer into right field off Salt Lake starter Alex Klonowski. Despite the early setback, Klonowski would settle into his game and stay on the bump until being relieved by Cody Ege just before the sixth. The home run would be the lone earned run allowed by Klonowski while the fourth-year pro fanned seven Tacoma batters in a good night’s work. With Dillon Overton now on the mound for the Rainiers, Salt Lake wasted little time making the comeback in the sixth. Bo Way led off the inning with a single on a ground ball to left field and he was sent home by Kaleb Cowart with an RBI double on the very next plate appearance. Despite the good start to the inning, the Bees were unable to take their first lead after Dustin Ackley hit into a double play and C.J. Cron followed with a line out to left field. With Cody Ege and Damien Magnifico combining to throw a one-hitter through the final three innings, it all came down to the Salt Lake bats to try and end the game in style. Just like in the sixth, Ackley and Cron came to the plate with the chance to take the lead. Ackley singled off Tacoma’s Emilio Pagan to lead off the ninth, putting the winning run at first for Cron.
WATCH: C.J. Cron hits a screaming double to give the Bees a walk-off victory last night pic.twitter.com/77p7ngpDpD
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) May 30, 2017
Game 4: Salt Lake 0, Tacoma 4
— The Fork (@ForkerJohn) May 30, 2017
For the fourth time this season (third time in nine innings) the Bees were shutout, this time at home as Salt Lake settled for a split in the four-game series against Tacoma. Rainiers’ starter Andrew Moore threw eight scoreless innings with three strikeouts and only four hits given up in Tuesday’s matinee as Salt Lake batters went down in order four times and never sent more than four batters to the plate in any inning. After Moore and Bees’ starter Daniel Wright went toe-to-toe in a pitchers duel through the first three innings, the Rainiers finally broke the deadlock in the top of the fourth. As has been the case during the 2017 season, Salt Lake struggled to retire the final batter with two outs and nobody on base. After forcing a ground out from Tyler Smith and a strikeout from Daniel Vogelbach, Wright gave up a walk to Tyler O’Neill to put a man on. Wright would then walk Danny Muno, putting two men on for D.J. Peterson who punished Wright’s mistakes by skying a fly ball into left field and out of the park for a three-run shot to put Tacoma on top 3-0. The Rainiers would up their lead to 4-0 in the next inning when Tyler Smith’s double sent home Steve Baron and Moore would continue to fan the Salt Lake offense before being relieved by Jean Machi in the ninth. Machi would retire the final three Bees’ bats in order to end the game as the Bees ended a disappointing eight-game home stand with a 3-5 record.