Rainiers 3, Zephyrs 2
NEW ORLEANS — Tacoma shortstop Nick Franklin homered to right-center field leading off the 13th inning against reliever Jonathan Albaladejo, giving the Rainiers the victory on Sunday at Zephyr Field.
Tacoma (23-15) has won the first two games of the four-game series.
The game featured 31 strikeouts, with five Zephyrs pitchers combining to get 19.
The Zs (17-18) had a chance to win in the 11th after Ed Lucas doubled leading off. However, Jeff Mathis, up on a rehab assignment, struck out.
After Jeff Smolinski was walked intentionally with one out, Paul Gran singled to left-center, but Lucas was held up at third. Tacoma left-hander Brian Moran then struck out Wilson Valdez and Gorkys Hernandez.
“There was kind of a mixup at third, didn’t get a jump, I guess,” Zephyrs manager Ron Hassey said of the missed opportunity in the 11th. “But that situation, we needed to force the issue. Then the next guy strikes out when all we needed was the (sacrifice) fly.”
What: New Orleans Zephyrs vs. Tacoma Rainiers
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Zephyr Field, Metairie
Probable pitchers: Zephyrs RH Jacob Turner (2-3, 5.20) vs. Rainiers LH James Paxton (2-2, 4.35)
Broadcast: WMTI 106.1 FM
Promotion: Fans ages 60 and up are admitted for $5 because it’s Senior Citizen Day.
Paxton, 24, is ranked No. 87 on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects.
Paxton, 6-feet-4, 220 pounds, has velocity on his fastball and has a curveball with a big break.
Command of those pitches is another story. He struggled mightily in spring training with the Mariners (14.73 ERA) in three Cactus League games. He also was lit up in a “B” game start.
His arm strength, talent, age, size and fact that he is a southpaw are many reasons the Mariners are high on him. And, he has pitched much better since coming to the Rainiers.
Last season in AA Jackson also left an impression. After going on the disabled list for five weeks with tendinitis in his right knee, he flourished in his return, going 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA in 11 starts.
Outfielder Kevin Mattison, who scored the winning run Friday night against Salt Lake City as a pinch-runner, hasn’t played since May 3. Mattison, who is batting .274, had hit .385 in his past 10 games. … Smolinski, Gran, Valdez and Ben Lasater batted with pink bats in recognition of breast cancer awareness on Mother’s Day. … Umpire Brian Runge has been on a rehab assignment working Zephyrs games since Friday night.