So far, Salt Lake has struggled without its manager. Meanwhile, the Bees have become Andrew Carraway's favorite team.
The Tacoma right-hander is 2-0 against the Bees this season. This includes Saturday's 13-4 romp at Spring Mobile Ballpark.
In two starts since losing his first outing, both against Salt Lake, Carraway has allowed only four earned runs in 112â3 innings.
On Saturday, the Rainiers pitcher also took advantage of his team's offensive barrage.
Salt Lake was without manager Keith Johnson, away to attend to family matters following the death of his father, for the third consecutive game.
"We're pressing a little bit," said Bill Richardson, who will manage later this year in Orem. "When you start pressing a little bit, then things start getting contagious the other way. So you need a breakout. â¦ Without Keith being here, I think it means something.
"I know these guys are professionals â¦ but that's the leadership Keith provides."
Neither Salt Lake (10-7) nor Tacoma (9-8) took batting practice prior to the start of the four-game series, typical on a travel day for both teams. Rain and a college game that ran late sent both teams to the batting cages for pre-game swings.
The Rainiers apparently didn't need the practice. The lineup produced 21 hits, including four home runs.
Three of Tacoma's four-baggers came in a second inning that saw Denny Almonte and Nate Tenbrink go back-to-back. Almonte's drive nearly hit the scoreboard beyond the right-field wall.
One batter later, Eric Thames left the park, nearly rattling the left-field foul pole.
Salt Lake starter Barry Enright didn't make it out of the third inning. Tacoma shelled Enright, who allowed 11 hits and 10 runs.
When the Bees retired the Rainiers in order for the first time in the game to end the sixth, some of the 4,583 in attendance applauded derisively.
And Salt Lake, which went 9-2 to open the Pacific Coast League season, has now lost four in a row and five of six.
"These guys are pros. These guys have been around," Richardson said. "They're going to figure it out."
Game 2 of the four-game series is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Sunday.
Tacoma 13, Salt Lake 4
O Tacoma hits four home runs, including three in the second inning to chase Salt Lake starter Barry Enright.
• Matt Young leads the Bees with three hits and an RBI.
• Salt Lake has lost four straight games, and five of six.