Minor league baseball: Bees burn out bullpen in 9th-inning loss
Injuries took away two Bees pitchers. An untimely storm robbed the staff of another.
It took six arms for Salt Lake (49-42) to get even close to a win on Sunday afternoon, and victory was still out of reach. The division-leading Tacoma Rainiers (53-38) broke out of a deadlock in the ninth inning to finish with a 6-4 win and split the series with the hometown Bees.
The biggest obstacle was how quickly Salt Lake had to burn through its pitchers through no real fault of its own.
"Today it was unfortunate, you know, playing against a team ahead of us in the standings and for our starter to go out that quickly and the next guy goes out, too," manager Keith Johnson. "But we were in position to win that game, but we didn't execute and we didn't win."
Bad luck struck Salt Lake's pitching staff twice in the first three innings. A.J. Schugel was covering first base on a play when he injured his foot. He didn't return after closing out the second inning.
Fernando Cabrera, sent out to replace him, collided with a runner on a similar play as he attempted to cover first. He left after facing only two batters, forcing a cold-armed Buddy Boshers onto the mound in the middle of the third.
"I haven't [seen two pitchers go out that early], but it's part of the game," Boshers said. "You go out there and you got to do your job. I didn't last as long as I wanted to, but I gave it all I could."
Finishing the game was a bit of a struggle for a thin Bees bullpen. Boshers and Chad Cordero brought the Bees up to four pitchers before a 11/2-hour rain delay in the top of the sixth. Cordero couldn't pitch again after waiting out the wet weather.
Mike Ekstrom took the mound when the game resumed, and Josh Judy followed to close it out. But Judy couldn't hold on, as a mix of errors and timely contact by the Rainiers produced three unearned runs. With two runners in scoring position, a ground out scored Carlos Triunfel, an infield chopper scored Jason Jaramillo, and Ty Kelly sealed it after Stefan Romero batted him home with a double.
A final chance for a comeback fell flat in the bottom of the ninth. The Bees couldn't summon the walk-off heroics from Thursday night, as Efren Navarro grounded into a double play for the final out.
"That's the makeup of this ballclub right now," Johnson said. "They're playing nine innings. Sometimes there's a little bit of inconsistency that we've been able to overcome in the past, but it happened at inopportune times today."
The game was tied 1-1 in the fourth after Luis Rodriguez had hit a homer to right field. Tacoma went up the next inning with Jason Jaramillo and Abraham Almonte scoring runs.
After the rain delay, the Bees pulled even again as Chris Nelson and Luke Carlin each drove in runs. Salt Lake was able to hold on to a 3-all tie for two more innings before giving up the late three-run rally.
Johnson said the team was still waiting to learn more about Schugel's and Cabrera's injuries.
Owlz 10, Raptors 6 • In Ogden, Brandon Bayardi's two-run double capped Orem's five-run rally in the top of the ninth inning, and the Owlz won the four-game Pioneer Leaue series, 3-1.
Storylines Rainiers 6, Bees 4
R The Bees use six pitchers after early injuries.
• Rain in the sixth inning delays the game for an hour and a half.
• Luis Rodriguez leads Salt Lake with a homer, a triple and two walks.