The heart of the Tacoma Rainiers’ lineup — Taylor Motter, Daniel Vogelbach, and Gordon Beckham — roughed up Salt Lake Bees starting pitcher Daniel Wright in the series finale Friday at Smith’s Ballpark. The trio went 8 for 9 at the plate in the first four innings, scoring seven runs and featuring a three-run homer by Beckham.
Salt Lake’s offense was highlighted by a pair of two-run homers courtesy of Carlos Perez and Eric Young Jr.
Trailing in the ninth, the Bees had the tying run 90 feet away in Rey Navarro and the winning run at second in Nolan Fontana. However, Sherman Johnson struck out to end the comeback attempt as the Rainiers escaped with the win, 7-6.
Turning Point • The Rainiers’ were beneficiaries of a free out in the first inning when Bees catcher Carlos Perez dropped a pop fly off the bat of Motter. On the very next pitch, Motter ripped a triple to the gap in right-center and later scored on a single by Vogelbach. It was the first of three errors for the Bees.
Bees MVP • In addition to his mammoth two-run homer to left in the fourth, Young also demonstrated defensive prowess. Rainiers’ right fielder Kyle Waldrop mistakenly tested the arm of Young, attempting to stretch a single into a double. Young gathered the ball and fired to second baseman Fontana for the putout.
Hidden Hero • The Bees bullpen did its best to keep the home team in the game. Pitchers Branden Pinder, Mike Morin, Jason Gurka and Brooks Pounders combined to throw five shutout innings, giving up five hits, walking three and striking out two.
Flashing Leather • In the sixth, Vogelbach rocketed a shot to deep left field that nearly cleared the fence. However, Shane Robinson sacrificed his body, leaping into the air and crashing into the wall to secure the ball in his outstretched glove for the out.
Quoteworthy • “That’s not a bad club we’re playing over there. They know how to play the game,” Bees manager Keith Johnson said. “It’s a tribute to our guys that we scratched and clawed our way back. We just couldn’t quite come up with the timely hit, but we’re playing with a sense of urgency and trying to win every game.”
Angel Angle • Pitcher Andrew Heaney, who completed his rehab assignment with Salt Lake, made his 2017 debut for the Angels. Facing the Baltimore Orioles, Heaney was roughed up, surrendering four home runs, two to Orioles’ star Manny Machado.
What’s next • The Salt Lake Bees are at Las Vegas 51’s on Saturday, with the first pitch scheduled for 8:05 p.m.