SALT LAKE CITY — Between multiple collisions at first base and a rain delay, a fresh pitching arm became a hot commodity for the Salt Lake Bees on Sunday afternoon.
The home team, which lost to the Tacoma Rainiers, 6-4, at Spring Mobile Ballpark, utilized six different hurlers and had two of them suffer game-ending injuries.
In spite of the bullpen struggles, the Bees entered the top of the ninth inning tied 3-3 but gave up three more runs and could not recover.
“Over the course of a career, things like that happen,” said Bees manager Keith Johnson. “Still, we were in position to win that game. We didn’t execute and we didn’t win.”
A.J. Schugel endured a foot injury when he covered first base with one out in the second inning. He finished the frame, forcing Tacoma catcher Jason Jaramillo to hit into a double play, but then never returned.
Fernando Cabrera took over in the third but pitched to just two batters before covering first on a bunt and colliding with Rainiers center fielder Abraham Almonte.
“Fernando landed awkwardly after that collision at first base,” Johnson said of the play. “It’s kind of day to day. We’ll see where they both are tomorrow.”
Buddy Boshers, who pitched just 1 2/3 innings and allowed two earned runs to give Tacoma a 3-1 lead, was replaced by Chad Cordero one out into the fifth inning. Cordero was then interrupted by a 78-minute rain delay.
Mike Ekstrom and Josh Judy, who was given the loss, each took the field Sunday as well. The Bees’ pitching staff combined to give up 11 hits and six unearned runs with six strikeouts as Salt Lake split the series 2-2.
“Today was unfortunate,” Johnson said. “Playing against a team that’s ahead of us in the standings and then for our starter to go out that quickly and the next guy goes out too. That was tough. And then the rain delay took another pitcher away from us.”
Meanwhile, the Bees’ offense totaled 11 hits but left nine runners on base and finished just 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position. Luis Rodriguez was a bright spot, finishing 2 for 2 with a home run in the fourth, along with Chris Nelson, who was 2 for 3 with an RBI.
Tacoma, on the other hand, used just three pitchers while putting runs on the scoreboard throughout the game. Starter Taijuan Walker went five innings to pick up the win, totaling four strikeouts and giving up just one run — Rodriguez’s homer. Third baseman Ty Kelly was a perfect 4 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.
“They’re battling; they’re doing their best for nine innings,” Johnson said of his roster. “Right now, there’s a little bit of inconsistency that we’ve been able to overcome in the past. Today (those inconsistencies) happened at an inopportune time. That’s part of the game. Tomorrow we have a new series.”
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.