Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rainiers Sweep Redbirds; Take PCL Title

Posted By on Sat, Sep 18, 2010 at 9:48 AM

So much for home-field advantage. The Tacoma Rainiers completed a three-game sweep of the Memphis Redbirds Friday night, winning their third straight game at AutoZone Park, 10-6 in 11 innings. After having swept three straight playoff series — dating back to the pair that won them a Pacific Coast League championship a year ago this month — the Redbirds found themselves on the other end of the broom this week, even with the first two "road" games relocated to Third and Union due to renovations to Tacoma's home ballpark. Friday night's game drew the largest, loudest crowd of the five Memphis hosted this month. Those remaining after the final out was recorded just before 11 p.m. witnessed that most bittersweet of baseball images: a championship celebration by the visiting team. The victory gave Tacoma its sixth PCL crown, and first since a shared title in 2001.

A fly ball off the bat of Greg Halman fell in front of Memphis centerfielder Jim Rapoport (who was playing near the warning track), opening up the floodgates with Eduardo Sanchez on the mound in the top of the 11th inning. A broken-bat blooper by the next batter, Matt Mangini, fell into leftfield, putting Tacoma ahead, 7-6. Before the inning was over, Mike Carp added an RBI single and Justin Smoak drove in two more with a single of his own. All this off the 21-year-old Sanchez, who held a stellar 1.67 ERA over 27 innings at the Triple-A level this season.

The Redbirds opened the scoring on a two-run home run by Mark Hamilton in the first inning. Four Tacoma homers over the next five innings, though, seemed to follow the long-ball trend the Rainiers established in Game 2, when they hit five over the wall in the first four innings. Down 6-4 in the seventh inning, Memphis rallied with four singles, runs scoring on hits by Hamilton and Amaury Cazana. Adam Reifer shut down Tacoma in the eighth, as did Josh Kinney in the ninth and tenth, but the Redbirds failed to tally a run in any of their last four frames.

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