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April 19 Game Notes: Tacoma Rainiers at Las Vegas Aviators

April 19, 2024 - Pacific Coast League (PCL)
Tacoma Rainiers News Release

TACOMA RAINIERS (13-5) @ Las Vegas Aviators (6-11)

Friday, April 19 - 7:05 PM - Las Vegas Ballpark - Las Vegas, NV

RHP Mauricio Llovera (2-0, 2.84) vs. LHP Hogan Harris (1-0, 7.36)

TONIGHT'S GAME: Tacoma and Las Vegas will play game four of their six-game series, with the Rainiers utilizing their first bullpen day of the season. Tacoma's originally planned starter, Casey Lawrence, was a late scratch, and Manager John Russell will now hand the ball to Mauricio Llovera as the first of many pitchers likely to enter tonight's game for Tacoma. Llovera enters play tonight with a 2-0 record and a 2.84 ERA in five relief appearances this year for the Rainiers. He has allowed two earned runs on six hits and one walk while striking out six over 6.1 innings pitched. Llovera made two starts for Triple-A Sacramento last year, most recently on April 6 against El Paso. On the other side, Hogan Harris will toe the rubber for the Aviators, set to make his fourth start of the year. Harris enters play tonight with a 1-0 record and a 7.36 ERA through three starts, giving up nine earned runs on 11 hits and six walks compared to 12 strikeouts over his 11.0 innings pitched. Tacoma is just 3-2 against left-handed starters this year.

GET BACK: Tacoma dropped their fifth game of the year last night, falling to 13-5 on the season. A big part of Tacoma's winning record has been the team's ability to bounce back after a loss. The Rainiers have not lost back-to-back games all year, while recording a winning streak of three games and two, four-game winning streaks. Since starting the year 2-2, Tacoma has won at least three games in between each of their losses. That ability to bounce back has allowed them to stay in first place in the Pacific Coast League West Division, as they are currently one game up on Sacramento.

ROAD TO RECOVERY: Tacoma had two pitchers start their major league rehab assignment's last night, with both Collin Snider and Cody Bolton getting into the game. In his first appearance of the year with the Rainiers, Snider allowed one run on two hits while striking out two. The right-hander was placed on the 15-day injured list back on April 8 with a left knee contusion after pitching in three games with Seattle. Bolton walked one batter but also struck out two in his scoreless eighth inning. The 25-year-old pitched in four games with Seattle before going on the 15-day injured list on April 8 (retroactive to April 6) with what was described as a general medical issue. Both relievers are looking to get back to full strength and join Seattle's active roster.

WAY TOO EARLY LOOK: Looking at the standings in April can be very misleading, as the baseball season is a long one. However, to host a best-of-three playoff series, the Tacoma Rainiers would not only have to be the best team in the West Division of the Pacific Coast League in the first half of the season, but they would have to be the best among all 10 Pacific Coast League teams in both West and East Divisions. Entering play today, they are in first place in the PCL West, one game above the 12-6 Sacramento River Cats, but are tied for the overall lead with Sugar Land. The Space Cowboys are also 13-5 this year, winning eight of their last nine games.

LATE SCRATCH: Casey Lawrence was the anticipated starting pitcher for Tacoma in game four of the six-game series at Las Vegas tonight. Through three previous starts this year, the veteran right-hander was 0-2 with a 6.62 ERA, allowing 13 earned runs on 26 hits including three home runs. He had walked four batters compared to striking out six, allowing opponents to hit .347 against him. With Lawrence being taken out of the starting spot, tonight's game will turn into the first bullpen game of the year for Tacoma.

STILL QUALITY: Dallas Keuchel suffered his first loss of the season last night, moving to 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts for Tacoma. The veteran allowed just three earned runs on five this including two home runs while striking out two over his 6.0 innings pitched. His 6.0 innings marked a season high, as he had gone 5.0 in each of his first two starts. Despite taking the loss, Keuchel spun his first quality start of the year and continued his overall success that he has shown in all three outings this year.

BIGGEST TO DATE: In their 4-2 loss to Las Vegas last night, Tacoma played in front of the largest crowd yet in the 2024 season. The previous high mark was 6,110 fans back at Cheney Stadium on April 13 against Reno. Last night, 7,029 fans came to Las Vegas Ballpark marking not only the largest road crowd of the year by nearly 3,000 fans, but the biggest all season for Tacoma.

LIMIT THE LONG BALL: Pitching at Las Vegas Ballpark can be difficult, as the ball tends to fly out of the stadium. Routine fly balls in most parks turn into extra-base hits in Las Vegas. Dallas Keuchel suffered the loss in last night's game, as two of the five hits he surrendered left the yard and drove in all three runs he allowed. For Tacoma, starting pitchers have now allowed 14 long balls this season compared to just four home runs allowed by relief pitchers.

AGAINST LAS VEGAS: Tacoma and Las Vegas are set to play game four of their six-game series, with the Rainiers leading the series two games to one. Tacoma is trying to get their third win of the series and win three games at Las Vegas Ballpark for the first time since 2022, when they won six of the 12 games they played here. Last night marked the 299th all-time loss for Tacoma against Las Vegas, as they are now 305-299 coming into tonight's game.

SHORT HOPS: Tacoma scored their only two runs in the fourth and fifth innings last night, the two highest scoring innings all year for the Rainiers; Tacoma has now scored 19% (22-of-113) of their runs in the fourth inning and 16% (18-of-113) of their runs in the fifth inning this year...last night marked the first loss of the season for the Rainiers when Isiah Gilliam started as the designated hitter; they are now 9-1 in 10 games that Gilliam is the starting DH...Tacoma is 0-2 in two-run games this year after their 4-2 loss last night.

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