The Dukes, resplendent in their mustard yellows, came out swingin’. They didn’t hit any over the wall, however — or most anywhere else, for that matter.
On Retro Night at the Sports Stadium, Tacoma starter Casey Lawrence and three relievers combined on a four-hitter, as the visiting Rainiers, with a two-out run in the ninth, edged the Albuquerque Dukes 2-1 and disappointed a festive crowd of 10,621.
The only real fireworks came postgame, in the sky above the park.
“What I saw Mr. Lawrence do was he kept the ball down and he worked both sides of the plate,” Albuquerque manager Glenallen Hill said. “And he subtracted when he needed to.”
Lawrence (7-3), who fired a complete-game shutout against the Albuquerque Isotopes almost a year ago to the day (July 3, 2017), held the Dukes hitless for the first five innings on Saturday. He did most of the work, but not all the heavy lifting.
To that end, Tacoma center fielder Andrew Aplin authored one of the most tremendous catches of this baseball season — in any city, at any level — with a grab to end the fourth.
Josh Fuentes launched a deep shot to center with two outs. Aplin turned his back toward home plate and laid out for a diving catch on the warning track. The play wasn’t officially ruled an out until the third-base umpire had run about 200 feet from his position along the line into the outfield and saw that Aplin had indeed held onto the ball.
Aplin was injured on the play. He walked off the field under his own power, and was greeted enthusiastically by his teammates when he reached the dugout. It was not immediately known the nature or extent of his injury.
“I think it was one of the greatest plays anyone will see this year,” Hill marveled. “That was outstanding.”
Both teams scored a run in the sixth — Tacoma on a home run by Gordon Beckham that curled into the lava rocks beyond the left-field wall; the Dukes on a full-count, RBI double to right by Ryan McMahon.
Ironically, McMahon thought he had walked on a 3-1 pitch, even starting toward first base. He was called back into the box before smacking a double on the next pitch, scoring Anthony Bemboom. Bemboom had the Dukes’ first hit of the night, a sharp single to right leading off the inning. He was moving from first on the 3-2 pitch to McMahon.
Beckham’s fourth hit for Tacoma, an RBI single down the left-field line, scored the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth.
TREANOR INDUCTED: The first manager of the Albuquerque Isotopes, and the franchise’s winningest manager, Dean Treanor, was inducted into the Albuquerque Professional Baseball Hall of Fame before the game.
Treanor, 70, is the fourth former Dukes/Isotopes skipper to go into this particular HOF, following Tommy Lasorda, Del Crandall and Terry Collins. He is the 36th individual to earn such an accolade.
“I think it is the ultimate right now in my career,” Treanor said. “It’s very humbling. It’s a great honor.”
Treanor is currently the bullpen coach for the Miami Marlins.
He managed the Isotopes in 2003 and also from 2005-08, winning 362 games. He also was a pitching coach for the Dukes — then the affiliate for the Los Angeles Dodgers — in 1999-2000.
He was given some time off by the Marlins (who are in Washington) to appear at his pre-game ceremony Saturday night.
“Flying in here (Saturday) brought back a lot of memories,” Treanor said. He also is a former winning manager in the Triple-A All-Star Game, at Isotopes Park in 2007.
“The city embraces baseball,” Treanor said. “It was very supportive of me, very supportive of the team … I can’t say enough about this being a baseball city.”
GRAY’S RETURN: Righty Jon Gray, who spent the first three months of the season with the parent club Colorado Rockies — where he made 17 starts before being shipped to Triple-A earlier this week — makes his first home start of the year Sunday night for Albuquerque as the five-game series, and the first half of the season, concludes with a 6:05 p.m. start.
Gray (1-0) defeated El Paso on Tuesday night.