Image credit: Reno SS Ildemaro Vargas (Photo by Stephen Smith/Four Seam)
The new major league baseballs being used at Triple-A have boosted offenses around both the International and Pacific Coast leagues.
They have also created quite a competition for the title of craziest game of the season.
Until May 20, Lehigh Valley’s 20-18 win over Rochester on April 13 seemed like a safe bet. The teams combined for 15 home runs when they had each hit 19 home runs in all of April 2018. Home runs are rarely hit in the northern reaches of the IL in April, but the IronPigs and Red Wings hit a month’s worth of home runs in a day.
Reno looked at that and laughed. That seemed tame compared to Reno’s 25-8 win over Tacoma at the Aces’ park on May 20.
Pick your star of the game. Pick your craziest stat.
Is Reno center fielder Matt Szczur the star after he hit for the cycle?
Or is it Yasmany Tomas, who became the first Triple-A player to hit four home runs in a game this season and the first in the PCL since Micah Hoffpauir in 2008? As Tacoma broadcaster Mike Curto noted, Tomas had a chance to hit for the home run cycle. He had a solo home run, a two-run home run and a three-run home run. He got a chance with the bases loaded, but that plate appearance resulted in a run-scoring infield single that gave Tomas 17 total bases.
Or is it Kevin Cron, who hit a pair of home runs, giving him 21 for the season to lead all the minors (and majors)? Cron is now on pace to hit 66 home runs in a 140-game season.
Or is the Reno lineup as a whole, which combined for 25 runs, 10 home runs, 17 extra-base hits and 67 total bases?
One could even make the argument that the story of the game was the Tacoma pitching staff. Four different Rainiers pitchers gave up five or more runs. Christian Bergman (2.2 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO, 2 HR) was the only one of the four who worked more than two innings. The only Tacoma pitcher who came out unscathed was catcher David Sheaffer. He worked a scoreless 0.2 innings to finish the eighth as the exhausted Reno hitters finally stopped hitting home runs.
The game was Tacoma’s 45th of the season, so it is almost exactly one-third of the way through the year. That’s far enough into the season that no good or bad game should be able to significantly alter team stats. But this one game raised Tacoma’s team ERA nearly half a run, from 6.04 to 6.49.
This was the 16th time in Reno’s 44 games that at least one team has reached double-digit runs.
The temperature at game time was a mild 55 degrees and the wind was noted as blowing out at 5 mph. The offense in the PCL tends to rise with the temperature, so this game might not wind up as the craziest in the league come closing day.
It might just have to settle for the craziest game of the month.