The Salt Lake Bees fell behind just two pitches into their game on Saturday night against the Tucson Sidewinders.
And they never caught up.
Tim Raines Jr. led off the game with a long, line drive over the right-field fence on Salt Lake starter Nick Green's second pitch. It was the only run the Sidewinders would need in their 6-0 victory in front of a 13,140 baseball/fireworks fans.
It was Tucson's second win in a row in front of a big crowd at Franklin Covey Field. Friday, with a season-high 15,000-plus fans in attendance, the Bees lost their Fourth of July game. The Sidewinders, owners of the worst record in the PCL's Pacific Division, improved to 37-53. The Bees, owners of the best record in the league, fell to 53-35.
"We don't play in front of (the big crowds) very well," said Bees manager Bobby Mitchell. "Maybe it's stage fright. But it's too bad, because we have good fans. We need to play well in front of big crowds because they deserve better."
Raines, son of former big-league star Tim Raines, added a double during the Sidewinders' five-run fifth. He wasn't the only player with a famous major-league name to star for Tucson on Saturday. Tucson's starting pitcher, Billy Buckner, gave up no runs on four hits in seven innings to earn the victory.
However, Buckner is not related to the 1980s-era All-Star who shares his name and the ire of Red Sox fans for his error in the 1986 World Series.
"He pitched a good game and kept us off balance," said Mitchell of Buckner. "We made no adjustments to him and he got a lot of ground balls."
After giving up Raines' homer to open the game, Green settled down to pitch three straight scoreless innings. But the Sidewinders put the game away in the fifth, scoring five runs, to take a 6-0 lead. Tucson was aided by an error on Bees third baseman Freddy Sandoval that allowed two runs to score. The knockout blow was a two-run homer by Tucson second baseman Donnie Kelly later in the inning.
Salt Lake managed just a combined four hits two by Sandoval and two by catcher Bobby Wilson. The rest of the Bees were a combined 0-for-24 from the plate.
The third and final game in the series will be played today, beginning at 2 p.m. Salt Lake's best starter so far this season, Shane Loux (10-4, 4.29 ERA), is scheduled to pitch against Tucson lefty Evan MacLane (4-6, 5.03 ERA). The Bees open a four-game home set Monday against Tacoma.BEELINES: Bees reliever Jason Bulger has not allowed a run his last 17 appearances in a total of 17 3/8 innings. He leads Salt Lake with 10 saves and has 24 for his Bees career, tying him for third on the all-time franchise list with former Buzz lefty Scott Watkins ... Sandoval's single in the fourth inning extended his home hitting streak to 18-games ... Salt Lake has now been blanked three times on the season and all three games have been at home.
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