EVERETT – The Yakima Bears seem to be heeding the motto of television’s Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor:
The Bears continued their muscular display against the Everett AquaSox Friday night, slugging three more home runs in a 14-5 Northwest League victory before a crowd of 4,041.
The loss was Everett’s fourth in five games and was the AquaSox’s second straight blowout defeat.
“We’re not attacking the strike zone,” Everett manager Pedro Grifol said. “We’re leaving some balls up and they’ve got some guys who can hit it out. Basically there’s a little phrase: We’re getting our (butt) kicked.”
Everett Memorial Stadium seems to suit the Bears just fine. Yakima has hit 10 homers in the first four games of the five-game series. The Bears had just 18 homers in their first 24 games.
Carlos Gonzalez, Brandon Burgess and Mark Reynolds were the long ball culprits for Yakima on Friday. Reynolds has now homered in three straight games.
In large part because of the homer runs, Yakima (12-16) has won three of the first four games against the AquaSox (16-12), the first-place team in the West Division.
“It’s awesome,” Reynolds said about hitting in Everett. “Early in the day the sun reflects off the wall and that makes it tough. But once the sun goes down you can pick up the ball pretty well, and the wind always seems to be blowing out to center. So if you get a good pitch, get the ball up and towards center, there’s a chance it will go out.”
Two of the homers played critical roles in the outcome Friday. Gonzalez’s solo shot in the top of the fifth broke a 4-4 tie and gave the Bears the lead for good. Burgess’ two-run shot in the sixth made it 7-4 and gave Yakima some breathing room.
“I think this many games into the season, the guys who came from college are getting used to swinging the wood bats,” Reynolds said. “And seeing the pitchers more than one time gives the hitters an advantage. I think that’s what the guys are doing.”
Everett starting pitcher Mark Lowe took the loss to fall to 0-1. In five innings he surrendered five runs on four hits, two walks and three hit batsmen. He struck out five.
Yakima starter Jered Liebeck picked up the win to go to 1-2. He pitched six innings, giving up four runs – two earned – on six hits and one walk, striking out five.
Everett scored twice during a bottom of the first inning that proved to be an adventure for Yakima catcher Orlando Mercado.
First, with runners at the corners, Oswaldo Navarro took off for second. Mercado’s throw was dropped by shortstop Steve Mena, allowing Brent Johnson to waltz home from third on an error charged to Mercado. Then Navarro took off for third and when Mercado’s throw went wide, Navarro scampered home to make it 2-0.
But Yakima rallied for four runs to take the lead in the top of the second. The Bears loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a hit batter. Lowe then hit Todd Buchanan to force in the first run. Mena’s fielder’s choice scored the second runner and Brandon Simon’s two-run triple made it 4-2.
Everett then tied it back up in the bottom of the second. With two out, Mike Wilson singled, and Omar Falcon followed with a blast over the center-field wall. His second homer of the season made it 4-4.
The Bears retook the lead in the fifth when Gonzalez golfed a ball into the homer porch in right field for his seventh of the season, making it 5-4.
Yakima then extended its lead in the sixth against reliever Chad Fillinger. Burgess lined a two-run homer to right, his third of the season, to make it 7-4. Reynolds later added an RBI single and Mercado hit a sacrifice fly to increase the lead to 9-4.
Buchanan grounded into a double play in the seventh to score a run and make it 10-4. Everett grabbed another run back in the eighth on Rob Johnson’s sacrifice fly, cutting the lead to 10-5. But the Bears turned it into a rout in the ninth, one run scoring on first baseman Marshall Hubbard’s throwing error before Reynolds hit a three-run moonshot homer to center, his fifth of the season, to complete the scoring.