In 17 years of professional baseball, 51s shortstop Chris Woodward can’t recall playing a game worse than he did Sunday.
The veteran infielder, who has appeared in 648 games in the majors and 811 in the minors, made three costly fielding errors in Las Vegas’ 10-6 windswept loss to Tacoma at Cashman Field.
“I’ve never had a game like that,” Woodward, 34, said. “That was a tough one, because we probably would’ve won the game. Obviously, they were pretty crucial.
“When that happens and it ends up losing the game like that, it’s tough to swallow.”
With two outs and two on in the sixth inning, Woodward misplayed a slow ground ball by Mike Carp to load the bases for Luis Jimenez, who launched a grand slam to right-center field to give the Rainiers a 7-4 lead.
Matt Tuisasosopo then tripled off 51s right-hander Josh Roenicke and scored when Las Vegas second baseman Manny Mayorson made a throwing error after fielding a grounder by Johan Limonta.
The Rainiers (22-29), who scored seven unearned runs, added two more in the eighth, when Woodward made consecutive one-out errors.
He misplayed a routine grounder by Jimenez, then let Tuiasosopo’s potential inning-ending double play ball roll between his legs.
“Not that it was easy out there, but those are plays that have to be made,” Woodward said.
Despite the miscues, 51s manager Marty Brown said defense wasn’t the reason Las Vegas (31-20) lost for only the second time in 13 games.
“When you throw a lot of pitches and take a lot of time out there, it takes a lot out of you defensively, especially on a windy, cold day,” he said. “You’re standing around and it’s very difficult to play defense. We need to work faster.”
51s starter Scott Richmond had a season-high 11 strikeouts, walked four and allowed two runs on six hits in five innings before departing after 107 pitches.
“He gave us five innings and he was done,” Brown said. “We’d like to see him get into the sixth, seventh or eighth inning and do it in his pitch count.”
Roenicke (1-3), who blew the save and took the loss, gave up six runs, only one earned, in the sixth inning on five hits, including the grand slam on a 2-0 fastball.
“Josh Roenicke didn’t have his best stuff. He pitched behind a lot,” Brown said. “Once there’s an error made, you’ve got to pick up your teammate.
“We just couldn’t minimize the damage in the sixth inning.”
Las Vegas, which compiled 25 runs and 35 hits in a pair of victories over Tacoma on Friday and Saturday, had 10 hits Sunday.
Brett Lawrie hit an RBI triple in the first and belted a two-run homer, his 15th, in the third to give the 51s a 4-1 lead.
The third baseman also made a stellar barehanded stop of a grounder and is 6-for-11 in his last two games with three homers, a triple, double and seven RBIs.
“He’s a special player,” Brown said. “He’s highly competitive, he doesn’t like to lose at anything, and he gives you everything he has every day.”
Adam Loewen also homered for the 51s, who are 22-6 in May.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-383-0354.TACOMA — 10
LAS VEGAS — 6
KEY: Luis Jimenez hit a grand slam for the Rainiers, who scored seven unearned runs off four 51s’ errors, including three by shortstop Chris Woodward.
NEXT: Rainiers (LHP Fabio Castro) at 51s (LHP Brad Mills), 12:05 p.m. today, KBAD-AM (920)