Rainiers Hang On As Bullpen Survives

July 24, 2014

Tacoma held on to a slim lead in the late innings and beat Las Vegas on Wednesday night, 6-4.

The Rainiers have won three out of four in this series so far, with the final game tonight at 7:05. Tacoma continued its long stretch of good play, and is now 25-14 over the last 39 games.

Last night the Rainiers scored four runs in the fourth inning to take a 6-3 lead, with third baseman Gabriel Noriega contributing the key go-ahead two-run double.

After taking the lead, Tacoma pitchers had to overcome something new: a tiny strike zone.

Relievers Lucas Luetge, Logan Kensing, Todd Coffey, and Carson Smith issued seven walks over the last four innings, and were constantly in trouble, yet managed to maintain the lead and secure the win.

For the most part, these pitchers weren’t particularly wild. A lot of pitches that seem to normally be called strikes were balls on this particular night.

It made for four stressful innings down the stretch, but the relievers were able to get the key outs when they needed to and Tacoma held on for the win.

Thursday’s game starts at 7:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jordan Pries (6-6, 3.96) against Las Vegas RHP Logan Verrett (8-2, 4.58).

The Mariners made a trade today, sending Tacoma reliever Stephen Pryor to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for DH Kendrys Morales.

Recovering from shoulder surgery, Pryor appeared in 24 games for Tacoma, going 2-1 with a 4.65 ERA. He had 27 strikeouts and 18 walks in 31.0 innings.

The big thing for Pryor has been getting healthy, and his velocity has improved over the course of the season where recently he was hitting 94 mph (note: PCL scoreboard radar guns, so accuracy is questionable). Now, he was upper-90s before the surgery, and we don’t know if that will ever come all the way back for him, but it’s a gamble the Twins are taking.

Morales has been simply awful for the Twins, posting a .584 OPS. We all know he’s better than that, though – and he had no spring training, after sitting out the first two months. Clearly the Mariners are hoping he can show his 2013 form in a return to the team.

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Today is the final game of the year between Tacoma and Las Vegas. The Rainiers need a win to finish with an 8-8 season series split.


Another Doubleheader Split

July 23, 2014

Tacoma split its doubleheader with Las Vegas on Tuesday night, providing more evidence for my theory that nearly all Triple-A doubleheaders are split.

Vegas won the first game 4-0 as Noah Syndergaard tossed 6.1 scoreless innings in the finest of his four starts against Tacoma this season.

James Paxton had a successful rehab outing health-wise, but he allowed home runs to two of the first four batters he faced to find himself in a 3-0 hole. Paxton finished strongly, retiring eight of the last nine batters he faced. He’s scheduled to pitch for Tacoma again on Sunday against Sacramento.

Tacoma won the second game, 4-3. Jesus Montero was 2-for-2 with a two-run single and a solo home run. That was nice to see after Syndergaard held him in check in the opening game. Montero hot streak update: 34-for-74 with seven HRs and 29 RBI in his last 18 games.

Forrest Snow delivered a strong spot-start in game two, lasting five innings and allowing one run on two hits. Snow picked up the win and he now has a 1.07 ERA in 25.1 innings for Tacoma this season, with a 27-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Snow is getting a lot of swings-and-misses with his fastball, which is in the low 90s but has good downward plane from his 6-foot-6 frame.

Tacoma leads the Las Vegas series, two games to one, with two games remaining.

Wednesday’s game starts at 7:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (4-5, 4.76) against Las Vegas RHP Cory Mazzoni (1-0, 4.76).

Yes, it has been raining off-and-on today in Tacoma. This will be just like an April game: the teams are planning to play tonight, and any decision regarding the weather will be made around game time. Follow the Rainiers on Twitter, or Facebook, or check the official website for more information.

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Rain, rain, go away!


Rainiers Out-Slug 51s; DH Tonight

July 22, 2014

Tacoma hit three home runs – accounting for seven runs total – and beat Las Vegas in the opening game of the homestand on Monday night, 11-8.

It was a back-and-forth game which saw Tacoma take an early 3-1 lead, then Las Vegas pull ahead 6-3, followed by a five-run Tacoma inning to make it 8-6 Rainiers, then a game-tying homer by Danny Muno to even it up at 8-8, and finally a three-run Tacoma rally in the bottom of the seventh put it away at 11-8.

Todd Coffey stopped the scoring, pitching perfect baseball in the eighth and ninth innings to close it out. He even struck out the side in the ninth for a little extra flair.

Jesus Montero continued his hot hitting, blasting a two-run homer and a double. Ty Kelly ripped a game-tying three-run homer in the sixth, and his sac fly brought in the winning run in the seventh.

Catcher Humberto Quintero added a two-run homer and extended his hitting streak to ten straight games. The home run was his 400th career PCL hit.

The Rainiers did use a lot of bullpen last night: Stephen Kohlscheen, Logan Kensing, and Coffey combined to cover 6.1 innings. This could become an issue going into tonight’s doubleheader.

That’s right, a doubleheader. Tacoma and Vegas play two seven-inning games tonight, which is a make-up for a rainout on May 4 (want to get confused? The May 4 game that was rained out was the second game of a doubleheader, which was a make-up of the rainout on May 3. Dang, it rained a lot back then).

On the roster front, last night the Mariners optioned first baseman Justin Smoak to Tacoma, and they will call up Erasmo Ramirez to start tonight against the Mets. Go get ‘em, Erasmo.

Look for lots of roster juggling in the big leagues for the remainder of the season. With the Mariners trying to hang on to a wild card spot, they will be making all kinds of minor roster adjustments to get the best possible match-ups from game to game. The Rainiers roster will both benefit and be victimized by this for the next six weeks. It should be an interesting ride.

Tuesday’s action starts at 6:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP James Paxton (0-0, 6.00) against Las Vegas RHP Noah Syndergaard (7-5, 5.74) in the first game, and it will be RHP Forrest Snow (0-1, 0.89) against RHP Giancarlo Alvarado (3-4, 7.66) in game two.

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story has quotes from Jesus Montero and manager Roy Howell.
  • The Mariners handled the Mets last night, 5-2. My opinion: this is a good series for the M’s to log some home wins against a struggling NL team. But, they face tough rookie Jacob deGrom tonight.
  • The Mariners notebook from The News Tribune has some good HoJo stuff.
  • Larry Stone writes that the Mariners should feel free to trade prospects.
  • Mariners 2014 first round draft pick Alex Jackson got hit in the face by a line drive in the Arizona Rookie League last night. Ryan Divish has an update on his status. Too soon for a “no face masks in the outfield” joke?
  • El Paso didn’t help the Rainiers cause last night. First-place Sacramento beat the Chihuahuas 6-1 in a cats vs dogs battle.
  • C.J. Cron returned to Salt Lake and had a couple of hits in the Bees 7-6 win over Reno.
  • Since getting sent to Triple-A, Carlos Triunfel keeps getting game-winning hits for the Albuquerque Isotopes. He had the go-ahead RBI double in a 5-4 win over Fresno last night. Fresno added Dan Uggla to the roster.
  • The Iowa Cubs moved Javier Baez to second base, and then lost to New Orleans 5-4.
  • Ryan Rua and Round Rock out-slugged Oklahoma City, 11-9. Austin Wates continued his hot hitting with a grand slam for the RedHawks.
  • Colorado Springs received a strong start from Chris Capuano and defeated Nashville, 5-2.
  • Omaha held off Memphis 4-1, pulling within a half-game of first place.
  • The home run race is featured in Baseball America’s minor league round-up.

That’s it for today – gotta buckle down for a long night of baseball tonight at Cheney Stadium.


Rainiers Settle For Split In Reno

July 21, 2014

Another season has gone by without a series victory in Reno for Tacoma.

After winning the first two games of the four-game set, Tacoma had a golden opportunity to take their first-ever road series in Reno.

But Reno salvaged a split, winning 7-1 on Saturday before taking a rain-shortened 7-4 decision on Sunday.

Sunday’s was a tough one for Tacoma: the Rainiers scored four runs in the top of the first inning, only to see Reno score seven unanswered runs over the first four innings.

The rain started coming down in the fifth inning and it did not let up. After the seventh inning, the umpires called for the tarp. An hour and 41 minutes later, they called the game.

So Tacoma splits in Reno, and finished the season-series against Reno with a 7-9 record.

The Rainiers remained 8.5 games behind first-place Sacramento, but were bounced back into the cellar by Fresno. The Grizzlies have won three straight and claimed third place, 7.5 games back. Second-place Reno is 4.5 games out.

Now Tacoma comes home for a 10-game, eight-day homestand. Las Vegas arrives for the first five games, and they are in first place in the Pacific-South with a comfortable nine-game lead over El Paso.

Monday’s game starts at 7:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP James Gillheeney (3-7, 5.66) against Las Vegas LHP Darin Gorski (2-3, 5.10).

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That’s it for today – we’re travelling home!


Aces Hold Off Rainiers

July 20, 2014

Tacoma is going for its first-ever series win in Reno, and we knew it wouldn’t be easy.

After taking the first two games of the series with a 28-hit attack, the Rainiers bats slowed down and Reno took game three on Saturday night, 7-1.

Jesus Montero doubled in a run in the first inning, continuing his hot hitting. But after the first, Tacoma had just five singles the remainder of the game.

Tacoma starter Jordan Pries – who has been excellent almost all season – had a rough start. He allowed seven runs in four innings, including a game-breaking three-run homer to Garrett Weber with two outs in the fourth inning.

The Rainiers can still win the series with a victory this evening.

Sunday’s game starts at 7:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Matt Palmer (1-7, 4.61) against Reno RHP Bo Schultz (7-6, 5.48).

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The Rainiers return home on Monday to start an eight-day, ten-game homestand. There will be doubleheaders on Tuesday and Saturday, and an important five-game series against Sacramento closes the homestand out.


Could This Be The One?

July 19, 2014

After Friday night’s 7-3 victory, Tacoma has won the first two games of the current four-game series at Aces Ballpark.

Since this stadium was built in 2009, Tacoma has never won a series in it. Tacoma has played 11 four-game series in this place, losing nine of them and splitting two.

Now Tacoma can get a series win with just one more victory here. They’ll get two attempts to do it.

The Rainiers are playing good, clean baseball right now while winning five of the last six games.

Yesterday Taijuan Walker allowed a bunch of base runners – 11 in five innings – but showed an ability to make clutch pitches when he needed them, getting three double play grounders to escape jams.

Jesus Montero continued his hot hitting, going 3-for-5 with another homer. He’s 6-for-10 with two homers and seven RBI in the first two games of this series.

Also of note, Chris Taylor went 4-for-5 with two doubles, snapping a little 0-for-10 slide. It was Taylor’s third 4-hit game of the season.

And let’s not forget Xavier Avery lined a two-run homer in the second inning. Avery has hit five home runs in his last 49 at-bats, after hitting just two over the first three months of the season.

Saturday’s game starts at 7:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jordan Pries (6-5, 3.46) against Reno RHP Mark Serrano (1-0, 4.91).

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Rainiers Topple Aces, 7-5

July 18, 2014

Jesus Montero had another big game, and the all-star break couldn’t stop Tacoma’s winning ways as the Rainiers returned to action with a 7-5 win at Reno on Thursday night.

Montero went 3-for-5 with a home run and five RBI. The designated hitter is now 24-for-52 (.467) with four homers and 21 RBI over his last 12 games.

The big reason that Montero is on a tear right now is that the Rainiers are facing a lot of left-handed pitching – and he is lighting these guys up.

Tacoma also had a strong start from Erasmo Ramirez, and solid relief work from Stephen Kohlscheen and Todd Coffey.

Blake Beavan made his first rehab appearance for Tacoma, and he looked… rusty. Beavan issued two walks in the eighth inning, including a leadoff walk which led to a run scoring.

It looks like Beavan will be used from the bullpen initially as he continues his rehab. He’s been on the Mariners disabled list with shoulder tendonitis since mid-April.

There were no additional roster moves yesterday. Tacoma is currently playing with 11 position players and 13 pitchers on the roster, and there is one open spot.

The team is now 47-50 on the year – once again three games under .500 – and has won four of its last five games. Tacoma is 21-11 over the last 32 games.

Friday’s game starts at 7:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Taijuan Walker (3-1, 3.79) against Reno RHP Charles Brewer (4-7, 6.12).

Links:

  • The game went long, so there are no quotes but there is a recap (and a good headline) in the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • Jeff Sullivan wrote an ode to Felix Hernandez‘s change-up.
  • For ESPN Insiders, the Mariners landed one player on Keith Law’s mid-season Top 50 Prospects list – and it’s not who you think it is.
  • Going into the second half, Lloyd McClendon gives a state of the Mariners address.
  • Mariners prospects appear in both good and bad ways on this week’s Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet.
  • In the PCL, Sacramento topped Albuquerque in 10 innings and 4 hours, 29 minutes by a score of 10-9. Shane Peterson hit three homers, Brock Peterson hit one, and Joc Pederson hit none. The game ended so late that I could only locate this report. The paper does have a story on baseball and chewing tobacco.
  • Fresno’s all-star contingent returned but the Grizzlies lost to El Paso, 7-6, despite Gary Brown‘s 4-for-5 showing.
  • J.B. Shuck helped Salt Lake to a 7-6 win over Las Vegas. Wade LeBlanc struck out 11.
  • Cubs top prospects Javier Baez and Kris Bryant both went deep in Iowa’s 7-0 win at Round Rock.
  • New Orleans and Omaha combined to hit eight home runs in the Zephyrs 14-4 win at Werner Park.
  • Colorado Springs and Memphis had their game postponed because a cancelled flight prevented the Sky Sox from getting to Memphis. They’ll play two on Saturday.
  • Nashville at Oklahoma City got rained out, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of healthy RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco. The RedHawks have a new pitching prospect in Tommy Shirley.

That’s it for today – let’s see if the Rainiers can make it two straight wins in Reno.


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