Friday’s Roster Moves

April 30, 2010

The Mariners made the following moves before Friday’s game:

When they activated Cliff Lee from the disabled list, they optioned relief pitcher Shawn Kelley to Tacoma. Kelley, who had 72 hours to report to Tacoma, showed up at Cheney Stadium 45 minutes later. He’s available in the Rainiers bullpen tonight.

Also, infielder Jack Hannahan was activated from the Mariners disabled list, and then optioned to Tacoma. Hannahan was already rehabbing with the Rainiers, but now he counts against Tacoma’s 24-man roster.

These two moves leave Tacoma with 25 players, so there is going to be another move before the game – probably just a paper transaction to get the roster down to 24, such as temporarily “transferring” yesterday’s starting pitcher to Pulaski. They do this sometimes – but nobody actually has to go to Pulaski (thank goodness!).


A Long Night At The Old Ballyard

April 30, 2010

After three unexpected days off, the Rainiers returned to the field last night and beat the Reno Aces in the series opener, 8-6.

The game took 14 innings and lasted 4 hours and 10 minutes. I guess those three days off were needed, in order to build up the energy necessary for this one.

It was the Rainiers longest game since the 2003, when they lost a 7-5 decision to New Orleans in 15 innings. (Coincidentally, on that day it was Zephyrs catcher John Buck who doubled in the go-ahead run in the top of the 15th – and last night he hit three home runs for the Toronto Blue Jays).

The Rainiers had several heros last night, but it was Tommy Everidge who ended the game with a tape-measure home run to left field with one out in the bottom of the 14th to give Tacoma the win. It was Everidge’s first home run of the season, and his first truly big hit as a member of the Tacoma Rainiers.

Other positives from last night’s game: Brian Sweeney pitched 4.1 shutout innings, striking out 7, to earn the win; Eliezor Alfonzo had three hits including a pair of doubles; centerfielder Ezequiel Carrera made a diving catch to save a run, and starting pitcher David Pauley allowed only one run and three hits in six innings.

It’s great for Tacoma to win the first game of the year against Reno – last year Reno won 13 of the 16 meetings between the two teams.

On the radio broadcast, we had a technical problem that could only be described as humorous. South Sound Sports 850 AM regularly airs national programming late at night and in the mornings, and during these times a computer program operates the on-air broadcast. Little did we know that at exactly 11:00 pm, the computer is programmed to switch to national radio programming. So there we were, top of the 14th inning, the clock struck 11:00 – and the computer automatically switched to Recovery Coast To Coast Radio, over-riding our game broadcast. Seeing how we’re never on the air at 11:00 pm, this was a new problem. It took my man Gregory Burrell about two minutes to figure out how to turn off radio’s version of HAL 9000 and get us back on the air.

Game two of the series is tonight at 7:00, with the pre-game show staring at 6:45 on 850 AM and streaming at www.tacomarainiers.com. Tacoma will start LHP Garrett Olson (1-1, 3.14), while Reno is in a bind: scheduled starter Kevin Mulvey was called up to the Arizona Diamondbacks, so they are going to start RHP Josh Collmenter, who was promoted from Class-A Visalia to fill-in. Collmenter is 2-0, 2.40 with 21 strikeouts in 15 innings in the California League.

It’s Friday Night Fireworks Night at Cheney Stadium and there will be tickets available at the gate.

Now for some links:

  • The News Tribune’s game story made it into the paper despite the after-deadline finish – nice work, guys. And in his posting of the Mariners Minor League Report, Ryan Divish (deservedly) went out of his way to take a shot at the Rainiers in-game entertainment.
  • Tonight the Mariners are going to have to make a roster move to activate Cliff Lee. Lots of speculation from Larry LaRue. Here’s another idea: with two off-days in the next 11 days, the M’s could move one starter to long relief and option another to Tacoma, therefore temporarily not risking loss of a reliever who is out of options. The new long man makes one “spot” start before the May 10th off-day, and then you recall the optioned starter when you need him on May 15. It buys two more weeks before you have to make a decision on Colome or Teixeira.
  • Our state has a high school kid named Josh Sale who might be a top-15 pick in the first round of the June draft. I hear some scouts believe he is the best high school hitting prospect in the nation.
  • Rainiers pitcher Brian Sweeney and hitting coach Alonzo Powell had good experiences in the Japanese League. Las Vegas outfielder Chris Aguila did not.
  • As always, the big picture remains an issue in Vegas. And as always, Ed Graney is an entertaining read. He’s always willing to slip a dig at the Mob Lawyer-turned-Celebrity Mayor.
  • Disaster has hit the Sky Sox: they lost their top three starting pitchers all at once. Jhoulys Chacin and Esmil Rogers were called up by the Rockies, and even worse Samuel Deduno hit the disabled list with the dreaded “elbow soreness.” Triple-A baseball – survive it!
  • Portland and Salt Lake were rained out last night in Salt Lake City. The Bee’s haven’t played since Sunday.
  • The Hawaiian guy who’s name I can neither pronounce nor spell hit his sixth homer and drove in four runs in Omaha’s 11-7 rain-shortened win over Iowa last night. Iowa’s Bryan LaHair had two hits and is batting .328.
  • SF Giants uberprospect Madison Bumgarner tried to make the Fresno-to-Yosemite trip on Wednesday’s off-day. He didn’t make it. Fresno is hot – they’re 13-7 after last night’s win.
  • There was a rare pitcher’s duel in Albuquerque last night. Topes starter James McDonald pitched five no-hit innings in a 3-1 win over Round Rock.
  • I’ve told you twice Oklahoma City’s Derek Holland is a pitcher to watch. He dropped his ERA down to 0.53 last night. Brandon Boggs had four hits while the RedHawks made room for catcher Taylor Teagarden.
  • Popular ex-Rainiers and Mariners (among many other teams) pitcher R.A. Dickey allowed a leadoff single last night – and then he retired 27 straight batters as Buffalo beat Durham in the International League, 4-0. Knuckleballers represent!
  • Will Ferrell in the booth? It actually makes me jealous of fellow RG Mike Capps.
  •  Here is an awesome baseball t-shirt, I’d buy it if it wasn’t so ridiculously expensive (and so ridiculously red).

That’s all for today – see you at the park this weekend!


Enough Is Enough: Let’s Play Today

April 29, 2010

Three straight days off in April – it’s like an unplanned all-star break. The Rainiers got rained out on Monday and Tuesday, and then yesterday was a scheduled league-wide off-day.

If you are wondering why Salt Lake didn’t just stay in town an extra day and play the games on the off-day, well… the league just doesn’t do that. Teams fly commercial airlines, and months ago the Bees booked 30 seats to fly home on Wednesday morning. It is expensive and often impossible to change 30 airline tickets at the last minute, so the league just doesn’t do make-up dates like that.

The Rainiers will announce the dates and times of the make-up doubleheaders in the next week or so. Because it is a very rare situation – six games in four days, June 22-25 – the league and the major league affiliates have to approve the schedule. It takes a little extra time.

So today the Rainiers host Reno – the Arizona Diamondbacks Triple-A affiliate. Reno was Tacoma’s dreaded enemy last year – in their first year in the Pacific Coast League, the Aces went 13-3 against Tacoma. Aces Ballpark in Reno is a nice place to watch a game – unless you’re a Rainiers fan; Tacoma went 1-7 in that House Of Horrors last year.

Fortunately, the two Aces who really hurt the Rainiers last year are gone: Trent Oeltjen was a free agent who signed with Nashville, and Rusty Ryal made the Diamondbacks big-league roster.

Today the Rainiers will start RHP David Pauley (0-2, 4.00). Pauley has had each of his last three scheduled starts either rained or snowed out. There, hopefully I just jinxed his streak. Reno is going to start RHP Matt Torra (0-1, 2.84). 7:00 game, 850 AM, streaming on www.tacomarainiers.com.

The Aces top prospect is probably slugging first baseman/outfielder Brandon Allen. Allen was acquired from the White Sox in a trade last summer, and he hit well for Reno late last year before struggling in a September call-up to Arizona. Allen is back in Reno to start 2010, and he is hitting just .208 but with 3 home runs and 10 RBI. Allen has walked 13 times giving him a .341 on-base percentage. 

The Aces are 9-11 on the year, and they just split a four-game home series with Colorado Springs.

Now a few links – but not too many, the entire PCL was off yesterday:

  • Yesterday, the TNT printed Ryan Divish’s Rainiers Notebook. Today, Divish has some good links in his Minor League Report.
  • The big story on the farm right now is Class-AA OF/1B Carlos Peguero, who blasted three home runs yesterday and is now tied with Marlins uberprospect Mike Stanton for the minor league lead. Peguero – who belted his three bombs from the leadoff spot – is now batting .378-9-18 on the year. Kirby Arnold of the Everett Herald got some quotes about Peguero.
  • The Mariners finished the “no Cliff Lee” portion of their schedule with an 11-11 record – not too shabby. Geoff Baker blogged about how forutnate the Mariners are to have not signed Jarrod Washburn.
  • Bellarmine Prep grad Jon Lester had his first really good start of the year for the Red Sox.
  • San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy pulled Tim Lincecum early, the Giants bullpen (and outfield) blew the game, and an absolute firestorm has started in the Bay Area. Here, here, here, and more here.
  • The Cubs lost, and Lou got a little prickly.
  • Former Rainiers lefty Brad Thomas got his first major league victory at age 32.
  • Here’s a nice feature on Oklahoma City pitcher Derek Holland, who was once an unnoticed scrawny high school kid and now is a big-time prospect.
  • Salt Lake centerfielder Peter Bourjos is really fast. He’s also going to be really annoying to Rainiers and Mariners fans for the next six years or so.
  • Former Mariners prospect Chris Tillman tossed a no-hitter for Triple-A Norfolk last night. He was included with Adam Jones, George Sherrill, and Kam Mickolio in the headache-inspiring Eric Bedard trade. Tillman’s no-hitter came against the Gwinett Braves – who are managed by former Rainiers skipper Dave Brundage.
  • Politics and baseball have intertwined once again, and now the Arizona Diamondbacks are dealing with protesters on the road.

Now, please…. let’s actually play a game tonight!


Let’s Play Zero.

April 27, 2010

Tuesday’s doubleheader vs. Salt Lake was rained out. Now the Rainiers are going to play six games in four days when Salt Lake returns to Tacoma, June 22-25. The exact dates and times of the twinbills will be announced later.

Wednesday is an off day, and the Rainiers will host Reno on Thursday at 7:00. It will be a Miller Lite Tasty Thursday. You know what that means.


Let’s Play Two!

April 27, 2010

As a result of last night’s rainout, the Rainiers will host the Salt Lake Bees in a doubleheader tonight at 6:00. Each game will be seven innings, and there will be a break of approximately 25 minutes between games. One ticket will get you into both games.

Why seven innings? It is a Minor League Baseball rule that all doubleheader games are seven inninga. This is a direct result of the “player development” side of minor league baseball – the major league teams do not want to over-work their minor league pitching prospects, and risk injury. The shorter games mean less wear-and-tear on the young arms.

The Rainiers will be starting David Pauley and Garrett Olson tonight. I was unable to get the updated Salt Lake starters, but I assume that last night’s scheduled starter Daniel Davidson will pitch one of the games.

Both games can be heard on 850 AM, and streaming via www.tacomarainiers.com.

Yesterday the Rainiers placed outfielder Greg Halman on the 7-day disabled list with a strained oblique. He suffered the injury in the batting cage – it’s mild, the Rainiers training staff think they caught it early and he won’t be out for too long. Brad Nelson was activated from the disabled list.

Some links for you:

  • I’m not one to press the panic button this early, but when Felix Hernandez is losing to Kyle Davies and the Kansas City Royals, you might want to look into improving your offense. It’s unfair to ask the kid to pitch a shutout every time he takes the mound.
  • There is growing opinion that Ken Griffey Jr’s days as a productive hitter are over. Larry LaRue says bench him, and I agree. It’s time.
  • Jason Churchill speculates about upcoming M’s roster moves. I think he is on the right track.
  • In the PCL, it’s looking more like Buster Posey’s days in Fresno are numbered. The Giants are threatening to do the right thing.
  • Half of the league was rained out last night: there were postponements in Omaha, Iowa, Portland, and Tacoma.
  • It (almost) never rains in Vegas, and last night Sacramento took a 6-5 decision as Chris Carter and Jack Cust homered. The Review-Journal wrote about top prospect Michael Taylor.
  • They also played in Reno, where Sky Sox first baseman Brad Eldred hit a first-inning grand slam to lead the Springs to victory. There is speculation about massive roster changes with the Rockies and Sky Sox.
  • It’s always good to see a fellow RG get some publicity. Tim’s take on reaching the majors is pretty much exactly the same as mine.

OK, let’s hope the rain stays away and we can play tonight!


Monday’s Game Rained Out

April 26, 2010

There will be a doubleheader vs. Salt Lake on Tuesday at 6:00. Two 7-inning games.


Cliff Lee Was Awesome; Bullpen Not So Much

April 26, 2010

By now you probably know that Cliff Lee had an outstanding rehab outing yesterday, pitching six innings of three-hit ball – not allowing anything to be hit hard. He didn’t walk anybody and he’ll be starting for the Mariners on Friday against Texas.

The standing-room-only crowd of 7822 was there to see Lee, but they also saw the Rainiers offense held to just one run by Salt Lake starter Trevor Bell. Rainiers reliever Mike Koplove had a rough outing, the Bees scored four runs in the seventh and won the game, 4-1.

The focus was on Lee. Here are some Cliff’s Links:

  • The Seattle Times sent columnist Steve Kelly to Tacoma, and he filed this report which includes quotes from scouts. Geoff Baker added Kelly’s updates to his blog – I link to it because of the picture: that’s former Cheney Stadium groundskeeper Bob Christofferson in the background.
  • The Mariners official site has video.
  • The News Tribune’s game story includes a neat chart showing Cy Young Award winners who pitched for minor league teams in the state of Washington. Incidentally, we determined that Lee was first Cy Young Award winner to pitch at Cheney Stadium after winning the award since Fernando Valenzuela* came into town with Edmonton in 1991.
  • Ryan Divish added in a blog item that Lee won’t be hanging around Tacoma – he’s flying to Kansas City to join the team, even though he is pitching at home on Friday. 
  • marc w at USS Mariner is a talented photographer and he has a couple of shots of Lee on the blog. The first comment made me LOL.

And from the Pacific Coast League, we had some wild finishes last night:

  • It took a very RG-unfriendly 4 hours and 7 minutes, but it paid off in the end: Las Vegas infielder Jarrett Hoffpauir hit for the cycle, and slugger Brian Dopirak hit a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam. Vegas beat Sacramento, 14-11. There is a great shot of former Rainier Jeremy Reed at the top of this game story.
  • Colorado Springs and Reno played one of the wildest extra-inning games you can imagine yesterday. Tied 5-5 at Reno, the Sky Sox scored five runs in the top of the tenth inning, only to allow six in the bottom of the tenth. Reno won it on Jeff Bailey’s walk-off two-run bomb – the ball went through the windshield of a parked car and came to rest on the front seat. 
  • The Sky Sox lost Eric Young Jr to the Rockies, and they added Paul LoDuca to the roster. Yes, Paul LoDuca. And they got bad news from Class-AA, where a top prospect hit the disabled list.
  • Giants pitching prospect Madison Bumgarner tossed a gem and hit a homer as Fresno defeated Portland, 4-2.
  • The Iowa Cubs had a “miserable day.”
  • It doesn’t happen to me very often, but Oklahoma City ran a pitcher out there whom I have never heard of. He went eight shutout innings, allowing one hit, to beat Memphis, 8-0.

Tonight the Rainiers host Salt Lake for game three of the series. It’s at 7:00 and RHP David Pauley (0-2, 4.00) gets the nod for Tacoma, against Salt Lake LHP Daniel Davidson (2-0, 4.82). Here’s something you probably haven’t thought of that occurs to RG’s: the Salt Lake starter happens to have the exact same name as one of my closest friends, which makes broadcasting the game a very weird experience. I’ll be stumbling through the game on 850 AM, or streaming at www.tacomarainiers.com.

*long-time Tacoma Tigers/Rainiers employee Kevin Kalal was an intern in 1991. He said that he had never seen a human being drink a six-pack of Coors Light as fast as Fernando did after his start that day. And Kalal had just graduated from Washington State.


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