In the ninth inning of a tie game Wednesday night at PGE Park, Portland Beavers manager Terry Kennedy decided to intentionally walk Matt Mangini, loading the bases and with one out for Ezequiel Carrera.
Now, Kennedy wasn’t loading them up to set up a double play situation. Carrera is fast; he’s going to be very difficult to double up. Kennedy was banking on Carrera not hitting a fly ball deep enough to score the run. Carrera lacks power, and if he’s trying to drive a fly ball he very well might pop it up, or fly out too shallow to score the run.
What happened was perfect for the Rainiers: Carrera took a full swing, but ended up hitting a dribbling grounder up the first base line. The ball stayed fair, and it died in the synthetic turf about 40 feet from home plate. This put Carrera’s talents into play: he easily beat it out for an infield single, the go-ahead run scored, and the Rainiers ended up taking the ballgame, 4-2.
Tacoma (11-13) has won two of three so far in Portland, and the Rainiers can win the series with a victory tonight in the final game. Tacoma starts LHP Luke French (3-0, 1.41) against Portland LHP Cesar Ramos (0-1, 5.00). We’ll have it live on 850 AM, and streaming at www.tacomarainiers.com.
Tacoma has a few hitters who are warming up. Mangini, after sitting out for nearly a week while Jack Hannahan has been playing third base, homered in his second at-bat and also had a hard-hit out. Michael Saunders had another hit and two walks; he has reached base in 10 of his 16 plate appearances in this series. And Matt Tuiasosopo has been a big lift, collecting four hits while drawing five walks in the last three days.
On the injury front, manager Daren Brown said that both pitcher Yusmeiro Petit (shoulder) and outfielder Greg Halman (oblique) are going to have big days in their recovery plan on Friday. Petit will throw a simulated game of two or three innings, and if it goes smoothly he’ll be ready to be activated. Halman has been running and throwing; on Friday he will hit off a tee and if he feels no tightness he will be close to returning.
- The Tacoma-Portland game story from The News Tribune. Portland has lost eight of its last 10 games.
- Karen Westeen did a Q&A with Rainiers pitching coach Jaime Navarro.
- Bryan LaHair hit a tape-measure grand slam and had six RBI to lead Iowa to a 9-5 win at New Orleans. Check out this video of the Times-Picayune reporter describing the action – is this really an advancement in technology?
- Colorado Springs is in a roster crunch – they started Paul LoDuca at second base! Still, Matt Miller hit them to victory.
- The Oakland A’s called up Henry Rodriguez and his 103-mph fastball from Sacramento.
- Oklahoma City’s Michael Kirkman has pitched 22.2 consecutive scoreless innings. Omaha’s Alex Gordon homered after Kirkman was pulled.
- Round Rock left 14 runners on base, yet still beat Nashville, 2-1.
- This is a very sad story about Memphis pitcher P.J. Walters, who really had a tough off-season. Hopefully he’ll be able to have some success on the mound this year.
- Minor League Baseball had a good first month.
- Here is a proper summary of the playing conditions in Nashville and Memphis. The Rainiers do that road swing starting on Tuesday.
- Former PCL RG’s Dave Raymond and Brett Dolan look back fondly on their times in the low minor leagues. They are now part of the Houston Astros broadcast team. I was lucky – I never had it as bad as either of these guys.
- Recently released Eric Byrnes is playing slow-pitch softball for a team sponsored by a burgers-and-beer joint in my hometown of Menlo Park, CA. It’s not even the best dive in town - he should be playing for The O.
- Hall of Famer Robin Roberts passed away at age 83; he was my father’s favorite player. Joe Posananski wrote this excellent obit.
The sun is out in Portland right now. Rumors are that it will be a bit warmer tonight – thank goodness! The Rainiers come home on Friday to host Dan Rohn’s Las Vegas 51s – a team that hits a lot of homers.