Sometimes A 40-Foot Single Works

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.

Today’s links:

  • 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.

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One Response to Sometimes A 40-Foot Single Works

  1. ivan says:

    Mike, thanks so much for the link to Posnanski’s tribute to Robin Roberts. Here’s what I posted on his blog:

    Thanks, Joe:

    I cried a little inside when I heard that Robin Roberts had died, and I am very grateful to you for this tribute.

    I grew up in Philly in the 1950s and saw Roberts pitch in person at Shibe Park, later Connie Mack Stadium, many, many times. I’ll bet I saw Roberts vs. Don Newcombe at least half a dozen times.

    Roberts was a straight-over-the-top, drop-and-drive right-hander, much like Ferguson Jenkins, Tom Seaver, and Nolan Ryan after him. His fastball came mostly from his legs.

    He never nibbled and never gave in to the hitters. He was like “Here it is, hit it if you can.” If he was in a jam, he reached back and put a little more on the ball.

    Sometimes he did it for an entire game. In one game against the Reds, the light-hitting Bobby Adams led off the game with a home run. Roberts reached back for that little extra for the next 27 batters and retired them all in a row. Think of that — a leadoff homer, followed by the equivalent of a “perfect game.”

    He wasn’t a thrower. He was a pitcher. He had a terrific “12-6″ curve and an exceptional straight change.

    Those pitches stood him in good stead when he lost his fastball in the late 1950s and early 1960s, most likely from overwork. He continued to try to fog the high hard one past the hitters for a couple years, but they were all sitting on it, and by that time could time it and hit it deep.

    When the Orioles gave him what appeared to be his last chance, Roberts had wised up and begun challenging hitters with his curve and changeup, and wasting the fastball. He had never lost his control. It kept him in the bigs for several years past his pull date.

    He was a gentleman and a clean liver, and never, ever sanctimonious about it. He was a wonderful baseball hero for a kid to have, and I’m proud to say that along with Stan Musial and Jackie Robinson, he was one of mine.

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