It’s the Rainiers last day in Sacramento, and Tacoma needs a win today to avoid being swept. This is a situation that I least expected – the team looked good coming into the series, and I expected the Rainiers to win three out of four down here. Instead, they’re relying on ace Luke French to end a four-game losing streak.
Michael Pineda was strong yesterday in his second Triple-A start. He mixed in more sliders and changes this time, and the slider was particularly effective. Many of his 11 strikeouts came on sliders. Both solo home runs he allowed came off of fastballs, as he is learning that you can’t just blow the heat past Triple-A hitters – Matt Carson and Steve Tolleson are good players in this league, and both of them have spent time in the majors this season; they can hit a fastball.
There was definitely some frustration in the clubhouse after the game surrounding the way Tacoma lost. The Rainiers took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the eighth, and Sacramento’s leadoff man reached first. The next hitter, Matt Watson, hit a would-be double play grounder to shortstop Chris Woodward. Woody fumbled the ball briefly, costing the double play, but he still recovered and flipped it to second for an apparent force-out. But the umpire called the runner safe, and there were no outs recorded on the play. Replay showed a very close play, but it looked to me like the runner was out.
The play led to a four-run inning for Sacramento, and a 7-5 River Cats win. Guys were shaking their heads as they left the clubhouse after the game, wondering what they have to do to win a game here.
They’ll try to take care of it this morning. First pitch is set for 11:35 AM, with LHP Luke French (8-2, 2.27) starting for Tacoma against Sacramento RHP Travis Banwart (1-0, 3.00).
We’ll have the broadcast for you, in some form that hopefully won’t result in dreadful sound quality, on 850 AM. Once again I will call the game with my longtime friend Johnny Doskow, who is the Sacramento RG. We’ll do one broadcast that will go to both cities. AT&T fixed the ISDN connection so we are back to a normal broadcast situation today. Pre-game starts at 11:25.
Now for a couple of links:
- The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. Here’s the summary from the Sacramento Bee.
- Larry Larue wrote a feature on Michael Saunders. Nit-picking time: there is no such thing as a Double-A Wisconsin team.
- Geoff Baker gets into the nuts and bolts of why the Mariners struggled this year, and how Russell Branyan is part of the fix.
- The Cliff Lee rumor mill is just beginning to warm up – here’s Larry Stone with the latest.
- Any time Tim Lincecum pitches and doesn’t dominate, people wonder what’s wrong.
- In the PCL, Salt Lake tied Tacoma in first place by defeating Reno, 5-3. Salt Lake has won four in a row – their longest streak of the season.
- Sky Sox starter Chaz Roe was beat up by Portland last night. Dexter Fowler got called up.
- Fresno is having bullpen problems, they took another beat-down from Las Vegas, and their lead over Sacramento – once 12.5 games – is down to seven.
- Gonzaga product Kevin Richardson hit a walk-off homer for Oklahoma City.
- Here’s another link only Dale Phelps will click on: another Omaha World-Herald feature on a rapidly rising Kansas City Royals relief prospect.
As some of you know, I cover local prep basketball for the TNT during the winter months. I’ve seen Davonte Lacy play a lot the last two years, and I think he is an excellent sign for Ken Bone and WSU.