When I first started working for the Rainiers in 1999, I absolutely loathed the Fresno trip.
It was always 100 degrees and smoggy. The ballpark was worse than a Class-A stadium, with no broadcast booth and no air conditioning anywhere. The hotel was 20 minutes away, in a completely decrepit downtown area. The whole thing made me miserable – not to mention sweaty, stinky & gross.
Several years later, I came to appreciate the Fresno trip.
First of all, after years of starts and stops, they finally opened their new downtown ballpark - and it’s a great facility, one of the top six or seven in the league. The hotel is strong, and you can walk to the park. We’re still in downtown Fresno, and it’s still kind of decrepit – but not as decrepit as it was 12 years ago.
It’s still a hundred degrees and smoggy every day, but I have learned how to counter that: by sleeping.
Here’s the point: there is nothing to do in Fresno, except go to the park and work. It’s too hot and smoggy to walk anywhere, and there really isn’t anywhere to walk to anyway. Like virtually everybody else, I have no friends or family members to visit with in Fresno. There is no nearby post-game bar scene to get caught up in. This is, in a word, a great trip for sleeping. It’s a fantastic place to rest up, regain some energy, and recharge for the final month of the season.
So that’s the focus. Rest up, finish some projects I have with me, call the games, write the blog, all from the air-conditioned bliss of my hotel room. I’m also going to undertake a thorough study to determine exactly what my sleep number is.
OK, back to baseball: the Rainiers came away with an unexpected win yesterday, overcoming a difficult obstacle to pull off a surprisingly easy 9-3 victory in the opening game of the four-game series.
It was an unexpected win because Rainiers ace Luke French was scratched an hour before the first pitch, forcing the Rainiers to use Yusmeiro Petit for a spot-start. Petit had pitched 1.2 innings the day before – he was working on zero days rest, as a starter. I expected him to last about two innings.
Petit ended up going five innings, as the Rainiers built an early 8-1 lead and coasted to the win. Mike Carp (17) and Matt Mangini (16) each extended their hitting streaks. Greg Halman homered and tripled; he had four RBI. The Rainiers have won six of the last seven games, and they still have a seven-game lead over second place Salt Lake.
Today is Michael Pineda Day. The big kid is 3-1 with a 3.71 ERA; he starts against Fresno LHP Matt Yourkin (6-4, 3.74). Game time is 7:05 pm, and the broadcast will be on South Sound Sports 850 AM, and streaming via www.tacomarainiers.com.
French did get called up to Seattle – the M’s put Ryan Rowland-Smith on the disabled list with ERA back problems. I’m guessing we’ll see RRS for some rehab outings in Tacoma and then he’ll get activated on Sept 1.
Now for the links:
- Here’s my Rainiers game story for The News Tribune. Obviously, I focus on Yusmeiro Petit’s outing. Manager Daren Brown said he was “tickled to death” by it. Good thing Griffey retired, or we might have a death by tickling! Here are the game notes from the Fresno perspective.
- Geoff Baker compared Rowland-Smith’s game last night to some of the most lopsided sporting events in history. I’ll admit it – it made me laugh. In this Long Geoff Baker Post, he compared the Mariners offense to some of the worst in baseball history.
- Looks like Shawn Kelley is very close to returning to the Mariners bullpen.
- My pal Rob Neyer says move Ryan Rowland-Smith to the bullpen, where he has had better success. Dave Cameron agrees.
- Ex-Rainiers pitcher Gil Meche is going under the knife. This is his second shoulder surgery; I wish him the best. That’s going to be tough to come back from.
- Everybody is talking about the Portland Beavers move to San Diego North County except for the Portland Beavers.
- Phillies prospect Trevor May – out of Kelso High School – struck out 14 batters last night. He’s highly regarded by scouts. Also in that link – M’s class-A second baseman Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to 32 games.
- The City of Peoria (Arizona) is looking at upgrading the Mariners and Padres spring training home.
- On the field in the PCL, Salt Lake won again last night – but you sense some frustration that they have won 8 of 10, yet are still seven games back. Slugger Paul McAnulty was surprised by his recent stint in the major leagues.
- Sacramento took a one-game lead over Fresno in the South, thanks to a great pitching performance from Boof Bonser.* The RiverCats appear to have home field advantage in the playoff race.
- Reno slugger Brandon Allen is on a Crazy Man-Tear for the Aces.
- New Orleans lefty Sean West tossed a complete-game, five-hit shutout in a 1-0 win over Memphis last night.
- Oklahoma City picked up a win last night, and today they have Derek Holland on rehab.
You know what will break up my busy sleep schedule in Fresno tomorrow? A lunchtime visit here. Now that is worth crawling out of bed for.
* “Boof Bonser” is almost as fun to type as it is to say!