The Rainiers completed the four-game series in Reno on Tuesday night, dropping the final game, 7-6.
It was the toughest loss for the team in a while. Tacoma built a 6-0 lead in the second inning, getting home runs from Justin Smoak and Rob Johnson. But the Rainiers only put one baserunner in scoring position the rest of the game – and meanwhile, Reno kept chipping away at the lead.
Brandon Allen eventually put Reno ahead with a three-run homer in the fifth inning off Tacoma starter Blake Beavan, and the Aces bullpen made the one-run lead stand up.
Tacoma has lost 14 of its last 15 road games – but now the team comes home to Cheney Stadium for a nine-game homestand. It’s the final homestand in “original” Cheney Stadium as the renovation project begins next Friday.
Tacoma still leads the division by 2.5 games over Salt Lake. Given the Rainiers recent struggles on the road, it would probably be a wise idea for the team to clinch the division title at the end of the homestand, rather than be forced to do it on the road in the final four-game series at Fresno.
Tonight’s homestand opener is at 7:05, and it will be televised on Comcast SportsNet and simulcast on 850 AM and www.tacomarainiers.com. Bucky Jacobsen will be joining me in the booth. Tacoma is slated to start LHP Mauricio Robles (1-0, 5.40) while Portland will pitch LHP Cory Luebke (4-0, 3.44). Both are highly regarded pitching prospects in their own organizations.
A few links for you:
- I wrote the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune, which has more detail on the Aces comeback.
- Make sure you vote for Michael Pineda for USA Today Minor League Player of the Year. Pineda starts Thursday, and will start one more game after that before being shut down for the season (protecting his young arm for next year).
- The Mariners were rained out in Boston; they play a day-night split doubleheader today. So Daren Brown will finally experience something in the majors that is worse than Triple-A – day-night doubleheaders are a nightmare.
- Here is Larry Larue’s Mariners notebook from Boston.
- Jason Churchill wrote a scouting-centric piece on Mariners shortstop prospect Nick Franklin.
- Portland just completed a four-game sweep on the road in Vegas. This is… troubling.
- Sounds like Salt Lake is dealing with some frustration. The Bees go to Colorado Springs for a five-game series starting tonight.
- Sky Sox outfielder Matt Miller is about to break a 19-year-old singles record.
- Looks like everything – PDC, manager, coaches – will be the same in Reno next year.
- The Central Valley Showdown starts tonight – Fresno, with a two-game lead, travels to perennial champion Sacramento for a five-game series. Fresno is starting Eric Hacker tonight – the first 16-game winner in the PCL since Donne Wall in 1995.
- Las Vegas is a struggling Triple-A market because of stadium issues, but they still have good fans.
- Iowa manager Ryne Sandberg worked on getting ejected last night (with photo).
- Here’s a piece on former Rainiers infielder Kevin Howard, who is struggling with Memphis this season.
Off to the ballpark! We’re getting down to the nitty-gritty.