Home For A Big Series

May 31, 2011

That is, it’s a big series if a series can indeed be “big” in May.

Tacoma hosts the first-place Reno Aces in a four-game series beginning tonight at Cheney Stadium. Tacoma enters the series tied in third place, seven games behind Reno.

If the Rainiers can win this series – either 3-1 or a 4-0 sweep – the team will make up some solid ground in the standings. It’s early enough in the season where a split won’t really matter, and losing three of four wouldn’t be too big of a deal – but getting swept would be a serious problem.

Tacoma is playing well. The Rainiers won the last two games in Las Vegas to salvage a split of the series, and Tacoma has gone 11-7 over the last 18 games.

The split in Vegas was particularly nice – the Rainiers earned it on the road against the league’s hottest team. In fact, Tacoma’s two straight wins happened to be the first time Las Vegas has lost two straight games since April 29-30.

Reno is 6-9 over its last 15 games, and 5-5 over the last ten. The Aces have an excellent offensive team led by Cody Ransom, Cole Gillespie, Brandon Allen, and of course PCL home run leader Wily Mo Pena.

Keep an eye on Reno catcher Konrad Schmidt, who appears to be the second coming of Sal Fasano.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05 pm, and you can catch the broadcast on 850 AM or streaming online. Tacoma starts RHP Charlie Haeger (0-0, 2.25) against Reno RHP Kevin Mulvey (3-4, 7.24).

Links:

Off to Cheney Stadium for what should be a fun series!


Rainiers Win – Now Let’s Rest

May 29, 2011

Tacoma picked up a 10-6 win over Las Vegas on an extremely windy Sunday afternoon.

Luis Jimenez hit the go-ahead grand slam, and Greg Halman had three hits – including a home run on his first swing coming off the disabled list.

It was just the second time Las Vegas has lost in their last 13 games.

On Monday the two teams finish off the four-game series with a 12:05 game. Tacoma starts LHP Fabio Castro (3-2, 4.14) against Las Vegas LHP Brad Mills (4-3, 2.70). The broadcast can be heard on 850 AM and streaming online.

As you certainly are aware the president recently declared that Memorial Day is a blog holiday, so we will not have a fresh entry on Monday morning. I’ll be back with something on Tuesday when the Rainiers return home.


Good News, Bad News…

May 29, 2011

Tacoma Rainiers fans got some good news and some bad news on Saturday night.

The good news is that Greg Halman is back. The slugging outfielder will be activated for Sunday’s game against Las Vegas. Brandon Haveman will be taken off the roster to make space.

Halman hit 33 home runs for Tacoma and made his major league debut last year – but this year he was injured in the fourth game of the season, when he was hit on the wrist by a pitched ball and it resulted in a broken bone.

Halman has been rehabilitating the injury in Arizona at extended spring training. He faced live pitching down there and he is ready to go.

The bad news is that the Rainiers have certainly caught Las Vegas at the wrong time. The 51s are just crushing the ball right now, and they beat Tacoma on Saturday night, 14-8. That’s 25 runs and 35 hits for Vegas in the first two games of the series.

I’m ready to hand out a “Call Him Up Already!” to Las Vegas third baseman Brett Lawrie. He went 4-for-6 with two homers, a double, four runs scored, and four RBI yesterday. He has 14 homers and is batting .350. On top of that, the Toronto Blue Jays third base situation is hardly settled: they are running Edwin Encarnacion and John McDonald out there.

So do the right thing, Blue Jays, and call him up already!

Sunday’s game is at 12:05 and you can hear it on 850 AM or streaming online. Tacoma starts LHP Luke French (1-5, 5.63) against Las Vegas RHP Scott Richmond (3-2, 6.50).

Sunday Links:

  • Here is the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • The Las Vegas Review-Journal has a story on Dustin Ackley, who had three hits last night to raise his average to .290.
  • Check out those Mariners: over .500 and in second place!
  • Larry Stone wrote his Sunday baseball column on the upcoming draft, in which the Mariners choose #2 overall. Here is his MLB notebook, and his power rankings.
  • By popular demand: the Safeco Field Streaker. Please don’t take your antics south, crazy naked person.
  • Back home at Cheney Stadium, Bothel edged Jackson for the state 4A high school championship.
  • In the PCL, Reno and Sacramento were rained out – there was snow in Reno, which had its first-ever postponed game. This is Reno’s third year in the league.
  • The Reno newspaper has an article on collisions at home plate. Reno catcher Sal Fasano Konrad Schmidt says that it’s all just part of the game.
  • Aaron Cook had a successful rehabilitation start, and Jeff Salazar hit a walk-off home run for Colorado Springs on Saturday night.
  • Nashville’s Mat Gamel hit two homers and the Sounds picked up a win.
  • Memphis outfielder Andrew Brown hit a walk-off home run to beat Omaha with former MLB slugger Jack Clark in attendance.
  • Here’s a positive column on the new ballpark in Omaha.

Off to the ballpark for a day game.


Two-Out Terrors

May 28, 2011

When you’re hot, you’re hot.

The Las Vegas 51s are hot.

We knew this in advance – they had won nine of ten, and 19 of 23 going into Friday night’s series opener at Cashman Field.

Then, they went out and showed us how hot they are.

Tacoma had a 4-1 lead and Chris Seddon was showing his 2010 form going into the bottom of the fifth inning.

Vegas loaded the bases with nobody out, but Seddon got two pop-ups and was on the verge of escaping the jam. He ran a 2-2 count on Las Vegas cleanup hitter David Cooper, but then he hung a slider and Cooper ripped it into the alley for a three-run double.

Adam Loewen followed with a double to score Cooper and make it 5-4 Vegas.

Still, it was a tight, winnable game until Vegas went bonkers with two outs in the seventh inning against Dan Cortes. Seven straight batters reached with two outs – five with hits, and two on walks – and there were no cheapies. It was a six-run two-out rally and Vegas ended up winning, 11-4.

Ten of the Las Vegas runs scored on two-out hits. That’s some hot hitting, right there.

Have I used the word “hot” enough today? It’s not even that warm here – a pleasant 85 degrees.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05 pm and it will be broadcast live on 850 AM and streaming online. Tacoma starts RHP Chaz Roe (0-4, 6.17) against Las Vegas LHP Brett Cecil (5-1, 5.84).

Links:

  • Here is the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • The Las Vegas Review-Journal does feature-style coverage, and their game story focuses on David Cooper.
  • The Mariners beat the Yankees and reached .500. Woooooo!
  • At Cheney Stadium tonight at 7:00, Jackson plays Bothell in the state 4A high school championship game. Jackson alum Travis Snider is currently playing for Las Vegas. The 3A final is at 4:00 at Cheney, with Mount Si playing Shorewood.
  • It was Grand Salami Time in a big way in Reno yesterday: Anthony Recker hit a grand slam in the top of the ninth for Sacramento, to tie the game 5-5. So in the bottom of the ninth Cody Ransom hit a walk-off grand slam for a 9-5 Reno win.
  • Armando Galarraga – he of the near-perfect game – is pitching for Reno tonight.
  • Will Venable reported to Tucson and had a triple and two homers in an 11-1 blowout of Salt Lake on Friday night.
  • Colorado Springs picked up a 2-1 win over Fresno last night, and their calling it the Sky Sox best-played game of the season.
  • Sky Sox reliever Rex Brothers is ready for the call. He looks like he’s going to be a good one.
  • The Iowa Cubs all-time win leader was released, and a local Taco stand is going to take a big financial hit.
  • Popular ex-Rainiers hitter Mike Morse hit a walk-off home run for the Washington Nationals yesterday in a 2-1 win over the Padres. Great photo with this story of Morse preparing to get beaten by his teammates.

Today I spent an hour walking around Fremont Street, where the Punk Rock Bowling festival is starting later this evening. The black leather jacket crowd is out in force, and I saw several huge mohawks.

I was rather amused to learn that on the other end of Fremont Street is a 1980s pop concert series featuring acts like Men At Work, Berlin, Wang Chung, Loverboy, and Men Without Hats.

Didn’t these bands play the very type of music that punks were rebelling against?

I’ll tell you one thing: I just saw both crowds, and if 30 years of pent-up anger spills over into violence, the punks are the heavy favorites. I wonder if I can wager on this down in the book? I think the line would look something like this:

FREMONT STREET MELEE: Punks -220 Eighties Poppers +185


Vegas, Baby!

May 27, 2011

We’ve landed safely in Vegas and the city is hopping – the holiday weekend is here, and revellers are already streaming into town.

Sadly, we’re here for a work trip – but at least it will be a fun work trip, as both the Rainiers and Las Vegas are playing good baseball.

Tacoma has won 9 of the last 14 games, after splitting last night’s doubleheader with Nashville. The Rainiers had a season-best four-game winning streak end with the 3-2 loss in game two, but still Tacoma won the series with Nashville, three games to one.

It was Tacoma’s second series win of the year – the Rainiers took three of four from Tucson at home earlier. 

I talked a lot about this on the air last night, but Vegas is as hot as a baseball team can be right now. The 51s have won nine out of the last ten, and they have gone 19-4 over their last 23 games. Still, they trail Sacramento by two games in their division.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05. Tacoma starts LHP Chris Seddon (1-2, 5.70) against Las Vegas RHP Michael McDonald (2-1, 5.94). The game will be broadcast live on 850 AM and streaming online.

Links:

The annual Punk Rock Bowling festival starts tomorrow and it is just two or three blocks from our hotel. I hope this place is teeming with aggressively mohawked punkers all weekend – the juxtaposition between that, the baseball group, and the holiday weekend revellers should be truly entertaining.


Let’s Play Two

May 26, 2011

Tonight we have the doubleheader with Nashville at 6:05 pm at Cheney Stadium, to make up for Wednesday night’s rainout.

It will be two 7-inning games, in accordance with minor league baseball rules.

Yesterday the Mariners Double-A affiliate in Jackson, Tennessee thought it was playing two 7-inning games against Mobile – but the second game of the doubleheader went 18 innings!

It was an amazing game: It was only 1-1 after seven. Jackson took the lead with single runs in the top of the 12th, 13th, and 14th innings, only to have Mobile score the tying run off former Rainiers reliever Edward Paredes in each of the three innings.

By the time the game ended, both teams were out of pitchers. Each team had its second baseman on the mound, and Mobile had a relief pitcher who had pitched in the first game playing right field.

After 17 innings of errorless baseball, a miscue by Jackson shortstop Carlos Triunfel led to the winning run scoring and Mobile won, 5-4. Jackson second baseman/pitcher Scott Savastano got hung with the loss.

Hopefully we’ll have two regulation 7-inning games tonight – I’m not ready to call 25 innings like Jackson announcer Chris Harris did.

The first game will pit Tacoma RHP Blake Beavan (1-1, 5.76) against Nashville RHP Amaury Rivas (3-3, 3.73). In game two, it will be Tacoma RHP Charlie Haeger (0-0, 0.00) against Nashville LHP Sam Narron (2-1, 3.30).

Haeger has to come off the disabled list so a roster move will be made prior to the game. The knuckleballer has been on the DL all season with back problems.

Both games will be broadcast live on 850 AM and streaming online.

Links:

  • Here is the only story I could find on the 18-inning game last night with Jackson.
  • The Mariners have gone 7-1 in the last eight games, including an outstanding 5-1 road trip, but now the competition heats up: the New York Yankees come to Safeco this weekend. Michael Pineda against the Yankees on Friday night has a chance to be a special game. Apparently there are tons of tickets available for the whole weekend series.
  • The players and I agree: morning games suck.
  • Here is the latest Rainiers Minute from the Weekly Volcano.
  • Former Rainiers shortstop-for-a-day Wilson Valdez was the winning pitcher in the Phillies 19-inning win over Cincinnati last night. This was fun to watch on TV. With crazy MLB games like this one, it’s always a good idea to let Jayson Stark handle the recap.
  • Larry Stone tracked some recent ex-Mariners and ex-Rainiers. His minor league report from two days ago has a good quote from Farm Director Pedro Grifol about Alex Liddi. Cliff’s Notes: he’s staying in Tacoma for a while.
  • Here’s the latest on the Bob Geren communication fiasco in Oakland. He’s trying!
  • In the PCL, first-place Reno polished off Round Rock, 7-2, as shortstop Cody Ransom hit his 12th home run.
  • Ex-Rainier Bryan LaHair homered into a stiff wind and Iowa ended Las Vegas’s eight-game win streak.
  • Salt Lake shut out Memphis as Matt Palmer struck out 11 while tossing a gem.
  • Fresno infielder Ryan Rohlinger has been riding the shuttle. His Grizzlies got shut down by Oklahoma City’s Jordan Lyles. In the story: Fresno had some roster shuffling, which included the release of PCL veteran Terry Evans.
  • Here’s a feature on Colorado Springs third baseman Josh Fields, who was once the starting quarterback at Oklahoma State.
  • So before the season, the Texas Rangers needed to hire a TV play-by-play announcer. They stunned the industry by hiring a man with no play-by-play experience. He didn’t last two months – they’ve fired him. Seriously, what did they expect? It takes years of experience just to not be horrible in this line of work.
  • That’s one heckuva halibut.

Quiz time! What is the meaning of these numbers: 88, 87, 77, 84? Answer after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »


Wednesday’s Game Rained Out

May 25, 2011

An early decision here in Tacoma, and we have our first rainout of the season.

The game will be made up with a doubleheader on Thursday, starting at 6:05. It will be two 7-inning games.

Also, it’s a Tasty Thursday, which means $2 Miller beers and $1 hot dogs, ice cream, coffee, and soda. And those deals will last longer since it’s a doubleheader – this is a good opportunity for a night of inexpensive entertainment.

We have to hope for better weather tomorrow – it will be the last time Tacoma and Nashville play all season, so no make-up date is possible. We’ll need to get the games in.

For those of you with tickets for Wednesday, you can trade them for tickets to a different game. You don’t have to do it right away – swing by the box office during normal business hours and they’ll help you out.


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