The Rainiers are going through a period of change right now, and the team is sinking in the standings as it happens.
The starting rotation has had a 40% turnover. Recent additions Charlie Haeger and Nate Robertson have been added to the rotation, with Fabio Castro and Chaz Roe moved to the bullpen.
Robertson threw well last night in his first start of the year, allowing three runs in six innings but taking a 5-2 loss. Chaz Roe made his first career relief appearance and pitched a scoreless seventh, but he was touched for two runs after their were two outs in the eighth – and those were big runs.
It’s surprising to see Castro moved to the bullpen, because he has been the Rainiers best starting pitcher this year. On my pre-game show last night, manager Daren Brown said that Castro is being looked at as someone who could help the Mariners bullpen, so they want him pitching in relief in Tacoma. He also said that Castro will probably fill the Andy Baldwin role from the last three years, which means he will be the guy making any needed spot starts.
After the game, we had a move that stunned me: outfielder Greg Halman was called up to Seattle, as the Mariners optioned Michael Saunders to Tacoma.
I think we all knew Saunders was on his way down. He’s had such a rough start, batting .168 with a .223 OBP and 45 strikeouts in 137 at-bats. He held on to his job in Seattle for longer than expected because he was the only backup center fielder.
Halman, of course, can play a solid center and fill the back-up role. But I thought for sure the Mariners would want him playing every day in Triple-A rather than sitting on the bench in Seattle – especially since Halman has missed almost the entire season with an injury and hasn’t even played 10 games this year. When is he going to play in Seattle? Once a week, spelling Franklin Gutierrez?
I don’t get it. I figured they would call on Ryan Langerhans to back up Guti when they decided to send Saunders down. Langerhans can play center field and is more accustomed to a reserve role.
I was on KJR with Ian Furness yesterday afternoon, and he asked about Halman and I said, “He’s been injured all year, he needs at-bats and he’ll be here in Tacoma for a while.” Ten hours later, Halman is called up so he can sit on the bench.
Obviously, I’m missing something on this one, and I don’t know what it is.
Tonight’s game is at 7:05 pm and it’s a biggie – the Rainiers try to avoid being swept at home by the first-place Reno Aces. It’s a big “standings-swing” game: a win and the Rainiers are nine games back, a loss and they are a whopping 11 games back. We’ve reached a point in the season where being 11 games back in the standings starts to feel like a lot – it wouldn’t be an insurmountable deficit, but it certainly would make any discussion of repeating as PCL champions seem kind of silly until the team showed us the ability to reel off a bunch of wins in succession.
The Rainiers will start LHP Chris Seddon (1-3, 5.91) against Reno RHP Armando Galarraga (0-0, 1.80), and you can catch the broadcast live on South Sound Sports 85o AM and streaming online here. Also all Rainiers home games are available on the subscription-based MiLB TV package, which is pretty affordable if you like to watch games on your computer.
Oh yeah – it is indeed the Armando Galarraga of near-perfect game fame. Galarraga was with Detroit last year, and the event took place one year ago, yesterday. Here is the run-down.
- The Rainiers game story from last night’s 5-2 loss, as written by Larry LaRue of The News Tribune. There is a Daren Brown quote that makes him sound like a spokesman for the N.R.A. – the National Runs Association.
- The Mariners went home run crazy. I’m counting, so you don’t have to: the Mariners have won 12 of their last 15 games.
- It’s that time of the year: vote for your Pacific Coast League all-star team. The online ballot is 1/3 of the total vote – and you can vote up to 25 times. Vote early, vote often!
- If only Tacoma manager Daren Brown would have the same travel day dress code as Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon.
- Apparently Dustin Ackley just missed making this week’s edition of the Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet.
- In the PCL, top prospect Brett Lawrie of Las Vegas had a big scare on Tuesday – but he checked out just fine.
- Sacramento beat Salt Lake on a two-out, three-run homer by Shane Peterson in the eighth inning.
- Colorado Springs is hot – the Sky Sox have won six of the last seven games, all against Fresno due to nonsensical PCL scheduling. Charlie Blackmon has a 20-game hitting streak.
- The Kung-Fu Panda will be rehabilitating in Fresno – and playing in his first Triple-A games. The season has not gone as expected for the Grizzlies, and it’s driving manager Steve Decker crazy – he’s never had a losing season in his managerial career. If you’re reading, Deck, don’t fret: losing builds character.
- There were ridiculous games in the American Conference yesterday: New Orleans hung a franchise-record 22 runs on Omaha, with top prospect Matt Dominguez going 4-for-4 with two homers and six RBI.
- What was going on at Greer Stadium? Usually a pitcher’s park, Nashville’s home stadium hosted a 15-11 Sounds win over Iowa last night. The Sounds had 22 hits – the most by a team at Greer since the Sounds joined the PCL in 1998.
- Oklahoma City walloped Round Rock yesterday, 11-1, as J.B. Shuck had a big game.
- Albuquerque turned a crucial 3-2-3 double play to escape with a 5-4 win at Memphis.
- The Cal baseball team went from the brink of extinction to the NCAA tournament.
Big one tonight and a large crowd is expected at Cheney – it looks really nice outside, too. After tonight’s game Tacoma goes on a 13-day, 12-game road trip to Tucson, Sacramento, and Fresno.