Saunders Goes Off, Vegas Gives Up Early

The Rainiers blasted Las Vegas on Saturday night, 12-1, and the 51s gave up in the fifth inning.

It was the earliest I have ever seen a team bring a position player in to pitch.

Trailing 9-1 after four innings, Las Vegas manager Marty Brown brought left fielder Jason Lane in to pitch, and he used non-pitchers for the remainder of the game.

Now, to be clear, Lane knows what he is doing on the mound. He pitched a lot at USC and was even the winning pitcher in the College World Series championship game for the Trojans. But that was back in 1998 – since then, Lane has had a major league career as a slugging outfielder, and he must be a baseball lifer (like many of us) because he keeps re-signing with Las Vegas even though he hasn’t played in the majors since 2007.

Lane fared pretty well, giving up three runs in three innings before turning it over to fellow outfielder Danny Perales for the eighth.

Las Vegas is short pitching right now – the Blue Jays traded three pitchers to St. Louis for Colby Rasmus, and as a result they have pitchers in transit throughout their farm system. And the game was pretty much decided, due to the pounding the Rainiers put on Las Vegas starter Scott Richmond.

Michael Saunders went 5-for-5 with two home runs for Tacoma. He homered to left in his first two at-bats, and singled in his next three (although his last two singles came off outfielders).

It was Saunders second career five-hit game – he did it June 6, 2007 when he played for High Desert in the California League. It was also the first five-hit game for a Tacoma player this year – the first since Tug Hullet did it late last season.

It was the fifth career two-homer game for Saunders – the last time he homered twice it was at Yankee Stadium on June 30th of last year.

Saunders stole the thunder from Wily Mo Pena, who homered in his first at-bat as a member of the Rainiers in the first inning. Pena’s high line drive seemed to leave the ballpark instantly – was it ever here in the first place?

Jose Yepez and Kyle Seager each had three hits for the Rainiers, who won for just their second time in the last eight games.

Today’s game in Tacoma is at 1:35, and you can hear it on 850 AM or streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP Luke French (7-7, 5.57) against Las Vegas RHP Robbie Ray (0-2, 10.29). The real question is, will Vegas shortstop Chris Woodward pitch?

Sunday links:

  • The News Tribune’s Ryan Divish showed up for the Rainiers game, and he filed this report.
  • In my Minor League Notebook for the TNT, I looked at Mariners relief prospects Cesar Jimenez and Stephen Pryor. Also, I recapped the Reno roster situation – they’ve had massive turnover, similar to what Tacoma went through at about the same time last season.
  • Yesterday’s links on the Fister/Pauley trade were rush-jobs – here is a very considered, informative look at the trade from Larry Stone.
  • For more Larry Stone, we have his Sunday MLB notebook, his power rankings (#27 is cruel), and a blog post on his final run-up to Sunday’s trade deadline.
  • Right here in Puget Sound, they found a jellyfish large enough to eat a 7-year-old kid. It didn’t, but… just check out the picture.
  • OK, that previous link had nothing to do with baseball, but it was too good to pass up. Did you see the size of that jellyfish? Imagine if you went for a swim, and that thing started sucking on your leg!
  • John McGrath went up to Safeco Field and watched Michael Pineda pitch, and he wrote about Pineda’s workload.
  • The Rainiers gained a game on first place Reno, since the Aces took a loss at Fresno. Tacoma is 10.5 games back going into Sunday. The Aces have scoured the independent leagues as they try to hang on to first.
  • The Arizona Diamondbacks were hoping that Wily Mo Pena would accept an assignment to Reno.
  • On the business side, the Sacramento franchise is transitioning from a major league sized front office to a family business.
  • Tucson held Salt Lake scoreless in every inning except the fifth – when Salt Lake scored 12 runs. The Bees sent 16 batters to the plate, the first nine reached, and each player in the lineup scored at least one run during the inning.
  • Next week the Rainiers are going to have to deal with top prospect Leonys Martin, the centerfielder for Round Rock. The Cuban does not talk about his defection.
  • New Orleans won in the tenth inning, and it looks like Albuquerque is going to be doing some PFP. (PFP = Pitcher’s Fielding Practice).
  • Omaha keeps on winning.

We can’t have a marathon today. We need to wrap things up in nine innings, because I’ve got to get up to Seattle to see these guys. As an aside, I’ve always thought that Josh Homme is a dead ringer for former Rainiers and Mariners pitcher J.J. Putz. The first time I ever saw QOTSA was back when Putz was on our team. I made my way up front and thought to myself, “What? J.J. never told me he had a band!” Separated at birth? You be the judge.

J.J. Putz

And his doppelgänger:

Josh Homme

They both have cool jobs. If given the choice, I’d take Homme’s job with Putz’s salary.

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One Response to Saunders Goes Off, Vegas Gives Up Early

  1. Beau says:

    How was the QotSA show Mike?

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