Grizzlies Muscle Up

July 2, 2011

We mentioned on this blog the other day that Fresno has a formidable lineup right now, and that they’ve been losing because of bullpen implosions.

Well, yesterday their lineup hit four homers and they scored 10 runs – and every time their bullpen was on the verge of an implosion, someone made a big pitch in a key situation to get a huge out.

Fresno ended a seven-game losing streak by beating Tacoma, 10-7.

Brett Pill is really crushing it right now. The Fresno infielder went 3-for-4 with two homers yesterday, and check this out: in his last nine games, he’s 22-for-40 (.550) with 17 RBI. Twenty-two hits in nine games? Take a break, Pill!

It was an odd game from the Tacoma standpoint: starting pitcher Chris Seddon, who had delivered four straight quality starts of 7+ innings, gave up eight runs in the first three innings.

On top of that, it seemed like the Rainiers had a good game offensively. They scored seven runs and had 14 hits; we’ll take that every day. But Tacoma left 15 runners on base and stranded men in scoring position in each of the late innings when the club was just one key hit away from being back in the game.

Tip-of-the-hat to Fresno center fielder Tyler Graham, who made a terrific diving catch of a Sean Kazmar liner to end the eighth inning. He saved two runs with the play, it was a game-saver for Fresno.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and we take a one-day break from the postgame fireworks – but we do have a beer special at the ol’ ballyard, with $3 Miller Lite and Henry Weinhardts up on the Tasty Terrace. What goes with cheap beer? Knuckleballs, that’s what! Tacoma starts knuckleballing RHP Charlie Haeger (1-2, 8.83) against Fresno RHP Josh Banks (5-4, 6.32).

If you can’t make it out to the ballpark, you can follow the game on South Sound Sports 850 or streaming online right here.


  • As always, we lead off with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune, as written by promising TNT sports intern Chris Wells. In the story, we unfortunately learn that manager Daren Brown does not expect Kyle Seager to bat .500 the whole time he’s in Tacoma. I find this disappointing.
  • On the other side, here are your Fresno notes from the game.
  • The Mariners turned back the clock and shut out the Padres, 6-0 – here is the story from Mason Kelley.
  • Dustin Ackley missed yesterday’s game with bruised ribs, but he might play tonight.
  • In his notebook, Larry LaRue writes that either Luke French or Blake Beavan will start for the Mariners tomorrow. Both are properly rested for the start. Either way, the Rainiers will be OK – they added starter Anthony Vasquez from Double-A yesterday, and the team had an off-day on Wednesday.
  • The Florida Marlins have designated Jose Lopez for assignment. The ex-Rainiers infielder may be running out of chances.
  • The Mariners signed a big teenage prospect from the Dominican Republic today, and gave him first-round money. Larry Stone has a brief item on the Mariners recent activity in Latin America. If you want to follow the international signings, nobody covers it better than Ben Badler at Baseball America.
  • The change to the All-Star Home Run Derby is awesome – will Ichiro do it?
  • In the PCL, Reno just won’t lose. The first place Aces waxed Salt Lake 17-8 yesterday, and they have won nine of the last 11 games.
  • Jim Caple wrote a feature for ESPN on Reno’s Sean Burroughs.
  • Las Vegas has it’s best team in several years, but chasing down Sacramento is no easy task, writes Ed Graney. Travis Snider came off the DL and had three hits last night.
  • Tucson is helping the 51s quest – they beat Sacramento for their sixth straight win. Daric Barton is 0-for-16 with Sacramento since being sent down by Oakland.
  • The Rainiers visit Colorado Springs on Monday. The Sky Sox have lost four in a row, but we might be catching them at the wrong time: the Rockies just sent down Eric Young Jr. and Chris Nelson. There is some good info on the Sky Sox in this Denver Post notebook.
  • The Iowa-to-Chicago shuttle is highly active right now.
  • Mike Montgomery came back and tossed six shutout innings in an Omaha win last night.
  • Catcher Steven Hill launched a grand salami and Memphis picked up a win.
  • It looks like Albuquerque is going to get shortstop Dee Gordon back from the Dodgers.
  • Here’s a new promotion, from the rookie-level Lowell Spinners: The Human Home Run.

To the ballpark!

More Roster Moves

July 1, 2011

This just in:

Pitchers Anthony Vasquez and Josh Fields have been promoted from Class-AA Jackson. Vasquez is a left-handed starter, Fields a right-handed reliever.

Reliever Royce Ring has been released.

This puts the Rainiers at 23 players (11 hitters, 12 pitchers), still one short of the limit.

Big Guy Homers For Big Win

July 1, 2011

The Rainiers have played great baseball on the road lately – but can they do it at home?

It’s too early to give a definitive answer of “yes,” but things are heading in the right direction.

Luis Jimenez hit the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth inning for a game-winning home run on Thursday night, and the Rainiers opened the four-game holiday weekend homestand with a 6-5 win over the Fresno Grizzlies.

It was the third straight home win for Tacoma, which has now won six of the last seven games overall.

Nate Robertson had his best start of the year, lasting seven innings and allowing three runs (two earned). He needed just 90 pitches to get through seven. It was his sixth start of the year, so he’s done with the “spring training” period of his recovery from elbow surgery.

This was a very encouraging outing for Robertson – Fresno lost its seventh in a row, but it’s not the hitter’s fault: Fresno scored 41 runs in its previous four games, and their lineup is formidable right now.

Check out who is here for the holiday weekend: San Francisco Giants roving pitching instructor Lee Smith is at Cheney Stadium, working with the Grizzlies pitchers. I’m old enough to remember when Smith was the most fearsome closer in baseball. Check out his career stats – 478 saves, 3rd all-time.

It’s time to do a Call Him Up Already! for… would you believe… former Rainier Bryan LaHair.

The Iowa Cubs first baseman is just crushing the PCL this year, and you have to think he could help the woeful Chicago Cubs. LaHair is bating .367 with 22 home runs and 63 RBI for Iowa, and he’s playing in the American Conference, which is not as hitter-friendly as the Pacific Conference.

LaHair has a .435 on-base percentage and a .697 slugging percentage for a 1.132 OPS.

The Chicago Cubs are currently starting Carlos Pena at first base, and he’s hitting .222 – but his peripheral numbers are pretty good, and his OPS is .806. Could LaHair top that? Possibly.

Chicago could also play LaHair in left field, where they are currently starting… Reed Johnson? Blake DeWitt? Alfonso Soriano? I’m not sure, it seems like an injury-caused revolving door out there.

However they resolve the issue, LaHair is a man among boys in the PCL this year. The Cubs need to Call Him Up Already!

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and it’s Friday Night Fireworks – consider it the opening act for the big explosions coming after the game on Sunday. Tacoma is set to start LHP Chris Seddon (5-4, 4.89) against Fresno RHP Shane Loux (3-9, 4.03). Catch the broadcast on 850 AM or streaming online right here.

Tickets are available all weekend – in fact, there is a killer special on sale on the Party Deck for Saturday night only: a four person table on the deck, with an all-you-can-eat BBQ buffet for 90 minutes, plus all the drinks you can drink for the game. It’s $150 for four people with beer and wine, or $100 for four people with no alcohol – if you come to the park hungry (and thirsty), this is a bargain. Call 253-752-7707 to book this one-time offer.*


Off subject and extremely out-of-season, but I am a huge, huge Pac-10 Pac-12 basketball fan. This is the sport in which I have a team that I root for so strongly, that I’m pacing around the house yelling through my TV screen at some 18-year-old kid for missing a free throw. Pathetic, I know. That being said, moving the Pac-12 tournament out of LA is a great idea, and if it came to Seattle I would attend the entire event.

* As I’ve written before, I’m not using this space to push tickets very often – but that’s just a great deal right there. If I didn’t work here, I’d call up three beer-swilling buddies, we’d each plop down $40 for our table and use the change for a cab ride home, and we’d make sure that the Rainiers lost money on this deal…

** this story reminded me of the time several years ago – pre-renovation, of course – when an errant firework caused a small grass fire on the hill outside the third base side of Cheney Stadium, and a high-ranking Rainiers executive was jumping up and down yelling “Burn down the stadium! We have insurance!”


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