Monday Update

April 30, 2012

Checking in from the lovely C Terminal of McCarran Airport in Las Vegas on the Rainiers travel day.

The team lost on Sunday afternoon to the Las Vegas 51s, 5-2. Las Vegas starter Scott Richmond pitched the best game he has ever thrown against Tacoma, carrying a one-hitter into the seventh inning. He was able to throw his breaking ball for strikes, and then get Rainiers hitters to chase it when he buried it in the dirt. He was sharp yesterday; didn’t look anything like the guy the Rainiers have knocked around in the past.

Tacoma scored its runs when Chih-Hsien Chiang pulled a two-run homer down the right field line in the seventh inning for his first Triple-A home run. The Rainiers managed to bring the tying run to the plate in both the eighth and the ninth innings, but couldn’t rally.

Here is the link to the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.

Today is an off-day, and the team is travelling to Tucson for a three-game series that starts on Tuesday at 7:05. Early schedules showed the Rainiers playing today, but it turned out that Tucson’s stadium is being used for something else today, so we are going to play a doubleheader in Tucson on July 29.

I’ll be back with a full blog post with all of the links and a brief preview of the Tucson Padres on Tuesday afternoon. There will be lots of time for blogging in Tucson!


What Happens In Vegas, Stays In Vegas

April 29, 2012

You know the slogan.

And that’s why we can’t talk about last night’s game – it happened in Vegas, so it’s on the super down-low don’t even talk about it!

Well, that was my plan for this post, but that’s probably just not a good idea.

The Rainiers lost, 15-5, and it wasn’t as close as the final score indicates.

Las Vegas had 12 runs by the end of the third inning, and it was 15-2 in the sixth.

Mauricio Robles started and he struggled to throw strikes, and when he did they got hit hard. The latter part is the surprise – usually when he’s in the zone, he doesn’t get hit. Robles was “touched” for eight runs in two innings.

Brian Sweeney followed and he allowed his first runs of the season – six of them, to be exact, and it was all over.

Today is a new day, and we have a nice 12:05 first pitch for the series final at Cashman Field. The Rainiers can salvage a split of the series with a win. Tacoma starts RHP Forrest Snow (0-2, 7.23) against Vegas RHP Scott Richmond (1-2, 8.59). You can catch the broadcast on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here.

Links:

  • We lead off with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. Read it if you dare.
  • The Rainiers are offering $5 tickets through the end of May – check out the video for… information? Laughs?
  • Here is my Minor League Notebook on longtime Rainiers Brian Sweeney and Cesar Jimenez, plus notes.
  • The Mariners four-game winning streak came to an end yesterday in Toronto.
  • John McGrath has a great column about fickle fans. Cliff’s Notes: it’s a long season, you guys.
  • Brendan Ryan is struggling at the plate.
  • Larry LaRue has two amusing anecdotes in the Mariners notebook.
  • Larry Stone’s Sunday Stuff includes a feature on Harvey Haddix, a notebook that includes stuff about a local kid, and power rankings.
  • The always interesting “21 Greatest Days” blog focused on friend-of-this-blog Pat Rice today. Rice is a former Mariner and Mariners minor league pitching coach who is now coaching for Fresno.
  • In the PCL, the Las Vegas paper has a story on 51s starting pitcher Jesse Chavez and his amazing April.
  • Reno outfielder Adam Eaton is playing well (good story here about misidentification and a bank error), and the Aces won their third in a row at Salt Lake.
  • The Bees are going to have to adjust to life without Mike Trout.
  • Starting pitcher Andrew Kown was dealing and Fresno dropped the Sky Sox, 3-1. The Grizzlies have won 7 of 9 despite a series of transactions involving the pitching staff.
  • Tucson defeated Sacramento as Vince Belnome had a good day at the plate.
  • Omaha blew out Memphis, 12-4, as leadoff man Derrick Robinson homered twice.
  • Albuquerque nipped New Orleans in the 12th inning, 4-3.
  • The transaction carousel goes round and round, and the Iowa Cubs lost again. This time, catcher Wellington Castillo got the call.
  • Look, it’s Haley’s Comet! The Nashville Sounds won! That ends their 10-game losing streak.

Despite the ugly results the last two days, the Rainiers can get a split down here with a win. Let’s get it done!


Broke In Vegas

April 28, 2012

It was the baseball equivalent of walking up to a roulette table, putting all of your money on black, and the ball stops on red.

The Rainiers were shut out in Las Vegas last night, 5-0.

Jesse Chavez did a number on the Rainiers, getting ground balls early and often will working seven scoreless innings. He did not allow a hit until Luis Rodriguez singled down the right field line with one out in the sixth.

After the game, we talked about great pitching performances at Cashman Field. They are rare – this place is a launching pad.

In 2006 when he was a starting pitcher, Cesar Jimenez carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning at Cashman. A left-handed batter sliced a line drive into the left field corner, and it barely stayed fair for a leadoff double. Jimenez finished with a 1-hit shutout.

The Rainiers were no-hit at Cashman Field in 2002 by a soft-tossing left-hander named Lindsey Gulin. That still boggles the mind – Russ Langer, the voice of the 51s, describes that no-hitter as “the PCL equivalent of Hideo Nomo‘s no-hitter at Coors Field before they put in the humidor.”

Tacoma finished with three hits on Friday night – all singles, and two were of the infield variety. The Rainiers drew one walk and had only one runner reach second base. The club has been shut out three times this season.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05 and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP Mauricio Robles (0-2, 6.88) against Vegas RHP Joel Carreno (1-2, 7.07).

Links:

  • Leading off is the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • The Las Vegas paper has a story on Mike Carp.
  • The Mariners are scorching hot right now, and Michael Saunders had his best game as a Major Leaguer.
  • Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez now has a heel problem which is slowing down his return.
  • Larry Stone is in Jackson, Tennessee and last night he saw Taijuan Walker pitch – he blogged about it.
  • The two top prospects in the minors were called up today: Bryce Harper from AAA-Syracuse to the Washington Nationals, and Mike Trout from Salt Lake to the Angels.
  • Not only did Salt Lake lose their star, they blew a 6-0 lead and lost to Reno yesterday, 12-7.
  • Colorado Springs shut out Fresno at Chukchansi.
  • The Nashville Sounds found a way to slow down their 10-game losing streak: rain. They’ll lose play today. 
  • Alex Sanabia is dealing for New Orleans. He’s 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA.
  • A rehabilitating Allen Craig (Cal Bear alert!) drove in two runs for Memphis last night.
  • In Oklahoma City a couple of brothers squared off for the first time in 12 years. It sounds like a fun sibling rivalry – talking trash about a strikeout in a high school scrimmage for 12 years?

Tonight is a mellow night in Vegas – night game, with a quick turnaround for the noon start on Sunday.


My Name Is Leury

April 27, 2012

The Mariners can have Larry Bernandez – the Rainiers have Leury Bonilla!

Pressed into starting duty due to an allergy attack that struck starting second baseman Luis Rodriguez, Leury (pronounced “Larry”) Bonilla had a big game at the plate and led Tacoma to a 6-4 win over Las Vegas on Thursday night in the opening game of an 11-game road trip.

Bonilla delivered a two-out, two-run single to cap a five-run first inning rally against former Mariners pitcher Aaron Laffey. Leury struck again in the fifth inning, crushing a two-out RBI triple to deep right-center, ending Laffey’s night.

Tacoma starter Jarrett Grube was knocked out in the fifth inning, extending the Rainiers string to six straight games in which the starting pitcher didn’t make it through five inning. However, the bullpen was lights out.

Sean Henn – facing his former team – tossed 2.1 scorless innings, including a nice bit of work escaping a jam he inherited in the fifth from Grube.

Shawn Kelly was next, pitching 2.1 scoreless innings for the save on his 28th birthday. Kelley had a 5-pitch inning in the eighth, enabling him to go back out there for the ninth to finish off the game.

Las Vegas outfielder Travis Snider – from Mill Creek, WA and Jackson High School – left the game after three innings. He attempted a diving catch in left field and landed on his glove hand, rolling over his right wrist. Hopefully it’s not a serious injury – it’s fine with us if he misses, say, three games.

Snider was 0-for-1 which ended his season-opening 18-game hitting streak. He’s batting .400 and leads the PCL with 23 RBI.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jeff Marquez (1-1, 7.11) against Las Vegas RHP Jessie Chavez (2-1, 3.32). Chavez has been the top starter for Las Vegas so far this year.

Links:

  • Here is the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. A local writer is covering the series, he did a nice job getting quotes from Daren Brown and Leury Bonilla on a tight deadline.*
  • Holy Smokes, the Mariners swept the Tigers! They had 37 hits in the three-game sweep, temporarily shutting up all of the complainers who were so noisy three days ago. Young teams are going to be inconsistent.
  • Mariners Double-A pitcher Danny Hultzen won the MLB.com minor league pitcher of the week award.
  • However, this week’s Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet is completely Mariners-free.
  • In the PCL, Reno beat Salt Lake in a rain-shortened game, 4-1. The Angels are going to push players up the ladder more quickly with a new regime in place.
  • Chad Beck is the Las Vegas closer and it’s a lonely job. He has one save opportunity – the team is 6-15, and most of the wins have been blowouts.
  • Graham Godfrey came down from Oakland and tossed a gem for Sacramento in a 5-1 win over Tucson.
  • Fresno remains a game ahead of Sacramento as Travis Blackey and the Grizzlies shut out Colorado Springs, 3-0. Blackley is 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA – one of several reasons why Fresno is 16-5 on the year. Lee Smith throwing batting practice? Yikes!
  • Fresno isn’t the only team that is 16-5. Omaha reached that mark yesterday in a 3-2 win at Memphis that featured two home runs by David Lough. One was inside-the-park.
  • New Orleans drubbed Albuquerque, 9-4. Drubbed is a good word, Times-Picayune guy.
  • C’mon, Nashville – don’t be afraid to win a game. That’s ten in a row.
  • Oklahoma City had a grand slam from Mike Hessman in a 11-5 win over Round Rock. It was Hessman’s 331st career minor league home run – he is the active leader.

Great start to the road trip – let’s see if this can develop into a winning streak.

* I don’t cover the games in Las Vegas because I have to tear down and pack up the broadcast equipment after every game here – it’s the only stadium in the PCL where you can’t lock your gear in the broadcast booth. Cashman Field doesn’t have broadcast booths, we sit outside on an elevated deck.


Vegas, Baby!

April 26, 2012

Slot machines are a janglin’ as the Rainiers have arrived in Las Vegas for the start of their 12-day, 11-game road trip – the longest road trip of the season.

It’s bookended by stops in the gambling meccas of Las Vegas and Reno, so this trip officially qualifies for “Road Trip To Bankruptcy” status. The Tucson leg in the middle should serve as a much-needed oasis of sleep and sublimity.

In Vegas we stay in the nicest hotel on the old strip downtown. This is close to the ballpark and also more affordable than the main strip.

Players treat the Vegas series as a business trip. The one great benefit is that it’s a 24-hour city, so the guys can always get something to eat after the game – this is not possible in many cities.

We do have the day game on Sunday, and the team is spending the night in Vegas and flying to Tucson on the off-day Monday. Sunday will be the night that the guys will have free to explore the city – I’d bet that most of the team explores the strip on Sunday evening.

Tacoma activated reliever Scott Patterson from the disabled list today, and he is available to pitch immediately.

Patterson suffered from shoulder discomfort during spring training, so he was placed on the Tacoma disabled list but did not report to the Rainiers. Instead, he was working with the training staff in Arizona building arm strength.

This time of year in Arizona there are extended spring training games daily. These are generally made up of young players who will play short-season ball when Everett, Pulaski, and the Arizona Rookie League starts up in June.

Once healthy, Patterson was able to pitch an inning or two in these extended spring training games. Now he’s ready for Tacoma – and we’ll take him, he’s been outstanding here for two years.

Matt Fox, who missed a start with his own shoulder discomfort, was placed on the 7-day disabled list to make room for Patterson. The Rainiers are still hopeful that Fox won’t miss much time.

The Rainiers lost on Tuesday to Fresno, 11-5, and the Grizzlies won the series, three game to one.

Tacoma had trouble shutting down the Grizzlies offense. Fresno scored 38 runs on 56 hits over the four-game series. The Rainiers were fortunate to get that comeback win in the third game.

On the plus side, shortstop Carlos Triunfel drove the ball with authority on Tuesday. He launched a two-run homer over the bullpens in left field, and he smashed a triple to the gap in right-center. Triunfel has been working extensively with hitting coach Jeff Pentland on his hand positioning, and it’s good to see some results.

Tonight’s game in Las Vegas is at 7:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jarrett Grube (0-1, 10.80) against LHP Aaron Laffey (0-2, 6.75). Laffey is a former Mariner.

Links:

Last night, on the off-day, a few of the Rainiers staffers gathered to watch Felix Hernandez and the 7th game if the Boston-Washington hockey series. Much to my surprise, one of my co-workers revealed that his goal in life was to have his name appear on this blog.

So congratulations, Thomas Knowlton, you have made the blog!


Comeback Win

April 24, 2012

Tacoma topped Fresno on Monday night, 6-5. Carlos Triunfel had the game-winning RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. The full game story from The News Tribune is right here.

Today the Rainiers finish off the brief homestand with a 7:05 game at Cheney Stadium. Tacoma starts LHP Anthony Vasquez (3-0, 0.87) against Fresno RHP Yusmeiro Petit (0-0, 5.65).

Sorry for the lack of a proper blog post today – no time to write, the team has me working on other projects. We’re off on Wednesday; I’ll be back with a full post from Las Vegas on Thursday.


Bye Bye Brownie

April 23, 2012

The Rainiers lost to Fresno on Sunday afternoon, 10-3.

It was a beautiful day, we had a great crowd, and the game was… not good for the hometown nine.

Manager Daren Brown left early, getting tossed in the second inning when Conor Gillaspie’s foul ball down the right field line was mistaken for a home run by the home plate umpire. Photos by Rainiers team photographer Dick Trask.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05 and the Rainiers will try to slow down a red-hot Fresno team. Fresno is 14-4, they have won 7 of the last 8, and they are an amazing 8-2 on the road. Tonight Tacoma starts RHP Forrest Snow (0-2, 6.43) agains Fresno RHP Andrew Kown (2-0, 2.20). You can hear the broadcast on 850 AM in Tacoma and streaming online right hereBob Robertson joins me in the booth and will call the middle innings tonight.

Links:

  • Here is the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune, written by Doug Pacey. Daren Brown wasn’t too concerned about the call that led to his ejection – probably because in the end, it didn’t really effect the outcome.
  • Our video page has the highlight of Brandon Bantz going deep for his first Triple-A hit.
  • Larry LaRue got a lot of player reaction to the perfect game – good stuff in here.
  • The Mariners were swept by the White Sox and had a disappointing homestand.
  • John McGrath writes that the Mariners veterans need to step up. As always, McGrath closes out his column with a stinger.
  • Geoff Baker is concerned that the Mariners might lose the fanbase early in the season.
  • Steve Kelley writes that it is time for the Mariners to grow up.
  • The weekly Minor League Wrap from USS Mariner is thorough, as usual.
  • Former Rainiers pitcher Derek Lowe had his World Series ring stolen. That’s cold-blooded.
  • A fantastic story from Jim Caple about interrupting his bike ride to cover the perfect game at Safeco on Saturday. Anyone in the newspaper business will enjoy this one.
  • Health issues are forcing former Tacoma Tigers manager Ed Nottle to spend the summer away from baseball. Get well, Singing Ed!
  • It looks like the Oakland A’s are giving up on the two Sacramento River Cats that they were trying out at third base. They also shipped out Graham Godfrey in favor of Jarrod Parker in the starting rotation.
  • In the PCL, Salt Lake blasted Tucson, 16-1. Super-prospect Mike Trout tripled and then was hit by a pitch, and he left the game – but I heard his morning that it was precautionary and he may be able to play today.
  • Reno starting pitcher Charles Brewer woke up in Mobile, AL, flew to Reno, and got pounded by Sacramento in his Triple-A debut. Chris Carter blasted three home runs for the Cats.
  • Jesse Chavez pitched well and earned the win as Las Vegas took down Colorado Springs on Sunday, 9-2.
  • Iowa edged Memphis 2-1 as Chris Rusin tossed a gem.
  • Jarrod Dyson is really making things happen for Omaha. He’s one of the most fun players to watch in the PCL – speed is his entire game, so he needs to do things to take advantage of it, and he’s been on a roll this year.
  • It took 14 innings, but Albuquerque topped Oklahoma City, 11-10. Former Rainiers catcher Josh Bard went 4-for-8 with a homer and four RBI for Albuquerque.
  • So much for the vaunted New Orleans pitching staff – they got beat by Round Rock yesterday, 10-0.

Another sunny day in April in Tacoma? We’ll take it! Berm tickets are just $5 tonight and tomorrow – bring your blanket to sit on.


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