Aaaahhhhh…. Pitching!

To find out why the Rainiers have won the last two days, one must only look to the mound.

Tacoma had excellent starting pitching from Erasmo Ramirez and the bullpen, beating Round Rock 6-1 on Saturday night.

It was the second straight win for the Rainiers. You could see the turnaround coming on Thursday, when the Rainiers lost their seventh in a row. That game was only a 3-2 loss – Jarrett Grube gave Tacoma a good start in defeat, and then Andrew Carraway and Ramirez delivered outstanding outings in the two wins.

Ramirez bumped up his pitch limit to 75, as he transitions to the rotation from the Seattle bullpen. Ramirez threw exactly 75 pitches – 59 for strikes – over five shutout innings. Ramirez gave up three hits and didn’t walk anybody, striking out six.

The scoreboard radar gun – which appeared to be accurate on Saturday – had Ramirez’s fastball a consistent 92-to-94, topping out at 95.

In the booth, I watched a lot of Ramirez’s pitches on the in-house monitor with the center field camera view, and it appeared to me the he was getting tremendous movement on the fastball. The pitch would dip and dive at 94 mph – he got swings and misses with that fastball.

Sean Henn followed up with two scoreless innings, Chance Ruffin turned in a needed 1-2-3 frame, and Scott Patterson allowed a homer in the ninth but closed it out.

Johan Limonta was the hitting star, launching a two-run homer in the fifth before delivering a two-out, two-run single in the sixth to open up the game. He finished 2-for-3 with four RBI.

Also still hot: catcher Guillermo Quiroz went 3-for-4 and scored twice, and Carlos Triunfel had a pair of hits to keep his May batting average at a robust .383.

Today the Rainiers try to make it three in a row, with first pitch set for 1:35 pm. Tacoma is scheduled to start LHP Anthony Vasquez (3-2, 5.88) against Round Rock RHP Neil Ramirez (4-2, 4.98). We’ll see about Ramirez – the Express scratched top prospect Martin Perez last night, and he might be slotted back into the rotation during this series. It seems that the Rangers/Express have some sort of potential starting pitcher issue they are concerned about, either in the majors or here at AAA, and it’s throwing off their rotation.

We’ll have the radio broadcast for you on South Sound Sports 850 AM, with the pre-game show starting at 1:20. Online listeners can dial-up the streaming audio right here.

A note on Saturday’s broadcast: when Round Rock’s Mark Hamburger pitched 2.1 innings of shutout relief, I spent 2.1 innings making bad hamburger puns on the radio. I apologize for this, and I promise not to do it again, even though I enjoyed myself immensely.*

Links:

  • Taking a break from writing critically acclaimed novels, Dave Boling rolled into Cheney Stadium and wrote the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune.
  • In my Sunday Minor League Notebook for The News Tribune, I wrote about the Mariners impressive middle infielders at Class-A High Desert.
  • Stephen Pryor and Andrew Carraway are here, and John McGrath writes that the migration has just begun.
  • The Mariners lost to the Yankees 6-2 – that’s two 6-2 losses in a row in New York, which is weird.
  • Larry Stone’s Sunday baseball package at the Seattle Times includes a column on former Rainiers slugger Bryan LaHair, a notebook which includes some unexpected and thought-provoking opinions on instant replay from Justin Verlander, power rankings that I almost didn’t link to because of that “Two Tickets To Karkovice” line, and thumbs.
  • Prospect Insider has a look at Rainiers reliever Stephen Pryor, with video.
  • We all know how ridiculously hot Josh Hamilton is right now. How about this: he hasn’t even broken a bat all week – he’s still using the same bat from Tuesday’s four home run game, which he is sending to the Hall of Fame as soon as he cracks it. He’s on pace for 85 home runs – or about the same number of hamburger puns I made last night.
  • Here’s a weird one – noted pitching coach Tom House is now working with NFL quarterbacks.
  • For all of the groundskeepers out there, the Miami Marlins are having some grass problems at their new ballpark.
  • In the PCL, I suspect manager Brett Butler was not a happy camper when rain shortened Reno’s game at Nashville to five-and-a-half innings – just long enough to be an official game and a 6-5 Nashville win.
  • Albuquerque beat Salt Lake, 5-4, and pitcher Stephen Fife is back in his old stomping grounds.
  • Las Vegas outfielder Anthony Gose is heating up. He had four hits, including one of Vegas’s four homers, in an 8-0 win at New Orleans. Jessie Chavez tossed eight scoreless innings to improve to 5-1, 2.63 – unheard-of numbers for a Vegas starter.
  • Fresno is cooling off – after a red-hot start, the Grizzlies have lost five of six, including a 10-1 whuppin’ at the hands of Omaha last night.
  • Oklahoma City got seven shutout innings from starter Paul Clemens and barely hung on to beat Tucson, 6-5.
  • The St. Louis Cardinals front office brass showed up in Memphis to see the Redbirds lose to Colorado Springs, 8-3.
  • We’ll close it out with a fun one from the Sacramento Bee, which caught up with Harry Dunlap, the catcher who caught Ron Necciai‘s 27-strikeout game. I learned something here – I never knew there was an in-play out, and a four-strikeout inning.

Happy Mother’s Day, to all of you mothers out there!

* Seriously. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would say on the air, “Hamburger is on the mound – which, if you think about it, kind of looks like a giant toasted bun.” That was fun.

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