Triunfel Comes Up Clutch

July 31, 2012

Tacoma trailed in the ninth inning, 2-1, with runners at second and third… and Carlos Triunfel came through with a two-out, two-strike, two-run single to center field, leading Tacoma to a 3-2 win over Tucson on Tuesday night.

And with that, Tacoma won the Nine Game Mega Series against Tucson, five games to four. The first ever Nine Game Mega Series Trophy goes to Tacoma, where it will be displayed and cherished at Cheney Stadium for years to come.*

Triunfel had the clutch hit, but lots of credit should go to starting pitcher D.J. Mitchell. Mitchell lasted seven innings, allowing five hits and two runs – both of which were unearned, due to infield errors. Mitchell walked one, struck out four, and threw 92 pitches (62 strikes).

Mitchell had his sinker going on Tuesday – it was much better than in his Rainiers debut last week; he was able to get 13 ground outs compared to four fly outs.

The Rainiers have a rough travel day on Wednesday – hence this brief blog post. The team wakes up at 3:30 AM in Tucson, takes a 4:15 bus to the airport, flies to Las Vegas, then to Tacoma – and we do, thankfully, arrive early enough to mix in a quality nap before heading to the ballpark for the game.

Tacoma starts an eight-game homestand on Wednesday, with Oklahoma City in town. The RedHawks are the Houston Astros Triple-A affiliate, and they have not visited Tacoma since the 2010 season. Former Sacramento skipper and old nemesis Tony DeFrancesco is the Oklahoma City manager – and as usual, he has his team winning. The RedHawks are 62-48, and 1.5 games behind first place Albuquerque in the American-South.

It’s actually kind of amazing that Tony D has his team in a race right now, once you consider that the parent Astros are, um, 35-70. Yowza.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and it’s Microbrew Wednesday at Cheney Stadium – $5 micros at the first base concession stand. Tacoma starts LHP Steve Garrison (0-3, 4.64) against Oklahoma City RHP Jake Buchanan (0-0, 9.00). Catch the broadcast on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here.

Links:

  • Last night’s Rainiers game was an excellent battle – read all about it in the game story from The News Tribune.
  • Jack Z says that the Mariners are going to slow down Danny Hultzen, Ryan Divish writes. Right now Hultzen is listed as Tacoma’s Thursday starter. I’ll let you know if anything changes.
  • The Mariners won their sixth in a row, beating Toronto, 7-2. Trayvon Robinson had two hits and a walk, Dustin Ackley homered and drove in three, and Jason Vargas is absolutely dealing right now – he went 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA in July.
  • The Mariners made all of their moves the day before the trade deadline. Jack Z explains the situation in this story.
  • Oklahoma City lost at home to Omaha, 12-5, and the RedHawks are coming in to town riding a three-game losing streak. It’s always bad when the opening line of the story in your hometown newspaper says you were “lit up” (and just a few words later we get a gratuitous “drubbing”).
  • Most of the above story is about Oklahoma pitching coach Burt Hooton, who has a plaque on the Tacoma Wall Of Fame on the first-base side of Cheney Stadium. Check it out and say hi to Burt if you are coming to the ballpark this week.
  • I don’t have a link for this, because it’s not up yet and I’m doing this before bed, but it’s worth noting that Salt Lake starter Barry Enright (recently acquired from Reno) pitched a complete-game, three-hit shutout in Las Vegas last night. That’s no easy feat.

OK, long travel day. Come see us during this homestand, should be a good time!

* in a secret, hidden location of course – to keep this precious heirloom away from scoundrels, vandals and thieves.


Huge Comeback!

July 31, 2012

Tacoma trailed Tucson 8-0 going to the sixth inning. Who would have guessed that Monday night would turn out to be one of the most fun nights of the season?

Tacoma scored a season-best nine runs in the sixth inning, Carter Capps made an electrifying Triple-A debut, and the Rainiers went on to beat Tucson, 11-8.

The nine-run inning was an absolute monster. I went through the entire blow-by-blow in the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune – first link down below – and I’m not going to re-type it here. The big hits were by Guillermo Quiroz (bases loaded double to make it 8-5), Justin Smoak (line drive single for 8-7), and Luis Jimenez (rope to wall plus RF error, giving Tacoma a 9-8 lead).

After tremendous relief showings by Brian Sweeney and Brian Moran, Capps entered with a runner at first base and no outs in the eighth, protecting a two-run lead. Capps quickly retired three straight batters, striking out two.

He returned to the mound to open the ninth, and struck out Jeremy Hermida to open the inning. He was then mysteriously removed from the game, leading to speculation that his Triple-A debut may in fact be his only Triple-A game for a while.

Capps average 99 miles per hour on the radar gun that the Rainiers use to chart pitches, and he topped out at 100 mph.

After the game, the Mariners made a bunch of moves:

  • Reliever Brandon League was traded to the Dodgers for Double-A reliever Logan Bawcom and Class-A outfielder Leon Landry. Both young prospects were having tremendous seasons in the Dodgers system.
  • Reliever Steve Delabar was traded to Toronto for outfielder Eric Thames. Thames, who was batting .335 for Las Vegas, will report to the Mariners. Carlos Peguero was optioned to Tacoma.

After these moves, the Mariners need to call up two relievers. One will obviously be Stephen Pryor. The other? Could be the hard-throwing Capps. Could be Chance Ruffin, who has a 2.33 ERA since June 20. Could be David Pauley, who has been in the majors with two other teams this season. Could be Bobby LaFromboise, who needs to be protected on the 40-man after this season anyway.

The trades resulted in the Mariners having an open 40-man roster spot, so they can call up whoever they want.

Personally, I think it will be Capps. It was weird when they took him out of the game with one out in the ninth yesterday, in a save situation – right when the Mariners were announcing the trades. Plus, he throws 100 mph – the other guys don’t.

Tonight the Rainiers take on Tucson at 7:05 pm. You can listen to the final game of the Nine Game Mega Series against Tucson on South Sound Sports 850 AM, and streaming online right here.

The Nine Game Mega Series is tied, 4-4 – this game tonight is for all of the Nine Game Mega Series Tostitos. Tacoma starts RHP D.J. Mitchell (0-1, 1.80) against Tucson LHP Colt Hynes (5-8, 6.05). Neither pitcher has ever started the final game of a Nine Game Mega Series before – but both made their Nine Game Mega Series debuts just five days ago.

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • Two Mariners relievers were ready to celebrate the team’s fifth straight win – only to find out they had been traded.
  • Larry Stone has a blog post about the prospects the Mariners acquired in the trades.
  • Dave Cameron wrote about the trades for USS Mariner – read it for the analysis, stick around for the punch line.
  • Here are Baseball America’s reports on Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom.
  • John Sickels also wrote briefly about the two new Mariners prospects.
  • Casper Wells – not worried about this year’s trade deadline – talked about the chaos of last year’s deadline.
  • In the PCL, Salt Lake outfielder Cory Aldridge is having a big series and the Bees keep beating Las Vegas.
  • The Tucson Padres are just happy to be playing better baseball.
  • Reno outfielder Adam Eaton hit an inside-the-park home run in the Aces 9-7 win over Sacramento. Bryan Shaw is back in Reno, trying to fine-tune his pitches.
  • Colorado Springs and Fresno were suspended in the second inning of a 0-0 game. The paper ran a Brandon Wood career retrospective. With all of these prospects being traded around at the deadline, it helps to remember Brandon Wood.
  • Memphis prospect Shelby Miller pitched a gem and Victor Marte came down from St. Louis and closed out a 5-4 win over Round Rock.
  • Nashville walked off Albuquerque on a ninth-inning single by Edwin Maysonet.
  • New Orleans beat Iowa, 5-3 – and, um, the Iowa Cubs are 1-10 so far on a 12-game road trip.

Last game in Tucson and then the Rainiers are home for a nice, long eight-game homestand starting on Wednesday night. Oklahoma City comes to town for four games, and then the New Orleans Zephyrs arrive for four more.


Swept Again

July 30, 2012

It’s time to admit that I have been wrong all season long: every doubleheader in baseball history is not a split.

I’ve been joking about that since opening day, but last Sunday the Rainiers were swept in a twinbill at Colorado Springs.

Yesterday it happened again: Tucson swept the Rainiers, winning the opener 5-3 and taking the second game, 2-0.

The first game saw Hector Noesi get singled to death. He allowed 11 hits – ten singles and a double – in 4.2 innings, totalling five runs. Seven of the ten singles were ground balls that found holes in the infield. He didn’t pitch a great game or anything, but his biggest problem on Sunday was bad luck.

The second game featured very little offense. David Pauley tossed a complete game and allowed only two runs, but took the loss when Tacoma was shut out on three hits. It was the ninth time Tacoma has been shut out this year.

It was sweep day in the PCL – there were four doubleheaders yesterday, and all four of them were sweeps. Tacoma was the only road team to get swept – in the other three twinbills, it was the home team that got swept. More details in the links below. 

We have news about two recently released Rainiers pitchers.

Scott Patterson has signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets. One would assume he is joining their Triple-A team in Buffalo.

Jarrett Grube signed with the Angels, but he is not initially going to Salt Lake. He’s been assigned to Double-A Arkansas for now.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and you can listen on South Sound Sports 850 AM or via the online stream right here. Tacoma starts RHP Erasmo Ramirez (3-2, 2.88) against Tucson RHP Matt Palmer (6-7, 6.18).

The Nine Game Mega Series currently has Tucson leading, 4-3. The Rainiers need to win tonight and tomorrow in order to claim the Nine Game Mega Series trophy. If the Rainiers can’t take it down, they will get another chance in late August – when the Rainiers play Nine Game Mega Series II, against Las Vegas.

Links:

  • We start with my Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. Not much to it, today, due to the night doubleheader giving us no chance of writing a quality story before the paper’s deadline.
  • The Mariners finished off a four-game sweep if the Royals with an 8-7 win yesterday.
  • After doing very little during his long rehabilitation with Tacoma, Mike Carp‘s bat has come alive for the Mariners.
  • USS Mariner has its weekly Minor League Wrap.
  • This has adult language and I paused before linking, but… it’s so funny I had to do it. The rock musicians/baseball nuts at Productive Outs blogged about awful minor league logos.
  • In the PCL, we had a rare record tied last night: in the second game of a doubleheader sweep in the road in Nashville, Albuquerque outfielder Jerry Sands became the fifth player in PCL history to hit two grand slams in one game.
  • The Omaha paper has an excellent feature on former Rainiers catcher Adam Moore. << Read this one if you are a fan of Adam.
  • Reno Aces starter Tyler Skaggs tossed a gem and Adam Eaton had the game-winning hit in a 3-2 win over Sacramento.
  • Las Vegas first baseman David Cooper was called up before the 51s lost to Salt Lake yesterday, 13-6. Cory Aldridge hit three homers for the Bees.
  • The story of Tucson pitcher Andrew Werner is a story of perseverance.
  • Colorado Springs was swept in a doubleheader by visiting Fresno.
  • New Orleans beat Iowa on a tenth inning, pinch-hit, game-winning three-run homer by new catcher Rob Brantly.
  • Round Rock went into Memphis and swept a doubleheader.
  • We have another update from El Paso, which is looking more and more likely to be the final(?) resting place of the Tucson Padres.

It’s looking like Danny Hultzen‘s next start will be on Thursday night, in Tacoma, on Miller Lite Tasty Thursday, against the hated… Oklahoma City RedHawks.


Ford Lifts Off In Rainiers Win

July 29, 2012

After back-to-back hitless games, Darren Ford had a monster game on Sunday in Tucson.

First, the background: Ford broke his finger in a hotel room door accident on opening day, and did not join the Rainiers active roster until mid-June. He proceeded to go on a big run at the plate, hitting safely in 31 of his first 33 games, taking the starting center field job.

The last two games he went hitless, going 0-for-8. He actually looked bad at the plate, and I was secretly wondering if maybe it was all coming down for Ford. After all, he has never torn up Triple-A before – this is his first extended play at the level.

Ford answered my concerns by going 4-for-5 with a double, a grand slam, two stolen bases, two runs scored, and six RBI in Tacoma’s 8-7 victory at Tucson on Saturday night.

He even scored the winning run on a “Darren Ford Rally” in the top of the ninth: he led off with a single to left, stole second, went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Nick Franklin, and with two outs he scored on a wild pitch.

The wild pitch came on an intentional ball to Luis Jimenez. Tucson reliever Miles Mikolas was ordered to issue an intentional walk, to get a right vs. right match-up with Alex Liddi. His first wide one was a rain-maker over the head of the catcher, and a surprised Ford raced home and scored the go-ahead run.

This was the second time this year we have seen an extremely costly wild pitch on an intentional walk. Rainiers reliever Brian Moran allowed the tying run to score on the exact same play on July 6 in Salt Lake City.

So, the Rainiers are 1-1 in Games Decided By Wild Pitches Uncorked During Intentional Walks. Add that to your stat pack, Ben Spradling.

Today, Tacoma plays a doubleheader at Tucson, beginning at 6:05. In game one, Tacoma starts RHP Hector Noesi (0-2, 10.54) against Tucson RHP Jorge Reyes (7-9, 5.30). In game two, it’s Tacoma RHP David Pauley (1-0, 1.93) against an unannounced Tucson pitcher.

As always, you can catch the broadcast on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here.

Links:

  • We start with my Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. In the Tucson paper, Padres manager Terry Kennedy called it a Mental Toughness Day.
  • My Minor League Notebook for the paper has notes on shortstops recently promoted in the Mariners farm system, hot Double-A starter Taijuan Walker, and an item on Rainiers opening day starter Matt Fox. Updated: Fox was activated from the disabled list today, and sent to Double-A Jackson.
  • The Mariners won their third in a row and are 9-4 over the last 13 games.
  • Geoff Baker has a bit on the Mariners outfield situation now that Ichiro is gone.
  • Larry Stone’s Sunday baseball package has a column on the Mariners Hall of Fame inductions, a notebook full of trade deadline stuff, power rankings, and thumbs up-and-down.
  • In the PCL, Reno got blasted at home by Sacramento, 13-4. Reno has an exciting young pitching prospect in Tyler Skaggs.
  • Las Vegas held off Salt Lake, 7-2, to remain 2.5 games behind Sacramento in the South.
  • Colorado Springs knocked off Fresno, 10-1, and pulled within 6.5 games of Reno in the North.
  • Alex Castellanos homered twice and Albuquerque ripped Nashville at Greer Stadium, 13-3.
  • Recently traded pitching prospect Jacob Turner earned the win in his New Orleans Zephyrs debut last night.
  • Oklahoma City had a mammoth home run from Brett Wallace and beat Omaha, 6-2.

DONT FORGET: the big food truck festival, with over 30 food trucks, is in the Cheney Stadium parking lot today. Free entrance, free parking. Grab some lunch and report back – I want to hear about it!


Walk It Off, Luis

July 27, 2012

Moments after it appeared the Tacoma Rainiers were going to lose a second consecutive 1-0 game to Tucson, Luis Rodriguez launched a two-run walk-off home run and the Rainiers won the game, 2-1, and salvaged a split of the four home games against Tucson.

Steve Garrison started and tossed eight brilliant innings, allowing only a solo home run to Beamer Weems with two outs in the top of the eighth inning. Yet it looked like he was going to be saddled with the loss.

Tacoma did not score against Tucson starter Bear Bay, and the Padres bullpen is excellent. After two relievers carried the shutout into the ninth, Erik Hamren came on to get the save.

Hamren recorded two quick outs, and he got ahead of Alex Liddi, 1 ball, 2 strikes. Just a strike away from getting shut out, Liddi started to battle. He fouled off a few pitches, took a few balls, and eventually coaxed a walk.

That brought up Luis Rodriguez, and Hamren fell behind in the count, 2-0. Rodriguez got the pitch he was looking for, and he launched a two-run homer to right field, ending the game.

It was the second walk-off home run for Tacoma this year, after Scott Savastano’s 18th inning blast last Wednesday.

Now the Nine Game Mega Series (as named by Tucson broadcaster Tim Hagerty) moves to Tucson for the last five games. Don’t expect the scores to be 4-3, 4-3, 1-0, and 2-1 down there – we’re going to have more runs scored in that ballpark.

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 Danny Hultzen (1-2, 4.33) against Tucson LHP Andrew Werner (Triple-A debut).

Links:

That’s it for today – long travel day. Don’t forget about the food truck festival at Cheney on Sunday, it’s going to be a blast, and you only pay for what you eat and drink – no entrance fees, no parking fees, nothing.


New Pitchers Debut

July 27, 2012

We saw both pitchers acquired in the Ichiro trade make their Rainiers debuts on Thursday night.

D.J. Mitchell started. He’s a skinny, 6-foot right-hander with really good complimentary pitches. His fastball topped out at 89 miles per hour, and sat at 86-87. That’s not very fast – but, he made up for it by using a very good change-up, which faded away from left-handed hitters and got some swings-and-misses.

Mitchell also showed a strong curve ball, which he was able to throw for strikes. While he struggled with his fastball command, he was able to throw the other two pitches for strikes, and he often “pitched backwards” and threw first-pitch curves or changes to the batter.

Mitchell lasted five innings and allowed one run on four hits. He walked two and struck out four. He also ended up taking the loss, because the Rainiers were shut out on three hits, 1-0.

The other new Tacoma pitcher is reliever Danny Farquhar, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Farquhar is a small guy by baseball pitcher standards, standing 5-foot-10. Don’t be fooled by his size – he has some arm strength, topping out at 94 miles per hour on the Rainiers gun.

Farquhar walked the leadoff man and allowed a one-out single, getting himself into a 1st-and-3rd, one-out jam with clean-up hitter Matt Clark at the plate. Farquhar was able to bear down. He got Clark to pop up on the infield and then retired the next hitter to escape the jam.

Justin Smoak had two of Tacoma’s three hits, including a long double to right-center.

And immediately after I lauded him as being major-league ready, Darren Ford went 0-for-4, ending his ten-game hitting streak. It was only Ford’s third hitless game in 34 games in a Rainiers uniform.

We had some news before the game: the Mariners released veteran reliever Scott Patterson.

It wasn’t because of performance – Patterson has a 2.94 ERA this year. It was simply because of the addition of the two new pitchers, and the fact that the Mariners did not see the 33-year-old Patterson as a part of their youth movement.

Scott pitched for Tacoma for three seasons, getting into 91 games. His 19 career saves ties him for 17th on the Tacoma All-Time Saves list. He was a part of the 2010 PCL Championship run, and he participated in many Tacoma community events over the years. We’re going to miss him.

Patterson actually made the rounds during the game, saying goodbye to office workers and some fans while the game was being played. He stopped by the radio booth in the top of the ninth inning of a 1-0 game, thoroughly disrupting my flow.

Hopefully he’ll latch on with another team for the stretch run.

More late-breaking roster news: the Rainiers have sent reliever Jandy Sena back to Double-A Jackson, and hard-throwing right-hander Carter Capps is coming up.

Capps has been known to reach 100 miles per hour on the radar gun. At Jackson, he had 19 saves, a 1.26 ERA, and 72 strikeouts with only 12 walks in 50 innings pitched. Reportedly, he has recently improved his off-speed pitch to warrant the promotion.

Tonight’s homestand finale is at 7:05, and it’s Friday Night Fireworks after the game. Tacoma starts LHP Steve Garrison (0-3, 5.76) against Tucson RHP Bear Bay (2-5, 4.81). 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, inked by Doug Pacey.
  • In Seattle, Jason Vargas tossed a gem and said that he doesn’t want to be traded.
  • The Mariners have added Alvin Davis to the minor league coaching staff as a roving instructor.
  • Larry Stone has a blog post about how the contract extension signed by Cole Hamels might effect Felix Hernandez.
  • The non-baseball event of the year at Cheney Stadium is this Sunday, and entry is free. It’s The Moveable Feast, Tacoma’s first-ever food truck festival, and it will be in (where else) the Cheney Stadium parking lot. Here’s a preview from The News Tribune.
  • Oh, yeah! Taijuan Walker had a dominant start last night and the Mariners pitching prospect took home the No. 1 spot on Baseball America’s weekly Prospect Hot Sheet.
  • In the PCL, there was umpire controversy and a late rally as Sacramento beat Salt Lake, 11-7. Also, actor Bill Murray was there.
  • Fresno edged Las Vegas, 2-1, and now the 51s trail Sacramento by 2.5 games in the South.
  • Details are limited, but Reno beat Colorado Springs in 11 innings last night, 11-10. The Sky Sox went into Aces Ballpark with all of the momentum and only 5.5 games back – and now they trail by 8.5 and are in danger of being swept.
  • Oklahoma City allowed two runs in the top of the tenth inning, and then scored three in the bottom of the tenth to beat Iowa and move back into first place in the American-South. New catcher Chris Wallace had the game-winning pinch-hit two-run single. In the notes: the Astros moved top pitching prospect Jarred Cosart up to Triple-A and he starts for Oklahoma City tonight.
  • Nashville pitching prospect Wily Peralta was dealing and the Sounds beat Memphis. Peralta struck out 11.
  • Outfielder Chris Aguila set the New Orleans franchise home run record in a 5-1 win over Omaha last night. It was his 57th, passing slugger J.R. Phillips. Tacoma’s record is 72, set by Rick Renick in the 1970s.
  • Round Rock avoided extra innings and beat Albuquerque, 3-2. They’ve played extra innings in three of the last five games – which is nothing. Make it four-of-six with an 18-inning juego mixed in and then call me.
  • New Rainiers head groundskeeper David Schutt needs to read this story so that he can decide where to put a pit on the field at Cheney Stadium. On the field, David – not on the press level, thanks!

Friday Night Fireworks – see ya at the yard, Meat.*

* sorry for the mid-1990s baseball slang, it slips out sometimes. Don’t worry, “Meat” was a respectful pronoun back in the day. You’re good.


Optioned To Triple-A

July 26, 2012

Hey guys, after two games with the Mariners I am back in my beloved T-town, and we have lots to cover, so let’s get to it.

First of all, the Rainiers ended their seven-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over Tucson on Wednesday afternoon. I wasn’t there to see it, so we will leave the details to the Rainiers game story, which is always the first link down below.

One thing we were talking about in Seattle was the promising rehabilitation start by Erasmo Ramirez. He was limited to 50 pitches, and he needed just 46 to get through three scoreless innings. Great news, and I’m sure he’ll have a longer leash in his next rehab start on Monday in Tucson.

I’m not ready to comment on Justin Smoak yet, having not seen him – but, I can tell you that Mariners manager Eric Wedge still has a lot of faith in Smoak, and still believes he can be a middle-of-the-lineup hitter in the major leagues. In his meeting with the media at Safeco on Wednesday morning, Wedge said that Smoak’s swing in batting practice looks far better than his in-game swing. We’ve seen this before in Tacoma with other players this year (e.g. Chih-Hsien Chiang).

Anyway, Smoak is the new No. 1 project for hitting coach Jeff Pentland. Pentland believes that he can shorten Smoak’s swing, but he requires a receptive and open-minded student. Nothing will happen overnight, this will be a process that takes some time.

We had roster moves the last two days, with more imminent.

On Tuesday, the Rainiers added Smoak and pitcher D.J. Mitchell (acquired in the Ichro trade). Outfielder Trayvon Robinson was called up to Seattle, and pitcher Jeff Marquez was released.

The Mariners needed another outfielder after trading Ichiro, and Robinson got the call. This is because he was on the 40-man roster, and the other candidate Darren Ford was not. Ford – who has quite obviously been Tacoma’s best player for the last month – was passed over because of the roster issue.

Timing hurt Ford this week. It’s trade deadline season, and the Mariners don’t want to be messing around with the 40-man roster and trying to pass players through waivers right now.

If Ford keeps playing like he has in Tacoma, he won’t have to worry about these things – he’ll get his call-up, or a trade to another team that can use him – soon. He’s playing like a bona-fide major leaguer right now, and he has been doing it for a  month.

The release of Marquez signifies another confirmation of the disappointing season the Rainiers have had. Marquez and opening day starter Matt Fox were both Triple-A free agents the Mariners signed to stabilize the Tacoma starting rotation and be ready for a big league call-up.

Instead, Fox got injured after three starts and has been rehabbing in Arizona all season, and Marquez just plain struggled to get outs.

I had high expectations for both – go back and check my pre-season blogs, I thought these two guys were going to be rotation anchors and that Fox might even end up in the big leagues. Instead, here we are. It’s been that kind of season.

The new pitchers from the Ichiro trade are arriving: D.J. Mitchell starts tonight, and Danny Farquhar is expected to report today. If he does, another roster move will be required to activate him.

And that’s just the surface of it. Trade deadline time is wild in Triple-A, especially when your parent club is not a contender. That means they are usually trading a veteran or two for prospects, and often those prospects are Triple-A level players. Roster moves get interesting this time of year.

So, I kinda spent the last two days in the big leagues. (On twitter, we call that a #HumbleBrag).

I cannot express in writing how fun it is to call Major League games. It’s the biggest jump in baseball, from Triple-A to the majors. That doesn’t just apply to players, it applies to lots of other jobs in the game – including broadcasters.

The Mariners ridiculously awesome broadcast crew of Rick Rizzs, Mike Blowers, and Kevin Cremin treated me so well that I was embarrassed by it. They made me feel like a regular member of the team, and that was awesome.

Matt Pitman and Shannon Drayer also earn my respect for being quality humans who happen to be great at their jobs.

I thought I did OK on the air. My chemistry with Rick was much better than last year, when we did three games together. Broadcaster partnerships simmer over time, and Rick and I have now done a whopping total of five games together. Our fourth and our fifth games were our best. If we get to do a sixth, I know it will be our new best game.

It’s a weird adjustment, going from working entire games by myself to working as a #2 to one of the best in the business. I found myself at times just sitting back and listening to Rick, in awe of how good he is at calling the action. Rizzs has an amazing ability to work in tiny little colorful details – I need to work on this.

It was bizzaro-land being at Safeco Field and calling Mariners games with Ichiro on the Yankees. Really, this was surreal and ridiculous – and that was just for me, as a once-in-a-blue-moon substitute announcer. I can’t imagine what Rick Rizzs, Dave Sims, and Mike Blowers had going through their minds during the series. It was just plain weird.

The strangest part for me was watching Ichiro catch fly balls. A Mariner would loft a routine fly to right, and I would watch the Yankees right fielder move over to catch it – and it was Ichiro. If you’ve watched Mariners games for the last ten years, you know this: Ichiro does not look like other outfielders when catching a fly ball. He eases over, gets under it, and then stands kind of sideways while grabbing the ball with his glove. M’s fans, you know what I’m talking about: he has his own style. It was weird watching him retire Mariners with his different – yet common to us –  outfield style.

I had an on-air screw-up – well, I’m sure I had many screw-ups, but this one made me laugh at myself and the situation – with the attendance on Tuesday night. The crowd for the Yankees-Mariners game was 31 908. When I was tasked to read the Happy Totals (I also read the unhappy Totals on Wednesday, which I learned are just called Totals), I got to the attendance… and my brain went Triple-A: I saw that first digit and said “three thousand and one… errr… thirty-one thousand…”

I read the totals every night in the PCL. No team draws more than 15,000 for a game. So I saw that “3” in the first digit, and just assumed three thousand…. whoops! At least I was only off by 28 grand.

Finally, two quick stories that made me laugh at the Mariners games the last two days:

Rizzs and Blowers were talking about what they were going to do on their upcoming off-night in New York. Rick said he was going to go to a favorite Italian restaurant and have “a great big plate of pasta.” I was rolling, reminded of this, of course (click lower right).

Also, I learned that I was brought in to call the games because Jay Buhner, who was scheduled to do the games, had to bail out (no, this had nothing to do with his Ichiro-related comments – I was locked in well before that happened).

So, I apologize to Mariners fans who had to listen to me, but, what can I say? The Bone sent me.

Tonight’s Rainiers game is at 7:05, and you can hear it on South Sound sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP D. J. Mitchell (0-0, 0.00) against Tucson LHP Colt Hynes (4-8, 6.52).

Links:

Big thanks to Bob Robertson for holding down the fort while I was away. Nothing quite like a Hall Of Fame broadcaster filling in for you while you are gone. Also, many thanks to KJR Sports Radio talkmasters Ian Furness and Mike Gastineau for helping out.


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