Wow, what a start to the final homestand of the year!
Hector Noesi carried a no-hitter until there were two outs in the eighth inning, and Mike Wilson hit a huge home run as Tacoma won the opening game against Reno, 2-0.
Operation: Spoiler is off to a strong start. Colorado Springs beat Salt Lake and pulled within four games of first-place Reno with 16 to play. Tacoma has three more games against Reno to try to help out the Sky Sox.
The story was Noesi. This was easily his best start all season.
Noesi had darting movement on his fastball, which ranged from 91 to 94 miles per hour on the scoreboard radar gun all night. His best pitch might have been his change, which seemed to consistently arrive at 86 mph with big sink to it.
Noesi struck out 11 batters in 7.2 innings – the most strikeouts by any Tacoma pitcher in a game this year.
He had thrown a season-high 107 pitches when he took the mound for the eighth. He struck out the first two batters, but an error extended the inning. With first baseman Alex Liddi holding the runner on, Adam Eaton bounced a grounder through the right side of the infield on Noesi’s 121st pitch for the only Reno hit of the game.
It’s fitting that Eaton ended the no-hit bid. He leads all of minor league baseball with 189 hits – and he also leads all of the minors in numerous other categories, including batting average (.385). If you come out to one of the Reno games, keep an eye on Eaton – he’s going to be a big leaguer.
The sad part is that Noesi didn’t get the win. It was 0-0 after Eaton’s hit, and Shawn Kelley came in from the bullpen to finish the inning. Kelley ended up getting the win when Wilson crushed a two-run line drive homer to left field off Reno reliever Sam Demel with one out in the bottom of the eighth.
Tacoma faces Reno in game two on Sunday at 1:35. Tacoma starts LHP Danny Hultzen (1-2, 4.71) against Reno RHP Daniel Cabrera (first PCL appearance this year). Cabrera is a former Baltimore Orioles starter the Aces added to help for the stretch run. Catch the broadcast on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here.
- We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. Writer Tyler Hemstreet spoke to Hector Noesi and Daren Brown for the story – they say aggressiveness was a big factor.
- Franklin Gutierrez started his rehabilitation assignment with the Rainiers last night. If all goes well, look for him to be with the club until rosters expand on Sept 1.
- My weekly Minor League Notebook for the TNT answers the question, who the heck is Yoervis Medina and why is he on the Mariners 40-man roster?
- Justin Smoak powered up and the Mariners defeated the Twins last night, 3-2. Seattle is 21-13 since the all-star break – they’re getting better, you guys.
- Every now and then, even the best columnist in the Northwest has to write the obvious: John McGrath says that the idea of the Mariners trading Felix Hernandez is ridiculous. Of course, Mac takes a few shots at New Yorkers (and Canadians) along the way.
- We have Larry Stone’s Sunday baseball package: a column on the sudden prevalence of no-hitters and perfect games, some fun notes on the Rays unique ability to get perfect-gamed, power rankings (Yankees haters will really enjoy #2), and thumbs up-and-down.
- Jeff Tedford has a lot of nice things to say about a local kid in this Cal football preview from the Seattle Times.*
- In the PCL, pennant races are heating up big-time. The Sky Sox are within four games of Reno after their 9-8 win at Salt Lake last night.
- Holy smokes: Las Vegas outfielder Ricardo Nanita hit three home runs against Sacramento – at Raley Field, not Cashman – in the 51s 10-4 victory last night. Vegas is now 4.5 games behind Sacramento and probably needs a four-game sweep to have any real hope of running down the River Kitties.
- Omaha clinched the American-North, becoming the first team to lock up a playoff spot this season. The defending PCL champions will go for a repeat.
- Big showdown in the American-South, where Albuquerque beat New Orleans 3-1 in the opening game of a four-game series, expanding its lead to three games over the Zephyrs. It was a John Ely special – Ely can go ahead and put the PCL Pitcher of the Year award on his mantle right now; he’s far-and-away the best candidate. To put up those numbers in a launching pad like Isotopes Park – wow.
- Fresno star outfielder Justin Christian was the big winner in the Melky Cabrera suspension mess. The big loser? Well, Melky of course – but also the Fresno Grizzlies. Nonetheless, Fresno topped Tucson last night, 5-3.
- Iowa topped Memphis, 3-2, and the Des Moines City Council approved $1.2 million in minor stadium improvements – once again setting an example on how to keep a 20-year-old ballpark sparkling and up-to-date.
That’s it for today – see you at the park!
* sorry, had to sneak that one in there. After sitting through “Paint The Park Purple” night and “Color Cheney Crimson” night, I feel like I earned it. My bad.