Rainiers Can’t Walk-Off Last Home Game

August 28, 2014

The home portion of the Tacoma Rainiers 2014 season came to an end with a 3-2 loss to the Iowa Cubs on Wednesday night.

The Rainiers finished with a 38-34 record at Cheney Stadium. Twelve of the 38 home wins came in the team’s last at-bat.

That last stat made me think, as we went to the bottom of the ninth with Iowa leading 3-2, that Tacoma might have one last walk-off in ‘em. But the All-PCL reliever Blake Parker shut down Tacoma in the bottom of the ninth for his league-leading 24th save, and Iowa claimed the victory.

We had another good crowd, wrapping up an excellent homestand at the gate. The crowd of 6,319 brought the Rainiers final attendance up to 305,446. That’s down from last year, only because of the eight early-season rainouts. A couple of those rainouts came on big crowd dates (Opening Night, Throwback Weekend, etc.), which added to the impact.

The Rainiers aren’t done yet. The team has five games in Fresno starting tonight and ending with the traditional Labor Day afternoon game.

Thursday’s game starts at 7:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jordan Pries (9-7, 3.79) against Fresno RHP Jason Berken (10-9, 4.68).

Last night the annual team awards were presented before the game. They went like this:

  • Hitter of the Year: Jesus Montero
  • Pitcher of the Year: Logan Kensing
  • Gold Glove: Gabriel Noriega
  • Community Service Award: Logan Bawcom and Forrest Snow

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • The Mariners got blown out by the Rangers, 12-4. It was a rough day for Erasmo Ramirez.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook has an update on Michael Saunders, among other things.
  • Sacramento maintained a one-game lead over Reno in the Pac-North by scoring six runs in the eighth inning of an 8-5 win at Nashville. Things got emotional in the last game at Greer Stadium.
  • Charles Brewer tossed eight strong innings and Reno completed a four-game sweep of Omaha with a 5-2 win.
  • Tim Cooney picked up his league-leading 14th win (which also set a Redbirds franchise record) for Memphis in a 5-4 win over Fresno. Memphis swept that series and leads Nashville by three games in the American-South.
  • Oklahoma City also finished off a sweep, downing Albuquerque 2-1. The RedHawks lead the American-North by two games over Omaha and four games over Iowa – they travel to Des Moines to finish the season.
  • Las Vegas won its seventh in a row and pulled a solid prank on pitching coach Frank Viola during a 9-3 victory over Round Rock.
  • Apparently these things are not related in the Springs: Colorado Springs set a franchise record for best attendance, eclipsing 350,000 for the first time. They also set a franchise record for worst home record, going 27-45.
  • Brennan Boesch bashed the Salt Lake Bees to a 6-5 win over New Orleans.

At this point, it’s all about the guys trying to finish strong, tacking on a few more wins, and seeing who gets called up. I’ll have blog posts all weekend, and we’ll keep updating this thing (almost) daily through the PCL playoffs and the end of the Mariners season.


Final Home Game Tonight

August 27, 2014

The Rainiers took down the Iowa Cubs on Tuesday night, 5-3, and the two teams wrap-up a four-game series tonight.

Tonight’s game is the Rainiers final home game of the season. Crowds have been excellent throughout this homestand and hopefully that will continue tonight.

The team continues to play well, although it was eliminated from playoff contention last night. Sacramento has a one-game lead over Reno with six games to play, and Tacoma is five back. Because Sacramento and Reno play each other in the final five games, it is mathematically impossible for the Rainiers to pass both teams.

That being said, Tacoma has been the best team in the second half. The team is 46-27 over the last 73 games, and is now guaranteed an at-least .500 final record. Considering that the team was 13 games under .500 in May, that’s pretty amazing.

Yesterday’s win was impressive. Andrew Carraway had been pitching as a reliever, even pitching in back-to-back games for the first time in his career on Saturday and Sunday. On just one day of rest (and less than three hours of notice), Carraway made the spot start and lasted five innings, giving up one run. Carraway threw 69 pitches and earned his eighth win of the year.

The Mariners announced their prospects who will play in the Arizona Fall League, and Tacoma catcher John Hicks is one of them. Hicks went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored last night.

Today Tacoma is adding right-handed pitcher Trevor Miller to the roster, up from Double-A Jackson. Miller started the season in the rotation for Jackson, and he was 4-7 with a 5.05 ERA when moved to the bullpen in mid-June. As a reliever, Miller is 2-1 with four saves and a 1.40 ERA. He did not allow an earned run in his last 23.1 innings for Jackson.

Miller has a good chance to open next season with the Rainiers, so this is an opportunity for him to get an early taste of Triple-A. Tacoma is very, very short in the bullpen right now so Miller is going to pitch.

Wednesday’s game starts at 7:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP James Gillheeney (3-10, 5.81) against Iowa RHP Dae-Eun Rhee (1-2, 5.19).

Get out to the park a little early tonight if you can. Prior to the game, the Rainiers team awards will be handed out: offensive player of the year, defensive player of the year, pitcher of the year, and the community service award.

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune has reaction from Andrew Carraway and Roy Howell.
  • James Paxton was dealing and the Mariners beat the Ranger on Tuesday night.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook includes the complete list of Mariners prospects going to the Arizona Fall League. They have a pitcher slot “TBA” and I wonder if that could go to Danny Hultzen.
  • The big news off the field yesterday is that the Mariners committed to general manager Jack Zduriencik for at least another year. The team’s excellent season this year is obviously the reason why.
  • Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times has a column on Jack Z’s extension.
  • Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated shared his thoughts on Jack Z’s extension.
  • The major story in the PCL is that tonight’s game is the last one at Greer Stadium in Nashville. The Sounds move into a new downtown ballpark next year. The Tennessean has a good story on the people who made the park famous.
  • On the field, Sacramento’s Matt Buschmann pitched a three-hit shutout and struck out ten in a 2-0 win at Nashville.
  • Reno remained one game behind Sacramento by edging Omaha, 7-6.
  • Memphis downed Fresno, 9-6, and the Redbirds have a two-game lead over Nashville in the American-South.
  • Oklahoma City claimed sole possession of first place in the American-North with a 13-6 win over Albuquerque. The RedHawks are focused on the PCL playoffs.
  • Las Vegas won its sixth in a row, beating Round Rock 9-5. The 51s have set their playoff rotation. << that story includes one of the most horrifying notes at the bottom that a baseball fan could ever read. Proceed at your own risk.
  • Colorado Springs lost to El Paso but won at the gate: the Sky Sox set a franchise attendance record.
  • Grant Green had four of Salt Lake’s 18 hits in an 11-2 win over New Orleans. The game featured a strange obstruction play and Zephyrs manager Andy Haines winning his argument after he was ejected.
  • Baseball America has its daily minor league round-up.

Home finale tonight. Should be fun!


Rainiers On Brink

August 26, 2014

Tacoma was shut out by Iowa last night, 8-0, and the Rainiers are on the brink of elimination from the playoff chase.

The best-case scenario for the Rainiers now is a 3-way tie for first place in the division. One Tacoma loss, or if either Sacramento or Reno wins a game in the next two days, and the Rainiers are eliminated.

Facing those long odds, Tacoma has a bullpen day today. Scheduled starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez is on hold, as he is the likely starter for the Mariners in their day game tomorrow against the Texas Rangers.

This isn’t exactly the best day for the Rainiers to be without a starting pitcher. The 14-inning game on Sunday has already stretched the Tacoma bullpen – so much that last night the Rainiers used infielder Ty Kelly to pitch the top of the ninth with the team trailing 8-0.

Kelly, by the way, was great. He retired the side in order on five pitches (four strikes), and topped out at 88 mph on the scoreboard radar gun. He retroactively earned the bragging rights he was talking about on our pregame show yesterday.

The Rainiers won’t have to deal with Jorge Soler tonight. The Cubs prospect homered in the first two games of this series, but after launching a three-run opposite-field shot off Taijuan Walker last night, he was pulled from the game. Reports out of Chicago say he is on his way to joining the Cubs and will make his MLB debut on Wednesday.

Kris Bryant can’t be far behind, but the Rainiers have held him in check so far. Bryant is 1-for-10 with a homer in this series.

Also of note on the Iowa Cubs side of things, they placed player/coach Manny Ramirez on the disabled list with a knee problem yesterday. He’s still here in Tacoma coaching, but we won’t see him take an at-bat in this series.

Tuesday’s game starts at 7:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP Lucas Luetge (3-2, 3.53) against Iowa RHP Dan Straily (7-7, 4.00).

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune has reaction from manager Roy Howell and Ty Kelly.
  • Albuquerque outfielder Joc Pederson won the PCL Rookie Of The Year award. According to the press release, Tacoma’s Chris Taylor received at least one vote.
  • The Mariners were shut out by Texas last night, 2-0.
  • The Mariners are juggling their starting rotation again, to give guys an extra day of rest.
  • Larry Stone writes that the Mariners have already won their biggest game: they got the fans to care again.
  • For ESPN Insiders, Buster Olney writes that the Mariners are in prime position to steal the AL West. My take: they need to figure out how to beat Texas first (they are 5-8 against the last place Rangers this year).
  • The Sacramento River Cats are probably still hitting singles as you read this. They had 20 singles among a franchise record 24 hits in a 20-1 win at Nashville last night.
  • Reno remained one game out of first place by taking down Omaha, 7-1, Reno’s Bradin Hagins tossed a complete game in his third career Triple-A start.
  • Memphis shut out Fresno for the second day in a row, 1-0. Memphis leads the American-South by one game over Nashville.
  • Asher W. was dealing and Oklahoma City shut out Albuquerque, 3-0, to pull into a first-place tie with Omaha in the American-North.
  • Salt Lake shortstop Shawn O’Malley credits Katy Perry for his all-star season. Salt Lake lost to New Orleans last night, 6-5.
  • Las Vegas is prepping for the playoffs by winning every night. Their 9-3 victory over Round Rock last night was their fifth in a row.
  • El Paso topped Colorado Springs 4-3 in a game that featured numerous ejections during a downpour.

Only two home games left: tonight and tomorrow.


Tacoma Wins Marathon In 14th Inning

August 25, 2014

Tacoma scored two runs in the bottom of the 14th inning to beat Iowa on Sunday, 5-4, in the longest game of the season for both clubs.

The Rainiers had played 14 innings once earlier this year, but Sunday night’s game clocked in at season-high 5 hours, 31 minutes.

After giving up a run in the top of the 14th, the Rainiers rallied with two runs in the bottom of the 14th. Stefen Romero’s sacrifice fly to shallow center field scored Ketel Marte with the winning run.

The victory kept Tacoma on the fringe of the playoff chase. The Rainiers gained a game and now trail first-place Sacramento by four games with eight remaining. Second-place Reno is only one game behind Sacramento.

Here are some fun facts from last night’s epic battle:

  • Tacoma tied the game in the seventh inning when Corey Hart hit a two-run homer in the final at-bat of his scheduled rehab appearance. He tied the game and said “my work is done here” and let the teams play deep into the night.
  • Xavier Avery entered the game in the ninth inning and went 0-for-0 with three walks. Two of the walks were intentional – his first two IBB’s of the season. He’s only been intentionally walked one other time in his career, and it was in 2010.
  • Ty Kelly drove in the tying run with a bases loaded walk in the 14th. Kelly is a terror with the bases loaded: he’s 7-for-13 with a grand slam, and he has drawn six bases loaded walks. That’s more bases loaded walks than any other player in the league – in fact, three entire teams have fewer bases loaded walks than Kelly.
  • Stefen Romero‘s 13-game hitting streak ended with the game-winning sac fly. The rules say a hitting streak ends if a player is 0-for-0 with a sac fly, which I assume is because the batter is trying to get a hit and “settles” for a sac fly.
  • Tacoma’s bullpen pitched eight shutout innings before allowing a run in the top of the 14th inning.
  • Justin Smoak managed to go 4-for-6 with a walk – reaching base five times – and yet not score any runs. He only made it past first base one time.
  • Shortstop Ketel Marte was 1-for-6 – which looks innocuous in the box score, but he was in the middle of everything. He threw out two runners at home plate in extra innings – one after his own error put that runner at third base. He was also up in game-winning situations in ninth and 11th, and his lone hit came during the winning rally in the 14th.
  • Super-prospect Kris Bryant homered in his first-ever at-bat at Cheney Stadium, driving a two-run opposite field blast against Tacoma starter Forrest Snow in the top of the first for his 43rd homer of the year. However, the Rainiers were able to keep him in check for the next 13 innings.
  • The Cubs other huge prospect was more of a problem. Jorge Soler homered in the fourth inning, and he singled in the go-ahead run for Iowa in the top of the 14th. Soler was 3-for-5 with two walks.
  • The Rainiers are now 11-6 in extra inning games this season, and they are 2-0 in games lasting over five hours.

Monday’s game starts at 7:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Taijuan Walker (6-3, 4.57) against Iowa LHP Eric Jokisch (9-10, 3.63).

The All-PCL team was announced today – you might refer to it as the PCL Post-Season All-Star Team. The complete list is the second link down below, but I can tell you no Rainiers made it this year.

Chris Taylor was Tacoma’s best hope to make the team as the shortstop, but he was beaten out by Reno’s defensive wizard Nick Ahmed. It would have been nice for Taylor to receive the honor.

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • The All-PCL Team was announced and here it is.
  • The Mariners beat the Red Sox 8-6 on Sunday and completed their first-ever sweep of three or more games at Fenway Park.
  • In Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook you can read manager Lloyd McClendon‘s thoughts on September call-ups.
  • While flying home from Boston, Ryan Divish posted a good blog on the reasons behind the Mariners success.
  • Sacramento was absolutely hammered by Nashville last night, 14-2. The Sounds hit four homers.
  • Reno walked-off Omaha on Danny Dorn‘s sac fly in the ninth. That win pulled Reno within one game of first place.
  • Memphis shut out Fresno 8-0, and the Redbirds and Nashville are tied in first place in the American-South.
  • New Orleans held on for an 8-6 win at Salt Lake.
  • Colorado Springs made four errors in a 9-7 loss to El Paso. Adam Moore hit his 12th home run for the Chihuahuas.
  • Oklahoma City is just one game behind Omaha in the American-North after a 6-3 win over Albuquerque.
  • Las Vegas earned a 6-5 win over Round Rock as Cory Vaughn hit a three-run homer. It looks like Las Vegas might keep the Mets, according to the Review-Journal.
  • Kris Bryant makes Baseball America’s minor league round-up.

According to Baseball America the Iowa-Tacoma series is the Series To Watch this week, so why don’t you do that? Only three home games remain – come out to the park!


Omaha’s Brooks Shuts Down Rainiers

August 24, 2014

Omaha starting pitcher Aaron Brooks pitched a complete game six-hitter as the Storm Chasers topped Tacoma on Saturday night, 5-1.

Tacoma scored a run in the fourth inning to tie the game, 1-1, on Justin Smoak‘s RBI double. The Rainiers proceeded to load the bases with one out and it looked like Tacoma might break through with a big inning.

It didn’t happen.

Not only did Brooks escape that jam, it was the beginning of a streak of 17 straight batters he retired to end the game. Tacoma did not get a man on base after the fourth inning.

It was an impressive outing for Brooks, who improved to 11-3 for Omaha.

Meanwhile, the Rainiers playoff chances took a big hit. With Sacramento winning at Memphis, Tacoma is now five games out of first place with nine to play.

The Rainiers welcome the struggling Iowa Cubs to town tonight. Iowa has one of the best prospects in all of the minor leagues in third baseman Kris Bryant, but that doesn’t mean they are winning right now: Iowa ended an eight-game losing streak last night, and they have lost 10 of their last 12 games.

Sunday’s game starts at 5:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 4:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Forrest Snow (2-3, 3.06) against Iowa RHP Dallas Beeler (8-6, 3.80).

Links:

  • In the Rainiers game story, manager Roy Howell says that Omaha’s Aaron Brooks pitched the best game anyone has against Tacoma this year.
  • My minor league notebook for the TNT previews the Iowa Cubs series and looks at Mariners prospect Jabari Henry who hit his 30th home run on Friday night.
  • The Mariners used one big inning to down the Red Sox, 7-3. Seattle is going for a sweep today.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook has all of the tidbits you need and desire.
  • Lloyd McClendon talked about September call-ups, and Ryan Divish took a stab at guessing who they might be.
  • For his Sunday notebook, Ryan Divish spoke with Mariners third base coach Rich Donnelly about taking risks.
  • John McGrath ranks the 30 major league teams. He also has a column about how Friday’s epic Mariners comeback could be the turning point of the season.
  • If you are an ESPN Insider, Buster Olney’s piece on Tumwater resident Stephen Vogt has some interesting insight on Triple-A.
  • In the PCL, Sacramento increased its lead in the Pacific-North by beating Memphis on Saturday night, 6-3. The River Cats had a strong start by Deck McGuire.
  • Reno fell two games behind by losing to Iowa, 10-7. Jorge Soler went 5-for-5 and the Aces missed out on a sweep.
  • Nashville beat Fresno, 6-2. Nashville and Memphis are tied in first in the American-South with nine games to play.
  • Ben Paulsen hit three home runs and Colorado Springs picked up a 12-10 win over Albuquerque. In the game, Joc Pederson became the first PCL player to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in 80 years.
  • Oklahoma City beat up El Paso, 10-2. We have a Q&A with RedHawks infielder Ronald Torreyes.
  • Salt Lake and Round Rock split a doubleheader in Utah.
  • Las Vegas outfielder Cory Vaughn hit a walk-off homer and the 51s beat New Orleans, 10-8. The newspaper story focuses on the salaries paid to minor league players.

Opportunity Missed

August 23, 2014

Tacoma missed a chance to pull within three games of first place last night, dropping a 2-1 game to Omaha in front of a packed house at Cheney Stadium.

The Rainiers ran into Omaha’s Liam Hendricks, who has been the best starting pitcher in Triple-A baseball this season.

Hendricks started the season with Buffalo in the International League, where he was leading the circuit in ERA. He was the starting pitcher and winner for the IL in the Triple-A All-Star Game, and then was traded near the deadline to the Royals organization.

In just his fifth start for Omaha, Hendricks tossed eight innings without allowing an earned run. He gave up just six hits and two walks, while recording seven strikeouts. Hendricks is now 4-1 with a 2.83 ERA in five PCL starts.

The loss hurt Tacoma, which had strong pitching performances of its own from James Gillheeney, Blake Beavan, and Logan Bawcom.

First place Sacramento lost, second place Reno won and is now only one game back, and Tacoma remains in third place and four games out of first. Only ten games remain.

Imagine how tight things would be if Tacoma had won last night! Still, the boys aren’t out of the race yet. We’ll see what happens tonight.

Saturday’s game starts at 7:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jordan Pries (9-6, 3.77) against Omaha RHP Aaron Brooks (10-3, 4.32).

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune has reaction from Ketel Marte and manager Roy Howell. One big correction: the final out was a controversial called strike three, not a swinging strike. I haven’t had a chance to look at the video yet, but I’ve been told that pitch appeared quite low.
  • The Mariners miraculous 5-3 comeback win over Boston was so dramatic you may want to read about it twice. So, here’s Ryan Divish’s story for the Seattle Times, and here is Bob Dutton’s version from the TNT.
  • Dutton’s Mariners notebook includes a Michael Saunders update.
  • There could be a big affiliation shuffle in the PCL this fall, and a newspaper report out of Oklahoma says the Dodgers are moving to Oklahoma City next year. That’s news to the folks in Albuquerque.
  • Sacramento scored first and did not score again in a 4-1 loss at Memphis. Redbirds starter Tim Cooney won his league-leading 13th game.
  • Reno pulled to one game back by crushing Iowa, 11-6. Reno goes for a four-game sweep tonight.
  • Fresno’s Chris Heston pitched a complete game four-hit shutout at Nashville and won, 3-0. Nashville trails Memphis by one game in the American-South.
  • Having already clinched the Pacific-South title, the Las Vegas 51s picked up an 8-7 win over New Orleans while pausing to enjoy the Little League World Series.
  • El Paso beat Oklahoma City on Tony Cody Decker‘s eighth inning homer.
  • Joc Pederson homered (32) and stole a base (29) in Albuquerque’s 13-7 win at Colorado Springs, and he’s one steal away from becoming the PCL’s first 30-30 man since 1934.
  • Round Rock was rained out at Salt Lake, they’ll play two today.

It’s the last Saturday night home game of the year – see you at the park!


Rainiers Still In Race

August 22, 2014

Third place Tacoma continued to pressure the division leaders with a 7-3 win over Omaha on Thursday night.

With first place Sacramento losing, Tacoma is now four games back in the standings with 11 to play. Reno sits in second place, two games out of first.

Erasmo Ramirez was terrific last night, needing just 100 pitches to make it through eight innings. He allowed just five hits and three runs (two earned). Ramirez issued no walks and struck out six.

Ty Kelly led the offense with three hits and two runs batted in. Gabriel Noriega hit an opposite-field two-run homer, Ketel Marte also went deep, and Leury Bonilla had two hits including a go-ahead RBI double.

I received a lot of questions about why two guys didn’t play. Michael Saunders is battling some sort of virus and was sent home by the team doctor. Stefen Romero banged his shoulder into the outfield fence the other day and manager Roy Howell wanted to give him a day or two to recuperate – Romero might return to action tonight.

Here are your updated Tacoma win trends: the team has won two in a row, seven of the last nine, 21-of-31, and is 44-24 over the last 68 games.

Friday’s game starts at 7:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP James Gillheeney (3-9, 5.98) against Omaha RHP Liam Hendricks (3-1, 3.67).

Links:

The last Friday Night Fireworks of the season go off tonight – we’re expecting a packed house!


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