Rainiers Catch Storm Chasers

August 21, 2014

Tacoma rallied to score three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, coming back from a 4-3 deficit to beat the Omaha Storm Chasers on Wednesday night, 6-4.

It was the opening game of a four-game series for the Rainiers, who have now won 20 of their last 30 games. It was also the first game of the Rainiers final homestand of the year, which runs through Wednesday.

Taijuan Walker started and allowed a pair of home runs in the third inning, but nothing the rest of the way. He delivered a quality start, lasting six innings and giving up three runs while throwing exactly 100 pitches.

Both homers he gave up were interesting.

Carlos Peguero hit the first one. The ex-Rainiers slugger has homered in four straight games for Omaha, with a pair of two-homer games during that stretch. The notoriously streaky hitter has eight homers in his last seven games, and 13 homers over his last 20 games. He’s up to 28 dingers on the year, which ranks second in the PCL behind Albuquerque’s Joc Pederson.

The other home run was hit by Seattle native Matt Fields. A 2004 graduate of Rainier Beach High School who also played a year at Green River Community College, Fields was playing in his first professional game in the Pacific Northwest last night – and he’s been playing professionally since 2005! With friends and family in the stands, Fields launched a two-run homer to left in the third inning.

The homers didn’t hurt the Rainiers. John Hicks hit a two-run shot for Tacoma, Gabriel Noriega went 4-for-4, and Justin Smoak singled in the go-ahead run as Tacoma emerged with the victory. 

Two hot hitters stayed that way: Stefen Romero went 1-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, and Smoak had two hits and a walk while reaching base in his 16th straight contest.

Tacoma remains five games behind first place Sacramento, which also won. There are 12 games left in the regular season.

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 Erasmo Ramirez (4-5, 3.77) against Omaha LHP Buddy Baumann (1-3, 2.63).

Links:

  • In the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune, Taijuan Walker says he had poor location on the two home run balls.
  • The Mariners took a frustrating loss in Philadelphia. They’re off today, then play in Boston on Friday.
  • Among the subjects covered in Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook is… playoff tickets.
  • The Pacific Coast League named Round Rock’s Jason Roberts as Athletic Trainer Of The Year.
  • They named the broadcast team for the Triple-A National Championship Game.
  • Sacramento scored five runs in the top of the first and won at Memphis, 6-3. No story to link to – with the Sacramento newspaper’s erratic coverage of the local nine, and the Memphis paper’s stronger-than-Fort-Knox paywall, we may not have a story link for this entire series.
  • Reno broke open a close game with a six-run eighth inning and beat Iowa, 11-4. The Aces remain three games behind Sacramento.
  • Fresno at Nashville was rained out. They’re playing two today.
  • Oklahoma City could have pulled within one game of first place Omaha in the American-North, but instead the RedHawks got shut down by El Paso’s Matt Wisler, 2-1.
  • New Orleans turned a triple play in a 4-0 win at Las Vegas. Sixteen years with the Rainiers and I still haven’t seen one here :(
  • Round Rock’s Robbie Ross Jr. tamed the streaking Salt Lake Bees in a 5-2 road win. 
  • Albuquerque won at Colorado Springs, 7-4. The news story focuses on Sky Sox infielder Rafael Ynoa, who has had a nice season.
  • We’ll close it out with Baseball America’s daily round-up.

Tonight is our final Thirsty Thursday of the season – come on out and enjoy it!


Rainiers Head Home For Final Time

August 19, 2014

Tacoma comes home to open the final homestand of the 2014 (regular?) season tonight, as the club hosts Omaha for four games and then Iowa for four. It’s a Wednesday-through-Wednesday stretch of baseball at Cheney Stadium.

The team played well on the road, posting a winning record with a 5-3 trip through New Orleans and Round Rock.

It could have been a terrific road trip, but Round Rock salvaged a split of the four-game series by using two big innings to defeat the Rainiers on Tuesday night, 10-5.

That was a tough loss for the Rainiers, because first-place Sacramento ended a three-game losing streak and avoided being swept at home by beating Oklahoma City, 7-4.

Tacoma now trails Sacramento by five games, and Reno also lost so they are three games behind Sacramento.

Thirteen games remain. Tacoma is not eliminated, but things got a lot tougher after yesterday’s result.

Omaha comes in leading the American-North division by three games over Oklahoma City.

The Storm Chasers are led by former Tacoma slugger Carlos Peguero, who is on one of his patented hot streaks. Peguero has hit five homers in the last three games, and he has 13 homers over his last 19 games played. That’s ridiculous, of course – but when he’s locked in, he’s a force. Some things haven’t changed, though: he’s struck out 122 times in 326 at-bats this season. Memo to Tacoma pitchers: breaking balls low and away, guys.

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 RHP Taijuan Walker (6-3, 4.57) against Omaha RHP Clayton Mortensen (5-3, 3.70).

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story has details on how it went down last night in Round Rock.
  • Hisashi Iwakuma was dealing and the Mariners beat the Phillies, 5-2. They have a morning game today at 10 AM Pacific.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook has a bunch of good tidbits, as always.
  • The exploits of Carlos Peguero are detailed in this story from Omaha.
  • Reno dropped to three games back with a 3-2 loss at New Orleans. Reno does have five games head-to-head with Sacramento over Labor Day weekend.
  • I can’t say I didn’t laugh when I read that Manny Ramirez homered off of Randy Wolf. Manny will be in Tacoma with the Iowa Cubs on Sunday.
  • No links, but Nashville won while Memphis lost so those two teams are in a dead heat atop the American-South.

That’s it for today – long flights and then we start this homestand. Come join us at Cheney Stadium – I don’t know if the team can catch Sacramento, but they’ve really been playing well for over two months and are fun to watch right now.


Hot Rainiers Make A Move In Division Race

August 19, 2014

The Rainiers banged out 15 hits, Jordan Pries delivered six scoreless innings, and Tacoma beat Round Rock on Monday night, 6-2.

Tacoma made a big move in the standings. The team gained on both Sacramento and Reno, and things are really starting to tighten up.

Sacramento has lost three straight to Oklahoma City, and Reno took a tough 11-inning loss in New Orleans last night. Sacramento is still in first place, and Reno is two games back.

Sitting in third place, the red-hot Rainiers are now only four games out of first. This is the closest Tacoma has been since May 20.

There are 14 games left in the season. Tacoma wraps up the Round Rock series tonight, then comes home to play Omaha and Iowa before finishing up with a five-game series at Fresno.

The Omaha-Iowa homestand will be fun. Those two teams are battling each other for first place in the American-North, and they will have a lot on the line just like the Rainiers. These should be some pretty intense games on the upcoming homestand!

Tacoma has won five of the last six games, and has clinched a winning record on the current road trip. Now the team tries to win the series here in Round Rock – it would be the third straight road series won by Tacoma if they get it done. The Rainiers have not lost a road series since they went 1-3 at El Paso in late June.

Tuesday’s game starts at 5:05 PM (Pacific) – 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 (2-2, 2.18) against rehabilitating Round Rock LHP Derek Holland (0-1, 9.64).

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune has reaction from Jordan Pries and manager Roy Howell.
  • Familiar foe Jerome Williams shut down the Mariners on Monday night, 4-1. Back at ‘em tonight.
  • Larry Stone is starting to see some similarities between this year’s Mariners and the 1995 club.
  • There are tidbits galore in Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook.
  • Cats Slump Continues” cries the headline in the Sacramento Bee. It seems that their offense is really struggling. Nick Tropeano shut ‘em down last night.
  • New Orleans took down Reno in the 11th inning on a walk-off home run by Brian Bogusevic. The deep fly ball was actually tipped over the left field fence by outfielder Zach Borenstein.
  • Austin Fleet went the distance for a shutout as Fresno beat Colorado Springs, 5-0.
  • Nobody in the league is hotter than Memphis right now. The Redbirds won their ninth in a row, taking down El Paso, 7-4. Memphis leads the American-South by one game over Nashville.
  • Nashville kept close by knocking out Albuquerque, 9-3, on 50-cent Hot Dog Night. Jason Rogers went 4-for-5 with three RBI. Joc Pederson hit his 30th home run, and he needs two steals for 30-30.
  • A top prospect debuted, Carlos Peguero homered again, and Omaha was a 9-5 winner over Las Vegas.
  • Iowa is struggling without Kris Bryant in the lineup. He pinch-hit last night, but they lost to Salt Lake again – this time by a 7-5 score as Vance Albitz homered twice.

Early post today, because I’m going on a lunch adventure. I’ve been told to beware of falling into a post-meal meat coma – hopefully that won’t cause any problems for tonight’s broadcast.


Round Rock Evens The Score

August 18, 2014

The Round Rock Express tied up the series 1-1 by beating the Rainiers on Sunday evening, 5-2.

Tacoma had an excellent start from James Gillheeney and carried a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning.

But Round Rock connected for four consecutive two-out RBI hits in the seventh, taking a 5-2 lead. Then the Rainiers loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the eighth, only to fail to score.

The Rainiers look to regain the lead in the series tonight.

Monday’s game starts at 5:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 4:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jordan Pries (8-6, 3.95) against Round Rock LHP Edwar Cabrera (1-1, 4.50).

We had roster moves on Sunday. Pitcher Carson Smith was activated from the disabled list, and Matt Palmer was released. Palmer was struggling this year, but the veteran was a positive influence on the club and is a class act. Hopefully he’ll get a chance with another team soon.

Another move involved the big league club: the Mariners recalled pitcher Roenis Elias who starts for them today, and they optioned outfielder James Jones to Tacoma. I’m not sure if Jones is meeting the Rainiers today – I guess we’ll find out when the lineup comes out.

Links:


Rainiers Survive Dinger Drama

August 17, 2014

Tacoma went to a Texas home run festival on Saturday night, and the Rainiers emerged with an 8-7 victory over the Round Rock Express.

With a hot wind blowing out to left field, Tacoma and Round Rock combined to hit eight home runs in the game.

The Rainiers hit four of the first five homers, grabbing an 8-3 lead in the process. Round Rock hit the final three homers, putting a big scare into the Rainiers before Todd Coffey recorded the final out in the ninth.

Stefen Romero continued his tear, going 3-for-3 with two homers, a double, four runs scored, and three RBI. Romero is hitting .411 with seven homers and 18 RBI in 13 games since being optioned to Tacoma.

Ji-Man Choi and Nate Tenbrink also homered for the Rainiers, and for each it was his second homer of the season. Choi had not homered since April 11, and Tenbrink was playing in just his 18th game due to the back injury which cost him nearly four months.

Lost among the dingers was another strong start from Erasmo Ramirez. He went seven innings and gave up three runs, with no walks and seven strikeouts. Erasmo allowed just one home run on a night in which the ball was jumpin’. 

Tacoma picked up a game in the standings and trails Sacramento by five games with 16 to play. The Rainiers are three games behind second place Reno.

The win was the Rainiers fourth in a row, and Tacoma has assured itself of at least a .500 record on this eight-game road trip. The team is 4-1 on the trip so far – this has a chance to become a terrific road trip.

Sunday’s game starts at 4:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 3:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP James Gillheeney (3-9, 6.30) against Round Rock RHP Lisalverto Bonilla (3-1, 4.32).

Links:

  • Stefen Romero talked about his homers in the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. The game story from the Austin Statesman focuses on the sudden struggles of the Express.
  • My Sunday minor league notebook for the paper looks at the success of Forrest Snow, and updates the Mariners minor league shortstop shuffle.
  • The Mariners lost in Detroit last night and it was a real streak-ender, Ryan Divish writes.
  • Divish’s Sunday column for the Times is on the pressing situations for new Commissioner Rob Manfred to work on.
  • There is some good stuff on Chris Taylor in Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook.
  • In this Seattle Times blog post earlier today, Lloyd McClendon makes it sound like Michael Saunders could be rehabilitating with the Rainiers for a while. Waiting until September 1 to activate him eliminates a potential problem with Endy Chavez.
  • After a month-long drought, John McGrath’s MLB rankings appeared on The News Tribune’s website today. Yay!
  • Astute readers will note that I listed the same expected starting pitcher for Round Rock two days in a row. That’s because the Texas Ranger pitching situation is an absolute mess, which was noted in Ryan Divish’s power rankings today.
  • Straight outta the Virgin Islands, we have an update on suspended outfielder Jabari Blash who should return to action on Monday. The question is: where?
  • Nineteen-year-old Clinton outfielder Tyler O’Neill is on absolute fire.
  • In the PCL,Oklahoma City scored five runs in the ninth to beat Sacramento, 7-2. Nick Buss has a 22-game hitting streak for the River Kitties.
  • Mike Bolsinger tossed a gem and Reno pulled within two games of Sacramento with a 6-3 win at New Orleans.
  • Colorado Springs annihilated Fresno, 10-0.
  • Nashville is hot. The Sounds beat Albuquerque 8-3 to remain tied in first place in the American-South. The Albuquerque paper focused on catcher Tim Federowicz.
  • Memphis is tied with Nashville after rallying for a 2-1 win at El Paso. Excellent game story from the El Paso Times.
  • Omaha topped Las Vegas 3-2 on Brian Bocock‘s two-run homer in the eighth inning.
  • Disaster struck in Iowa, where the Cubs not only lost the game to Salt Lake but also lost slugger Kris Bryant to a toe injury. Bryant’s status for the series in Tacoma this weekend is currently unknown.
  • This PCL notebook is fun.

Time to head to the ballpark and see if the Rainiers can work on these numbers: four straight wins, 7-2 last nine games, 18-8 last 26 games, 41-22 last 63 games…


Victorious Rainiers Move On To Round Rock

August 15, 2014

A few quick items on a travel day:

Tacoma made it a series win in New Orleans, taking the final game on Friday night 6-3. Taijuan Walker pitched well (details in the game story linked below), and he earned the win as Tacoma took three-of-four from the Zephyrs.

The Rainiers are now 66-61 on the season – this is the first time all year the team has been five games over .500.

However, Tacoma still trails first place Sacramento by six games. The River Cats just haven’t been losing enough recently, and even though Tacoma has gone 17-8 over the last 25 games they aren’t picking up much ground. Time is ticking away – only 17 games remain.

The Rainiers placed Jesus Montero (strained oblique) on the disabled list, and activated Gabriel Noriega from the DL. Julio Morban is day-to-day with what manager Roy Howell called “a football-type of stinger” in his right arm after crashing into the wall on Thursday.

Michael Saunders resumed his rehabilitation on Friday and went 2-for-4 with two walks. He’s 8-for-21 with 9 walks during this rehab assignment; it sure seems like he’s ready to be activated by the Mariners at any moment.

Also, Justin Smoak is hot. He is 10-for-21 over a six-game hitting streak, and he’s walked in eight straight games.

Now Tacoma goes on to Round Rock to play the reeling Express in a four-game series. Just ten days ago Round Rock was 61-56 and in the playoff picture in the American-South. Now they have lost eight of the last nine games and are six games behind both Memphis and Nashville.

Saturday’s game starts at 5:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 4:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Erasmo Ramirez (3-5, 3.76) against Round Rock RHP Lisalverto Bonilla (3-1, 4.32).

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune has details on last night’s win.
  • The Mariners beat the Tigers and took over the No. 2 Wild Card spot in the American League playoff picture. The M’s have won nine of their last ten games.
  • Even though we are only doing a few links tonight, we gotta pass along Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook.
  • Too-good-for-Triple-A-but-stuck-here-anyway Drew Pomeranz pitched Sacramento to a 4-1 win over Colorado Springs.
  • Reno beat Round Rock 11-9 to remain three games behind Sacramento. That story serves as a nice little overview of the Express going into Tacoma’s series which starts tonight.

That’s all I have time for – this was a night blog; I’m going to bed now, waking up fairly early, and flying to Austin with the team. Then we get on a bus and ride about 30 minutes north to Round Rock. The team should get to the hotel about an hour before it is time to head to the ballpark – I wager over 50% of the team spends that hour eating lunch at Rudy’s BBQ.


Rainiers Persevere In Wild Ride

August 15, 2014

There was some sort of strange voodoo going on in New Orleans on Thursday night.

Tacoma picked up a 9-8 win in 12 innings. It was a slow-moving contest that clocked in at 4 hours, 48 minutes.

The game had exciting moments. John Hicks hit a bases-loaded triple in the fourth inning, tying the game for the Rainiers.

Each team hit a homer in the ninth inning: Stefen Romero a go-ahead shot off hard-throwing Archimedes Caminero in the top of the inning, and KiKe’ Hernandez hit a gravity-defying game-tying liner in the bottom of the ninth.

A scorching-hot hitter stayed that way: New Orleans first baseman Justin Bour homered in his first two at-bats and went 4-for-4 in the game. He’s homered in three straight games against Tacoma and is 7-for-12 with 4 HRs in the series.

There were injuries: Jesus Montero strained his left oblique swinging the bat in the seventh inning, and he’s going to be out for a while. Julio Morban crashed into the outfield fence during the same inning, leaving the game – I’ll get more information on his status tonight at the ballpark.

There were arguments: In the bottom of the seventh inning, New Orleans manager Andy Haines argued for a long time, trying to get an interference call on a double play turn overruled. Had he won his argument, the tying run would have scored. He didn’t win it.

There was an ejection: Tacoma reliever Todd Coffey argued a play at first base when he was covering the bag on a grounder, and then was immediately called for a balk by the same umpire on the next pitch (Coffey had not balked since 2008). At the end of the inning, Coffey was ejected, and some folding chairs from the Rainiers dugout somehow flew onto the field.

The Rainiers won it in the 12th, scoring two runs.Justin Smoak doubled in the go-ahead run, and Hicks singled him home. Tacoma needed both runs, as New Orleans got one and had the tying runner in scoring position before Matt Palmer recorded the final out.

The Rainiers keep on winning – they are 5-2 over the last week, 16-8 over the last 24, and 39-22 in the last 61.

Friday’s game starts at 5:00 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 4:45 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Taijuan Walker (5-3, 4.91) against New Orleans RHP Elih Villanueva (10-8, 3.99).

Links:

The Rainiers go for the series win tonight, then we move on to Round Rock on Saturday.


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