Back On The Field

April 9, 2014

It was another unplanned night off last night – our third rainout of the season, in six days. The make-up game will be played as a part of a doubleheader on Saturday, May 24.

It wasn’t a bad day for former Rainiers reliever Bobby LaFromboise. He was with El Paso after the Padres claimed him off waivers at the end of spring training, and yesterday he was called up to the big leagues to be the “26th man” for the Padres doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians. He didn’t pitch in the first game this morning, but maybe he’ll get into the second.

The forecast looks more promising for tonight and we should get one in.

Tonight’s game is 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. El Paso starts LHP Juan Oramas (0-0, 9.00) against Tacoma LHP James Gillheeney.

Links:

  • Don Ruiz used the rainout to catch up with El Paso skipper Pat Murphy, who “couldn’t be more excited to be a Chihuahua.”
  • The Mariners won their home opener, picking up a 5-3 win over the Angels to improve to 5-2 on the season. Seattle is 4-0 against the Angels.
  • The News Tribune has a Mariners opening day photo gallery.
  • Seahawks mania spread to the Mariners home opener. John McGrath wonders if it might be just what the Mariners need.
  • James Paxton felt a strain in his back and left the game yesterday – so it’s a good thing that Taijuan Walker is set to throw 85 pitches in the Double-A Jackson home opener tonight. This should be Walker’s final rehab start.
  • Corey Hart had his first big game as a Mariner, Larry Stone writes.
  • It looks like Baseball America is going to do a daily minor league round-up – here is today’s.
  • Ben Lindbergh at Baseball Prospectus has a fun piece (for subscribers) looking at the minor league career statistical leaders among players who have never appeared in the majors. I know, that sounds confusing, but it makes sense once you look at it.
  • In the PCL, Albuquerque won its fourth in a row despite an inside-the-park home run by Reno’s Didi Gregorius.
  • Salt Lake beat Fresno in the 12th inning on C.J. Cron‘s walk-off home run – and friend-of-the-blog Steve Klauke called it.
  • Zach Lutz is swinging a hot bat, leading Las Vegas to a 5-1 start. The 51s beat Sacramento last night, 7-6. You might prefer to say that the River Cats “tubled.”
  • Colorado Springs split a doubleheader in Round Rock. Tyler Chatwood made a nice start.
  • New Orleans is in an early-season losing streak: the Zephyrs dropped their fifth in a row yesterday, an 8-1 decision to Oklahoma City.
  • Nashville pitchers struck out 13 Iowa Cubs in a 4-1 win last night. Cubs pitching coordinator Mike Mason thinks the Iowa staff is pretty good. Good stuff from Chicago on top prospect Javier Baez, his difficult start to the season, and player development.
  • The Royals have been raiding Omaha’s pitching staff, which might be why the Storm Chasers gave up six runs in the ninth inning and lost to Memphis, 9-4.
  • When we go to Fresno I’ll definitely try that tri-tip sandwich, but you won’t find me anywhere near the Grizzly Eggs.
  • I will link to any Pat Jordan piece, including one I have not read yet, because I know it will be awesome. If you have never read A False Spring just get started already.

The sun is out as I press “publish.” Let’s play tonight.


Tuesday Night Rainout

April 8, 2014

It sure was beautiful yesterday, wasn’t it?

The Tuesday night game between El Paso and Tacoma has been rained out. It will be made up in a doubleheader when El Paso comes back to town, on Saturday May 24. Start time will be the same as originally planned: 5:05 pm.

We still plan to play Wednesday. This current storm is supposed to pass through late tonight. Hopefully the forecast is correct and we are good to play on Wednesday night.

What all of this means in the big picture: even if you are a Rainiers die-hard season ticket holder, you are now allowed to stay home and watch the Mariners home opener guilt-free!


Chihuahuas Hit Like Big Dogs

April 8, 2014

The first-ever Rainiers vs. Chihuahuas game was a lesson for this broadcaster/blogger: don’t make fun of the Chihuahuas team name for an entire winter, or else they will hit four home runs and build a 9-0 lead.

El Paso went on to win the game, 9-5, the Rainiers fell to 1-3 on the season, and I apologize to El Paso for making fun of their dumb team name.

The good news yesterday was that Nick Franklin continues to hit. He went 2-for-3 with a homer and a single, and also drew a walk. Franklin is 8-for-15 with two homers to start the season.

Jesus Sucre also connected on a solo homer – and it was his first at the Triple-A level. Sucre had not homered since April 25, 2012 when he was playing for Double-A Jackson.

Tacoma could use a good starting pitching performance. So far Blake Beavan‘s complete game victory in the opener is the lone pitching highlight of the season. The team needs another one.

Tonight’s game is 6:05 – pregame starts at 5:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. El Paso starts LHP Juan Oramas against Tacoma LHP James Gillheeney.

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. In the story, Chance Ruffin explains what happened yesterday.
  • The Mariners have their home opener tonight, with James Paxton on the hill. Bob Dutton has a fun preview story.
  • Larry Stone gives us his takeaways from the Mariners 4-2 start.
  • Dave Boling writes that while it is a small sample size, but the Mariners improvement could be real.
  • Remember the other day when I wrote that 40-year-old Las Vegas outfielder Bobby Abreu was the oldest player in the PCL? Whoops! Omaha started Brett Tomko on his 41st birthday yesterday, and not only did he break some records but he also pitched well and beat Memphis, 3-2.
  • Salt Lake survived some late-game jams and held on for a 5-4 win over Fresno. Ex-Rainiers lefty Justin Thomas started for Salt Lake. The Bees have a local player in veteran reliever Brandon Lyons.
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka made his first start for Las Vegas, but he was long gone by the time the 51s walked-off Sacramento on Matt den Dekker‘s game-winning hit.
  • Albuquerque went to Reno, Joc Pederson kept hitting, and the Isotopes beat the Aces 4-2.
  • The Iowa Cubs picked up a 4-1 win over Nashville. Christian Villanueva hit a 3-run homer and Brett Jackson notched a couple of hits.
  • Oklahoma City outfielder Austin Wates had three hits and a homer in the RedHawks 6-4 win at New Orleans.
  • The Colorado Springs at Round Rock game was rained out. The local paper has an article on Express catcher Chris Snyder.

The Mariners game is sold out. The Rainiers game is not. You know what to do!


Topes Take Series; Chihuahuas Arrive Tonight

April 7, 2014

The weather was decent on Sunday – dry with spots of sunshine – but the Rainiers lost the game to the Albuquerque Isotopes, 9-3. The Isotopes won the series, two games to one.

Anthony Fernandez allowed eight hits and four runs over 4.1 innings in his Triple-A debut. He left the game trailing 4-2 in the fifth inning, and ended up taking the loss.

Tacoma’s offense was quiet. The team had just five hits, with Cole Gillespie and James Jones each getting two. Nick Franklin had the other hit.

Franklin and Gillespie have hit safely in all three games this season, and have been the leaders of the offense in the early going.

Tacoma used five relievers with varying degrees of success. Jonathan Arias, Logan Kensing, and Clay Rapada looked sharp. Lucas Luetge gave up a pair if runs (although he wasn’t helped by an error in the infield), and Carson Smith couldn’t find the strike zone in his Triple-A debut.

Now the Rainiers welcome the new PCL team to town: the El Paso Chihuahuas arrive for a four-game series that will take us through Thursday.

Formerly the Tucson Padres, El Paso is the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. A new downtown stadium is being completed in El Paso, but it won’t be ready until May so the Chihuahuas are opening the season on a 28-day road trip.

Manager Pat Murphy moved from Tucson to El Paso with the club, and he guided them to a four-game series split st Reno.

The Chihuahuas have two ex-Rainiers on the roster: reliever Bobby LaFromboise and catcher Adam Moore. The biggest name on the squad belongs to former major league outfielder Jeff Francoeur, who hit the first home run in Chihuahuas history on Thursday. I suppose their top prospects are pitchers Burch Smith and Keyvius Sampson.

Tonight’s game is 6:05 – pregame starts at 5:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. El Paso starts RHP Branch Kloess against Tacoma RHP Chance Ruffin.

Bob Robertson joins me on the broadcast tonight, and he’ll work all Monday home games this season. Bob will call play-by-play during the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings.

Links:

  • Rainiers manager Roy Howell told The News Tribune that falling behind in the count was the big problem for Tacoma pitching yesterday.
  • The Mariners dropped the final game of their road trip in Oakland, 6-3. Still, a 4-2 road trip is an excellent start to the season. The Mariners home opener is Tuesday.
  • One positive from the big leagues yesterday was the scoreless inning tossed by reliever Dominic Leone in his major league debut.
  • Last year’s Rainiers first baseman Rich Poythress tweeted that he has signed with the Miami Marlins organization. We wish him the best.
  • If you want to read about what’s going on in the major leagues, start with Jonah Keri’s “The 30.
  • In the PCL, Reno wiped out El Paso yesterday, 9-1. Top prospect Archie Bradley tossed five scoreless innings for the Aces in his Triple-A debut. Archie Bradley is not Aces mascot Archie.
  • Las Vegas manager Wally Backman had one of his patented ejections, and it spurred the 51s to a 6-5 walk-off win over Fresno. Zach Lutz had the game-winning hit.
  • Salt Lake lost to Sacramento, 9-6, for a series split. The Bees were happy to see Taylor Lindsey knock his first Triple-A homer.
  • Top prospect Javier Baez had a brutal first week in Triple-A, getting ejected and into a fight with an Iowa teammate, but he did launch a pinch-hit homer for his first Triple-A dinger on Sunday. Iowa beat Memphis, 4-3.
  • Omaha received a strong start from Danny Duffy in a 6-5 win over Nashville.
  • Colorado Springs edged New Orleans, 2-1, and took three-of-four on the road.
  • No link today (story is behind a paywall), but Oklahoma City downed Round Rock, 9-1, behind five perfect innings from starter David Martinez. The RedHawks use a “tandem starter” system at the beginning of the season, so Martinez was going to be pulled after five innings regardless of the results.
  • Broadcasting tip: taking care of your equipment is a necessary part of the job. Buster Olney tells us how he breaks in a new microphone.

It’s a nice day today in Tacoma. Come on out to the ballpark!


A New Day

April 6, 2014

We suffered another rainout on Saturday night. That game with Albuquerque will be made up in a doubleheader on Friday, June 6. Start time will be bumped up at 6:05.

We’re hoping to get one played today. Start time is 1:35 – pregame starts at 1:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here (So far this season I’ve done three pregame shows but only called one night of actual baseball). Albuquerque starts RHP Zach Lee against Tacoma LHP Anthony Fernandez – both pitchers are making their Triple-A debuts.

Links:

  • My first Minor League Notebook for The News Tribune is a look at where some of the top prospects in the PCL are playing.
  • Felix Hernandez brought his A-game to Oakland and the Mariners beat the A’s, 3-1. That guaranteed a winning record for the season-opening road trip.
  • New Mariners closer Fernando Rodney nailed down his first save. In this notebook: it sounds like Hisashi Iwakuma is going to rehab with the Rainiers when he is ready.
  • They are still talking about the Friday night “rainout” in Oakland, which was really a human error because the grounds crew didn’t tarp the field overnight on Thursday evening. John McGrath writes that the Mariners should have been awarded a forfeit. Mariners player representative Charlie Furbush had never dealt with anything like this before.
  • I knew this day was coming, but that doesn’t make it any less sad: it’s our first Sunday of the MLB season, and there is no Larry Stone’s Inside Pitch in the Seattle Times today. Let’s have a link of silence.
  • Ryan Divish tried to fill the void with his version of Stone’s power rankings.
  • Which Mariner are you? I got Kyle Seager.
  • Former Rainiers ace Michael Pineda was terrific in his Yankees debut yesterday. It’s been a long road for Michael, who is an easy guy to root for if you’ve ever met him.
  • Important notice for fans: your popcorn bucket is not a glove.
  • Down at Class-A High Desert, future “crafty lefty” Tyler Pike tossed five strong innings and D.J. Peterson went 4-for-4 in a 9-3 win.
  • In the PCL, we had an epic comeback: trailing 6-1 going to the ninth in Las Vegas, Fresno scored seven runs and emerged with an 8-6 victory. The final six runs scored with two outs.
  • Noah Syndergaard may be a great pitcher, but he lacks as a first base coach, Ron Kantowski writes amusingly.
  • At age 40, I think that Bobby Abreu is the oldest player in the PCL right now.
  • First Chiahuahuas-related headline alert: El Paso nips Reno. There will be more. Speaking of more, former Rainiers catcher Adam Moore had two hits for the little doggies.
  • Michael Taylor had a big game to help Sacramento defeat Salt Lake for the River Cats first win of the season.
  • The Rockies have some pitching prospects, like Tyler Matzek of Colorado Springs. He struck out 11 New Orleans Zephyrs over just five innings and earned a win last night.
  • Veteran Kevin Kouzmanoff helped Round Rock beat Oklahoma City last night, 7-4. Scott Baker had a good start, allowing one run in six innings.
  • It’s been a rough start for top Cubs prospect Javier Baez, who is 0-for-9 with six strikeouts and now one ejection for Iowa.
  • Omaha and Nashville split a doubleheader.

Let’s play a game today.


Saturday Night Rained Out

April 5, 2014

Saturday night’s Rainiers-Isotopes game at Cheney Stadium has been postponed due to rain. The game will be made up as a part of a doubleheader on Friday, June 6th. That game will begin at 6:05.

Sunday’s 1:35 pm series final is still going forward as planned. Hopefully it will be a lot less rainy tomorrow,


Season Starts With A Split

April 5, 2014

The Rainiers and Albuquerque Isotopes split their season-opening doubleheader on Friday night.

Tacoma won the first game in a wipeout, 11-1. The Rainiers blasted 18 hits despite going to the plate in only six innings. Everybody in the Tacoma lineup had at least one hit, and seven of the nine starters had multiple hits. Blake Beavan made all of that offense feel like a luxury by tossing a complete game four-hitter – it was just the second career complete game for Beavan.

The Rainiers changed pitching plans for game two, electing to turn it into a “bullpen game” since the team currently has eight relievers and every one of them was fresh and ready to pitch.

Nick Hill, Clay Rapada, Brandon Maurer, Zach Miner, and Logan Bawcom each took the mound for Tacoma in the second game, but the Rainiers lost to the Isotopes 6-3. Former Mariners and Rainiers catcher Miguel Olivo was the big star for the ‘Topes, hitting a three-run double in the first inning and adding an RBI single in the seventh.

Tacoma actually out-hit the Isotopes in the game two loss, and when you add it all up the Rainiers offense was impressive: 14 runs over the two games, with 26 hits. The team batted .413 (26-for-63) in the doubleheader.

Nick Franklin led the way with five hits and a homer, but Cole Gillespie wasn’t far behind with four hits and a homer. Ji-Man Choi and Jesus Montero each had three hits, and James Jones notched three RBI.

It was an impressive offensive show. Hopefully it will continue today. And tomorrow. And the next day…

Today’s game starts at 5:05. Albuquerque starts RHP Zach Lee against Tacoma LHP Anthony Fernandez. Both pitchers are making their Triple-A debuts. The broadcast starts at 4:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here.

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. In the photo, Jesus Sucre is the happy guy in the National Anthem lineup. I can’t tell who the singing/yawning player in the middle is.
  • The TNT has a dozen photos from the game in this gallery.
  • Yesterday the Mariners designated Hector Noesi for assignment, and called up reliever Dominic Leone from Tacoma. Leone never pitched in a game for the Rainiers, but he’s on his way to the big leagues (“Jaime (Navarro) is a great pitching coach – he gets guys to the big leagues before they even pitch in a game,” Roy Howell cracked on the pregame show yesterday).
  • There are some good quotes from Leone on his pitches and style in this blog post.
  • The Mariners game in Oakland last night was cancelled due to strange circumstances. Reminds me of a Rainiers trip to Tucson years ago, during monsoon season – we flew down there, it was a beautiful day, and the game was cancelled because some yahoo forgot to tarp the field the day before when a big monsoon hit. So, we all enjoyed a pleasant evening off.
  • For the Mariners farm report, go here. The big news was at Advanced-A High Desert, where Taijuan Walker had a successful rehabilitation start and D.J. Peterson hit a two-run homer.
  • Did you see Giancarlo Stanton‘s 484-foot home run yesterday? You can’t see the ball in this video, but look at the people at sitting at that bar – they are looking up, watching the ball sail over them.
  • Former Rainiers pitcher Michael Pineda makes his Yankees debut today.
  • Baseball America has the annual list of the ten youngest players in each league. No Rainiers made the PCL Young Ten.
  • In the PCL, Las Vegas starter Noah Syndergaard is picking up a lot of nicknames. He also picked up his first Triple-A win in an 11-8 victory over Fresno last night.
  • Reno starter Mike Bolsinger delivered 6.2 shutout innings in the Aces 2-0 win over El Paso last night. The El Paso club did not make this list of the Top Ten Team Names in minor league baseball. Surprise!
  • Salt Lake clobbered Sacramento, 13-4. Grant Green had three hits, giving him a PCL-leading six hits after two games.
  • Nashville shortstop Hector Gomez spoiled the Omaha Storm Chasers home opener by launching a three-run homer.
  • Nick Tepesch was dealing and Round Rock shut out Oklahoma City, 5-0. In the story’s notes: we learn about an Oklahoma City pitcher who was blowing 101 MPH on opening day.
  • Memphis coasted to a 9-0 win at Iowa on the strength of a pair of homers from Greg Garcia. Cubs phenom Javier Baez went 0-for-4. The Iowa Cubs cut ties with veteran Casey Coleman before the game.
  • The Sky Sox had a big game from Kyle Parker in an 8-2 win at New Orleans.
  • Here’s an interesting bit of history from Colorado Springs on how the team got its name.
  • Found a grid with all of the PCL Opening Day rosters on one page.

See you at the park!


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