Triple-A All-Star Game Today

July 16, 2014

Four Tacoma Rainiers will take the field when the Pacific Coast League takes on the International League in the Triple-A All-Star Game today at 4:00 (Pacific) in Durham, North Carolina.

Tacoma will be represented by infielders Chris Taylor, Gabriel Noriega, and Nick Franklin along with relief pitcher Logan Kensing.

Taylor (shortstop) and Noriega (third base) were originally voted in as starters, but it turns out that all three might start because starting second baseman Arismendy Alcantara of Iowa was promoted to the Chicago Cubs, clearing a path for Franklin to start at second base.

We could have an almost-all-Tacoma infield starting the all-star game!

At any rate, with all of these Rainiers in action this could be one of the most fun Triple-A All-Star Games to watch in recent years.

The game will be televised nationally on the MLB Network, and the national radio broadcast will air on our flagship station 850 AM. While I’m not positive, I’m pretty sure that the internet radio stream will be available right here.

Links:

Below the jump, you can find the Triple-A All-Star Drinking Game. Read the rest of this entry »


Out Of The Cellar

July 13, 2014

Tacoma beat Fresno on Saturday night, 7-2, for the Rainiers third consecutive victory.

This win moved Tacoma past Fresno in the standings, and pulled the Rainiers out of last place in the Pacific-North division standings for the first time since May 15.

The Rainiers are on an extended streak of good play. Tacoma has gone 20-10 over the last 30 games, and has pulled within three games of .500 at 46-49 overall.

Yesterday Taijuan Walker started, Jesus Montero hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and Tacoma took advantage of Fresno mistakes to add four runs in the fifth.

Walker survived without his best stuff. He made it through five innings and allowed one run, with one walk and one strikeout. He threw 83 pitches (50 strikes) and came away with the victory.

Walker is scheduled to start the first game after the break in Reno on Thursday, and he will be in line to resume his role as the Mariners fifth starter after that.

Today the Rainiers go for their fourth straight win, and a series sweep. That would be a fantastic way to go into the all-star break!

Sunday’s game starts at 1:35 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 1:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Matt Palmer (1-7, 5.12) against Fresno RHP Mitch Lively (6-4, 5.12).

The all-star break starts after Sunday’s game, and the Rainiers are off until Thursday when the season resumes in Reno.

This blog will take Monday and Tuesday off, but I’ll post something in advance of the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday (the game is at 4:00 (Pacific), televised on MLB Network and radio on 850 AM).

In the meantime, here’s my rooting interest for the all-star break:

  • Monday: I’m pulling for ex-Rainiers outfielder Adam Jones to win the MLB Home Run Derby.
  • Tuesday: we need the American League to win the MLB all-star game, securing home field advantage for the Mariners upcoming World Series run.
  • Wednesday: final score Pacific Coast League 34, International League 0. And at least one Rainiers player hits a homer off the bull and wins a steak.

Links:

  • In the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune, Taijuan Walker says that he didn’t have his good fastball last night.
  • My minor league notebook for the TNT previews the Triple-A All-Star Game.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook includes an item on James Paxton, who will be joining the Rainiers shortly after the all-star break if things go well.
  • Hisashi Iwakuma was dealing on his own bobblehead night and the Mariners beat the A’s.
  • The MLB Futures Game is today and Mariners prospects Gabriel Guerrero and DJ Peterson are scheduled to be in the starting lineup. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times is there, so he should have some good stuff coming on his Mariners blog later.
  • The Times has a big section on Felix Hernandez and his ten years with the Mariners. Lots of good stuff here: Larry Stone has a column on Felix’s past and future, Ryan Divish has an in-depth feature, retired all-star Michael Young talks about the poker game of batting against Felix, and Mike Zunino discusses catching Felix.
  • There is an awesome display of historical baseball letters currently showing in Tacoma, John McGrath writes. I’ve got to check this out.
  • McGrath’s MLB rankings are an excellent way to get caught up on the current landscape in the big leagues.
  • Mariners pitching prospect Victor Sanchez tossed a gem for Double-A Jackson last night.
  • In the PCL, Sacramento’s lead in the Pac-North is up to 5.5 games after another win against second-place Reno. The Aces ain’t helping the Rainiers at all right now.
  • Las Vegas lost in the late innings to Albuquerque, 6-5, but all-star Allan Dykstra is going to try to hit the bull in Durham at the Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby.
  • Grant Green‘s pinch-hit RBI double gave Salt Lake a ten-inning win at El Paso last night. The Chicken is 40 and Ted G. is 60, but they’ll make a rare appearance at tonight’s Chihuahuas game. It’s amazing that Ted can still do this at 60 – he’s going to do his full show, and it’s always 100 degrees in El Paso.
  • After a rough initial stint in the majors, top prospect Andrew Heaney‘s struggles continued as New Orleans lost to Memphis, 5-2.
  • The Sky Sox game – and even worse, Used Car Night – were both suspended due to rain last night.
  • Oklahoma City and Iowa split a doubleheader in Des Moines. I-Cubs slugger Kris Bryant is in the starting lineup in today’s Futures Game.
  • Nashville’s bullpen was blazing in a 5-3 win over Round Rock. Sounds pitchers had 15 strikeouts.

That’s it until Wednesday. See ya’ in a few days!


Rainiers Walk-Off Winners As Almonte Improves

July 12, 2014

Abraham Almonte singled home Gabriel Noriega with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning, giving Tacoma a 3-2 victory over Fresno on Friday night.

Almonte’s hit finished off the Rainiers PCL-leading 13th extra-innings game of the season. Tacoma has gone 8-5 in those contests.

The Rainiers benefited from an excellent start by Erasmo Ramirez – the best outing he has had for Tacoma this year.

Ramirez lasted seven innings, giving up just three hits and two walks. He allowed two runs but only one was earned, and he struck out six.

Back to Almonte, he’s been improved lately and is playing like he did last year for Tacoma.

In 33 games played since June 1, Almonte is batting .307 with four homers and 18 RBI. He’s had 127 at-bats, with 14 walks and 29 strikeouts during that period. His on-base percentage is .376, and he’s slugging .472.

These recent results are more in line with the 2014 expectations for Almonte, who was Tacoma’s team MVP last year and won the Mariners starting CF job in spring training – only to have a disastrous first two months of the season.

If he keeps this up, Almonte will eventually earn another shot at the big leagues.

Tonight is one of the big annual events at Cheney Stadium: Pink At The Park Night.

The Rainiers players and coaches will wear special pink uniforms during the game, and fans can bid on them at a live auction after the game. All proceeds from the jersey sale will be donated to the Carol Milgard Breast Center.

Also, there will be a pregame ceremony to honor breast cancer survivors and support those currently battling the disease.

Saturday’s game starts at 7:05 PM (Pacific) – 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 (2-1, 4.11) against Fresno RHP Chris Heston (7-4, 3.70).

Links:

  • Abraham Almonte talked about his game-winning hit in The News Tribune.
  • The Mariners won the first game against Oakland as Felix Hernandez was dealing.
  • The feeling at Safeco Field was electric, Larry Stone writes.
  • Justin Smoak was called up and trade rumors continue to follow the Mariners – check in on Bob Dutton’s notebook for all of the latest.
  • Sports Illustrated has an article on underrated Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager.
  • Baseball America has a 24-minute podcast all about the Triple-A All-Star Game.
  • Sacramento increased its lead in the Pac-North to 4.5 games over second-place Reno with a series-opening 6-3 win over the aces at Raley Field last night.
  • Salt Lake tamed the Chihuahuas, 4-2.
  • Albuquerque split a doubleheader at Las Vegas, even though Wilmer Flores kept hitting home runs.
  • Omaha whacked Colorado Springs, 9-1, as Sky Sox pitcher Juan Nicasio moved to the bullpen.
  • Iowa beat Oklahoma City 7-4, and after the game Javier Baez and Kris Bryant packed up and headed off to the MLB Futures Game.
  • Nashville scored first at home so it was all over. The Sounds beat Round Rock, 7-3.
  • New Orleans jumped all over St. Louis Cardinals prospect Marco Gonzalez in a 6-4 win over Memphis.
  • On the 35th anniversary of Disco Demolition Night, tonight the New Orleans Zephyrs are hosting Disco Resurrection Night. The Zephyrs apparently think that won’t cause a riot – I, however, am not so sure. Does anyone want a resurrection? Is it worth rioting to prevent one?

No Pitching Depth? No Problem!

July 10, 2014

Tacoma had a shortage of available pitchers to work Thursday’s series finale in Salt Lake City, so they did the best thing possible to rectify the situation: they scored 18 runs.

On top of that, the few pitchers who actually were rested and ready did a terrific job, and Tacoma downed Salt Lake 18-2.

The Rainiers split the four-game series, and went 4-3 on the road trip. The club is back within five games of .500.

I wish I had time to write a long post on last night’s game, because it was one of those true oddities that come around in the PCL season. Unfortunately today is a travel day and I don’t have time to do it justice.

Some good stuff can be found in the TNT story linked below. Ty Kelly homered twice and drove in seven runs. Jesus Montero went 5-for-6. John Hicks made his Triple-A debut.

But in the newspaper story, I didn’t get to write about what I thought was the coolest part.

Up 18-0 to the bottom of the ninth, Tacoma was out of pitching and figured it would be safe to go with position players.

As always, Leury Bonilla was first. However, Bonilla couldn’t throw strikes (a rarity for him; he’s pitched a number of times in blowouts over the years because he can throw strikes). He walked four straight hitters to start the inning.

The only other healthy man on the bench was Humberto Quintero, who was not in the starting lineup.

So Quintero relieved Bonilla, got a first-pitch double play grounder, walked a man, and then got the final out of the game.

The funny part is that when manager Roy Howell went to the mound to change pitchers and bring in Quintero, I went to a 90-second commercial break just like we always do during pitching changes.

Welp, I had a problem. Quintero came running in, threw just four warm-up pitches (instead of the allotted eight), and proclaimed he was ready.

By the time we came out of the standard-length commercial break, Quintero had already gotten a double-play grounder and thrown two pitches to the next batter!

I love this guy. He should pitch all of the time.

Now the Rainiers are home to face Fresno, in a three-game series leading up to the all-star break. Tacoma just won two-of-three at Fresno at the beginning of the road trip.

Fresno has the man who leads all of Triple-A baseball in home runs. Adam Duvall has launched 26 this year, and keeping him in the ballpark will be a priority for Tacoma pitchers this weekend.

Friday’s game starts at 7:05 PM (Pacific) – 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 (1-4, 4.54) against Fresno LHP Mike Kickham (6-5, 3.61).

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune has details on the game, but no quotes because the game ended too late.
  • Welp, the Mariners lost to the Twins last night, 4-2.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook has a bunch of good stuff, including an item explaining why reliever Todd Coffey may not be with the Rainiers for much longer.
  • Jerry Brewer has a column about the importance of the Mariners series against Oakland which starts tonight.
  • In the PCL, Fresno edged Sacramento 3-2 as Adam Duvall went deep (note: Duvall is 12-for-21 with three HRs and 10 RBI in five games since being optioned to Fresno by the Giants). Apparently the Rainiers won’t have to deal with rehabilitating Marco Scutaro.
  • Las Vegas first baseman Brandon Allen went bonkers in his old stomping grounds, going 3-for-5 with a homer and five RBI in a 9-4 win at Reno.
  • El Paso and Albuquerque split a doubleheader – one of three twinbills the ‘Topes are playing this week, including two in a row!
  • Round Rock whacked Colorado Springs, 10-4, as Jared Hoying prepares for the all-star game.
  • Francisco Pena – who will be in the Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby – ripped two dingers as Omaha defeated Iowa, 7-1.
  • New Orleans out-slugged Oklahoma City, 10-8, picking up a road series win.
  • Memphis dropped Nashville, 1-0.

Hey it’s Friday Night Fireworks tonight – come on out to the park for the game, and stay for the pyrotechnics!


Smoak’s Big Night Not Enough

July 10, 2014

Justin Smoak launched two home runs and drove in three, but the Rainiers lost in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night, 10-4.

The Rainiers are now 3-3 on this seven-game road trip, so the final result for the trip depends on the last game tonight. Tacoma heads home on Friday for a three-game series against Fresno leading into the all-star break.

The break can’t come quickly enough for the Tacoma bullpen, which is dwindling in numbers. The Mariners unusual decision to have a bullpen day in the big leagues today has caused them to call up a number of relievers – the latest being Lucas Luetge, who was summoned late last night.

Tacoma is down to five relief pitchers here in Salt Lake City, with two of them (Forrest Snow and Stephen Kohlscheen) unavailable tonight after pitching long outings yesterday.

Tacoma’s only available relief pitchers for tonight are Carson Smith, Todd Coffey, and Logan Kensing. So a nice, long starting pitching performance would be ideal.

Thursday’s game starts at 6:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 5:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP James Gillheeney (3-7, 5.83) against Salt Lake RHP Jarrett Grube (6-3, 4.82).

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune, in which Justin Smoak talks about his two homers.
  • Seattle got creamed by the Twins last night, 8-1.
  • The Mariners lined up their starting rotation so that their best three pitchers face Oakland before the all-star break and Los Angeles Of Anaheim after it. As a part of this, Taijuan Walker was optioned to Tacoma and will make two starts for the Rainiers.
  • Larry Stone wrote a feature column on Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon.
  • John Sickels wrote a “prospect retrospective” on Kyle Seager.
  • In the PCL, recently demoted Tommy Milone helped pitch Sacramento to a 6-2 win at Fresno. This notebook updates us on Adam Duvall and his lack of all-star status despite leading all of Triple-A baseball in home runs.
  • Reno blew away Las Vegas, 15-4. Mark Trumbo has homered in three straight rehab games for Reno.
  • El Paso and Albuquerque were suspended by rain in the first inning last night. They’ll try to finish it today. Nice pic of ‘Topes manager Damon Berryhill getting rained on in this link.
  • New Orleans won in Oklahoma City, 4-3. RedHawks outfielder Austin Wates plays the guitar.
  • Iowa outlasted Omaha for a 14-inning, 2-1 victory. Logan Watkins hit the decisive home run.
  • Tim Cooney and Memphis shut down Nashville, 8-1. Nashville pitcher Mike Fiers was added to the all-star team.
  • Colorado Springs rocked Round Rock, 12-4. Rafael Ynoa went 5-for-5.

Last game of the road trip!


Rainiers Slug Their Way To Victory

July 9, 2014

Tacoma scored 14 runs over the first five innings on the way to a 14-7 victory at Salt Lake on Tuesday night.

Abraham Almonte led off the game with a home run, and we were off. Tacoma scored five runs in the first inning, one in the second, three in the third, took the fourth inning off, and then scored five runs in the top of the fifth to grab a 14-1 lead.

After two hits (but no runs) in the sixth, Tacoma had 14 runs on 19 hits. That was one run and one hit away from the team’s season-high in each category – and then the team was no-hit the rest of the way.

Not that it mattered. The Rainiers cruised to the win, and perhaps they saved some hits and runs for tonight.

Seven different players had multiple hits last night, with Xavier Avery, Ty Kelly, Humberto Quintero, and Stefen Romero collecting three each. Almonte, Romero, and Jesus Montero each homered.

Wednesday’s game starts at 6:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 5:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (4-4, 5.58) against Salt Lake RHP Caleb Clay (1-1, 3.44).

Links:


Catcher Shake-Up After Comeback Bid Comes Up Short

July 8, 2014

Tacoma’s attempt at a big ninth inning comeback came up one run short on Monday night, when the Rainiers scored three runs in the ninth and lost to Salt Lake, 6-5.

After the game, the Mariners designated back-up catcher John Buck for assignment, and Tacoma catcher Jesus Sucre is on his way to Seattle.

This came just an hour or two after Sucre gunned down one of the top base stealers in Triple-A baseball, Salt Lake’s Tony Campana. Sucre threw out 51.2% of opposing base stealers, which ranked second-best in the PCL.

Defense is Sucre’s calling card – he’s also good at framing pitches, and pitchers enjoy working with him. That’s why he’s on his way back to the big leagues, according to the writers covering the Mariners.

As for the Rainiers, I expect them to add a new catcher today. John Hicks has been with Double-A Jackson for a year-and-a-half and he’s having a good season at the plate. The other Double-A catcher is Mike Dowd (the Mariners released veteran Manny Pina in June). This just in: Hicks is joining the Rainiers.

Tonight the Rainiers look to even the series in Salt Lake City, and I’ll be very curious to see if tonight’s listed starting pitcher actually pitches. The Mariners still need a starter for Thursday against the Twins, and there is no obvious move in terms of who it will be.

Tuesday’s game starts at 6:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 5:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jordan Pries (5-5, 2.97) against Salt Lake LHP Justin Thomas (4-7, 5.84).

Links:

Reminder: the Rainiers come home on Friday for a three-game weekend series against Fresno. We’d love to see you out at the ballpark.


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