Rainiers Settle For Split In Reno

July 21, 2014

Another season has gone by without a series victory in Reno for Tacoma.

After winning the first two games of the four-game set, Tacoma had a golden opportunity to take their first-ever road series in Reno.

But Reno salvaged a split, winning 7-1 on Saturday before taking a rain-shortened 7-4 decision on Sunday.

Sunday’s was a tough one for Tacoma: the Rainiers scored four runs in the top of the first inning, only to see Reno score seven unanswered runs over the first four innings.

The rain started coming down in the fifth inning and it did not let up. After the seventh inning, the umpires called for the tarp. An hour and 41 minutes later, they called the game.

So Tacoma splits in Reno, and finished the season-series against Reno with a 7-9 record.

The Rainiers remained 8.5 games behind first-place Sacramento, but were bounced back into the cellar by Fresno. The Grizzlies have won three straight and claimed third place, 7.5 games back. Second-place Reno is 4.5 games out.

Now Tacoma comes home for a 10-game, eight-day homestand. Las Vegas arrives for the first five games, and they are in first place in the Pacific-South with a comfortable nine-game lead over El Paso.

Monday’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 LHP James Gillheeney (3-7, 5.66) against Las Vegas LHP Darin Gorski (2-3, 5.10).

Links:

That’s it for today – we’re travelling home!


Aces Hold Off Rainiers

July 20, 2014

Tacoma is going for its first-ever series win in Reno, and we knew it wouldn’t be easy.

After taking the first two games of the series with a 28-hit attack, the Rainiers bats slowed down and Reno took game three on Saturday night, 7-1.

Jesus Montero doubled in a run in the first inning, continuing his hot hitting. But after the first, Tacoma had just five singles the remainder of the game.

Tacoma starter Jordan Pries – who has been excellent almost all season – had a rough start. He allowed seven runs in four innings, including a game-breaking three-run homer to Garrett Weber with two outs in the fourth inning.

The Rainiers can still win the series with a victory this evening.

Sunday’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 Matt Palmer (1-7, 4.61) against Reno RHP Bo Schultz (7-6, 5.48).

Links:

The Rainiers return home on Monday to start an eight-day, ten-game homestand. There will be doubleheaders on Tuesday and Saturday, and an important five-game series against Sacramento closes the homestand out.


Could This Be The One?

July 19, 2014

After Friday night’s 7-3 victory, Tacoma has won the first two games of the current four-game series at Aces Ballpark.

Since this stadium was built in 2009, Tacoma has never won a series in it. Tacoma has played 11 four-game series in this place, losing nine of them and splitting two.

Now Tacoma can get a series win with just one more victory here. They’ll get two attempts to do it.

The Rainiers are playing good, clean baseball right now while winning five of the last six games.

Yesterday Taijuan Walker allowed a bunch of base runners – 11 in five innings – but showed an ability to make clutch pitches when he needed them, getting three double play grounders to escape jams.

Jesus Montero continued his hot hitting, going 3-for-5 with another homer. He’s 6-for-10 with two homers and seven RBI in the first two games of this series.

Also of note, Chris Taylor went 4-for-5 with two doubles, snapping a little 0-for-10 slide. It was Taylor’s third 4-hit game of the season.

And let’s not forget Xavier Avery lined a two-run homer in the second inning. Avery has hit five home runs in his last 49 at-bats, after hitting just two over the first three months of the season.

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 Jordan Pries (6-5, 3.46) against Reno RHP Mark Serrano (1-0, 4.91).

Links:


Rainiers Topple Aces, 7-5

July 18, 2014

Jesus Montero had another big game, and the all-star break couldn’t stop Tacoma’s winning ways as the Rainiers returned to action with a 7-5 win at Reno on Thursday night.

Montero went 3-for-5 with a home run and five RBI. The designated hitter is now 24-for-52 (.467) with four homers and 21 RBI over his last 12 games.

The big reason that Montero is on a tear right now is that the Rainiers are facing a lot of left-handed pitching – and he is lighting these guys up.

Tacoma also had a strong start from Erasmo Ramirez, and solid relief work from Stephen Kohlscheen and Todd Coffey.

Blake Beavan made his first rehab appearance for Tacoma, and he looked… rusty. Beavan issued two walks in the eighth inning, including a leadoff walk which led to a run scoring.

It looks like Beavan will be used from the bullpen initially as he continues his rehab. He’s been on the Mariners disabled list with shoulder tendonitis since mid-April.

There were no additional roster moves yesterday. Tacoma is currently playing with 11 position players and 13 pitchers on the roster, and there is one open spot.

The team is now 47-50 on the year – once again three games under .500 – and has won four of its last five games. Tacoma is 21-11 over the last 32 games.

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 Taijuan Walker (3-1, 3.79) against Reno RHP Charles Brewer (4-7, 6.12).

Links:

  • The game went long, so there are no quotes but there is a recap (and a good headline) in the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • Jeff Sullivan wrote an ode to Felix Hernandez‘s change-up.
  • For ESPN Insiders, the Mariners landed one player on Keith Law’s mid-season Top 50 Prospects list – and it’s not who you think it is.
  • Going into the second half, Lloyd McClendon gives a state of the Mariners address.
  • Mariners prospects appear in both good and bad ways on this week’s Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet.
  • In the PCL, Sacramento topped Albuquerque in 10 innings and 4 hours, 29 minutes by a score of 10-9. Shane Peterson hit three homers, Brock Peterson hit one, and Joc Pederson hit none. The game ended so late that I could only locate this report. The paper does have a story on baseball and chewing tobacco.
  • Fresno’s all-star contingent returned but the Grizzlies lost to El Paso, 7-6, despite Gary Brown‘s 4-for-5 showing.
  • J.B. Shuck helped Salt Lake to a 7-6 win over Las Vegas. Wade LeBlanc struck out 11.
  • Cubs top prospects Javier Baez and Kris Bryant both went deep in Iowa’s 7-0 win at Round Rock.
  • New Orleans and Omaha combined to hit eight home runs in the Zephyrs 14-4 win at Werner Park.
  • Colorado Springs and Memphis had their game postponed because a cancelled flight prevented the Sky Sox from getting to Memphis. They’ll play two on Saturday.
  • Nashville at Oklahoma City got rained out, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of healthy RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco. The RedHawks have a new pitching prospect in Tommy Shirley.

That’s it for today – let’s see if the Rainiers can make it two straight wins in Reno.


Taylor Honored, PCL Resumes Today

July 17, 2014

Tacoma returns to action after the all-star break tonight, with the first game of a four-game series at Reno set for 7:05.

The Rainiers were well-represented at the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday night in Durham, NC, with four player on the Pacific Coast League roster.

The PCL lost the game to the International League, 7-3, but it wasn’t not the fault of the Rainiers contingent.

Three-fourths of the starting infield was from Tacoma. Gabriel Noriega started at third base, Chris Taylor at shortstop, and Nick Franklin at second base. The fourth Rainier – reliever Logan Kensing – did not appear in the game.

Taylor ended up taking home the accolades, after going 3-for-4 with two doubles at the plate. His doubles came against Liam Hendricks and AJ Achter, and he singled off Mike Montgomery. He was named the PCL Player of the Game for his efforts.

Like Taylor, Franklin played all nine innings. He went 1-for-4, with an infield single against veteran reliever Bobby Korecky.

Noriega played the first five innings, going 0-for-2. He did reach base on a strike three wild pitch. Noriega was charged with a tough error, on a one-hop line drive that he made a diving attempt on. If this was a game that counted, I’m sure the call would have been changed to a hit after the game.

I have a feeling that Kensing didn’t mind not pitching, and may have been in favor of it. He’s logged a lot of relief innings this year and could probably use the break.

We’ll talk to one of these guys on the Rainiers pregame show either Thursday or Friday, to find out what the all-star experience was like.

Tacoma is back in action tonight, in a big series against division rival Reno. Time is getting thin for the Rainiers to make a run at the postseason, and a series victory – say, taking three-out-of-four – at Reno would be a big step in the right direction.

Of course, a series win here would be amazing for many reasons. Tacoma has still never won a series at Aces Ballpark – they came closest on the early trip this season, when Tacoma won the first two games only to lose the next two and settle for a disappointing split.

Thursday’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, 4.07) against Reno LHP Andrew Chafin (3-3, 5.83).

We’re going to have roster moves today, and the announcements are trickling in. Here’s what I know so far:

The Mariners recalled outfielder Stefen Romero, and optioned reliever Lucas Luetge to Tacoma.

Emergency fill-in outfielder Corey Simpson (who actually ended up starting two games) was transferred back to Everett.

Blake Beavan – who made a rehab start for High Desert earlier this week – had his assignment transferred to Tacoma, and I expect him to start for the Rainiers soon. He’s on the Mariners disabled list with shoulder tendinitis.

There will be more moves, and I’ll learn the rest of them when I get to the park. The team needs an AAA-capable outfielder and hopefully this has been addressed.

Links:

  • Here’s the MiLB.com game story on the Triple-A All-Star Game.
  • Bob Dutton did one of his Mariners Q&As which answers a lot of good questions.
  • You want trade speculation? Dutton has trade speculation.
  • In this blog post, you can see that the Mariners pushed back Taijuan Walker in the Tacoma rotation and Jack Z says they are slowing his return to the majors.
  • If you want to see a PCL game on TV, the New Orleans at Omaha game is tonight’s Minor League Game of the Week on the CBS Sports Network. Note that a Rainiers road game at Salt Lake is scheduled to be televised in two weeks, so mark your calendar.
  • By now you have probably seen the El Paso Chihuahuas specialty jerseys. But if by chance you have not, welp, you better click here right now.

Off to the ballpark – let’s get this “second half” underway. Tacoma plays 48 games in 47 days to finish the season.


Reno Takes Ugly Slugfest, 15-11.

May 9, 2014

There are fun slugfests, and there are ugly slugfests.

I’m going to classify Thursday night’s 15-11 Tacoma loss in Reno as an ugly one.

Reno did a little slugging, hitting three homers and a double along with 14 singles. But Tacoma managed to score 11 runs with just 12 hits – and no homers. The Rainiers had nine singles and three doubles.

How did all of the runs score?

Walks, hit-by-pitches, errors, and even a rare catcher’s interference.

This was a game that featured 14 walks and six sacrifice flies. That’s not a fun slugfest.

The game was played at a crawling pace. We hit the two-hour mark during the bottom of the fourth inning. Things sped up later, and it finished at 3 hours, 58 minutes.

It will probably go down as the worst-pitched Rainiers game of 2014. Reno scored in each of the first seven innings. Reno’s leadoff man reached base in all eight innings that the Aces batted in – and three of them were leadoff walks.

Xavier Avery may remember it as a fun night. Batting leadoff for Tacoma, Avery went 5-for-6 for his second five-hit game as a member of the Rainiers (he did it on September 1 last year, too).

Avery had hits in each of his first five at-bats. He came to the plate to lead off the ninth, looking to become the fifth Tacoma player this century to record six hits in a game. Alas, he grounded out to the first baseman.

Friday’s game starts at 6:35 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP James Gillheeney (1-2, 7.59) against Reno LHP Randy Wolf (4-1, 4.18).

This will be just the fourth time Tacoma has faced a left-handed starting pitcher this season. There haven’t been many left-handed relievers, either – most of the Rainiers hitters have fewer than ten at-bats against left-handers this season.

Links:

  • My Rainiers game story for The News Tribune is right here – the game ended too late to get any quotes.
  • The Mariners beat the Royals last night, 1-0, and have now won 11 of the last 14 games. Hisashi Iwakuma showed his 2013 form, delivering eight shutout innings.
  • The lack of a dominant team in the American League plays right into the Mariners hands, John McGrath writes.
  • Injured pitchers are making progress, Bob Dutton writes in his Mariners notebook.
  • No Mariners appear on this week’s edition of the Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet.
  • In the PCL, Las Vegas hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs in Salt Lake City last night. Allen Dykstra, Zach Lutz, Taylor Teagarden, and Brandon Allen connected consecutively against Jose Alvarez. That tied the PCL record, and the 51s won 16-4.
  • Alex Guerrero went 4-for-5 with six RBI as Albuquerque beat Sacramento, 12-7. Guerrero status check: still stuck behind a red-hot Dee Gordon.
  • Fresno topped El Paso, 7-4, as Chris Dominguez launched a pair of two-run homers.
  • PCL home run leader Jon Singleton of Oklahoma City ripped No. 11 in the RedHawks 8-3 win over Memphis last night. He ranks second in all of the minors – a huge kid down in A-ball named Joey Gallo has 12.
  • Elih Villanueva delivered seven shutout innings of two-hit ball and New Orleans worked the Iowa Cubs, 9-1.
  • Omaha and Round Rock got suspended due to rain in the third inning of a 1-1 tie. The Austin newspaper has a story on Express infielder Adam Rosales and his hot bat.
  • Something fishy is going on in Colorado Springs. Just days after the first 1-0 home Sky Sox win in nearly two decades, the Sky Sox played their first-ever home game that was 0-0 after nine innings. They’ve been in the league for 27 years! Kyle Parker drove in the only run as Colorado Springs defeated Nashville in 13 innings, 1-0. The story has a great quote from Sky Sox pitching coach Dave Schuler, who said his pitcher “elevated his game into another dimension.” Obviously, that is a dimension where they play 1-0 games in Colorado Springs.
  • The Denver Post has a timely story on the baseball humidor in Colorado Springs. They had it last year, too – I think this season somebody turned it up to eleven.
  • We’ll finish up with Baseball America’s daily minor league round-up.

This is it tonight: the Rainiers chance to win a series in Reno for the first time ever. Gotta get the win and end the biggest little jinx in the world.


Rainiers Edge Aces, Go For Series Win

May 8, 2014

The Rainiers pulled out a thrilling 4-3 victory in Reno last night, using great pitching and some terrific defense to put away the Aces.

The winning run scored on a wild play, which is what the game story (first link down below) focuses on.

Leury Bonilla made the play of the year in the bottom of the ninth, racing into foul ground and lunging into the crowd to catch a pop fly to retire PCL batting leader Mike Jacobs with the tying run on base.

On the pitching side, Chance Ruffin started and allowed three runs (two earned) over four innings. He was a bit better this time out, keeping the ball in the ballpark and holding Reno to one run until the fifth inning.

Two runs scored in the fifth to tie it 3-3, and Reno had the bases loaded with nobody out when Jonathan Arias relieved Ruffin. Arias pulled a ‘Houdini’ by escaping the jam with no runs scoring – and then he followed that up with two more scoreless innings. It was easily the best game of the season so far for Arias.

The Rainiers improved to 17-13 on the year, marking the first time the club has been four games over .500 this season.

The Rainiers have won two straight games in Reno for the second time ever. Tacoma has never won a series in Reno – they need a win either today or tomorrow to change that.

Thursday’s game starts at 6:35 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Zach Miner (0-1, 9.00) against Reno RHP Zeke Spruill (0-1, 5.50).

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune focuses on the strange way Tacoma scored the winning run.
  • The Mariners split a doubleheader in Oakland, completing a nine-game road trip in which the team went 7-2.
  • Erasmo Ramirez had a good start in the second game, but is now returning to Tacoma. All that and more can be found in Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook.
  • The Mariners Low-A Clinton affiliate pulled off the most amazing comeback I have ever heard of: down 17-1 after five full innings, they rallied to beat Burlington in 12 innings, 20-17. The game has received national attention, from the likes of Sports Illustrated’s Jay Jaffe, and Deadspin. There is lots of player reaction in this piece from MiLB.com. The Fangraphs story includes a ridiculous Win Expectancy chart.
  • The Clinton game overshadowed the first no-hitter in the Pacific Coast League since 2009, which happened yesterday in New Orleans. Iowa’s Chris Rusin walked two and struck out three during his 118-pitch masterpiece, which was saved with a diving catch by center fielder Matt Szczur for the final out of the game. This story has quotes from Rusin, and this one has a photo gallery.
  • Salt Lake’s bullpen collapsed and Las Vegas scored a 7-5 comeback win last night. The Salt Lake paper has a story on infielder Taylor Lindsey and draft day.
  • Nick “Chili” Buss switched dugouts and helped Sacramento end a five-game losing streak with an 8-7 win at Albuquerque.
  • El Paso topped Fresno for the second day in a row, this time by a 6-2 score. Fresno’s Adam Duvall launched his tenth homer of the season.
  • Ben Paulsen helped Colorado Springs beat Nashville, 9-5.
  • Oregon Omaha starter Aaron Brooks earned his first Triple-A victory with a 6-3 win at Round Rock.
  • Oklahoma City drew over 10,000 fans for a Field Trip Day game yesterday, but the team lost to Memphis 8-1.
  • We’ll finish with Baseball America’s minor league round-up.

Tacoma has held Reno to three total runs in the first two games of this series. Let’s see if they can keep up the excellent pitching in the PCL’s best hitters ballpark.


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