Pries & Kensing Continue Stretch Of Good Pitching

May 1, 2014

The Rainiers made it two straight wins in Sacramento, shutting out the River Cats 8-0 on Wednesday night.

Tacoma pitchers have allowed just four runs (and only two earned runs) over the first three games of this series. The team’s ERA has dropped from 5.33 to 4.69 in just three games.

Last night it was Jordan Pries and Logan Kensing combining on a four-hit shutout. Pries went the first six innings, and Kensing the final three.

Pries has made two of his three starts against Sacramento, working 12 shutout innings and allowing just three singles to the Cats.

Last night the scoreboard radar gun had him at 91 mph with his fastball, sometimes hitting 92. It’s the movement on the pitch that gives him success – it’s never straight. He also has a cutter he mixes in.

After the game, pitching coach Jaime Navarro said that Pries threw a first-pitch strike to 19 of the 23 batters he faced. Navarro was quite pleased by this.

Offensively, James Jones hit a two-run homer in the first inning, and the Rainiers tacked on six runs (all with two outs) in the seventh.

Jesus Montero hit a long home run to center field that stirred some discussion.

Montero’s bomb was to straight-away center. It was a line drive homer (would have banged off the giant wall at Cheney).

The Sacramento groundskeeper apparently saw where it landed and stepped it off, estimating the distance at 480 feet. I did not see where it landed, but I have trouble believing this because Sacramento centerfielder Shane Peterson tracked the ball all the way back to the fence, not giving up until he was on the warning track.

Regardless of the distance, this baseball was crushed. A line drive homer to CF in this pitcher’s park in Sacramento? Wow.

Montero has homered in five of the last eight games he has played in. He’s tied for second in the PCL with seven homers, and his 21 RBI ranks sixth in the circuit.

Thursday’s game starts at 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Chance Ruffin (0-2, 8.44) against Sacramento RHP Arnold Leon* (1-1, 3.75).

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune has quotes from manager Roy Howell on Jordan Pries and Jesus Montero.
  • Pries talked to the people at MiLB.com regarding his outing last night.
  • This. Is. Awesome. CBS Sports Network is going to carry a Minor League Game Of The Week, starting tonight.
  • The Mariners got rained out last night, but that didn’t stop Bob Dutton from compiling another thorough Mariners Notebook.
  • Mariners shortstop Brad Miller admits he has been pressing at the plate.
  • Want to read about pine tar use in baseball? Todd Dewey has an excellent piece on it.
  • In the PCL, the El Paso Chihuahuas still haven’t picked up a win at their sparkly new ballpark. Fresno beat them yesterday, 6-5.
  • Top prospect Noah Syndergaard tossed a gem as Las Vegas defeated Reno, 6-1. Syndergaard is tentatively scheduled to pitch at Cheney Stadium on Monday night, if you want to see him in person.
  • Salt Lake topped Albuquerque, 7-6. The Bees knocked around a rookie making his Triple-A debut.
  • Nashville swept a doubleheader from New Orleans. Mike Fiers tossed a two-hit, 11-strikeout CG shutout in the opener, improving his record to 5-0, 0.80. Call him up already!
  • Former Rainiers lefty Ryan Feierabend was lights-out, pitching Round Rock to a 5-2 road win over Oklahoma City.
  • No link available due to the Memphis Commercial Appeal‘s tougher-than-Fort-Knox paywall, but Memphis beat Colorado Springs last night, 5-3.
  • Omaha and Iowa got banged again in Des Moines.
  • Baseball America’s minor league round-up is back.

This is the final game of the road trip – the Rainiers return home Friday for fireworks night, and then have Throwback Weekend on Saturday and Sunday.

* Yesterday Leon was pushed back a day, and Josh Lindblom started for Sacramento. I forgot to update this on yesterday’s blog post. E-broadcaster/blogger.


Springs Arrives

June 18, 2013

The Rainiers made it to Colorado Springs today, and here’s hoping the entire team is napping while I type this. Everybody was up at 3:30 AM in order to travel here.

This is a big series, between first-place Tacoma and second-place Colorado Springs on the home turf of the Sky Sox.

Tacoma expanded its lead to 3.5 games by winning in Sacramento last night, 7-5. The Rainiers salvaged a split of the series and are now 5-3 on this marathon road trip.

The Sky Sox lost in Las Vegas last night, 12-7. They split with the 51’s – in fact, the Sky Sox have split their last three series in a row.

Look out for Corey Dickerson. The Sky Sox outfielder is on an amazing ten-game hitting streak. The amazing part is that all ten games have been multiple-hit outings – he’s on a ten-game multiple hit streak. He’s gone 22-for-38 (.579) during the streak, boosting his season average to a PCL-leading .382. He also still leads professional baseball with 13 triples. Come on, Rockies, call him up already!

The Rainiers will make some roster moves tonight. Leury Bonilla will rejoin the team from Double-A Jackson, and he’ll provide badly needed infield depth while Brad Miller battles his finger injury.

There is lots of speculation that Alex Liddi has been sent down, with the Mariners activating Justin Smoak. All I know for sure right now is that Smoak did not travel with the team to the Springs.

Tonight’s game is at 6:05 (Pacific), and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Smart phones, iPads, etc – use the TuneIn app. Tacoma starts RHP Erasmo Ramirez (2-1, 0.87) against Sky Sox RHP Chris Volstad (3-1, 5.31).

Links:

That’s it for today, off to the ballpark!


Wild Night In Vegas

April 26, 2013

Somebody could write a book about last night’s game in Las Vegas. I don’t have time to write a book, so let’s just hit a few highlights.

First of all, our expected pitching prospect showdown between Danny Hultzen and Zack Wheeler fizzled out before the game even started.

Hultzen had trouble loosening up his throwing arm during his pregame warm-up routine, so the Rainiers scratched him for precautionary measures. At this time we have no further information regarding his condition and when he may pitch again, but you can bet that the Mariners/Rainiers are going to proceed very cautiously moving forward.

The timing on Hultzen’s scratch was literally right before the first pitch. I had finished my pre-game show, and we were in the commercial break before the game start when everyone in the press box noticed that Andrew Kittredge was loosing up in the bullpen instead.

Pressed into last-second emergency duty for his first Triple-A start, Kittredge struggled out of the gate and the Rainiers were down 7-1 after three innings.

Meanwhile, Wheeler was dealing. After allowing doubles to the first two batters of the game, Wheeler retired 12 of the next 13 and had five strikeouts in four innings.

Wheeler is legit, you guys. He was 96-98 miles per hour all night, and it is the easiest 96-98 I think I’ve ever seen – it looks effortless, he just casually goes into his throwing motion and wham! 97 at the knees.

However, Wheeler is in the minors for a reason, and we saw why in the fifth inning. He started to lose his command, and Tacoma put three runs on the board in the fifth, and when Stefen Romero greeted him in the sixth with a long home run (Romero’s first Triple-A dinger), that was it for Wheeler.

Tacoma’s bullpen kept the Rainiers in the game, but the defense made a comeback difficult. The Rainiers committed five errors, leading to four unearned runs.

Las Vegas carried a 10-6 lead into the ninth inning – and that’s when things got crazy. Three straight singles to open the inning loaded the bases. Then Vegas reliever Greg Peavey (Vancouver, WA – Hudson’s Bay HS) issued three consecutive bases loaded walks, making it 10-9.

The Rainiers had the bases loaded with one out and Denny Almonte at the plate. Almonte had not put a ball in play in his first four at-bats, but baseball is a funny game… and Almonte became a hero, lining the game-tying single to right when the team absolutely needed him to make contact.

The Rainiers would score three more runs, take a 13-10 lead into the bottom of the ninth, and then make a two-run error with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on a routine play to scare the heebie-jeebies out of everybody. But Logan Bawcom got the final out on a medium-deep fly ball to Almonte in center, and the Rainiers were 13-12 winners.

The game featured:

  • A 5-for-5 performance from Nick Franklin, boosting his season average to a cool .400.
  • Eric Thames extending his hitting streak to 9 straight, and he has a hit or a walk in all 21 games this season.
  • Carlos Triunfel launched a homer off Wheeler, and then took a 97 mph fastball in the back in his next AB. He tried to play through it but eventually left the game in the eighth inning.
  • A 3-for-5, three RBI game from Alex Liddi.
  • A second consecutive tough save converted by Logan Bawcom.
  • A pair of golden sombreros, from Almonte and Mike Zunino.

To recap, the Rainiers won a baseball game in which the starter got scratched, they made five errors, and two players struck out four times apiece. Vegas, baby!

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and you can listen on South Sound Sports 850 AM or stream the audio online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (2-1, 4.43) against Las Vegas RHP Carlos Torres (0-1, 4.61).

Links:

  • Todd Dewey wrote the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune.
  • Fun story from the Las Vegas Sun about Rainiers hitting coach Howard Johnson and 51s manager Wally Backman. Fact: HoJo once hit a grand slam off 51s pitching coach Randy St. Claire.
  • The Mariners shut out the Angels, 6-0. They needed that!
  • Kyle Seager is really heating up, Larry Stone writes.
  • Don Ruiz reports in this notebook that Michael Saunders might begin a rehab assignment with the Rainiers today. I think we can find a spot in the lineup for him.
  • On the roster front, look for the Rainiers to add a relief pitcher from Double-A Jackson today. The Rainiers have an open spot and the bullpen is running on fumes.
  • Here is your Vegas story: a bunch of Rainiers players went to Terry Fator‘s show on the off-day and got some press – including a mention in Norm Clarke’s famous gossip column. That first link has a good photo.
  • Read this cool story on the oldest living former major leaguer.
  • No Rainiers appear in this week’s Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet, but the blog stats say you guys like it so here it is anyway.
  • In the PCL, Tacoma’s comeback was not the wildest game in the league last night. The New Orleans Zephyrs beat Oklahoma City in 15 innings and it was a crazy one.
  • Yoenis Cespedes is rehabbing with Sacramento and he helped them beat Salt Lake, 6-5. Photo gallery.
  • Fresno beat up the Reno Aces, 11-5. The new members of the Aces are just getting used to playing baseball on the moon at Aces Ballpark.
  • Tucson added knuckleballer Eddie Bonine and got creamed by the Sky Sox, 13-5. Colorado Springs hit four triples in the game.
  • Nashville topped Memphis, 5-2, as my man Scooter Gennett had three hits.
  • Iowa went in to Omaha and came away with a 9-3 win.
  • Scott Van Slyke went 3-for-5 with a homer in Albuquerque’s win at Round Rock, and he’s batting .473 with eight homers and 25 RBI. Sheesh. Call him up already!
  • The independent Atlantic League is doing logical things to speed up the game, and it is working.

Let’s see if we have another wild game tonight!


Rainiers News

August 1, 2011

We’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to get to, so let’s dive in – bullet-points style.

  • The Rainiers beat Las Vegas yesterday, 4-3. Tacoma had good starting pitching from Luke French, and Scott Patterson delivered a 1-2-3 ninth inning for the save. The Rainiers took advantage of a Vegas mistake: third baseman Brett Lawrie booted what would have been an inning-ending double play grounder in the sixth, and the next hitter – Carlos Peguero – launched a three-run homer to give Tacoma the lead.
  • First place Reno lost in extras at Fresno, and the Rainiers are within 9.5 games of first. Still a long way back, but if the team can make up a few more games before the August 20 series at Reno, things will be interesting.
  • It’s August, and this is when Daren “Augie” Brown* shines: his Tacoma teams are 60-39 in the month of August, and that includes a 1-7 mark last year before ol’ Augie was promoted to Seattle.
  • Yesterday, Tacoma activated infielder Luis Rodriguez from the disabled list, and sent Luis Jimenez back to Double-A Jackson. Also, infielder Matt Mangini was placed on the Temporary Inactive List and he is away from the team on a personal matter.
  • Today, Tacoma receives outfielder Trayvon Robinson from Albuquerque. He was acquired in the Erik Bedard trade (links below). Robinson hit .293-26-71 for the ‘Topes, and he is a first-year Triple-A player who is a candidate for the PCL Rookie of the Year award. Robinson switch-hits and plays all three outfield positions – Augie told me that he has Robinson hitting sixth and playing center field tonight, although it’s early and he may change the lineup.
  • The Rainiers added starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez from Double-A Jackson, and he will be Tacoma’s starter tonight. Scheduled Tacoma starter Anthony Vasquez is being pushed back a day or two. Ramirez went 7-6, 4.73 in 19 starts for Jackson. In 110.1 innings he walked only 19 batters and struck out 81, but he gave up 128 hits.
  • Pitcher Fabio Castro, who has been on the disabled list since June 20 with a broken bone in his foot, has been pitching at the Arizona complex and is close to rejoining the Rainiers.
  • Start your planning now: we have one of those lunch-break day games on Tuesday to wrap up the homestand, 11:35 AM first pitch. You still have time to “schedule a meeting.” 

Tonight’s game is at 7:05 at Cheney Stadium, and you can hear it on 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Erasmo Ramirez in his Triple-A debut against Las Vegas RHP Chad Beck (1-0, 3.60).

Links:

  • Here is the Rainiers game story written by Ryan Divish of The News Tribune.
  • The Mariners made a big trade right at the deadline, sending Erik Bedard and Rainiers reliever Josh Fields to Boston, and receiving two hard-hitting outfield prospects in return. Trayvon Robinson joins the Rainiers, and Chih-Hsien Chiang goes to AA-Jackson (pronounced Chee-Shin Chang).
  • Josh Fields was in the Tacoma bullpen when he was summoned to the dugout in the middle of the first inning. He was told he was traded, shook everybody’s hand, and went inside to pack.
  • And just like that, Blake Beavan secured a spot in the Mariners starting rotation for the remainder of the season.
  • Divish has some rambling thoughts on the Mariners trade activity. More trade analysis: from John Sickels, USS Mariner, and Lookout Landing
  • Larry Stone reminds us that the July 31 deadline is sort of a fake deadline, anyway.
  • New Mariners outfielder Casper Wells talks about getting traded.
  • We have the weekly Minor League Wrap from USS Mariner.
  • Diamondbacks first round draft pick Trevor Bauer has some unusual workout habits – he broke out his foul pole-to-foul pole long toss, with pitching coach Doug Drabek serving as the return throw relay man in center field. Here’s the story from Visalia.
  • In the PCL, Fresno helped out the Rainiers by beating Reno in 11 innings. Edgar Gonzalez had the game-winning hit.
  • Sacramento blew out Colorado Springs, and Graham Godfrey became the PCL’s second ten-game winner.
  • Salt Lake beat Tucson in ten innings, and Alexi Amarista made the play of the game.
  • Jose Lopez is crushing it for New Orleans. He’s hitting .390-5-17 in 21 games for the Zephyrs.
  • Memphis received a great start from Cardinals pitching prospect Brian Broderick.
  • Johnny Giavotella is deserving of a Call Him Up Already! The Omaha second baseman is tearing up the American Conference.
  • Rumblings out of perhaps not-so-baseball-hating Portlandia, where a couple of ballpark proposals are emerging. However, they both involve short-season Class-A teams.
  • I leave you with this story out of the Texas League about minor league kangaroo courts.

That’s it for a busy Monday!

* nickname credit goes to M’s Special Assistant John Boles.


Big Guy Homers For Big Win

July 1, 2011

The Rainiers have played great baseball on the road lately – but can they do it at home?

It’s too early to give a definitive answer of “yes,” but things are heading in the right direction.

Luis Jimenez hit the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth inning for a game-winning home run on Thursday night, and the Rainiers opened the four-game holiday weekend homestand with a 6-5 win over the Fresno Grizzlies.

It was the third straight home win for Tacoma, which has now won six of the last seven games overall.

Nate Robertson had his best start of the year, lasting seven innings and allowing three runs (two earned). He needed just 90 pitches to get through seven. It was his sixth start of the year, so he’s done with the “spring training” period of his recovery from elbow surgery.

This was a very encouraging outing for Robertson – Fresno lost its seventh in a row, but it’s not the hitter’s fault: Fresno scored 41 runs in its previous four games, and their lineup is formidable right now.

Check out who is here for the holiday weekend: San Francisco Giants roving pitching instructor Lee Smith is at Cheney Stadium, working with the Grizzlies pitchers. I’m old enough to remember when Smith was the most fearsome closer in baseball. Check out his career stats – 478 saves, 3rd all-time.

It’s time to do a Call Him Up Already! for… would you believe… former Rainier Bryan LaHair.

The Iowa Cubs first baseman is just crushing the PCL this year, and you have to think he could help the woeful Chicago Cubs. LaHair is bating .367 with 22 home runs and 63 RBI for Iowa, and he’s playing in the American Conference, which is not as hitter-friendly as the Pacific Conference.

LaHair has a .435 on-base percentage and a .697 slugging percentage for a 1.132 OPS.

The Chicago Cubs are currently starting Carlos Pena at first base, and he’s hitting .222 – but his peripheral numbers are pretty good, and his OPS is .806. Could LaHair top that? Possibly.

Chicago could also play LaHair in left field, where they are currently starting… Reed Johnson? Blake DeWitt? Alfonso Soriano? I’m not sure, it seems like an injury-caused revolving door out there.

However they resolve the issue, LaHair is a man among boys in the PCL this year. The Cubs need to Call Him Up Already!

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and it’s Friday Night Fireworks – consider it the opening act for the big explosions coming after the game on Sunday. Tacoma is set to start LHP Chris Seddon (5-4, 4.89) against Fresno RHP Shane Loux (3-9, 4.03). Catch the broadcast on 850 AM or streaming online right here.

Tickets are available all weekend – in fact, there is a killer special on sale on the Party Deck for Saturday night only: a four person table on the deck, with an all-you-can-eat BBQ buffet for 90 minutes, plus all the drinks you can drink for the game. It’s $150 for four people with beer and wine, or $100 for four people with no alcohol – if you come to the park hungry (and thirsty), this is a bargain. Call 253-752-7707 to book this one-time offer.*

Links:

Off subject and extremely out-of-season, but I am a huge, huge Pac-10 Pac-12 basketball fan. This is the sport in which I have a team that I root for so strongly, that I’m pacing around the house yelling through my TV screen at some 18-year-old kid for missing a free throw. Pathetic, I know. That being said, moving the Pac-12 tournament out of LA is a great idea, and if it came to Seattle I would attend the entire event.

* As I’ve written before, I’m not using this space to push tickets very often – but that’s just a great deal right there. If I didn’t work here, I’d call up three beer-swilling buddies, we’d each plop down $40 for our table and use the change for a cab ride home, and we’d make sure that the Rainiers lost money on this deal…

** this story reminded me of the time several years ago – pre-renovation, of course – when an errant firework caused a small grass fire on the hill outside the third base side of Cheney Stadium, and a high-ranking Rainiers executive was jumping up and down yelling “Burn down the stadium! We have insurance!”


Good News, Bad News…

May 29, 2011

Tacoma Rainiers fans got some good news and some bad news on Saturday night.

The good news is that Greg Halman is back. The slugging outfielder will be activated for Sunday’s game against Las Vegas. Brandon Haveman will be taken off the roster to make space.

Halman hit 33 home runs for Tacoma and made his major league debut last year – but this year he was injured in the fourth game of the season, when he was hit on the wrist by a pitched ball and it resulted in a broken bone.

Halman has been rehabilitating the injury in Arizona at extended spring training. He faced live pitching down there and he is ready to go.

The bad news is that the Rainiers have certainly caught Las Vegas at the wrong time. The 51s are just crushing the ball right now, and they beat Tacoma on Saturday night, 14-8. That’s 25 runs and 35 hits for Vegas in the first two games of the series.

I’m ready to hand out a “Call Him Up Already!” to Las Vegas third baseman Brett Lawrie. He went 4-for-6 with two homers, a double, four runs scored, and four RBI yesterday. He has 14 homers and is batting .350. On top of that, the Toronto Blue Jays third base situation is hardly settled: they are running Edwin Encarnacion and John McDonald out there.

So do the right thing, Blue Jays, and call him up already!

Sunday’s game is at 12:05 and you can hear it on 850 AM or streaming online. Tacoma starts LHP Luke French (1-5, 5.63) against Las Vegas RHP Scott Richmond (3-2, 6.50).

Sunday Links:

  • Here is the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • The Las Vegas Review-Journal has a story on Dustin Ackley, who had three hits last night to raise his average to .290.
  • Check out those Mariners: over .500 and in second place!
  • Larry Stone wrote his Sunday baseball column on the upcoming draft, in which the Mariners choose #2 overall. Here is his MLB notebook, and his power rankings.
  • By popular demand: the Safeco Field Streaker. Please don’t take your antics south, crazy naked person.
  • Back home at Cheney Stadium, Bothel edged Jackson for the state 4A high school championship.
  • In the PCL, Reno and Sacramento were rained out – there was snow in Reno, which had its first-ever postponed game. This is Reno’s third year in the league.
  • The Reno newspaper has an article on collisions at home plate. Reno catcher Sal Fasano Konrad Schmidt says that it’s all just part of the game.
  • Aaron Cook had a successful rehabilitation start, and Jeff Salazar hit a walk-off home run for Colorado Springs on Saturday night.
  • Nashville’s Mat Gamel hit two homers and the Sounds picked up a win.
  • Memphis outfielder Andrew Brown hit a walk-off home run to beat Omaha with former MLB slugger Jack Clark in attendance.
  • Here’s a positive column on the new ballpark in Omaha.

Off to the ballpark for a day game.


Call Him Up Already!!!

July 20, 2010

He’s the best player in the Pacific Coast League, and he stung the Tacoma Rainiers last night.

I’m talking about Las Vegas catcher J.P. Arencibia, whom I wrote about a little yesterday. The hope was that his 21-game hitting streak ending 0-for-3 on Sunday in Fresno would cool him off for a few days. Wrong.

Arencibia hit a sac fly in the first, doubled in a run in the second, and launched a game-tying home run in the ninth as Vegas stunned the Rainiers last night, 10-9.

The home run came with one out, and he hit it off Levale Speigner – who had allowed one earned run in his last 24 innings pitched. It was Arencibia’s 28th home run of the season – he leads all of professional baseball.

After Arencibia’s bomb tied it, Vegas squeezed three ground balls through the Rainiers infield for singles to score the winning run. Former Tacoma catcher Raul Chavez had the game-winning hit, a 17-hopper between short and third.

The problem is that Arencibia isn’t going anywhere. Toronto is getting good production from its catching duo of John Buck and Jose Molina – although there are rumors that Buck, who made the All-Star team, might be traded. But until that happens, Arencibia is staying right here in Vegas, where he seems to be a lock to be the first PCL player to hit 40 home runs since Dallas McPherson had 42 for Albuquerque in 2008. 

By the way, Arencibia isn’t loading up at Cashman Field: He’s hitting .285 with 14 homers at home, and on the road he’s batting .346 with 14 homers.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, with Tacoma starting RHP Ian Snell (3-1, 3.95) against Las Vegas LHP Brad Mills (6-4, 4.00). Mills is always tough on the Rainiers. The broadcast will be on 850 AM and streaming via www.tacomarainiers.com. I might be a little under-stated on the broadcast tonight, as I’ve come down with a cold. It seems that “The Road Trip To Bankruptcy” was a misnomer, it’s actually “The Road Trip To Illness” – which will have the positive side effect of preventing bankruptcy*.

Now for some links:

  • Todd Dewey’s game story for The News Tribune is obviously about JP Arencibia. Uncle!
  • David Pauley didn’t get any run support, so he took the loss for the M’s last night. The M’s are trying to solve their baserunning woes. In that notebook: Shawn Kelley is close to returning from the disabled list.
  • Geoff Baker wrote a Long Geoff Baker Post about moving Chone Figgins back to third base. I agree, he’s here for a few more years so let’s get him comfortable and back on track. 
  • You’ve probably heard that Cubs manager Lou Piniella announced he is retiring after this season.
  • Jason Churchill wrote some scouts opinions on M’s prospects Carlos Triunfel and Johermyn Chavez.
  • In the PCL, the Rainiers closest competitor won last night – Salt Lake beat Fresno 1-0 on Mark Trumbo’s 12th inning home run, his 21st of the season. Salt Lake is seven games back, but they just said goodbye to their two best pitchers.
  • Colorado Springs got torched by Sacramento, 16-3, and is still nine games back. The Sky Sox added Eric Young Jr. on a rehabilitation assignment.
  • The two former Rainiers who now star for the Cleveland Indians are returning from the disabled list at the same time.
  • Florida Marlins reserve infielder Donnie Murphy was recently called up from New Orleans, and he hit a pinch-hit game winning home run last night. Fun story. Murphy homered at Cheney Stadium on May 20th.

I leave you with a quick reminder, since people keep asking me: Michael Pineda’s next home start is tentatively scheduled for Friday night, 7:00, against Sacramento. And it’s Friday Night Fireworks, too.

* and liver damage.


Huge Series Opens Tonight

June 22, 2010

Yeah, I know, it’s still June – but this is a big series.

The Rainiers host perennial division contender Salt Lake in a six-game, four-day series that begins with a doubleheader tonight at 6:00. The series begins with Tacoma in first place in the division, and Salt Lake is one game back.

It’s a big series because this is the final series at home for Tacoma against Salt Lake. In fact, the two teams will be done with each other early this year: The Rainiers visit Salt Lake from July 4th to 7th, and that’s it. So it would be nice if the Rainiers could create some separation in the standings by winning a bunch of head-to-head games this week.

Tacoma starts RHP Ian Snell (first appearance) in game one, and RHP Andy Baldwin (4-2, 4.42) in game two. Salt Lake counters with LHP Trevor Reckling (4-6, 7.99) in game one, and RHP Marco Albano (2-6, 7.38) in game two. Each game will be seven innings, per minor league baseball rules.

As always, the broadcast will be live on 850 AM in the South Sound, and streaming worldwide via www.tacomarainiers.com.

Last night the Rainiers got shut out by Portland’s Josh Geer, who was having a rough season up until Monday. Geer went the distance, allowing just four hits and one walk. He only struck out three batters, but he got 19 outs on ground balls, which included three double-play grounders. It was his day. Still, the Rainiers took three of four in Portland, and the club went 6-3 on the road trip to pull into first place.

David Pauley took the loss for Tacoma. Pauley is now 1-6 despite a solid 3.68 ERA; the Rainiers have been shut out in four of his six losses. Dude needs some run support.

BREAKING NEWS: I just got word from the Mariners Baseball Information guru (and former Rainiers intern) Jeff Evans that Tommy Everidge has been traded to the Houston Astros for “future considerations.” He will probably report to Triple-A Round Rock or Class-AA Corpus Christi. Everidge really struggled with the Rainiers – he went 4-for-35 on the road trip that concluded yesterday, and he’s hitting .229 with 7 home runs and 36 RBIs as the clean-up batting DH. I believe Everidge is a better hitter than that, but everybody in the league was pitching him the same way and he wasn’t adjusting (first pitch breaking ball strike one; steady diet of low-and-away fastballs). Hopefully he’ll get back on track with Houston.

A few links for you:

  • Here’s the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. Nice headline, desk guys. Ryan Divish is excited about seeing Michael Pineda pitch tomorrow.
  • Tacoma Rainiers co-owner Nick Lachey will be attending parts of both the Rainiers doubleheader and the Mariners-Cubs game tonight. Rumor has it that he is bringing his better half.
  • John McGrath previews the M’s-Cubs series while lamenting his fate as a fan of two bad baseball teams.
  • Larry Stone checks in on Carlos Silva. Brace yourselves before reading this one, M’s fans. Also from Stone, Ron Santo is not making the trip.
  • Hey – I agree with Geoff Baker! This is a good piece, but I’m going to nit-pick: Wladimir Balentien isn’t out of baseball; he’s playing for the Reds Triple-A team in Louisville. In fact, he went 0-for-4 yesterday and is mired in a 1-for-23 slump. But he’s playing!
  • Ex-Rainiers third baseman and Team of the Decade member Greg Dobbs was designated for assignment by Philadelphia today.
  • The Rainiers are in first place by a game thanks to Kyle Middleton’s eight shutout innings for Sacramento.
  • I’m not quite ready to yell Call Him Up Already! but Sky Sox outfielder Dexter Fowler is raking. Also, Ubaldo Jimenez caused a commotion by showing up at the Sky Sox game last night. Nooooo Ubaldo stay in your own league we don’t want to face you!!! Seriously, though, if you read the story it sounds like Ubaldo was really cool to the fans.
  • Alex Gordon’s 39-game on-base streak ended. Still, Call Him Up Already!
  • The ball was jumping out of the state of Iowa last night – Albuquerque hit two grand slams and a three-run shot in a 16-12 win in Des Moines.

I was a teenage metalhead, and if we had the night off tonight I would certainly be at this show with my pal Kevin Kalal.


Seddon Stuns Sky Sox; Daytime Doubleheader Today

June 16, 2010

This will be a quick one today… the internet is out at the motor lodge where the Sky Sox make us stay (shocker!), so I had to hustle over to a coffee chain hellbent on world domination in order to get online and prepare for today’s doubleheader. My coffee tastes kind of burnt but I’m online.

Chris Seddon had an unbelieveable game last night. He became the first opposing pitcher to toss a 9-inning complete-game shutout at Colorado Springs since 2002, and the Rainiers won 7-0.

Seddon allowed just four hits and two walks while striking out six. He was at 109 pitches after eight innings, and the Mariners organization limit for starting pitchers at this point in the season is 115. This is where Seddon benefitted from having a former pitcher as a manager – Daren Brown said after the game that if he was pitching, he would want to finish it. So he gave him a chance, and Seddon got two quick outs, was at 114 pitches, and they let him face one more hitter and he completed the shutout.

Seddon has pitched the first two shutouts of his 10-year career in the last 11 days, and this one came at a very tough place to pitch.

Here are two other memorable well-pitched Tacoma games in Colorado Springs:

  • June 20, 2002: In the first game of a doubleheader, Brian Sweeney throws a 4-hit shutout and the Rainiers win, 5-0. This was a 7-inning game.
  • August 11, 2007: Ryan Feierabend and Sean White combine on a shutout, and the Rainiers win 1-0 on an unearned run against the Sky Sox starter, Bobby Keppel.

Seddon was great, and it was a fun game. Today we play a doubleheader and it will probably be a couple of 12-10 games.

Today’s twinbill begins at 11:35 AM Pacific time, and both seven-inning games will be broadcast live on South Sound Sports 850 AM, and streaming on www.tacomarainiers.com. Tacoma starts David Pauley in game one, and Yusmeiro Petit in game two; Colorado Springs counters with Greg Smith in the first game, and Kurt Birkins in the second – both Sky Sox pitchers are lefties.

Some quick links:

  • I wrote the Rainiers game story for the TNT, it has quotes from Seddon and Brown. The version from the Springs focuses on the struggles of Sky Sox starter Esmil Rogers.
  • It was nice to see Brian Sweeney get called up – one of the all-time great guys to put on a Tacoma Rainiers uniform. Larry Stone wrote about it here.
  • I can’t help but laugh every time they say the Mariners stretch of 20 games in 20 days is “brutal.” Spend some time in the PCL and get back to me on that, fellas. The M’s are 6-13 on their “grinding” stretch.
  • The Mariners haven’t scored five runs in any of their last 15 games? Uncle.
  • Tacoma picked up a game and is now just a half-game out of first place. Salt Lake’s Daniel Davidson pitched well, but his bullpen had a ninth-inning meltdown.
  • Madison Bumgarner dealt again and the Fresno Grizzlies just don’t lose.
  • Salty hit a walk-off home run for Oklahoma City.
  • Here’s a more thorough look at the Alex Gordon situation in Omaha – Rob White is good. I still say Call Him Up Already!!!
  • Knuckleballer Charlie Heager walked the world in Albuquerque. Prentice Redman homered – he’s hitting .323 with nine bombs.
  • Iowa swept a doubleheader from Round Rock with great pitching.
  • Port Orchard native and South Kitsap High School alum Aaron Cunningham hit a grand slam for the San Diego Padres last night.
  • The best thing about Stephen Strasburg? It might be that he forces the Washington Post to cover the Nats again – and they have Thomas Boswell. Should Stras go for big strikeout totals, or try to go deep into games
  • And just for my girl Jessica, a look inside the Sacramento RiverCats control room.

I leave you with more reasons to hate Mack Brown and Texas. In the end, I wish the Pac-10 had just kept ten teams and the perfect round-robin schedule. And now we have to play Utah in hoops every year? Ugh.


Halman Returns To Lineup & Sky Sox Pay

June 15, 2010

Sorry there was no blog yesterday – it was all I could do just to get to the ballpark, set up my gear, and call the game. And even that was a challenge. We woke up at 3:15 AM in Tacoma. The bus left the ballpark at 4:00, for the 6:15 flight to Denver. Then we had to bus to Colorado Springs – a 90-minute ride that turned into two hours because that bus was late picking us up. The whole team was lined up on the curb at the airport, with suitcases, for 30 minutes waiting.

Something amusing happened on the bus ride – we pull out of the airport, and the driver takes the first freeway exit. Uh-oh… where is he going? There is an older man in a western-style work suit standing on the side of the road, next to an open field. The bus stops next to him. Our driver gets out, and the new guy hops on and takes over the driving. He says his name is “Wild Bill Cody,” and he proceeds to drive us to the Springs.

So we arrive at the rookie-ball motor lodge where the Sky Sox make us stay. I check into my room, and its obvious nobody has been in there for days – the heat is turned up to the highest level, and the room is cooking like a sauna! When I opened the door I was blasted by a wave of hot air. Counter surfaces, the mattress, the TV, the bathroom – everything was very, very warm. I immediately turned on the AC and fell asleep for a one-hour nap – quite easy to do in that warmth. 

I woke up, prepared some quick broadcast notes, walked to the rental car agency and grabbed a vehicle and drove to the ballpark for the first game of the five-game series. I called the game on four hours of sleep, and it was a rough one – even though I loaded up on caffeine. The one thing that can really affect the quality of a broadcast is sleep deprivation – I make far more errors and say many more stupid things* when working on little sleep. My apologies if anyone listened last night.

On the field, the Rainiers won the ballgame 11-6. Greg Halman played for the first time since June 2, and he responded by ripping a pair of home runs and driving in four. His three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning snapped a 6-6 tie and led the Rainiers to victory.

Mike Wilson and Adam Moore also hit homers, and the Rainiers had 19 hits, but all was not good news – Moore strained a hamstring on an uncontested play while running the bases and it could be a setback – he said he’ll know more today. Also Jack Wilson was scheduled to play all nine innings, but he left after seven because he “was tired” according to manager Daren Brown. So was I, Jack – so was I.

Jarrett Grube pitched well in his first start for the Rainiers – although it might not show in the box score. Grube allowed five runs in 5.1 innings, but two of them scored on inherited runners after he left the game. Also Grube did a nice job avoiding the big inning in a ballpark where they happen quite easily – Brown was quick to commend him after the game.

Tonight’s game is at 6:05 (Pacific) and will air on 850 AM and stream via www.tacomarainiers.com. Tacoma sends LHP Chris Seddon (6-3, 4.14) to the mound against Colorado Springs RHP Esmil Rogers (0-1, 7.36).

Colorado Springs is the home to all kinds of obscure fast food outlets**. Surely there must be one that specializes in… links?

  • Here is my Rainiers game story for The News Tribune. Here’s the story from the Colorado Springs Gazette.
  • The new Rainiers Insider is up – I interview Chris Woodward and Guillermo Quiroz.
  • At Pro Ball NW, Jon Shields discusses Matt Mangini and Greg Halman.
  • The Mariners lost the first game of their series in St. Louis, 9-3. To my eyes this series is a total mismatch – even facing Jeff Suppan today, the Mariners are still going to have to out-slug St. Louis.
  • I thought the Mariners had a lot of crazy off-field “coaches” on staff, but they’ve got nothing on the Dodgers – does the Russian man in this story have the best job in baseball? Just watch games on TV and think positive thoughts – and cash checks!
  • In the PCL, first place Salt Lake relied on a 20-year-old lefty to remain 1.5 games ahead of Tacoma in the standings. Smith just missed a complete game.
  • Fresno just keeps winningJohn Bowker hit a three-run homer yesterday.
  • Nashville is playing Memphis six times in four days – foreshadowing the Tacoma-Salt Lake series next week. Memphis won the opener with a 7-run 6th inning.
  • Free Alex Gordon! He went 4-for-5 yesterday and is now batting 373/495/667. Call Him Up Already!
  • Here is a (free) Baseball Prospectus Q&A with former Rainiers reliever Brian Fuentes. It’s really in-depth.
  • Rob Neyer says trade Cliff Lee – in only the way he can. And Dave Cameron says the same thing, his own way.
  • I am not the type of person who can resist an Onion story with the headline “Rookie Strasburg Begins Hazing Nationals Veterans.”

I close today with something about Colorado Springs that I like: Mollica’s Italian Deli. This place brings the goods.

* I make at least one ridiculously stupid statement on-air every night. During sleep-deprivation games that number triples.

** Pleased to report that Chick Fil-A is featuring a new spicy chicken sandwich. I’m excited!


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