One To Forget

August 31, 2014

When you play 144 games in a season, there are going to be a few clunkers.

The Tacoma Rainiers had one on Saturday night in Fresno, dropping a 9-2 decision.

Scheduled Rainiers starter Taijuan Walker was scratched by the Seattle Mariners, who apparently have more pressing plans for him. Walker threw a bullpen session and remains with the team here in Fresno – for now.

Logan Kensing made the emergency start for the Rainiers, and he was great for three innings before tiring in the fourth. New reliever Trevor Miller followed, and he had a rough outing as Fresno started to pile up the runs in the middle innings.

A few positive notes: Corey Hart opened the game with a homer, and he’s hit one out in each of the last two games. Stefen Romero hit two singles and he is batting exactly .400 (40-for-100) since being optioned to Tacoma on August 1. Justin Smoak hit a single, and he’s reached base via hit or walk in 26 straight games.

The Rainiers will play tonight’s game with a full squad, but things could get real interesting when the rosters expand on Monday in terms of personnel. With the Mariners opening an important series in Oakland on Monday night, they are probably going to inform the call-ups after tonight’s game and have them travel tomorrow morning (perhaps by bus or hired cars – it’s a three-hour drive) to Oakland.

That could leave Tacoma with a very interesting lineup on Monday.

Sunday’s game starts at 6:05 PM – 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 (8-5, 5.28) against Fresno RHP Jake Dunning (0-3, 4.65).

Links:

Only two games left. Can the Rainiers get two more wins?


Rainiers Power To Victory

August 30, 2014

Tacoma launched four home runs and grabbed a 9-7 win at Fresno on Friday night.

Justin Smoak hit a three-run shot in the first inning, Stefen Romero a game-tying two-run blast in the seventh, Leury Bonilla the go-ahead solo dinger in the eighth, and Corey Hart added an insurance run with a tater in the ninth.

The win was Tacoma’s 73rd of the season, with assures the club of an over-.500 record in Roy Howell‘s first year as manager.

Tacoma’s bullpen was outstanding, as Logan Bawcom pitched two scoreless innings and earned the win. Blake Beavan got a big double play grounder to end the eighth inning with a one-run lead, and Todd Coffey worked the ninth to earn his 11th save.

The five-game series here in Fresno is tied, 1-1. Three games remain in the 2014 season.

Saturday’s game starts at 7:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Taijuan Walker (6-3, 4.57) against Fresno RHP Austin Fleet (3-2, 4.17).

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • Felix Hernandez had a rare rough start, allowing a career-high four homers in the Mariners 8-3 loss to Washington last night.
  • The entire recap of the Jesus Montero / Butch Baccala / ice cream sandwich situation can be found in Bob Dutton’s essential Mariners notebook
  • We have a change at the top of the division. Mike Jacobs homered twice and Reno won in Sacramento last night, 7-5. The Aces now lead the Pac-North by one game over Sacramento with three to play. Sacramento does hold the tiebreaker.
  • The American-North really tightened up last night, when Iowa’s Elliot Soto singled in the winning run in the 11th inning to give the Cubs a 5-4 win over Oklahoma City.
  • Oklahoma City’s lead is down to a half-game over Omaha, who was a 6-2 winner over Colorado Springs. Carlos Peguero hit his 30th homer.
  • Memphis trimmed its magic number to clinch the American-South down to one with an 11-6 win at New Orleans. Luis Mateo drove in five runs for the Redbirds.
  • Nashville stayed alive in their chase to catch Memphis by downing Round Rock, 7-4. Round Rock may lead the league in attendance.
  • Salt Lake’s Luis Jimenez hit his 21st home run of the year in an 8-6 win at El Paso.
  • Carlos Triunfel hit a three-run homer during a five-run rally that gave Albuquerque a 9-6 win over Las Vegas.
  • Baseball America has a big story on the potential affiliation changes in the PCL. 

Go Bears! Errr… Go Rainiers!


Rainiers Let One Slip Away

August 29, 2014

Welp, that hasn’t happened in a while.

Tacoma took a 5-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning, only to see Fresno pick up a 6-5 walk-off win over the Rainiers on Thursday night in the opening game of a five-game series.

Fresno scored four tuns in the bottom of the eighth inning, with veteran infielder Brandon Hicks launching a game-tying three-run homer with two outs off new Rainiers reliever Trevor Miller. Miller – who was making his Triple-A debut – pitched a perfect seventh inning before surrendering the lead in the eighth.

The Grizzlies rallied to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning against Tacoma reliever Carson Smith. A bloop single, an infield single, and a walk loaded the bases with two outs before Adam Duvall grounded the game-winning single into left field.

The fact that Smith allowed the winning run to score is surprising in itself: he has been on a terrific run lately. He had allowed just three runs in 27 innings since June 6.

Tacoma starter Jordan Pries lost his chance to become Tacoma’s first 10-game winner since 2010, when both Luke French (11 wins) and Chris Seddon (ten wins) did it. Pries allowed one run over six innings in his final start of the year, and he finishes with a 9-7, 3.69 record.

Friday’s game starts at 7:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Forrest Snow (2-3, 3.27) against Fresno LHP Kelvin Marte (1-2, 5.34).

Links:

There is a bizarre story out there regarding Jesus Montero on his rehab assignment with Everett. The stories that I’ve seen have so much conflicting information that it’s hard to know which details – if any – are correct. I’m not linking to anything until we get some actual reporting on this. Here’s what we do know: Montero and Mariners scout Butch Baccala got into a verbal confrontation. And thanks to some relentless investigation by Seattle Times sports business reporter Geoff Baker, we know for certain that the Boise Hawks sell ice cream sandwiches.

Mmmmmm, ice cream sandwiches.

 


Final Home Game Tonight

August 27, 2014

The Rainiers took down the Iowa Cubs on Tuesday night, 5-3, and the two teams wrap-up a four-game series tonight.

Tonight’s game is the Rainiers final home game of the season. Crowds have been excellent throughout this homestand and hopefully that will continue tonight.

The team continues to play well, although it was eliminated from playoff contention last night. Sacramento has a one-game lead over Reno with six games to play, and Tacoma is five back. Because Sacramento and Reno play each other in the final five games, it is mathematically impossible for the Rainiers to pass both teams.

That being said, Tacoma has been the best team in the second half. The team is 46-27 over the last 73 games, and is now guaranteed an at-least .500 final record. Considering that the team was 13 games under .500 in May, that’s pretty amazing.

Yesterday’s win was impressive. Andrew Carraway had been pitching as a reliever, even pitching in back-to-back games for the first time in his career on Saturday and Sunday. On just one day of rest (and less than three hours of notice), Carraway made the spot start and lasted five innings, giving up one run. Carraway threw 69 pitches and earned his eighth win of the year.

The Mariners announced their prospects who will play in the Arizona Fall League, and Tacoma catcher John Hicks is one of them. Hicks went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored last night.

Today Tacoma is adding right-handed pitcher Trevor Miller to the roster, up from Double-A Jackson. Miller started the season in the rotation for Jackson, and he was 4-7 with a 5.05 ERA when moved to the bullpen in mid-June. As a reliever, Miller is 2-1 with four saves and a 1.40 ERA. He did not allow an earned run in his last 23.1 innings for Jackson.

Miller has a good chance to open next season with the Rainiers, so this is an opportunity for him to get an early taste of Triple-A. Tacoma is very, very short in the bullpen right now so Miller is going to pitch.

Wednesday’s game starts at 7:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP James Gillheeney (3-10, 5.81) against Iowa RHP Dae-Eun Rhee (1-2, 5.19).

Get out to the park a little early tonight if you can. Prior to the game, the Rainiers team awards will be handed out: offensive player of the year, defensive player of the year, pitcher of the year, and the community service award.

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune has reaction from Andrew Carraway and Roy Howell.
  • James Paxton was dealing and the Mariners beat the Ranger on Tuesday night.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook includes the complete list of Mariners prospects going to the Arizona Fall League. They have a pitcher slot “TBA” and I wonder if that could go to Danny Hultzen.
  • The big news off the field yesterday is that the Mariners committed to general manager Jack Zduriencik for at least another year. The team’s excellent season this year is obviously the reason why.
  • Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times has a column on Jack Z’s extension.
  • Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated shared his thoughts on Jack Z’s extension.
  • The major story in the PCL is that tonight’s game is the last one at Greer Stadium in Nashville. The Sounds move into a new downtown ballpark next year. The Tennessean has a good story on the people who made the park famous.
  • On the field, Sacramento’s Matt Buschmann pitched a three-hit shutout and struck out ten in a 2-0 win at Nashville.
  • Reno remained one game behind Sacramento by edging Omaha, 7-6.
  • Memphis downed Fresno, 9-6, and the Redbirds have a two-game lead over Nashville in the American-South.
  • Oklahoma City claimed sole possession of first place in the American-North with a 13-6 win over Albuquerque. The RedHawks are focused on the PCL playoffs.
  • Las Vegas won its sixth in a row, beating Round Rock 9-5. The 51s have set their playoff rotation. << that story includes one of the most horrifying notes at the bottom that a baseball fan could ever read. Proceed at your own risk.
  • Colorado Springs lost to El Paso but won at the gate: the Sky Sox set a franchise attendance record.
  • Grant Green had four of Salt Lake’s 18 hits in an 11-2 win over New Orleans. The game featured a strange obstruction play and Zephyrs manager Andy Haines winning his argument after he was ejected.
  • Baseball America has its daily minor league round-up.

Home finale tonight. Should be fun!


Rainiers On Brink

August 26, 2014

Tacoma was shut out by Iowa last night, 8-0, and the Rainiers are on the brink of elimination from the playoff chase.

The best-case scenario for the Rainiers now is a 3-way tie for first place in the division. One Tacoma loss, or if either Sacramento or Reno wins a game in the next two days, and the Rainiers are eliminated.

Facing those long odds, Tacoma has a bullpen day today. Scheduled starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez is on hold, as he is the likely starter for the Mariners in their day game tomorrow against the Texas Rangers.

This isn’t exactly the best day for the Rainiers to be without a starting pitcher. The 14-inning game on Sunday has already stretched the Tacoma bullpen – so much that last night the Rainiers used infielder Ty Kelly to pitch the top of the ninth with the team trailing 8-0.

Kelly, by the way, was great. He retired the side in order on five pitches (four strikes), and topped out at 88 mph on the scoreboard radar gun. He retroactively earned the bragging rights he was talking about on our pregame show yesterday.

The Rainiers won’t have to deal with Jorge Soler tonight. The Cubs prospect homered in the first two games of this series, but after launching a three-run opposite-field shot off Taijuan Walker last night, he was pulled from the game. Reports out of Chicago say he is on his way to joining the Cubs and will make his MLB debut on Wednesday.

Kris Bryant can’t be far behind, but the Rainiers have held him in check so far. Bryant is 1-for-10 with a homer in this series.

Also of note on the Iowa Cubs side of things, they placed player/coach Manny Ramirez on the disabled list with a knee problem yesterday. He’s still here in Tacoma coaching, but we won’t see him take an at-bat in this series.

Tuesday’s game starts at 7:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP Lucas Luetge (3-2, 3.53) against Iowa RHP Dan Straily (7-7, 4.00).

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune has reaction from manager Roy Howell and Ty Kelly.
  • Albuquerque outfielder Joc Pederson won the PCL Rookie Of The Year award. According to the press release, Tacoma’s Chris Taylor received at least one vote.
  • The Mariners were shut out by Texas last night, 2-0.
  • The Mariners are juggling their starting rotation again, to give guys an extra day of rest.
  • Larry Stone writes that the Mariners have already won their biggest game: they got the fans to care again.
  • For ESPN Insiders, Buster Olney writes that the Mariners are in prime position to steal the AL West. My take: they need to figure out how to beat Texas first (they are 5-8 against the last place Rangers this year).
  • The Sacramento River Cats are probably still hitting singles as you read this. They had 20 singles among a franchise record 24 hits in a 20-1 win at Nashville last night.
  • Reno remained one game out of first place by taking down Omaha, 7-1, Reno’s Bradin Hagins tossed a complete game in his third career Triple-A start.
  • Memphis shut out Fresno for the second day in a row, 1-0. Memphis leads the American-South by one game over Nashville.
  • Asher W. was dealing and Oklahoma City shut out Albuquerque, 3-0, to pull into a first-place tie with Omaha in the American-North.
  • Salt Lake shortstop Shawn O’Malley credits Katy Perry for his all-star season. Salt Lake lost to New Orleans last night, 6-5.
  • Las Vegas is prepping for the playoffs by winning every night. Their 9-3 victory over Round Rock last night was their fifth in a row.
  • El Paso topped Colorado Springs 4-3 in a game that featured numerous ejections during a downpour.

Only two home games left: tonight and tomorrow.


Tacoma Wins Marathon In 14th Inning

August 25, 2014

Tacoma scored two runs in the bottom of the 14th inning to beat Iowa on Sunday, 5-4, in the longest game of the season for both clubs.

The Rainiers had played 14 innings once earlier this year, but Sunday night’s game clocked in at season-high 5 hours, 31 minutes.

After giving up a run in the top of the 14th, the Rainiers rallied with two runs in the bottom of the 14th. Stefen Romero’s sacrifice fly to shallow center field scored Ketel Marte with the winning run.

The victory kept Tacoma on the fringe of the playoff chase. The Rainiers gained a game and now trail first-place Sacramento by four games with eight remaining. Second-place Reno is only one game behind Sacramento.

Here are some fun facts from last night’s epic battle:

  • Tacoma tied the game in the seventh inning when Corey Hart hit a two-run homer in the final at-bat of his scheduled rehab appearance. He tied the game and said “my work is done here” and let the teams play deep into the night.
  • Xavier Avery entered the game in the ninth inning and went 0-for-0 with three walks. Two of the walks were intentional – his first two IBB’s of the season. He’s only been intentionally walked one other time in his career, and it was in 2010.
  • Ty Kelly drove in the tying run with a bases loaded walk in the 14th. Kelly is a terror with the bases loaded: he’s 7-for-13 with a grand slam, and he has drawn six bases loaded walks. That’s more bases loaded walks than any other player in the league – in fact, three entire teams have fewer bases loaded walks than Kelly.
  • Stefen Romero‘s 13-game hitting streak ended with the game-winning sac fly. The rules say a hitting streak ends if a player is 0-for-0 with a sac fly, which I assume is because the batter is trying to get a hit and “settles” for a sac fly.
  • Tacoma’s bullpen pitched eight shutout innings before allowing a run in the top of the 14th inning.
  • Justin Smoak managed to go 4-for-6 with a walk – reaching base five times – and yet not score any runs. He only made it past first base one time.
  • Shortstop Ketel Marte was 1-for-6 – which looks innocuous in the box score, but he was in the middle of everything. He threw out two runners at home plate in extra innings – one after his own error put that runner at third base. He was also up in game-winning situations in ninth and 11th, and his lone hit came during the winning rally in the 14th.
  • Super-prospect Kris Bryant homered in his first-ever at-bat at Cheney Stadium, driving a two-run opposite field blast against Tacoma starter Forrest Snow in the top of the first for his 43rd homer of the year. However, the Rainiers were able to keep him in check for the next 13 innings.
  • The Cubs other huge prospect was more of a problem. Jorge Soler homered in the fourth inning, and he singled in the go-ahead run for Iowa in the top of the 14th. Soler was 3-for-5 with two walks.
  • The Rainiers are now 11-6 in extra inning games this season, and they are 2-0 in games lasting over five hours.

Monday’s game starts at 7:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Taijuan Walker (6-3, 4.57) against Iowa LHP Eric Jokisch (9-10, 3.63).

The All-PCL team was announced today – you might refer to it as the PCL Post-Season All-Star Team. The complete list is the second link down below, but I can tell you no Rainiers made it this year.

Chris Taylor was Tacoma’s best hope to make the team as the shortstop, but he was beaten out by Reno’s defensive wizard Nick Ahmed. It would have been nice for Taylor to receive the honor.

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • The All-PCL Team was announced and here it is.
  • The Mariners beat the Red Sox 8-6 on Sunday and completed their first-ever sweep of three or more games at Fenway Park.
  • In Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook you can read manager Lloyd McClendon‘s thoughts on September call-ups.
  • While flying home from Boston, Ryan Divish posted a good blog on the reasons behind the Mariners success.
  • Sacramento was absolutely hammered by Nashville last night, 14-2. The Sounds hit four homers.
  • Reno walked-off Omaha on Danny Dorn‘s sac fly in the ninth. That win pulled Reno within one game of first place.
  • Memphis shut out Fresno 8-0, and the Redbirds and Nashville are tied in first place in the American-South.
  • New Orleans held on for an 8-6 win at Salt Lake.
  • Colorado Springs made four errors in a 9-7 loss to El Paso. Adam Moore hit his 12th home run for the Chihuahuas.
  • Oklahoma City is just one game behind Omaha in the American-North after a 6-3 win over Albuquerque.
  • Las Vegas earned a 6-5 win over Round Rock as Cory Vaughn hit a three-run homer. It looks like Las Vegas might keep the Mets, according to the Review-Journal.
  • Kris Bryant makes Baseball America’s minor league round-up.

According to Baseball America the Iowa-Tacoma series is the Series To Watch this week, so why don’t you do that? Only three home games remain – come out to the park!


Omaha’s Brooks Shuts Down Rainiers

August 24, 2014

Omaha starting pitcher Aaron Brooks pitched a complete game six-hitter as the Storm Chasers topped Tacoma on Saturday night, 5-1.

Tacoma scored a run in the fourth inning to tie the game, 1-1, on Justin Smoak‘s RBI double. The Rainiers proceeded to load the bases with one out and it looked like Tacoma might break through with a big inning.

It didn’t happen.

Not only did Brooks escape that jam, it was the beginning of a streak of 17 straight batters he retired to end the game. Tacoma did not get a man on base after the fourth inning.

It was an impressive outing for Brooks, who improved to 11-3 for Omaha.

Meanwhile, the Rainiers playoff chances took a big hit. With Sacramento winning at Memphis, Tacoma is now five games out of first place with nine to play.

The Rainiers welcome the struggling Iowa Cubs to town tonight. Iowa has one of the best prospects in all of the minor leagues in third baseman Kris Bryant, but that doesn’t mean they are winning right now: Iowa ended an eight-game losing streak last night, and they have lost 10 of their last 12 games.

Sunday’s game starts at 5:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 4:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Forrest Snow (2-3, 3.06) against Iowa RHP Dallas Beeler (8-6, 3.80).

Links:

  • In the Rainiers game story, manager Roy Howell says that Omaha’s Aaron Brooks pitched the best game anyone has against Tacoma this year.
  • My minor league notebook for the TNT previews the Iowa Cubs series and looks at Mariners prospect Jabari Henry who hit his 30th home run on Friday night.
  • The Mariners used one big inning to down the Red Sox, 7-3. Seattle is going for a sweep today.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook has all of the tidbits you need and desire.
  • Lloyd McClendon talked about September call-ups, and Ryan Divish took a stab at guessing who they might be.
  • For his Sunday notebook, Ryan Divish spoke with Mariners third base coach Rich Donnelly about taking risks.
  • John McGrath ranks the 30 major league teams. He also has a column about how Friday’s epic Mariners comeback could be the turning point of the season.
  • If you are an ESPN Insider, Buster Olney’s piece on Tumwater resident Stephen Vogt has some interesting insight on Triple-A.
  • In the PCL, Sacramento increased its lead in the Pacific-North by beating Memphis on Saturday night, 6-3. The River Cats had a strong start by Deck McGuire.
  • Reno fell two games behind by losing to Iowa, 10-7. Jorge Soler went 5-for-5 and the Aces missed out on a sweep.
  • Nashville beat Fresno, 6-2. Nashville and Memphis are tied in first in the American-South with nine games to play.
  • Ben Paulsen hit three home runs and Colorado Springs picked up a 12-10 win over Albuquerque. In the game, Joc Pederson became the first PCL player to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in 80 years.
  • Oklahoma City beat up El Paso, 10-2. We have a Q&A with RedHawks infielder Ronald Torreyes.
  • Salt Lake and Round Rock split a doubleheader in Utah.
  • Las Vegas outfielder Cory Vaughn hit a walk-off homer and the 51s beat New Orleans, 10-8. The newspaper story focuses on the salaries paid to minor league players.

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