Rain Sides With Rainiers

April 22, 2014

We have had so many rainouts this year, maybe the rain felt like it owed us one.

With Tacoma leading Sacramento 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh, Sacramento catcher Ryan Ortiz lost Jesus Sucre‘s pop-up among the rain drops, letting it drop for a two-run single to give Tacoma an 8-5 lead. One batter later the umpires called for the tarp, and 36 minutes of absolute downpour later the game was called and Tacoma was pronounced the winner.

About five innings of the game were played without rain, but once it started it was serious.

Tacoma shortstop Chris Taylor had a tremendous game, ripping the first two homers at the Triple-A level. Both of them were hit to the opposite field: a three-run shot that bounced off the top of the wall and over in third inning, and a solo shot that went well over the fence in the fifth.

James Jones returned to the club and ripped his first Triple-A homer in the third inning. In fact, Jones hit his on the very next pitch after Taylor’s, for back-to-back jacks.

Cole Gillespie also hit a homer, giving the Rainiers four in the game. The club had ten hits and boosted its PCL-leading team batting average to .314.

Tuesday’s game starts at 6:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 5:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Chance Ruffin (0-1, 6.08) against Sacramento RHP Josh Lindblom (1-1, 7.79).

There had been some reports that Hisashi Iwakuma was going to make a brief rehabilitation start for the Rainiers today, but it looks like that is going to get scratched due to weather concerns. He may still show up and pitch, but don’t count on it. If it happens, we’ll enjoy it.


  • The Rainiers game story in The News Tribune has reaction from Chris Taylor on his big game, and an update on the Hisashi Iwakuma situation. Once you consider the state of the Mariners rotation, their concerns about Iwakuma make a lot of sense.
  • TJ Cotterill caught up with James Jones prior to last night’s game.
  • We have an update on the condition of Mariners starter James Paxton.
  • The Mariners lost their seventh in a row yesterday… and it was Felix Hernandez losing to the Astros.
  • It’s not the Mariners time to panic yet – but it is close, Larry Stone writes.
  • Panic? Did somebody say panic? Fresno infielder Joe Panik had three hits and the Grizzlies got to Reno’s Archie Bradley for a 6-4 win.
  • Efren Navarro became the Salt Lake Bees all-time franchise leader in career hits (502) with a pair of doubles in a 6-4 win over Albuquerque last night.
  • Las Vegas super-utilityman Eric Cambell launched a two-run homer and the 51s topped El Paso, 5-4. Las Vegas is tops in the PCL with a 14-5 record.
  • Brewers top pitching prospect Jimmy Nelson tossed seven shutout innings of two-hit ball, striking out nine in Nashville’s 7-0 win at Omaha.
  • Colorado Springs beat New Orleans 2-1 on a 20-foot single.
  • Kyle Hendricks was once traded from the Texas Rangers to the Chicago Cubs, and last night he tossed six scoreless innings for Iowa against his former teammates. Iowa beat Round Rock, 5-1.
  • Memphis hit three homers in a 7-4 win over Oklahoma City.
  • The Mariners Double-A team in Jackson, Tennessee lost an 18-inning game to Chattanooga last night/this morning, 7-4. The game clocked in at 5 hours, 17 minutes.
  • Baseball America’s daily minor league round-up is here.

Final game of the homestand tonight – after this, Tacoma plays 20 of its next 24 games on the road. The Rainiers already have a winning record on this homestand (5-2). Let’s see if they can close it out with another W.

Rainiers Split With Kitties

April 21, 2014

Tacoma and the Sacramento River Cats split a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon, with the Rainiers winning the opener 1-0 and dropping the nightcap 8-3.

Jordan Pries tossed a gem in his Triple-A debut for Tacoma, not allowing a hit until there were two outs in the sixth inning. Since it was only supposed to be a seven-inning game, thoughts of a no-hitter were dancing in my head. Shane Peterson broke it up with a clean single through the left side of the infield.

Tacoma has not pitched a no-hitter or been victim of one since 2003, when the Rainiers were involved in a flurry of no-hitters over a three-year span: they pitched two and were no-hit three times from 2001 to 2003.



July 3, 2001 – Brett Tomko at Oklahoma

July 7, 2001 – John Halama vs. Calgary (perfect game)


May 1, 2001 – Micah Bowie, Sacramento (game two, seven innings)

May 14, 2002 – Junior Herndon, Portland (game two, seven innings)

June 12, 2003 – Lindsay Gulin, at Las Vegas

The opening game ended up going extra innings, with Leury Bonilla connecting for the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Game two was Sacramento Ugly, with the PCL’s most-walked offense drawing seven free passes over the first four innings on the way to an 8-3 win. They drew eight walks total in the game, with four of the walked batters scoring runs.

The positive for Tacoma in game two was that Cole Gillespie had three hits and a homer, after going hitless in three straight games. He’s batting .364 with four homers and 13 RBI.

The Rainiers have now won seven of the last nine games, and Sacramento has won eight of its last ten. Game three of the series is tonight.

Monday’s game starts at 6:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 5:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP Anthony Fernandez (0-1, 3.77) against Sacramento RHP Zach Neal (1-0, 3.00).

Bob Robertson joins me in the booth today, because it’s a Monday home game and he is awesome. Tune in!


  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune, which focuses on the start made by Jordan Pries.
  • Bob Dutton has an update on the condition of Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker. It still looks like Iwakuma is in line for a rehab start with the Rainiers on Tuesday.
  • Brandon Maurer‘s spot-start on Sunday went better than anyone expected, Ryan Divish writes.
  • Still, the Mariners lost their sixth in a row and fell to 7-11 on the year. Now they return home to face the lowly Astros – a team that gave them fits last year. My opinion: this series is going to tell us a lot about the 2014 Mariners.
  • Rainiers reliever Stephen Pryor answered a lot of questions for Lookout Landing readers.
  • In the PCL, Albuquerque scored 11 runs in the top of the first inning and still needed to add two more for a 13-12 win in Salt Lake City.
  • San Francisco pitching prospect Edwin Escobar delivered seven shutout innings, but his Fresno Grizzlies lost to Reno 2-1. Nick Ahmed hit a two-run homer in the eighth for Reno.
  • Las Vegas starter Jake deGrom once suffered an injury that was, shall we say, a little unusual. The 51s pummeled El Paso yesterday, 11-4. Bobby Abreu homered and was promoted to New York, which sent down Andrew Brown. Seems like that roster move helps Las Vegas, doesn’t it?
  • Colorado Springs lefty Christian Friedrich was dealing and the Sky Sox shut out New Orleans, 2-0. Washington State product Adam Conley took the tough loss for the Zephyrs.
  • Meanwhile, the art of pitching apparently took a few steps backwards in Omaha’s 7-6 win over Nashville yesterday.
  • St. Louis Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras hit a walk-off RBI double and Memphis beat Oklahoma City, 5-4.
  • Javier Baez struggled in his return from the disabled list, and Round Rock’s Nick Tepesch shut down the I-Cubs.
  • Here’s your Baseball America minor league round-up from the weekend.

See you at the park!

Doubling Up Again

April 20, 2014

We had yet another rainout last night, so Tacoma and Sacramento will play a doubleheader today to make up for it.

It looked like we were going to play last night, and the team waited a while before postponing it. In the end, edges of storms that looked on radar like they might miss the stadium kept hitting us. It came to a sadly comical end at around 7:00 when there was sunshine out beyond the left field fence, a double rainbow in center field, and rain continuing to fall at the ballpark.

Anyway, let’s play two today.

Sunday’s games start at 1:35 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 1:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jordan Pries (Triple-A debut) against Sacramento RHP Sean Murphy (2-1, 5.06) in the first game. Game two pits the Rainiers LHP James Gillheeney (1-1, 5.40) against Sacramento RHP Marcus Walden (PCL debut).


  • We’ll start with a story about a rainout. In the story: both Jesus Montero and Chance Ruffin were placed on the Temporarily Inactive List, which means they are gone for at least three days. Montero’s wife is having (maybe had last night?) a baby, so congrats to the family.
  • My minor league notebook for the TNT had items on Cole Gillespie and a hitter in Class-A on a power surge.
  • The Mariners lost their fifth in a row and were limited to just two hits in a 7-0 loss to Miami last night. Cue the Harry Doyle.
  • As always, there is a lot of good stuff in Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook.
  • Before today’s Mariners game, they called up Brandon Maurer and optioned James Jones to Tacoma. It’s a long way from Miami to Tacoma so we may not see Jones for another day or two.
  • I’m pretty sure Ryan Divish put these power rankings together simply so he could take a shot at Justin Bieber.
  • Even though he is facing NCAA sanctions, John McGrath wrote a column about another flaw in the MLB replay system.
  • Everyone else in the PCL played last night, although Las Vegas ace Noah Syndergaard probably wished it was raining as he was getting tattooed by El Paso, 8-5.
  • A “plethora” is a very large number, and that’s how many home runs Salt Lake hit in a 12-2 wipeout of Albuquerque yesterday. They even hit back-to-back-to-back dingers.
  • Randy Wolf – whom you may remember from such hits as “Mariners Spring Training” – tossed five innings for Reno and earned the win in a 9-2 victory at Fresno last night. Roger Kieschnick returned to his old stomping grounds.
  • Nashville starter Mike Fiers was on fire indeed, striking out a dozen in a 5-1 win over Omaha.
  • Oklahoma City’s Rudy Owens tossed five no-hit innings and Jon Singleton hit his PCL-leading 7th homer in the RedHawks 6-2 win at Memphis.
  • Three pitchers combined on a two-hit shutout as New Orleans topped Colorado Springs, 3-0. Needless to say, that game was not played in the Springs.
  • Iowa got hammered by Round Rock, 12-2, but they activated top prospect Javier Baez from the disabled list today.
  • The new ballpark in El Paso opens up in just eight days.

All together now, once again… Let’s Play Two!

Rainiers Split DH, Ending Streak At Six

April 19, 2014

The Tacoma Rainiers six-game win streak came to an end when Salt Lake rallied in the final inning and salvaged a split of Friday night’s doubleheader.

Tacoma won the first game, 2-1, when new outfielder Julio Morban doubled home the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning. That made a winner out of starting pitcher Andrew Carraway, who lasted six innings and allowed just one run. Logan Bawcom nailed down the save.

Tacoma took a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning in game two, but Salt Lake all-star Efren Navarro hit a bases loaded double to cap a four-run rally giving the Bees a 5-3 lead. Tacoma scored one run and had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the inning, but Triple-A rookie Michael Morin got pinch-hitter Endy Chavez to ground into a game-ending double play.

The Rainiers won the series, three games to one, and is sitting two games over .500 on the season with an 8-6 record.

Now the Sacramento River Cats come to town, and they are new Rainiers division rivals this year. Steve Scarsone returns as manager, but they have a ton of new faces on the roster. Outfielders Michael Taylor and Shane Peterson are the only mainstays from previous years.

Sacramento is off to a good start as usual, with a 10-6 record. They’ve won seven of their last eight games.

Just from looking at their stats, it appears that A’s management filled the Triple-A roster by signing a lot of minor league free agents who draw a lot of walks. These guys are going to take a lot of pitches. As former Rainiers manager Dan Rohn used to say back in the Moneyball heyday of walking Sacramento clubs, “the way to solve this problem is to just throw strikes.” Amen, Rohnie, Amen.

Saturday’s game starts at 5:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 4:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jordan Pries (Triple-A debut) against Sacramento RHP Marcus Walden (first PCL appearance).


  • The Raniers game story in The News Tribune focuses on the crazy number of transactions Tacoma has already had.
  • It sounds like Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma is going to make a rehabilitation start for Tacoma, perhaps as early as Tuesday.
  • The Mariners lost the series opener in Miami Friday night on a walk-off grand slam by Giancarlo Stanton.
  • In the PCL, Sacramento batters drew ten walks as the River Cats topped Fresno last night, 4-2.
  • Backup catcher Griff Erickson went 4-for-4 with three doubles and a homer as Albuquerque beat the El Paso Chihuahuas, 10-6. It was Bark In The Park night, and the Albuquerque Journal headline writer nailed it.
  • The Reno Aces finally slowed Las Vegas’s roll and they did it with a game-ending three-run homer by Didi Gregorius in the 11th inning.
  • Carlos Peguero hit his first homer for Omaha – and it was a tape-measure blast that gave the Storm Chasers the lead in a 3-2 win over Round Rock.
  • Nashville picked up a 5-1 win over Memphis in unique fashion: Kevin Mattison snapped a 1-1 tie with a pinch-hit grand slam.
  • New Orleans ace Brian Flynn met the Iowa Cubs and reigning PCL Pitcher of the Week Tsuyoshi Wada, and a terrific pitcher’s duel unfolded. Flynn and the Zephyrs got the win, 1-0.
  • Colorado Springs scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat Oklahoma City, 10-9. Jackson Williams had the game-winning hit. Earlier, RedHawks first baseman Jonathan Singleton launched his sixth homer of the season, and he’s driven in 20 runs already.

Rain Yesterday, Two Today

April 18, 2014

We had Rainiers rainout No. 4 yesterday, and that means doubleheader today.

Tacoma and Salt Lake will play two seven-inning games, starting at 6:05 tonight at Cheney Stadium. There will be about 25 minutes between games, and yes the Friday Night Fireworks show will still go off after the second game. The weather forecast looks promising for both games to be played tonight.

There was some news yesterday, and it wasn’t good.

Tacoma first baseman Ji-Man Choi was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for testing positive for methandienone, an anabolic steroid. Apparently this stuff is available over-the-counter in Korea but has been illegal here since 2001. At any rate, it’s against the rules which should have been well-known to Choi. Both the Mariners and Choi made brief statements which you can find right here.

So Tacoma is down a first baseman – and a heckuva hitter – until mid-June. Choi has left Tacoma and will be at extended spring training in Arizona while he serves the suspension.

The Rainiers made a bunch of roster moves yesterday:

  • Tacoma added reliever Stephen Pryor to the active roster, and placed reliever Nick Hill on the 7-day disabled list.
  • Choi was placed on the suspended list – he does not count on the Rainiers 25-man roster.
  • Outfielder Julio Morban joins the team from extended spring training, where he was recovering from a broken leg suffered at the end of the 2013 season. Morban is a highly regarded prospect and a good hitter who has been slowed by injuries.
  • Chantz Mack – a 2013 draft pick from “The U” – joins the club from extended spring training to provide outfield depth while James Jones is in the big leagues.
  • Right-hander Jordan Pries is here in Tacoma and he will be activated to start for the Rainiers tomorrow. He was pitching well at Double-A Jackson.

It should be fun to watch Morban play. He’ll probably DH quite a bit initially as he gets his playing legs back, and slowly be added to the outfield mix.

Friday’s doubleheader starts at 6:05 – 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 (0-0, 11.57) against Salt Lake LHP Justin Thomas (1-0, 6.10) in the first game, and the Rainiers are going with RHP Chance Ruffin (0-1, 7.45) in game two against a Bees starter to be announced.


Let’s play two!

Let’s Go Streaking

April 17, 2014

Tacoma won its fifth straight game on Wednesday night, taking down Salt Lake 10-8 in a game that was highlighted by one big inning.

Each team actually had a big inning, and Salt Lake was first: trailing 2-1 after three, Salt Lake scored five runs in the top of the fourth inning to take a 6-2 lead. Grant Green – one of the hottest hitters in the PCL to open the season – hit a grand slam to cap the rally.

It didn’t take long for Tacoma to come back.

In the bottom of the fifth, Tacoma sent 11 batters to the plate and scored seven runs in the club’s biggest single inning of the season so far. Cole Gillespie hit a two-run homer early in the frame, and new Rainiers infielder Gabriel Noriega hit the go-ahead two-run single to center.

Noriega had an excellent Triple-A debut, going 2-for-4 with the game winning hit and making a nice play defensively on a hard-hit ball up the middle.

The bullpen did the job again. Lucas Luetge went two innings and earned the win, Ramon Ramirez delivered a scoreless inning in his Tacoma debut, and Stephen Pryor worked an inning which was an important step in his rehabilitation program: he pitched in back-to-back games.

Tacoma has won five straight and is now 7-5 on the season. Meanwhile, Salt Lake is tanking – they’ve lost eight in a row!

Thursday’s game is at 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (0-0, 11.57) against Salt Lake LHP Justin Thomas (1-0, 6.10).


  • The Rainiers game story for The News Tribune looks at the starting pitching performance of Anthony Fernandez.
  • Roster round-up: Nick Franklin and James Jones were promoted to Seattle (the Mariners placed Blake Beavan and Logan Morrison on the disabled list). Tacoma added Gabriel Noriega from Double-A Jackson, and will probably add an outfielder today, and will need to add a starting pitcher for Saturday.
  • Stephen Pryor‘s rehab ended and the Mariners activated him from the DL and optioned him to Tacoma – so he now counts on the Rainiers 25-man roster.
  • Taijuan Walker has a right shoulder impingement and is not going to throw for two weeks. This means that even if everything clears up, he’s unlikely to pitch in the majors until at least June.
  • The Mariners lost in gut-wrenching fashion on Tuesday night in Texas.
  • Bob Dutton writes that Brandon Maurer is in line to be the Mariners starting pitcher on Sunday.
  • The hottest team in the PCL right now is Sacramento, which won its sixth in a row with a 4-2 win over Fresno last night. Alden Carrithers drove in all four runs.
  • Albuquerque received a strong pitching performance from Zach Lee, who tamed the Chihuahuas for a 3-1 win.
  • Allan Dykstra plays for Las Vegas manager Wally Backman. He’s not related to Wally’s old teammate Lenny, but he still drove in three runs in the 51s 4-2 win at Reno. Vegas has won five in a row.
  • Rising Cubs prospect Kyle Hendricks pitched well and Iowa beat New Orleans, 6-3.
  • It was the Round Rock Express – not the Storm Chasers – who took advantage of a strong wind blowing out to right field last night in Omaha.
  • The day after outfielder George Springer was called up by Houston, Oklahoma City first baseman Jonathan Singleton had a big game in the RedHawks 8-6 win at Colorado Springs.
  • A good pitcher’s duel was spoiled by a bullpen blow-up in Nashville. Memphis scored six runs in the eighth and won, 7-1.
  • Baseball America’s minor league round-up includes notes from an 18-inning game in Class-A in which one team stole 11 bases.

Now, let’s head out to the ballpark and see if the Rainiers can make it six in a row.

Rainiers Win As Roster Revolves

April 16, 2014

The Rainiers kicked off the homestand with an 8-5 win over Salt Lake on Tuesday night. The victory extended Tacoma’s win streak to four in a row, and the team moved over the .500 mark improving to 6-5.

That was the good news.

The bad news was that Taijuan Walker had his rehabilitation start scratched due to shoulder stiffness. He was scratched before he ever threw a baseball – he was doing his pre-start stretching routine in the trainer’s room when this happened. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out – the Mariners will err on the side of caution here.

James Gillheeney filled in for Walker and allowed just one run over five innings to earn his first win of the season. The Rainiers banged out a dozen hits and built a 7-0 lead after two innings. The game tightened up but a different rehabber – in this case reliever Stephen Pryor – nailed down the save in the ninth inning.

There were roster moves before yesterday’s game, and there will be more before tonight’s game.

Yesterday the Mariners called up Blake Beavan, and optioned reliever Lucas Luetge to Tacoma. Tacoma placed catcher Humberto Quintero (left hamstring) on the disabled list, and activated catcher Manny Pina. Finally, reliever Jonathan Arias was placed on the disabled list, and Ramon Ramirez was activated from the DL to take his spot.

Today Nick Franklin flew to Texas to join the Mariners, who placed Logan Morrison on the disabled list. Shortstop Gabriel Noriega is joining the Rainiers, up from Double-A Jackson.

Tuesday’s game is at 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP Anthony Fernandez (0-1, 4.35) against Salt Lake RHP Matt Shoemaker (first PCL game).


That’s A Winning Streak

April 14, 2014

Tacoma has won back-to-back games for the first time this season, after picking up an 8-3 win in Albuquerque on Sunday afternoon.

The Rainiers improved to 4-5 on the year, and can reach .500 and claim their first series victory of the year with a win tonight in the final game of the brief road trip.

Tacoma returns home on Tuesday night, with a 6:05 game against Salt Lake. The Rainiers will be starting a rehabilitating Taijuan Walker. Excellent seats are available, so come on out to the park!

Yesterday’s game was a full-team effort. It was a tense affair, with Tacoma leading 4-3 before scoring four insurance runs in the top of the ninth inning to break things open.

You can read about the offensive stars in the newspaper story (first link down below), so let’s talk about the pitching here.

Chance Ruffin was in trouble through most of his 4.2 innings as the starter, but boy did he battle through the jams. Ruffin did not allow a run, giving up three hits and three walks. He struck out seven batters, too.

Clay Rapada relieved Ruffin and inherited a jam in the fifth, but he escaped to preserve a 1-0 lead. However, he gave up a three-run homer to Dodgers prospect Alex Guerrero in the sixth inning, and Tacoma was down 3-1.

The Rainiers rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh to regain a 4-3 lead, and then it was Nick Hill‘s turn to shine. He pitched scoreless ball for 1.2 innings, eventually giving way to Logan Bawcom with two outs in the eighth.

With the tying runner on second base, Bawcom found himself in a prolonged battle with Isotopes leadoff hitter Walter Ibarra. On the 11th pitch of the at-bat, Ibarra smoked a liner – right at second baseman Nick Franklin, who caught it to end the inning.

Pitching with a much more comfortable five-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, Carson Smith easily finished things off.

The Rainiers will try to make it three straight wins tonight. Scheduled starting pitcher Blake Beavan isn’t going to pitch – he was summoned to Seattle – so the Rainiers are having a bullpen game.

Monday’s game is at 5:35 (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show starts at 5:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Brandon Maurer (0-0, 1.42) against Albuquerque RHP Stephen Fife (0-2, 14.73).


  • Tacoma took the lead on Nick Franklin‘s two-run double in the seventh inning. It came from the right side of the plate – a valuable at-bat, Franklin tells The News Tribune.
  • The Albuquerque newspaper focused on Cuban defector Alex Guerrero, who homered in his Isotopes debut.
  • The Mariners pitched well against Oakland on Sunday, but that doesn’t really matter when you only get three hits.
  • It was a rough day for the Mariners offense, but it’s nothing to get too worked up about just yet according to John McGrath.
  • Lloyd McClendon, just like everyone else in the majors, is still trying to decide if he likes the new instant replay system.
  • The Mariners are one of the teams Jonah Keri focuses on in this week’s edition of “The 30.”
  • Here’s a PCL prospect round-up that leads off with Albuquerque outfielder Joc Pederson.
  • Sacramento swept a doubleheader from Salt Lake and took over first place in the Pacific-North. The River Cats swept the four-game series and are now 7-5. They played a DH yesterday and are not playing today (unlike the rest of the league).
  • Lots to talk about in the Las Vegas 10-4 win at Fresno. Grizzlies reliever Dontrelle Willis suffered an arm injury, rehabilitating Mets outfielder Chris Young went 5-for-5 with two dingers, Fresno third baseman Adam Duvall took the PCL home run lead with five, and Vegas infielder Danny Munro (a former Fresno State star) opened up about his PED use.
  • Reno knocked off El Paso, 6-4, despite a three-run homer from Chihuahuas prankster/director/DH Cody Decker.
  • Iowa picked up a road win in Memphis, 6-3, on the strength of a two-run homer by Matt Szczur. That’s pronounced “cesar” – thank goodness! The Iowa Cubs placed “polarizing” prospect Javier Baez on the disabled list with a sprained ankle.
  • Oklahoma City outfielder Domingo Santana had a great game against New Orleans on Sunday. The Triple-A rookie hit a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth, and then singled home the winning run in the tenth inning.
  • Infielder Pete Orr had a big day as Nashville topped Omaha, 4-3. Sounds starter Mike Fiers is off to a great start and he could be one of the better pitchers in the PCL this year.
  • Round Rock and Colorado Springs got postponed due to “cold temperatures, rain and snow.” At least they didn’t have locusts.
  • Baseball America has its nation-wide minor league weekend recap.

Let’s see if the Rainiers can get this series win tonight, and bring a three-game win streak back to Tacoma on Tuesday!

Gillespie, Bullpen Lead Rainiers To Comeback Win

April 13, 2014

One day after letting a close game get away, the Rainiers rebounded in a big way on Saturday and picked up a 9-7 comeback win in Albuquerque.

Tacoma trailed 6-1 after five innings, but Cole Gillespie got them back into it with a two-run homer in the top of the sixth. Gillespie also singled home the tying run in the seventh inning, and his double started the game-winning rally in the top of the ninth.

Andrew Carraway was a surprise starting pitcher for Tacoma, getting bumped up one day in the rotation. I didn’t know he was pitching until I arrived at the park; apparently the decision was made early in the morning.

Carraway didn’t allow a hit or run through three innings, but he was doomed by a five-run fourth.

After Carraway left the game with two outs in the fifth, the Rainiers bullpen took over and made the comeback possible.

Zach Miner, Logan Kensing, and Carson Smith delivered 4.1 innings of quality relief, allowing just one unearned run in a difficult pitching environment. Kensing earned the win, and Smith picked up his first Triple-A save.

The offense banged out 14 hits. Gillespie and James Jones each had three hits, and Nick Franklin had a pair. Ji-Man Choi singled once and walked three times, reaching base in 4-of-5 trips.

The Rainiers haven’t won two in a row yet this season. Let’s see if they can take care of that today.

Sunday’s game is at 12:35 (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show starts at 12:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Chance Ruffin (0-1, 14.41) against Albuquerque RHP Red Patterson (0-0, 5.40).


  • We’ll start with the Rainiers game story, once again without quotes because of a long game and an earlier-than-usual deadline.
  • The Dodgers latest Cuban signing is infielder Alex Guerrero, and he was activated from the disabled list and is expected to debut for Albuquerque today.
  • My minor league notebook for the TNT looks at Gabriel Guerrero and D.J. Peterson down at Class-A High Desert.
  • Blake Beavan is getting the call to Seattle, filling James Paxton‘s rotation spot. Meanwhile, Taijuan Walker will continue his rehabilitation with Tacoma. Rainiers manager Roy Howell does not yet know which day Walker will start.
  • The Mariners lost on Saturday to Sonny Gray and the Oakland A’s, 3-1.
  • Ryan Divish has a Sunday MLB notebook and an ex-Mariner of the week.
  • Jerry Brewer has a column on the Mariners early solid play and the doubtful fan base. It is a strange moment in time right now.
  • John McGrath loves the ongoing “Kings Court” and occasional “Supreme Court” at Safeco Field.
  • The new trend in the majors is to have your best hitter bat second in the lineup. Good stuff from John Shea.
  • Ex-Rainiers slugger Mike Morse is becoming popular in San Francisco, and today he was the subject of an Ann Killion feature.
  • Did you hear about Raul Ibanez‘s 2,000th career hit? It was a pinch-hit, game-tying three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning last night. He’ll get a plaque at Cheney Stadium someday.
  • In the PCL, new Sacramento shortstop Tyler Ladendorf went 3-for-3 with three RBI in a 5-4 win over Salt Lake.
  • Reno ripped El Paso in Tucson, 11-1. Three Chihuahuas were ejected, all by the same umpire, and the group included rehabilitating major leaguer Cameron Maybin. Reno manager Phil Nevin is the subject of a Sunday feature. << excellent story alert!
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and pitched scoreless ball for seven innings in Fresno last night – although he was gone by the time Las Vegas won the game in a tenth inning homer by Kirk Nieuwenhuis, 1-0.
  • Iowa starter Tsuyoshi Wada punched out ten in a 5-0 win at Memphis.
  • Round Rock snapped an 11-11 tie by scoring five runs in the 9th to beat Colorado Springs, 16-12. Somebody needs to check the humidor at Security Service Field – the two games there have been 11-10 and 16-12.
  • To the surprise of nobody who followed the Nolan Ryan saga last winter, there are already reports that the Round Rock Express will switch affiliations from Texas back to Houston after the season.
  • Speaking of the Astros, several of their top prospects are currently with Oklahoma City. Jon Singleton is one of them, and he had four RBI in a 12-1 woopin’ of New Orleans last night.
  • Nashville picked up a 5-2 home victory over Omaha.
  • Cody Decker‘s latest film details a weeks-long prank the Chihuahuas played on teammate Jeff Francoeur. This started in spring training and they finally came clean with him during the series at Cheney Stadium last week – the revelation at the end of the movie took place in the visitor’s locker room. Truly a herculean effort by Jorge Reyes and the rest of the club.

OK, boys, let’s start a winning streak.

Rainiers Take Tough Loss In Road Opener

April 12, 2014

Tacoma played its first away game on Friday night, falling to Albuquerque 6-3 in front of a big crowd in the Isotopes home opener.

I’m going to go ahead and call this the Rainiers first tough loss of the season. The team took a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning on Jesus Sucre‘s clutch hit, only to see things go south in the eighth.

First, Tacoma failed to get anything out of a bases loaded, one-out opportunity in the top of the inning. Then the bottom of the frame saw Tacoma relievers walk in the tying and go-ahead runs with the bases loaded, followed by a three-run triple by Nick Buss.

The hard-to-swallow eighth inning came after a tremendous start by 23-year-old left-hander Anthony Fernandez. Making his second Triple-A start, Fernandez showed why he is on the Mariners 40-man roster: he allowed just four hits and one run over six innings, striking out eight batters in one of the best hitter’s parks in the PCL.

The Rainiers are now 2-5 on the season, and they look to turn things around tonight.

Today the Mariners announced that pitcher Hector Noesi was traded to the Texas Rangers for cash or a player to be named later.

Noesi was designated for assignment earlier in the week, and apparently Texas claimed him off waivers which is why they worked out (or more accurately, will work out) a trade. Noesi reports to the Rangers big-league club because he is out of options.

Saturday’s game is at 6:05 (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show starts at 5:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Chance Ruffin (0-1, 14.41) against Albuquerque RHP Henry Sosa (1-0, 1.50).


  • My Rainiers game story for The News Tribune has the blow-by-blow of how the game got away from the Rainiers. The game ended too late to get any quotes from manager Roy Howell, because…
  • There was a 25-minute delay due to a blackout, when three of the light standards went out. Half of the field was covered in darkness. I strongly agree with the writer’s assertion that the ‘Topes missed a golden opportunity to play some UFO on the sound system. They should have mixed in some Triumph, too.
  • Felix Hernandez regularly dominates the Oakland A’s, and he did it again last night. The Mariners bullpen stumbled a bit, but held on for a 6-4 win.
  • Who is going to replace James Paxton in the Mariners rotation? We should find out today, Bob Dutton writes in this notebook.
  • I agree with what Ken Levine wrote about advanced statistical analysis and baseball broadcasting.
  • Forgot to link this yesterday: Albuquerque’s Joc Pederson earned the No. 1 ranking on the first Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet of the season.
  • The game of the night in the PCL was played in Colorado Springs, where Tim Wheeler hit a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth, and after falling behind 10-8 Drew Garcia hit a three-run walk-off dinger in the bottom of the 11th inning for an 11-10 victory. And this all happened in the Sky Sox home opener.
  • Fresno outfielder Gary Brown drove in three runs, and the Grizzlies beat Las Vegas 5-1 in a highly successful home opener.
  • Nate Freiman hit a grand slam and Sacramento scored a come-from-behind 7-6 win over Salt Lake at Raley Field. The Kitties home opener was all about the fans.
  • When El Paso plays Reno in Tucson, it’s difficult to find a newspaper story on the game. Here’s a recap from El Paso radio man Tim Hagerty (the little dogs won, 2-1).
  • Apparently the road was the cure for the New Orleans Zephyrs: they ended their seven-game losing streak by spoiling Oklahoma City’s home opener, 8-4.
  • They played the last-ever home opener at Greer Stadium in Nashville last night, and the Sounds lost to Omaha, 5-4.
  • Sorry, no first-hand reports from the Memphis Redbirds home opener due to an annoying Commerical-Appeal paywall which I cannot find a way around. Oscar Taveras had three hits as the Redbirds beat Iowa, 8-5. Javier Baez sat out with back pain.



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