Rainiers Finally Return Home

May 19, 2014

The Rainiers finished up their longest road trip of the season with a 6-1 loss at Sacramento on Sunday afternoon.

The 13-day, 12-game journey included stops in Reno, Las Vegas, and Sacramento. We survived cold nights in Reno, extreme wind in Vegas, 97-degree temperatures in Sacramento, and a nightmarish 10:30 AM game with 5,000 fifth graders in attendance on a Tuesday in Vegas.

By going 4-8 on the trip, the team left home two games over .500 and returns two games under .500, at 19-21.

Now Tacoma settles in for its longest homestand of the season: 13 games in 12 days, starting tonight when the Reno Aces come to town.

Reno is an older squad, but they do have one aspect that fans who attend the games this week will enjoy watching: their middle infield defense is terrific. Shortstop Nick Ahmed is a wizard with the glove, and second baseman DiDi Gregorius is an excellent shortstop in his own right who has been pushed to the other side of the bag. These kids can really pick it; they are a joy to watch for any baseball fan.

The Rainiers went 2-2 at Reno to start this long trip, and now we’ll see if the Rainiers can beat them in a series at home.

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 RHP Matt Palmer (0-0, 3.38) against Reno RHP Bo Schultz (2-3, 5.29).

It’s a Monday home game, and that means that Pacific NW broadcast legend Bob Robertson joins me on the air. He’ll call play-by-play during the middle innings tonight.

Links:

It’s very nice to be home. Let’s see if the team can get it together for a good long stretch at Cheney Stadium.


Rainiers Find Solution: Just Leave Reno

June 3, 2012

Tacoma ended a four-game losing streak by beating Sacramento on Saturday night, 6-3.

The Rainiers have gone 13-5 over their last 18 games played anywhere but Reno.

Something about Reno is just a serious problem for the Rainiers – maybe it’s just that black hole vortex of a slogan they have, “The Biggest Little City In The World,” that causes the Rainiers to swirl in an abyss of bad baseball for four days every time they go there.

Anyway, it’s over now. It turns out that to escape Reno, all you have to do is go to the airport. They have flights leaving town every ten minutes! Who knew it was so easy?

The Rainiers returned home and had patient at-bats, worked walks, connected for clutch hits, played solid defense, had good starting pitching, and beat one of the best teams in the league. We’re not in Reno anymore.

The key parts from Saturday’s game:

Erasmo Ramirez pitched six innings and allowed one run for the win. Most importantly in the big picture, he stretched his pitch count up to 103 pitches – meaning he is now ready to return to Seattle in the starting rotation should the need arise. He opened the season in the Mariners bullpen and was sent to Tacoma to build up arm strength in the rotation, and he’s done that.

Franklin Gutierrez served as the DH in his first game of the 2012 season, and appeared healthy. He walked twice – once intentionally, which was amusing seeing how he hadn’t played in a game in three months – struck out once, popped up, and in his last at-bat against hard-throwing Sean Doolittle he hit a deep drive to right field that was caught.

Manny Ramirez was greeted with boos outlasting a smattering of applause. There was also some surprise, coming from the folks who just came out to the game for kicks and don’t follow the teams closely – whoa, wait a minute, Manny Ramirez???!!!??? Manny singled on an 0-2 pitch in th first inning. It was a little grounder to right. He was forced out at second base to end the inning, and then we did not see him again. Suspicion is that he left the game with the hamstring tightness that cause him to be scratched at home on Thursday and Friday – I’ll try to get an official explanation from their manager today before the game.

Many Rainiers players were happy to see Manny. He knew several of the guys -  he was giving out hugs like Mike Sweeney to Gutierrez, Luis Jimenez, Trayvon Robinson, and Jeff Pentland.

Others were like me: curious. I was looking out the Dugout Club tunnel to see if they were taking batting practice and Carlos Triunfel looked out and asked, “is Manny hitting?” Unfortunately, Sacramento did not take batting practice on the field, and won’t until (probably) Monday.

Some guys had Manny Memories: Jarrett Grube grew up an Indians fan, and when he was a kid he thought Manny was amazing. Brian Sweeney faced Manny in 2003 in his Major League debut, and that was his first big league moment: after confidently facing a couple of hitters, Manny stepped in to the batter’s box - and Sweeney stepped off the mound and thought to himself “wow, that’s Manny Ramirez.”

Personally, I’m hoping the leg issue is no big deal, and he’ll be back on the field during this series. All we can do is wait and see.

Sunday’s game is at 1:35, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (2-1, 3.20) against Sacramento RHP A.J. Griffin (0-2, 4.43).

Links:

  • We’ll start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • In my weekly Minor League Notebook for the paper, I wrote about the oddity of Manny Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero playing in the PCL, and how Korea is now a viable option for Triple-A veterans.
  • Felix Hernandez has a sore back – but don’t panic; he may not miss a start.
  • The Mariners had a terrific 10-8 win in 12 innings over Chicago on Saturday. There were many wonderful aspects to this game, so you might as well read the game story crafted by Larry LaRue.
  • Grab a cup of coffee and settle in for Larry Stone’s Sunday baseball package in the Seattle Times: a long piece on Jack Z and the Mariners draft (which starts tomorrow), a notebook that leads with an item on Barry Bonds, power rankings, and thumbs.
  • One of the Mariners draft “busts” Larry Stone isolates hit for the cycle in the International League yesterday. I’m talking about that triples machine Jeff Clement, of course.
  • John McGrath is the most sensible man in the Northwest: he says to leave the Safeco Field fences exactly where they are. Amen, my brother.
  • In the PCL, Vladimir Guerrero debuted for Las Vegas and went 1-for-5 against Trevor Bauer and the Reno Aces.
  • Colorado Springs defeated Tucson on the good ol’ walk-off hit by pitch. Ooooooh yeah.
  • Salt Lake went into Fresno and lit up the Grizzlies, 7-1.
  • We have yet another star in the PCL: Roy Oswalt started for Round Rock, delivering two scoreless innings. He’s building up arm strength to join the Rangers starting rotation.
  • Brett Wallace launched a grand slam and Oklahoma City moved ten games over .500. However, the RedHawks lost a key player when outfielder Fernando Martinez was called up by Houston.
  • In a charmingly deceptive headline, the Omaha Storm Chasers “took care” of the Memphis Redbirds. That actually means that they kicked their butts.
  • The Nashville Sounds shut out New Orleans, 8-0, with Claudio Vargas handling the brunt of the pitching.

Looks like a good day for a day game - tickets are available at the gate!


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