One Last Time

September 1, 2014

The 2014 Tacoma Rainiers season comes to an end today, as the Rainiers play their final game of the year at 1:05 in Fresno.

Tacoma picked up a 7-3 victory last night for their 74th win of the season. Tacoma hit three homers, Andrew Carraway had a great start, and the team still needed an eighth inning comeback. Details can be found in the first link below.

After the game, the following players were told they are joining the Mariners today: Taijuan Walker, Lucas Luetge, Carson Smith, Corey Hart, Justin Smoak, Stefen Romero, and Humberto Quintero. Erasmo Ramirez and James Paxton are not eligible to go back up until the PCL season ends, so they are with the Rainiers for one more day.

Romero and Smoak have been hot all month. Romero hit .390 with nine homer and 27 RBI in August, while Smoak batted .415 with one homer and 19 RBI this month. Smoak leaves the PCL with a streak of 27 straight games reaching base via hit or walk.

With all of those call-ups, the Rainiers were a bit shorthanded for today’s season finale. The Mariners have brought in two players from short-season Pulaski to help the cause: catcher/corner outfielder Wayne Taylor and infielder Yordi Calderon are here for today’s game.

Monday’s game starts at 1:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 12:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP James Gillheeney (3-11, 5.75) against Fresno RHP Chris Heston 11-9, 3.36).

Links:

  • All of the details on last night’s Rainiers victory can be found in the game story from The News Tribune.
  • Dustin Ackley took matters into his own hands and ended the Mariners losing streak on Sunday afternoon. Big series in Oakland starts today.
  • Fangraphs has a piece on former Rainiers and current Mariners reliever Danny Farquhar.
  • The Pacific-North race is going down to the final day. Reno beat Sacramento last night 7-3, and today’s game will be for the division title. Sacramento manager Steve Scarsone is taking the calm approach.
  • The winner of today’s Reno-Sacramento game will open the Pacific Conference playoffs at Las Vegas on Wednesday. Vegas lost a wild one in Albuquerque last night, 12-11. 
  • Omaha clinched this American-North title with a 13-8 win over Colorado Springs this morning. Yes, this morning: last night’s game was delayed by rain for 2 hours, 40 minutes before the first pitch was even thrown!
  • Omaha will host Memphis in game one of the American Conference playoffs on Wednesday. Memphis was swept in a doubleheader at New Orleans yesterday.
  • Round Rock’s Jared Hoying joined the 20-20 club in a 3-2 win over Nashville.
  • El Paso held off Salt Lake, 4-1, and the Chihuahuas close out a highly successful inaugural season today.
  • Iowa scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat Oklahoma City, 11-8. Cubs fans in Iowa have had a glimpse of the future.
  • A Brewers minor leaguer pulled a Leury Bonilla and played all nine positions in one game. Bonilla did this for Double-A Jackson on the last day of the season three or four years ago.

The season ends today, but this blog will continue on. We’ll be back on Wednesday with a brief season wrap-up and PCL playoff predictions.


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.

 


Rainiers Can’t Walk-Off Last Home Game

August 28, 2014

The home portion of the Tacoma Rainiers 2014 season came to an end with a 3-2 loss to the Iowa Cubs on Wednesday night.

The Rainiers finished with a 38-34 record at Cheney Stadium. Twelve of the 38 home wins came in the team’s last at-bat.

That last stat made me think, as we went to the bottom of the ninth with Iowa leading 3-2, that Tacoma might have one last walk-off in ‘em. But the All-PCL reliever Blake Parker shut down Tacoma in the bottom of the ninth for his league-leading 24th save, and Iowa claimed the victory.

We had another good crowd, wrapping up an excellent homestand at the gate. The crowd of 6,319 brought the Rainiers final attendance up to 305,446. That’s down from last year, only because of the eight early-season rainouts. A couple of those rainouts came on big crowd dates (Opening Night, Throwback Weekend, etc.), which added to the impact.

The Rainiers aren’t done yet. The team has five games in Fresno starting tonight and ending with the traditional Labor Day afternoon game.

Thursday’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 Jordan Pries (9-7, 3.79) against Fresno RHP Jason Berken (10-9, 4.68).

Last night the annual team awards were presented before the game. They went like this:

  • Hitter of the Year: Jesus Montero
  • Pitcher of the Year: Logan Kensing
  • Gold Glove: Gabriel Noriega
  • Community Service Award: Logan Bawcom and Forrest Snow

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • The Mariners got blown out by the Rangers, 12-4. It was a rough day for Erasmo Ramirez.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook has an update on Michael Saunders, among other things.
  • Sacramento maintained a one-game lead over Reno in the Pac-North by scoring six runs in the eighth inning of an 8-5 win at Nashville. Things got emotional in the last game at Greer Stadium.
  • Charles Brewer tossed eight strong innings and Reno completed a four-game sweep of Omaha with a 5-2 win.
  • Tim Cooney picked up his league-leading 14th win (which also set a Redbirds franchise record) for Memphis in a 5-4 win over Fresno. Memphis swept that series and leads Nashville by three games in the American-South.
  • Oklahoma City also finished off a sweep, downing Albuquerque 2-1. The RedHawks lead the American-North by two games over Omaha and four games over Iowa – they travel to Des Moines to finish the season.
  • Las Vegas won its seventh in a row and pulled a solid prank on pitching coach Frank Viola during a 9-3 victory over Round Rock.
  • Apparently these things are not related in the Springs: Colorado Springs set a franchise record for best attendance, eclipsing 350,000 for the first time. They also set a franchise record for worst home record, going 27-45.
  • Brennan Boesch bashed the Salt Lake Bees to a 6-5 win over New Orleans.

At this point, it’s all about the guys trying to finish strong, tacking on a few more wins, and seeing who gets called up. I’ll have blog posts all weekend, and we’ll keep updating this thing (almost) daily through the PCL playoffs and the end of the Mariners season.


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.


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