One Strike Away…

August 18, 2011

The Rainiers were one strike away from beating Omaha and pulling within 3.5 games of first-place Reno on Wednesday night – but it wasn’t meant to be.

Omaha’s Yamaico Navarro fouled off four consecutive 1-2 pitches before pulling a low line drive just inside the left field foul pole for a 3-run homer, giving Omaha a stunning 4-2 win over Tacoma.

Navarro’s drive looked like it was going to hook foul, and I was also unsure that it would carry over the fence. Somehow it stayed fair, and it stayed high enough to barely clear the fence in the corner.

It was a tough loss for Tacoma, which had taken a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning on Johan Limonta’s run-scoring double. Tacoma has lost two straight close, low-scoring games to Omaha.

The Rainiers did get an outstanding start from 22-year-old Forrest Snow. Snow lasted seven innings and gave up just one run on four hits. Snow did not walk a batter while matching his career high of nine strikeouts.

Tacoma remains 4.5 games behind Reno. It sure would be nice to pick up one more game before the big series opens in Reno on Saturday.

Tonight Tacoma hosts Omaha at 7:05, and it’s Tasty Thursday at Cheney Stadium ($2 Miller beers and $1 hot dogs, coffee, soda, etc.). Tacoma starts LHP Chris Seddon (8-6, 6.43) against RHP Sean O’Sullivan (6-2, 3.20). You can hear the broadcast on 850 AM and streaming online right here.

Roster note: Luke French cleared waivers this morning and was outrighted to Tacoma. Look for him to rejoin the Rainiers starting rotation – perhaps as early as tomorrow.

Links:

  • Leading off, it’s the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • An ex-Rainiers pitcher faced the Mariners and he notched 12 strikeouts.
  • New Mariners signees Danny Hultzen and Brett Miller met the media.
  • Since returning to the major leagues, Mike Carp has been one of the best hitters in baseball.
  • Colorado Springs slugger Mike Jacobs tested positive for HGH and was promptly released. Jacobs was hitting .298 with 23 home runs and 97 RBI for the Sky Sox.
  • Oklahoma City topped Reno 2-1 behind the pitching of Lucas Harrell, who allowed just two hits over seven shutout innings.
  • It took 13 innings and ended with infielder Andy LaRoche pitching, and Sacramento defeated Albuquerque on Wednesday night, 4-3. LaRoche earned the win – he allowed a run in the top of the 13th, but the River Cats scored twice in the bottom of the inning.
  • Brewers top pitching prospect Wily Peralta was dealing yesterday: seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts, helping Nashville beat Tucson, 4-0.
  • Logan Morrison had a big game and New Orleans topped Colorado Springs, 5-4.
  • Round Rock starter Mark Hamburger left the Fresno Grizzlies hungry last night in a 1-0 victory. Hamburger comes with the cheese – he’s really got some extra mustard on the fastball. Hamburger’s pitches weren’t too juicy to the Grizzlies. Hamburger has been on a roll lately – err, make that a bun. Nobody’s been able to take a bite out of Hamburger. Hamburger keeps cool by putting lettuce under his cap.

Suddenly I’m hungry. Time for lunch.


Out Of The Cellar!

May 24, 2011

How about that title? One of the great hair metal albums of my youth, and an up-to-the-minute description of our Tacoma Rainiers after Monday night’s 5-3 win over Nashville.

The Tacoma win, coupled with a Colorado Springs loss in Albuquerque. moved Tacoma into sole possession of third place in the division.

Tacoma had been alone or tied in last place every day since falling into the cellar with a loss in the eighth game of the season on April 14.

Do you want to count them? Reflecting on misery can be beneficial to the soul – so says Dr. Curto – so let’s count them: that was 38 days in last place.

Yikes.

But it’s all over now, so let’s look forward and try to catch the second-place Salt Lake Bees, who are two games ahead. As Bob Robertson said in our post-game wrap-up last night, you can only take one step at a time.

Yesterday Tacoma got yet another strong start from Fabio Castro, who allowed just one earned run in 5.2 innings but left the game trailing 3-2 because of unearned runs in the first inning.

Tacoma struck with the longball in the bottom of the sixth: Mike Carp lined a homer to right to tie the game, and Alex Liddi lofted the go-ahead drive to left just two batters later.

Rainiers relievers Scott Patterson and Dan Cortes combined for 3.1 shutout innings to secure the win.

Tacoma has not won three games in a row yet this year – but I sense that it is time. The Rainiers play bright and early on Tuesday, with an 11:35 AM game against Nashville. You can catch the broadcast on 850 AM in Tacoma or streaming worldwide right here.

The Rainiers start LHP Luke French (0-5, 5.98) against Nashville LHP Chase Wright (1-3, 5.33).

A few links:

  • Here is the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune, as inked by Ryan Divish.
  • Larry Stone was at Cheney Stadium on Monday night and he posted this blog post prior to the game.
  • In his notebook, Larry LaRue caught up with ex-Rainiers catcher Rene Rivera, who is now with the Twins.
  • The Mariners won their sixth in a row. One could argue that Jeff Sullivan consistently provides the best Mariners game wrap-ups. The details are all there, no doubt, but I must admit I am linking to this one strictly due to the face-melting title.
  • At the Times, Geoff Baker writes about how the M’s used the bench in their victory.
  • This is certainly interesting: former Rainiers and current Oakland A’s reliever Brian Fuentes – whom I admire a lot – is openly questioning manager Bob Geren. Fuentes is a pretty smart guy and a four-time all-star who has been around for a long time – this should certainly concern the Athletics. Rob Neyer has some thoughts on the situation.
  • In the PCL, we have a column on Sky Sox speedster Eric Young Jr – and why he isn’t in the majors.
  • No newspaper link, but Reno won at Round Rock, 9-7, as Wily Mo Pena launched his PCL-leading 15th home run of the season – and it was a three-run shot in the first inning. Reno leads Salt Lake by six games and Tacoma by eight. Well played, Wily Mo – you’re still my man, but I think it might be time for you to take a break for a while. Maybe strain an oblique or something? Better yet: sign a deal with the Hiroshima Carp and we’ll see you next year.
  • So I read this story and learned that Salt Lake’s Eric Junge was the first Bucknell graduate to pitch in the major leagues since Christy Mathewson.
  • The Sacramento Bee has a feature on River Cats outfielder Michael Taylor, who wants to work inside the Pentagon if baseball doesn’t work out. I’m thinking the salary discrepancy might discourage him… In other news, the Cats were cremated by New Orleans, 14-1.
  • It has been many moons since anyone typed this: Las Vegas is the hottest team in the PCL. They beat Iowa 10-5 in Des Moines last night, they have won seven straight (the last five on the road), and they have won 17 of their last 20. Of course we have them next – a four game series starting in Vegas on Friday.
  • Brett Pill and Brandon Belt produced, and Fresno beat Oklahoma City, 7-5.
  • There was a 23-inning game Monday night in the Florida State League. Veteran move by Jupiter manager Ron Hassey to get himself ejected in the 14th.
  • We have an update on the stalled ballpark building process in Escondido.

One thing about these mid-week 11:35 AM games: if you work a “normal job” in Tacoma, you can head out to the ballpark for a long lunch and some baseball. Come on out!


It’s Opening Day!

April 7, 2011

The defending Pacific Coast League champion Tacoma Rainiers open the 2011 season tonight at Raley Field in Sacramento.

The first pitch is at 7:20 pm. The broadcast will air on 850 AM and (fingers crossed) stream on www.tacomarainiers.com. I plan to start the pre-game show at 7:00.

Tacoma starts LHP Luke French (11-3, 2.94 last year). French just missed being named the 2010 PCL Pitcher of the Year – Oklahoma City’s Michael Kirkman edged him out in the voting.

Sacramento will start LHP Josh Outman, who did not pitch last season while recovering from “Tommy John” surgery on his left elbow. Pre-surgery, Outman always had plus stuff for a lefty – he pitched well against Tacoma a couple of times in 2008.

I’ll post the lineups and broadcast link in the afternoon when I get to the park.

Note: I will be doing a live bit on KJR 950 AM with Ian Furness at 1:30 and I’m sure we’ll preview the team a little bit.

Mondays With Bob: I’m very excited and honored to announce that Pacific Northwest broadcast legend Bob Robertson will be joining me on the air for all Monday home games this year. 

Robertson has at least 25 years of PCL broadcasting experience in Seattle and Tacoma – he called Tacoma Giants games in the 1960s, for cripes sake.

Robertson is in the College Football Hall of Fame for his work with WSU, and he has something nobody from my alma mater has: a Rose Bowl ring.

I look forward to hearing stories from the PCL of the 1960s – 1980s. Bob will be joining me for the entire game, and in the middle innings he’ll slide into the play-by-play seat. It should be a real treat, especially for those of you who have been following Tacoma baseball for longer than I have.

Let’s hit the links:

  • Finally, someone asked Rainiers manager Daren Brown the big question. Ryan Divish has an excellent story
  • Award-winning Larry Stone of the award-winning Seattle Times wrote a Rainiers preview.
  • A Rainiers season preview from USS Mariner declares REPEAT!
  • We have previews from the Sacramento perspective: a column on new Cats manager Darren Bush, in which we learn he is a commercial fisherman in the off-season; a River Cats photo gallery; the Sacramento team-at-a-glance; and new Raley Field food which I will not be eating.
  • A flippant, fun, not serious Rainiers preview from yesterday’s Weekly Volcano.
  • The Mariners are off today – their home opener is tomorrow, and you can still get tickets. The opening road trip was streaky: two wins to start, and four losses to finish. It sure appears as if Texas is the class of the division, but it’s a long season.
  • Adam Moore left Wednesday’s game with a knee injury. If he has to go on the disabled list, the M’s will call up a Tacoma catcher. We’ll find out tomorrow.
  • It sounds like David Aardsma is close to being activated – or maybe tossing a couple of rehab innings in minor league games.
  • Buster Olney – one of my favorite MLB columnists – has a note on Michael Pineda at the beginning of his column today. It might even be before the subscriber cutoff!
  • Lots of PCL stories today, including this excellent league-wide preview out of Las Vegas. This is a good read for a general overview, and a Top-5 PCL Prospects list.
  • One of the top prospects in the PCL this year is Albuquerque infielder Dee Gordon – son of former pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon. Here is a feature.
  • The dreaded rival Salt Lake Bees are starting 21-year-old prospect Tyler Chatwood in the opener today.
  • Tucson’s opening day starter is Wade LeBlanc. The Tucson newspaper has a few funny LeBlanc anecdotes.
  • The Tennessean has a feature on stalled Brewers prospect Mat Gamel. I predict a big bounce-back year for him.
  • Fresno has some older pitchers, including Ryan Vogelsong who pitched at the so-awful-I-had-permanently-erased-it-from-my-memory Beiden Field in the early days of the Grizzlies.
  • Colorado Springs opening day starter John Maine was not expecting the assignment.
  • Brett Butler is back as skipper in Reno. Here’s a preview of Bugsy and the Aces.
  • Baseball America has its national minor league position-by-position rankings (subscription required). Shocker: Tacoma has the #1 ranked second baseman.
  • For Baseball Prospectus subscribers the esteemed Kevin Goldstein has a list of top minor league teams to follow nationwide.
  • Cool minor league promotion alert: the Class-A Quad City River Bandits (Davenport, Iowa) have improved the traditional refrigerator magnet schedule giveaway: instead, they are giving away the actual refrigerator.
  • Local guy Willie Bloomquist is hotter than a pistol.

OK, time to research some players, grab some lunch, and head out to Raley Field. I’ll get those lineups posted in the late afternoon.


Championship Series Starts Tonight

September 14, 2010

Here we go. The Rainiers are playing in the Pacific Coast League Championship Series for the first time since 2005. That year, Tacoma was swept by Nashville in three straight games.

In fact, Tacoma has been swept in the Championship Series the last two times it’s played in it: 2005, and 1981. Tacoma has not won a game in the PCL Championship Series since 1971, when the Tacoma Cubs lost to Salt Lake City, three games to one.

Tacoma was named Co-Champion, and the series was not played, in 2001 (due to 9/11) and 1978 (days and days of epic rain in Tacoma).

So, here’s hoping the Rainiers win the series. But let’s take baby steps, and win a game first – just to end a 39-year drought.

Here is the schedule. All games are at Autozone Park, and Tacoma is the “home” team for games one and two. All times are Pacific, and all games will be broadcast live on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming via www.tacomarainiers.com. I’m sure streaming video is available through MiLB.com but it won’t be free.

  • Game One – Tuesday, 5:05 – LHP Evan MacLane (8-7, 4.45) vs. RHP Blake Beavan (2-2, 6.47)
  • Game Two – Wednesday, 5:05 – RHP Brandon Dickson (11-8, 3.23) vs. LHP Mauricio Robles (3-1, 3.54)
  • Game Three – Friday, 5:50 – RHP Yusmeiro Petit (4-2, 4.85) vs. RHP PJ Walters (8-45, 3.81)
  • Game Four – Saturday, 1:05 – LHP Ryan Feierabend (4-7, 5.30) vs. RHP Lance Lynn (13-10, 4.77)
  • Game Five – Sunday, 11:35 am – RHP Andy Baldwin (9-7, 4.90) vs. TBA

It’s a best-of-five series, so games four and five are only played if necessary.

The winner of the series will be crowned Pacific Coast League Champion, and will play the one-game, made-for-TV Triple-A Championship game against the International League Champion on Tuesday, September 21 in Oklahoma City.

Taking a closer look at the two teams, it looks like Memphis is the favorite. The Redbirds swept Oklahoma City three straight games to win the American Conference title. Memphis is the defending PCL Champion, and they swept through both series of the playoffs last year – in fact, they have won 10 straight PCL playoff games going back to their league title in 2000, when Albert Pujols hit a walk-off home run against Salt Lake to win the title. I wonder whatever happened to that Pujols guy? 

On paper, Memphis looks like the favorite.

First of all, they finished the season hot: Memphis went 20-8 down the stretch to over-take Iowa, and then swept the first playoff series, so they have won 23 of the last 31 games.

Secondly, the Cardinals didn’t decimate their roster on September 1st, even though St. Louis is still on the fringe of the pennant race in the NL Central.

Third, Memphis swept the Rainiers in a four-game series at Autozone in May – the only time the two teams met this season. The scores were 3-1, 1-0, 13-9, and 5-1.

Fourth, the Redbirds have a deeper starting rotation – Walters is always tough in the PCL, and Lynn struck out 16 batters over seven innings in the final game.

Fifth, the Redbirds are rested – they have had three days off going into this series.

On the Tacoma side of things, the Rainiers are ready to go – this team wants to win it, no question. The off-day Monday, combined with Feierabend’s gem on Sunday, means that the bullpen is completely rested.

Another plus for Tacoma is the ballpark. The Rainiers like to hit home runs, and in my experience the ball jumps out of AutoZone Park. However, the stats say the ballpark only favors left-handed HR hitters. That’s OK – we have plenty of those. So, look for some homers.

So, my three keys to the series for the Rainiers:

  1. Get to the Memphis starting pitcher early, especially in the first two games. Memphis has a strong bullpen, like Tacoma.
  2. Don’t let Allen Craig beat you. The Memphis slugger is too good to be in Triple-A, but he’s blocked by Pujols.
  3. Three-run homers. Let’s not just hit dingers, let’s hit dingers with runners on base!

Here’s a few links:

  • The News Tribune ran a series preview, which focuses on Ryan Feierabend and his return from elbow surgery.
  • The Memphis Commercial-Appeal also did a series preview, with an item on the Redbirds bullpen.
  • This Larry Stone blog entry has lots of quotes from current Mariners regarding Tacoma’s success this year.
  • Former Rainiers utilityman Willie Bloomquist joined the Reds for the pennant push. He’s ineligible for the playoffs.
  • The Rainiers win over Sacramento meant good news for four RiverCats.
  • On the Mariners farm, Low Class-A Clinton advanced to the Midwest League finals. They are waiting to see who they will play.

It’s almost time to play the games. But first, I gotta tell you, this is going to be a very enjoyably unhealthy week for your friendly RG. Seven days – potentially up to ten days – of Southern food? Sign me up! I promise to eat salads when I get home. It started last night with a late-night trip here, and then today’s lunch was at one of my must-go PCL spots:

I command you to eat here if you are ever in Memphis.


No Run Support, No “W” For Pineda

July 29, 2010

Michael Pineda is turning into the “no run support” guy. For the second start in a row, Pineda allowed one run, only to see the Rainiers eventually lose the game, 2-1.

Pineda got in trouble right away on Wednesday night, drilling the leadoff batter with a pitch. Emmanuel Burris then stole second and went to third on an error, so he was at third base with nobody out. Pineda worked through that jam, escaping the first with no runs scoring although it took him 25 pitches.

Pineda was great after that, only allowing a solo homer to veteran slugger Joe Borchard in the fourth. It was a high change-up that Borchard lifted over the fence in left for an opposite-field homer.

Pineda made it through six innings on 86 pitches. The Mariners continue to keep him between 85 and 95 pitches per start; as they do not want to tax his 21-year-old arm. Keep in mind that Pineda was injured for most of 2009 with elbow problems that did not require surgery – the Mariners are being very, very careful with him.

When Pineda left the game it was 1-1. The Rainiers just can’t hit Fresno lefty Matt Yourkin. Yourkin has made three starts against the Rainiers, allowing exactly one run in each outing.

Fresno finally won the game in the tenth against reliever Levale Speigner. Ben Copeland led off with a single to center field, and he took second on a passed ball. Steve Holm bunted up the third base line, and Speigner tried to get the out at third but Copeland was safe. Burris followed with a grounder inside the third base bag to drive in the winning run.

Mike Carp went 0-for-3, ending his hitting streak at 17 games. Matt Mangini, however, had his hitting streak extend to 17 games under unusual circumstances. Mangini hit a grounder between short and third in the sixth inning, and shortstop Burris made a running backhand attempt, only to have the ball bounce off his glove. The play was originally ruled an error on Burris, but after the game it was changed to a hit – which I believe was the right decision, and both managers agreed. So Mangini’s hitting streak is alive.

Salt Lake trimmed Tacoma’s lead down to six games by beating Portland, 8-3. The Bees have seven more games against last-place Portland, right in a row (there is a makeup doubleheader in there that I just learned about). The Rainiers lead looks good with 39 games to play, but Salt Lake has an easy schedule right now. The Bees have won nine of their last 11 games.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and Tacoma starts RHP Andy Baldwin (7-4, 5.00) against rehabilitating San Francisco Giants RHP Todd Wellemeyer (0-0, 0.96). Wellemeyer was the Giants fifth starter; he’s been out since June 10 with a quadriceps strain – and in the meantime, Madison Bumgarner took his job. Baseball can be a cruel business. You can catch the broadcast on 850 AM or streaming via www.tacomarainiers.com.

Some links for you:

  • Here’s the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. Here’s the notebook from the Fresno Bee, and a story about Fresno’s starting pitching woes – which were clearly not evident last night.
  • The Mariners lost in Chicago when Jason Vargas had a rare problem with home runs.
  • In today’s Long Geoff Baker Post, Geoff Baker writes that the Mariners could trade David Aardsma. Larry LaRue says you won’t be overwhelmed by any Mariners trades.
  • The renovated Cheney Stadium will host the state 3A and 4A high school baseball championships next year.
  • In the PCL, Salt Lake leadoff man Peter Bourjos is hotter than a pistol right now. But really, the whole Bees team is heating up.
  • The Reno Aces got to experience a bullpen day gone right. Veteran infielder Ed Rogers is the glue that holds the Reno Aces together.
  • Las Vegas lefty Brad Mills got called up to Toronto, shut out the Orioles, and was shipped right back to Vegas.
  • When your leadoff man bats twice in the first inning, it’s a good sign. When he hits a grand slam in his second at-bat, it’s a great sign. Cameron Maybin did that yesterday for New Orleans. Same game, different paper: headline reads “Nine-run first trips Redbirds.” Trips? Really? Isn’t a nine-run first more like a punch in the mouth?
  • Derek Holland had an excellent rehab start for Oklahoma City. The only hit he allowed was a home run to Chris Shelton. Sleeper prospect Mitch Moreland homered and then got called up to Texas.
  • Portland owner Merritt Paulson publically stated that he is selling the Beavers so they can move out of town.
  • Former Rainiers outfielder Scott Podsednik was traded from Kansas City to the Dodgers, taking his .310 batting average and 30 stolen bases with him.
  • Another former Rainier – Wladimir Balentien – is on a home run binge for Louisville. Balentien has six homers in his last nine games, and 20 on the year.

I leave you now with a nice picture of my lunch – with special thanks to Doug Greenwald, who was kind enough to pick me up and take me there.

Better Than El Gaucho

A taste of Heaven


Catching Up On Sleep In Fresno

July 28, 2010

When I first started working for the Rainiers in 1999, I absolutely loathed the Fresno trip.

It was always 100 degrees and smoggy. The ballpark was worse than a Class-A stadium, with no broadcast booth and no air conditioning anywhere. The hotel was 20 minutes away, in a completely decrepit downtown area. The whole thing made me miserable – not to mention sweaty, stinky & gross.

Several years later, I came to appreciate the Fresno trip.

First of all, after years of starts and stops, they finally opened their new downtown ballpark – and it’s a great facility, one of the top six or seven in the league. The hotel is strong, and you can walk to the park. We’re still in downtown Fresno, and it’s still kind of decrepit – but not as decrepit as it was 12 years ago.

It’s still a hundred degrees and smoggy every day, but I have learned how to counter that: by sleeping.

Here’s the point: there is nothing to do in Fresno, except go to the park and work. It’s too hot and smoggy to walk anywhere, and there really isn’t anywhere to walk to anyway. Like virtually everybody else, I have no friends or family members to visit with in Fresno. There is no nearby post-game bar scene to get caught up in. This is, in a word, a great trip for sleeping. It’s a fantastic place to rest up, regain some energy, and recharge for the final month of the season.

So that’s the focus. Rest up, finish some projects I have with me, call the games, write the blog, all from the air-conditioned bliss of my hotel room. I’m also going to undertake a thorough study to determine exactly what my sleep number is.

OK, back to baseball: the Rainiers came away with an unexpected win yesterday, overcoming a difficult obstacle to pull off a surprisingly easy 9-3 victory in the opening game of the four-game series.

It was an unexpected win because Rainiers ace Luke French was scratched an hour before the first pitch, forcing the Rainiers to use Yusmeiro Petit for a spot-start. Petit had pitched 1.2 innings the day before – he was working on zero days rest, as a starter. I expected him to last about two innings.

Petit ended up going five innings, as the Rainiers built an early 8-1 lead and coasted to the win. Mike Carp (17) and Matt Mangini (16) each extended their hitting streaks. Greg Halman homered and tripled; he had four RBI. The Rainiers have won six of the last seven games, and they still have a seven-game lead over second place Salt Lake.

Today is Michael Pineda Day. The big kid is 3-1 with a 3.71 ERA; he starts against Fresno LHP Matt Yourkin (6-4, 3.74). Game time is 7:05 pm, and the broadcast will be on South Sound Sports 850 AM, and streaming via www.tacomarainiers.com.

French did get called up to Seattle – the M’s put Ryan Rowland-Smith on the disabled list with ERA back problems. I’m guessing we’ll see RRS for some rehab outings in Tacoma and then he’ll get activated on Sept 1.

Now for the links:

  • Here’s my Rainiers game story for The News Tribune. Obviously, I focus on Yusmeiro Petit’s outing. Manager Daren Brown said he was “tickled to death” by it. Good thing Griffey retired, or we might have a death by tickling! Here are the game notes from the Fresno perspective.
  • Geoff Baker compared Rowland-Smith’s game last night to some of the most lopsided sporting events in history. I’ll admit it – it made me laugh. In this Long Geoff Baker Post, he compared the Mariners offense to some of the worst in baseball history.
  • Looks like Shawn Kelley is very close to returning to the Mariners bullpen.
  • My pal Rob Neyer says move Ryan Rowland-Smith to the bullpen, where he has had better success. Dave Cameron agrees.
  • Ex-Rainiers pitcher Gil Meche is going under the knife. This is his second shoulder surgery; I wish him the best. That’s going to be tough to come back from.
  • Everybody is talking about the Portland Beavers move to San Diego North County except for the Portland Beavers.
  • Phillies prospect Trevor May – out of Kelso High School – struck out 14 batters last night. He’s highly regarded by scouts. Also in that link – M’s class-A second baseman Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to 32 games.
  • The City of Peoria (Arizona) is looking at upgrading the Mariners and Padres spring training home.
  • On the field in the PCL, Salt Lake won again last night – but you sense some frustration that they have won 8 of 10, yet are still seven games back. Slugger Paul McAnulty was surprised by his recent stint in the major leagues.
  • Sacramento took a one-game lead over Fresno in the South, thanks to a great pitching performance from Boof Bonser.* The RiverCats appear to have home field advantage in the playoff race.
  • Reno slugger Brandon Allen is on a Crazy Man-Tear for the Aces.
  • New Orleans lefty Sean West tossed a complete-game, five-hit shutout in a 1-0 win over Memphis last night.
  • Oklahoma City picked up a win last night, and today they have Derek Holland on rehab.

You know what will break up my busy sleep schedule in Fresno tomorrow? A lunchtime visit here. Now that is worth crawling out of bed for.

* “Boof Bonser” is almost as fun to type as it is to say!


Seven Straight – And Counting

July 7, 2010

It’s starting to look a lot like August of 2009 around here. Late last season, the Rainiers won nine straight road games to surge into first place.

Now, the Rainiers have won seven consecutive games to build a five-game lead in the PCL-North. The Rainiers are going for a very rare four-game series sweep in Salt Lake City tonight.

I have the Rainiers game-by-game results going back through the year 2000 on my laptop, and in that time Tacoma has never swept a four-game series from Salt Lake – either at home, or on the road. Tacoma did sweep a three-game series from Salt Lake in May of 2004 at Cheney Stadium – the fourth game was rained out.

When I get to the park I’ll check with Salt Lake radio man Steve Klauke, who has all of the Salt Lake records going back to his first year of 1994.

Last night Chris Seddon made it through six innings, leaving with a 7-3 lead and eventually earning his 10th win as Tacoma held on, 7-5. Seddon joined Luke French and Sacramento’s Clayton Mortensen as the only 10-game winners in the PCL.

Brad Nelson had four hits last night, Mike Carp homered for the third straight game and had four RBI, and Mike Wilson went 3-for-3 with a homer, coming a triple shy of the cycle. Wilson, by the way, has hit 21 home runs and has 55 RBI this season if you combine his Double-A and Triple-A stats.

Tonight the Rainiers send LHP Ryan Feierabend (1-2, 5.65) to the mound as the go for the sweep. Salt Lake will start LHP Daniel Davidson (8-1, 5.00), who has been there winningest pitcher this season. We’ll have the live broadcast in the usual spots: 850 AM in Tacoma, and streaming via www.tacomarainiers.com. Game time is 6:05 Pacific.

It’s links time:

  • Here is my game story for The News Tribune. In this story: Michael Pineda’s next home start.
  • Salt Lake manager Bobby Mitchell waves the white flag in this story.
  • The Mariners are struggling with the Royals. Erik Bedard is on hiatus; he met with fellow labrum surgery survivor Gil Meche.
  • The News Tribune’s own version of Cliff Lee – John McGrath – wrote about Jack Z and the impending trade.
  • For ESPN.com Insiders only, Buster Olney worked out the math to determine which contender could most use Cliff Lee.
  • Here’s a very smart look at potential Lee trade matches from my virtual friend Kevin Goldstein. However, you need a subscription to Baseball Prospectus in order to access it.
  • Without naming names, Steve Kelley of the Times took a shot at the Mariners top brass – not Jack Z.
  • In the PCL, Fresno beat Colorado Springs on a pair of bases-loaded walks to keep a six-game lead in the South. In this story: Fresno flamethrower Henry Sosa served a five-game suspension for headhunting.
  • Fresno is new to this whole winning thing.
  • Iowa lefty JR Mathes is about to become the I-Cubs all-time wins leader. My experience is that players aren’t especially interested in these kinds of honors. Iowa got swept at home in a doubleheader.
  • Oklahoma City slugger Chris Davis has a good attitude about the all-star game. Reno’s Doug Deeds was added to the all-star roster. Baseball America took a look at the Triple-A All-Stars.
  • Nashville has had as many as five Canadians on its roster this season.
  • I mentioned the voice of the Bees, Steve Klauke, earlier. He writes a food blog on the Bees website, about the Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives of the Pacific Coast League. It’s good stuff. 
  • In news surround players with area ties, Mill Creek native Travis Snyder is swinging pain-free.
  • Ex-Rainiers outfielder Shin Soo Choo may not need surgery.
  • Ex-Rainiers shortstop Alex Rodriguez is just three home runs away from 600.
  • Port Orchard native Aaron Cunningham is back with the Padres after spending one day with Portland.
  • This is an amusing story – from The Wall Street Journal, of all places – about the two current major leaguers who live with their parents.

That’s it for now – tune in tonight and see if the Rainiers can make it eight straight wins!


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