Rainiers Open EIGHT GAME MEGA SERIES Tonight

June 6, 2013

The Rainiers dropped the final game of the Sacramento series on Tuesday, 6-2, settling for a split of the four-game series. The whole league had Wednesday off, and now we resume play tonight.

The Rainiers welcome the Las Vegas 51s to town, and tonight we start our first and only (use your monster truck rally voice) EIGHT GAME MEGA SERIES of the 2013 season.

An EIGHT GAME MEGA SERIES is always a home-and-home affair. Tacoma plays Vegas four times here at Cheney Stadium (through Sunday), and then the two teams fly to Las Vegas and play four more at Cashman Field on Monday. (I think the PCL should charter a private airplane with “EIGHT GAME MEGA SERIES EXPRESS” emblazoned on the side of it to transport the teams – why they haven’t done this yet is a mystery to me. There would even be room in the back of the plane to ship the EIGHT GAME MEGA SERIES TROPHY, which as you can imagine is quite large and unwieldy).

This is a rematch of last year’s NINE GAME MEGA SERIES between the two teams, when Tacoma went 5-4 over a nine-day stretch ending on August 30. However, the 51s were a Blue Jays affiliate then; these new Mets players are EIGHT GAME MEGA SERIES rookies.

Tacoma had three MEGA SERIES last year, of varying lengths: a seven-gamer against Salt Lake (lost, 5-2), a nine-gamer with Tucson (originally scheduled for eight games, but a rainout forced a DH so let’s make it nine! Tacoma won, 5-4), and the nine-gamer with Las Vegas (Tacoma, 5-4).

This is the first EIGHT GAME MEGA SERIES of the year for Vegas, too. They have another EIGHT GAME MEGA SERIES right after the all-star break, against in-state rival Reno.

Las Vegas Preview

The 51s are the New York Mets Triple-A affiliate, managed by Wally Backman.

They’re coming in hot. Vegas carries a seven-game win streak into the EIGHT GAME MEGA SERIES, having just swept Fresno at Chukchansi Park, and winning three straight at home against Reno prior to that.

The top prospect on the 51s is starting pitcher Zack Wheeler, who is considered to be one of the best prospects in all of the minor leagues. He’s scheduled to pitch on Friday night (against James Paxton) in what the New York media thinks might be his final Triple-A start. If you like watching prospects, you should definitely come to the game tomorrow night.

Vegas outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis is on a home run binge, having gone deep nine times in his last 14 games. He has ten homers on the year, with nine in the last two weeks – ponder that for a moment. He homered twice on Tuesday in Fresno.

First baseman Josh Satin continues to be the 51s most consistent hitter, batting .311 with nine homers, 39 walks to 42 K’s, and a 923 OPS. Infielder Wilmer Flores leads the team with 39 RBI.

Two key players are on the disabled list: top catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud has been out for most of the season (as usual), and PCL slugger Andrew Brown is currently on the DL (I don’t have details yet on his injury and if he may come back soon, but he’s a terror at the plate when he’s in the PCL).

The Las Vegas pitching staff is a former Rainiers party: D.J. Mitchell, Matt Fox, David Aardsma, and Sean Henn are all on it. Mitchell, Fox, and Henn were all with Tacoma just last season!

You know who really wants to win this series? Rainiers hitting coach Howard Johnson. He and Wally Backman are old buddies and former teammates on the 1986 Mets, and there are bragging rights at stake.

Tacoma won the first meeting of the year between the two teams, a four-game series sweep at Cashman Field, April 25-28.

Roster Round-Up

The shocker of the 2013 season occurred on Wednesday, when Mariners catcher Jesus Sucre suffered a wrist injury and they called up Brandon Bantz from Tacoma.

I haven’t had a chance to talk to Bantz yet, but I can only imagine he was stunned by the news. We’re very happy for him in Tacoma, he spent all of last year as the Rainiers back-up catcher, and opened this year at Double-A to make room  for Mike Zunino and Sucre. He’s an extremely hard worker and what you might call a Mariners organization soldier, so it’s great to see him get a chance to be a big leaguer even if it is for only a few days. Now, we hope he gets into a game.

To make room for Bantz on the 25-man roster, Carlos Triunfel was optioned to Tacoma – I expect him in the lineup tonight.

The had to add Bantz to the 40-man roster as well – Franklin Gutierrez was moved to the 60-day disabled list for this purpose. It’s back-dated, so Gutierrez is eligible to come off the DL on June 22.

These moves leave Tacoma with one catcher, which ain’t gonna cut it. Luckily Double-A Jackson was carrying three catchers, so they sent us one of theirs: Carlton Tanabe is up from Jackson and will back up Zunino while Bantz is in the big leagues. I’m not yet sure how the Rainiers are going to squeeze Tanabe on the roster; that will be worked out before the game tonight.

Tonight’s Game

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Blake Beavan (3-2, 4.91) Scratched! Looks like a bullpen day against Las Vegas RHP D.J. Mitchell (2-1, 6.61).

Links:

Make sure you eat healthy, get some exercise, and sleep well because an EIGHT GAME MEGA SERIES is not to be taken lightly.


Location Changes, Rainiers Stay The Same

June 2, 2013

The environment was different, but the Rainiers settled right in to Cheney Stadium in the opening game of an eight-game homestand on Saturday night.

After eight straight road games played in launching pads at Reno and Colorado Springs, Tacoma pitchers rejoiced upon arrival at Cheney Stadium, for the wind was blowing in. Strongly. Straight in from left field.

For the first time in nine days, there were no home runs.

Sacramento took advantage of some sloppy Tacoma infield play to score three runs in the top of the first, but James Paxton, Brian Sweeney, Lucas Luetge, and Logan Bawcom combined to deliver eight scoreless innings after that.

The Rainiers took advantage of a Sacramento error to get back in the game, then tied it in the fifth.

With the score 3-3, Eric Thames pulled a one-out double to right in the bottom of the seventh. Then shortstop Brad Miller crushed a long triple over the head of the center fielder to bring in the go-ahead run. Miller scampered home on a safety squeeze bunt single by Abraham Almonte, and the Rainiers had a two-run cushion.

Sweeney got the win, raising his record to 7-1 on the year. He leads all PCL pitchers in victories – and he also claimed sole possession of 6th place on the Tacoma All-Time Win List, with his 35th career Tacoma win.

We had a roster move prior to the game, which was already well-publicized: first baseman Jesus Montero hit the disabled list with a torn meniscus in his left knee, and he’s out 4-6 weeks. Replacing him on the roster is recently outrighted infielder Robert Andino.

We’ll have at least one roster move today: pitcher Jeremy Bonderman was called up by the Mariners, and the Rainiers are adding pitcher Erasmo Ramirez. The Mariners had to make a 40-man roster move for Bonderman; they designated Vinnie Catricala for assignment. Also, the Mariners placed Justin Smoak on the DL with a strained oblique to make room for Bonderman – this means Alex Liddi gets to stay in the big leagues for longer; I thought he would be on his way back to Tacoma today.

Today’s game is at 1:35, and it seems like a great day to head out to Cheney Stadium. If you can’t make it to the park, the broadcast airs on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streams online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Erasmo Ramirez (0-0, 0.00) against Sacramento RHP Bruce Billings (6-2, 4.78).

Links:

  • We start with Meg Wochnick’s Rainiers game story from The News Tribune, with reaction from Brad Miller.
  • My weekly minor league notebook for the paper is about Denny Almonte‘s big change.
  • The Mariners got walked off in Minneapolis. Bummer.
  • Ryan Divish has the details on the Jesus Montero injury.
  • Refill your coffee and settle in for Larry Stone’s Sunday baseball package: we have an entertaining column about the 2009 draft and the what-ifs, power rankings, and thumbs up-and-down.
  • Meanwhile, John McGrath has a column on Dustin Ackley and the draft. It’s classic McGrath: first he made me laugh, then he had me hooked.
  • In the PCL, former Rainiers infielder Luis Rodriguez slugged a grand slam* to help his Salt Lake Bees beat Colorado Springs, 7-4. With that result, Tacoma now has a 2.5-game lead over the Sky Sox. Thanks, Luis!
  • Zack Wheeler was on the hill for Vegas, it was Star Wars Night in Fresno, and you might as well just put it on a tee for Fresno Bee writer Marek W in this game story. Wheeler dominated and Vegas won, 2-1.
  • It’s just not the Reno Aces year. The top hitter on the defending PCL champions team took an “out” in his contract and became a free agent. PCL home run leader Kila Ka’aihue is on the open market. Then the Aces lost in extra innings to Tucson.
  • Kevin Kouzmanoff is healthy and he went 4-for-7 with two doubles, a homer, and four RBI in the New Orleans Zephyrs 7-6 come-from-behind, 13-inning win at Iowa last night.
  • Oklahoma City had a six-run rally in the ninth inning to beat Albuquerque, 13-10.
  • I’m concerned about longtime Omaha manager Mike Jirschele, who is quoted as saying “It’s been one of those two weeks” in the story on the Storm Chasers 8-5 win over Memphis.
  • Round Rock beat Nashville, 8-5. In the story, Ryan Feierabend recalls draft day (the draft starts Thursday).

I’m pulling for Jeremy Bonderman to have a good start this morning (11:05 AM first pitch I think). It’s been a long time between MLB pitches for him, and he worked hard to get back.

* I laughed so hard I almost shot coffee out of my nose reading that newspaper article – they were pranking the writer, using an interpreter for Rodriguez. I did a radio interview with Luis last season and his English is very good!


Miracle Comeback In Reno

May 28, 2013

Tacoma pulled off something new on Monday afternoon in Reno: a miracle comeback.

Trailing 10-6 going to the top of the ninth inning, Tacoma rallied to score five runs and claim an 11-10 win. Alex Liddi (he went 4-for-5) and Stefen Romero had big two-run doubles in the rally, with Romero’s game-winner coming with two outs.

The Rainiers earned a split of the four-game series, which was a nice turnabout seeing how it looked like it was going to be yet another series loss at Aces Ballpark.

Tacoma (31-21) gained a game on first place Colorado Springs, and the Rainiers are only a half-game out of first going into the big series that starts tonight.

Roster Round-Up

Prior to yesterday’s game we had six roster moves.

The Mariners called up Nick Franklin and Hector Noesi, sending down Dustin Ackley and Lucas Luetge. Both Ackley and Luetge are expected to join the team today in Colorado.

Tacoma sent Jimmy Gillheeney to Double-A Jackson, and brought up Forrest Snow from Jackson. Snow pitched in relief yesterday.

Colorado Springs Preview

The Sky Sox are 31-19 on the season, good for first place in the Pac-North. Tacoma will play the Sky Sox 16 times this season, and tonight is the first game.

Colorado Springs missed a chance to get a four-game sweep of Fresno, dropping the final game of the series yesterday, 8-1.

Despite that score, the Sky Sox are in first place because of offense. They have a formidable lineup, featuring major league types like Tyler Colvin and Josh Rutledge along with young, dangerous hitters Ryan Wheeler and Matt McBride. The Sky Sox lead the PCL in runs scored and have a team batting average of .301.

Their pitching staff ranks in the middle of the league – and that’s not bad, considering the environment. Colorado Springs sits roughly 6,200 feet above sea level, and baseballs fly around Security Service Field. They installed a baseball humidor last year to prevent balls from drying out, and it seemed to temper the scoring a little bit.

The Sky Sox ace pitcher is Drew Pomeranz, and he is scheduled to start the final game of the series on Friday.

Colorado Springs has a new manager this year: Glenallen Hill, former major league outfielder who spent part of the 1998 season with the Mariners.

Tonight’s Game

It will start at 6:05 (Pacific) and will air on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jeremy Bonderman (2-4, 4.68) against Sky Sox RHP Drew Carpenter (1-4, 6.38).

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story detailing the comeback has reaction from Alex Liddi.
  • John McGrath wrote about the Dustin Ackley transaction.
  • Aaron Harang tossed a shutout and the Mainers won their second in a row.
  • Geoff Baker wrote about the Jeremy Bonderman situation. Today may be Bonderman’s last game with Tacoma.
  • If you want to get depressed, read Baker’s blog post on the big picture.
  • Nick Franklin was John Sickels’ prospect of the day.
  • For ESPN Insiders: Keith Law updated his Top-25 Prospects list, and one Rainiers player appears.
  • Baseball Prospectus subscribers can read Ben Lindbergh’s take on the Michael PinedaJesus Montero trade.
  • In the PCL, the Sky Sox lost to Fresno yesterday, 8-1. Shane Loux pitched a complete game for the Grizzlies.
  • The Colorado Springs paper has a preview of the big series with Tacoma. It contains the unfortunate news that I will have to endure another Jimmy Buffett Night.
  • Tony Pena’s kid hit two homers and Las Vegas beat Salt Lake, 9-7.
  • One day after losing 20-1, Tucson shut out Sacramento 2-0. As River Cats broadcaster Johnny Doskow said on twitter, this is why baseball is the greatest game.
  • New Orleans was unable to finish off a sweep of Omaha. Kevin Kouzmanoff is getting healthy with the Zephyrs.
  • An Iowa reliever has returned from Tommy John surgery.
  • Albuquerque’s Alfredo Amezaga hit a three-run double in the ninth to beat Nashville.

This should be a fun series!


Antoher Win, Shake-Up Coming

May 23, 2013

The Rainiers are hot and the Mariners are not.

We’ve seen this before, and we know what is about to happen: change.

It started this morning, with Ryan Divish of The News Tribune reporting that the Mariners are going to option Jesus Montero to Tacoma, call up Jesus Sucre to the big leagues, and transfer Brandon Bantz from Double-A Jackson to Tacoma.

For those scoring at home, that makes two new Rainiers, with one player leaving – so clearly there are going to be more moves. The timing on all of this could stretch out over two days, since the Mariners do not play today (and Montero may not report today; he’s allowed three days).

Personally, I expect additional moves after tonight’s Rainiers game, or prior to tomorrow’s Mariners game. Tomorrow morning the Rainiers fly to Reno, and I’ll be looking around the airport gate to see who is there and who isn’t there – not for the first time in my career.

Expect to see a large turnout from the Mariners front office tonight at Cheney, as they will want to look at players first-hand to see about possible call-ups to try to right the ship. Particularly, they will be looking at Tacoma starter Jeremy Bonderman, who is approaching an opt-out date in his contract, and the Mariners have to figure out what to do with him.

If the Mariners front office was there yesterday, they would have been impressed by Tacoma starter Andrew Carraway.

Carraway lasted 6.2 innings, giving up just one run on five singles. He struck out six and walked only two, turning in yet another quality start. Carraway is now 5-1 with a 2.98 ERA on the season.

Sucre led the way offensively, going 3-for-4 with a tie-breaking two-run double in the sixth inning. Nick Franklin had two hits and an RBI, and Carlos Triunfel reached base twice and scored both times.

The Rainiers won their fifth game in a row, improving to a PCL-best 29-18 on the year. Tacoma goes for a sweep in the final game of the homestand tonight.

We send our condolences to Nashville manager Mike Guerrero. His father Epy Guerrero – a famous scout – passed away today at the age of 71.

Mike Guerrero has missed this entire series to be with his father for his last days, and Brewers field coordinator Charlie Greene has filled in as Sounds manager.

Epy Guerrero had a huge impact on baseball in the Dominican Republic – he’s generally considered to be the man who opened the gates for baseball talent to flow from the Dominican to the US. He worked for the Toronto Blue Jays when Pat Gillick was the General Manager, signing stars like Alfredo Griffin, Tony Fernandez and Carlos Delgado. Going back before that, he signed Cesar Cedeno for the Houston Astros when Cedeno was considered one of the top teenage talents in the world.

I’m sure someone will write a great book about Epy Guerrero someday, but for now here is an archived Los Angeles Times story from 2009.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850, and streaming online right here. If you want to listen on a smart phone or iPad, use the TuneIn app. Tacoma starts RHP Jeremy Bonderman (2-3, 3.79) against Nashville LHP Zack Kroenke (1-6, 5.75).

Links:

Let’s see if Tacoma can end this homestand in style.


Team Effort Makes Eight Straight

May 2, 2013

The Rainiers won their eighth game in a row on Wednesday night, and everybody on the roster is contributing to this hot streak.

Yesterday the Rainiers were trailing at the 7th inning stretch, 2-1. Andrew Carraway had delivered another strong start, but the offense was surprisingly quiet – shut down by veteran Tim Stauffer of Tucson.

By the end of the sixth, both starting pitchers were finished. Jhonny Nunez relieved for Tacoma, working a scoreless top of the seventh.

In the bottom of the inning, Carlos Triunfel was hit by a pitch from Padres reliever Tommy Layne with one out. Scott Savastanto singled to left field, and Denny Almonte pulled a two-run double down the left field line to give the Rainiers a 3-2 lead.

Savastano and Almonte were hitting 8th and 9th in the lineup, and they came up big for the team last night.

Nunez – who entered the game with a 9.00 ERA – stayed in and pitched an easy 1-2-3 top of the eighth, and then Bobby LaFromboise nailed down his first save of the year. Nunez was credited with the win.

From June 29 to July 8, 2010, the Rainiers won nine straight games. The team will try to match that streak tonight.

We had another roster move yesterday before the game: the Mariners optioned pitcher Blake Beavan to Tacoma, and called up reliever Lucas Luetge.

Beavan is going to return to the starting rotation, and he will start on Saturday against the Reno Aces. Brian Sweeney will move back to the bullpen.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and it is Thirsty Thursday at Cheney Stadium – that means $2 beers, y’all. Tacoma starts RHP Jeremy Bonderman (1-2, 4.61) against Tucson RHP Sean O’Sullivan (1-1, 5.00). The broadcast is on 850 AM and streaming online right here.

On the broadcast front, I’ve been informed that MiLB now has a deal with TuneIn making Rainiers broadcasts available through their iPhone and Android apps. So, check it out if that’s your thing.

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story written by Todd Milles of The News Tribune. The story includes some quotes from Nick Franklin on his fast start.
  • Franklin made Baseball America’s All-Prospect Team as the second baseman for the month of April.
  • Aaron Harang had a needed strong start, the Mariners scored eight runs, and things are looking up in Seattle.
  • John McGrath has a column about how the Mariners fan base is dwindling (or perhaps just hibernating).
  • The Arizona Republic has a feature story on former Rainiers hitting coach Jeff Pentland.
  • In the PCL, Sacramento pitcher Sonny Gray tossed a complete game 4-hitter and beat Fresno, 4-1. Gray needed only 94 pitches.
  • Fresno outfielder Francisco Peguero is big-league ready, according to their manager.
  • Hold the phone, the Salt Lake Bees have won a baseball game! Their seven-game losing streak is over.
  • Las Vegas is giving Reno a real work-over at Aces Ballpark, collecting 20 hits in a 14-8 win yesterday. Vegas goes for a sweep tonight.
  • In the small print, we learn that Reno will be adding outfielder Adam Eaton on a rehabilitation assignment starting… tomorrow in Tacoma. Yikes.
  • Round Rock’s Josh Lindblom shut out Iowa, 1-0. The Express added former Rainiers lefty Ryan Feierabend to the rotation. Iowa is moving Josh Vitters to the outfield.
  • Oklahoma City’s Wes Musick silenced the Sounds in Bricktown.
  • Omaha and New Orleans got suspended due to rain after exactly one half-inning yesterday in the Big Easy.
  • The internet is useless when it comes to trying to find a report on yesterday’s game in Albuquerque, a 6-4 win over Memphis.
  • Salt Lake RG and friend-of-the-blog Steve Klauke is a fan of the TV show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” and he has a hobby of hitting all of the featured restaurants in PCL towns. He blogged about his recent trip to Tacoma and the two “Triple-D” meals he enjoyed. Crown Bar! It’s not Triple-D (yet), but I’m taking Klauke to 1111 next time he comes to town.

More great weather in Tacoma – hope to see you at the ballpark!


Sweeney Delivers Six

April 30, 2013

Brian Sweeney tossed six shutout innings as the Rainiers won their sixth straight game on Monday night, 4-1 over the Tucson Padres. It was the opening game of an eight-game homestand.

Sweeney, Brian Moran, and Lucas Luetge combined to limit Tucson to four hits and one unearned run. It was the fourth game in a row in which the Rainiers pitching staff had allowed three runs or fewer – a remarkable feat considering that three of those games were played in the Las Vegas launching pad.

Tacoma’s team ERA is down to 3.93. That ranks 6th-best in the 16-team PCL, and is the best among the eight Pacific Conference teams.

Offensively, Tacoma had seven hits and four runs. Eric Thames continues to swing a hot bat, going 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. He has played in every game this year, reaching base with either a hit or a walk in all 25.

Mike Zunino hit a long triple to center in his first at-bat, collecting his first career Cheney Stadium hit.

Nick Franklin contributed an RBI single, extending his hitting streak to ten. He has reached base in all 16 games he has played in, and he has a six-game streak of games with an RBI.

Tacoma is 15-10 going into the final game of the month. This is the most victories for the franchise in the month of April since the 2001 PCL Championship team went 18-5 in the first month of the season.

Roster moves: yesterday the Mariners activated Michael Saunders from the disabled list, and optioned Carlos Peguero to Tacoma.

Today the Rainiers officially added Jimmy Gillheeney to the roster, with utility man Leury Bonilla going back to Double-A Jackson.

The second game of the Tucson series is tonight at 6:05, and you can listen on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here (yes, the online audio stream was fixed yesterday and we should be all set moving forward). Tacoma starts LHP Jimmy Gillheeney (Triple-A debut) against Tucson RHP Wilfredo Boscan (0-0, 0.00).

Links:

  • Don Ruiz had the pleasure of covering last night’s 2 hour, 18 minute Rainiers game. His story for The News Tribune has lots of reaction from Mike Zunino.
  • Story of the day: historian David Eskenazi has an article on our stadium namesake Ben Cheney and his impact on sports and the American lumber and housing industries. This seems like a good time to remind everybody that the Cheney family pronounces it “CHEE-nee.”
  • Michael Saunders came off the disabled list and made an instant impact for the Mariners. The other Saunders – Joetossed a rare complete game in the Mariners win last night.
  • The A’s beat the Angels in the 19th last night, after a 6 hour, 32 minute game. Brandon Moss was the hero, and everyone was so exhausted that he just pied himself. <<< watch this video, it’s hilarious.
  • In the PCL, Fresno walked-off Sacramento in the bottom of the 11th in a fierce battle between rivals. One of the PCL’s top hitter, Sacramento’s Stephen Vogt, returned to his homeland.
  • Erick Aybar is rehabilitating with Salt Lake, but he couldn’t prevent the Bees from losing their seventh game in a row last night.
  • Former Rainiers pitcher D.J. Mitchell tossed a gem in his first start for Las Vegas, earning a win in Reno. Aces speedster Tony Campana tied the record by stealing three bases in one inning – which included a straight steal of home. Make sure you watch the video on there, which includes fantastic calls by too-good-to-be-in-Triple-A Reno broadcaster Ryan Radtke.
  • New Orleans pounded out 14 hits in a 6-3 win over Omaha.
  • Oklahoma City leadoff man Trevor Crowe had three hits, two walks, three steals, and scored four runs in a 9-8 win against Nashville. Brett Wallace is trying to find his rhythm with the Red Hawks.
  • Albuquerque’s pitching rotation is a mess, but the Elian Herrera saved the day with a walk-off hit against Memphis. A crowd of 6,948 ‘Topes fans ate an incredible 17,071 dogs on their annual 50-cent hot dog night. That’s 2.47 hot dogs per person.
  • Former Rainiers slugger Brad Nelson went 4-for-5 but his Iowa Cubs lost to Round Rock, 10-9.

It’s a beautiful day in Tacoma, and the weather is supposed to be nice all week. Come join us at the ballpark!


No Sweep For Tacoma, Home Opener Tonight

April 12, 2013

Tacoma was unable to complete its first four-game sweep of Sacramento since 2001, falling on Thursday night by a score of 5-4.

The Rainiers certainly had an opportunity – mostly because the River Cats defense seemed intent on giving the game away. Sacramento made four errors in the game, directly leading to three of Tacoma’s runs. But in the end, River Cats reliever Mike Ekstrom stranded the tying runner on third (with no outs!) and nailed down a difficult save.

Despite the loss in the final game, it was an excellent road trip for Tacoma. A 5-3 mark on the road, including a 3-1 series win at always-tough Sacramento, is a great way to start the season.

Now it’s the home opener – one of my favorite days of every calendar year. We expect a very nice crowd, although tickets should be available at the door if you are making a last-minute decision. The latest forecast says we have a chance of rain so be prepared. Shocking in April, I know. Don’t worry – it will be a fun night regardless!

We’ve got the great new food options, post-game fireworks, and the team looks good right now, too.

Tonight’s game is at 7:10, and if you can’t make it to Cheney Stadium please tune in to South Sound Sports 850 AM or the online stream. Tacoma starts LHP James Paxton (0-0, 4.50) against Salt Lake RHP A.J. Schugel (0-0, 3.60).

For clarity, a run-down of the flurry of Rainiers transactions from the last 48 hours:

  • LHP Bobby LaFromboise and OF Endy Chavez were called up to Seattle.
  • RHP Steven Hensley was traded to Colorado and he’ll report to Double-A Tulsa.
  • LHP Lucas Luetge optioned to Tacoma and he should join the team today.
  • OF Joe Dunigan activated from the disabled list and he is ready to play.
  • INF Stefen Romero sent on a rehab assignment to High Desert; he’s been out since early March with a strained oblique. We should see him soon.
  • RHP D.J. Mitchell was designated for assignment and the team is hopeful that he will clear waivers – possibly in time to make his scheduled start for Tacoma tomorrow.

That was a busy stretch!

Links:

  • For all of the details on last night’s Rainiers game, check the story from The News Tribune.
  • Guess which Rainiers player ranks on Baseball America’s first Prospect Hot List of the year. OK, that was too easy.
  • The Mariners lost to Texas, and Felix Hernandez is having a hard time getting career win No. 100. Michael Morse was hit on the hand and is going to be out for a few days.
  • Here is the news story on the Mariners trade of Steven Hensley for Aaron Harang.
  • Michael Saunders is on the 15-day disabled list. Hopefully that is all the time he’ll miss.
  • Jerry Brewer wrote a column on  Felix Hernandez being the face of the franchise.
  • Ji-Man Choi is a hot hitter for the Mariners Class-A Advanced High Desert affiliate.
  • Admit it: you are surprised that the foul-ball-in-beer-cup guy is a Washington alum, and not a Coug.
  • In the PCL, several teams have their home openers tonight. The Reno newspaper has a preview of the Aces, and a look at top prospects around the league.
  • Salt Lake is off to a 6-2 start. They are an older team, and yesterday it was veteran catcher Chris Snyder who had a big game and led them to a win.
  • Colorado Springs had two walk-off wins in a doubleheader against Tucson yesterday.
  • Fresno got lambasted by Las Vegas, 14-3. Las Vegas plays its home opener tonight, and it’s time for 51s fans to meet the Mets. Vegas just added former Rainiers left-hander Sean Henn.
  • Shortstop Dee Gordon did everything except pitch in Albuquerque’s 3-2 win over Omaha.
  • Congrats to former Isotopes broadcaster Robert Portnoy, who landed a plum job down in the Duke City.
  • The Omaha Storm Chasers unveiled a Bob Gibson statue at Werner Park (picture included).

I am saddened to hear about the passing of Hall of Fame basketball coach Marv Harshman, who was a legend in these parts. I only met him late in his life, but I have heard from scores of people who’s lives he impacted. He was a giant in a game of giants.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40,982 other followers