Junior Watches Rainiers Win

June 11, 2013

Ken Griffey Jr showed up to watch the Rainiers play in Las Vegas on Monday, and the Rainiers stepped up and beat the 51s, 10-7.

Griffey is a special assistant for the Mariners, something he has done for two seasons. There have been reports that he has visited all of the Mariners other farm teams, but this was the first time I’ve ever seen him at a Rainiers game.

Part of being Junior, I imagine, is dealing with crowds. In Las Vegas, he sat with Roger Hansen in the air conditioned club level restaurant behind home plate.

Yesterday Carlos Peguero had a big game, collecting three hits with a homer and five RBI. He had been struggling and needed a breakout like that.

Tacoma is now 13 games over .500 again, tying the season high-water mark. Maybe today is the day they reach 14 games over.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here (hopefully – the stream has been broken the last two days; the proper authorities have been notified). Tacoma starts RHP Brian Sweeney (7-1, 3.51) against Las Vegas RHP Collin McHugh (3-2, 2.74).

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • Larry Stone reports that Mike Zunino is getting called up by Seattle today. The analysis of the move from blogs like USS Mariner and Lookout Landing seems spot-on. Jason Churchill has a reasonable look at the situation, as well.
  • No link, but former Rainiers lefty Anthony Vasquez made his return from emergency brain surgery and pitched for Class-A Clinton yesterday. Great news!
  • The Mariners held on for a 3-2 win over the Houston Astros.
  • Looks like both Justin Smoak and Franklin Gutierrez could begin rehabilitation assignments soon.
  • Double-A Jackson won the first game of a doubleheader with a walk-off triple play. That’s right: Jackson led 5-4, Chattanooga had runners at first and second with no outs in the ninth. Low liner to shortstop Gabriel Noriega, he catches it at his shoes, doubles the runner of second, throws to first to catch that runner for the third out.
  • In the PCL, Salt Lake topped the Sky Sox, 8-6, widening Tacoma’s lead in the division to 3.5 games.
  • Sacramento beat Reno, 5-2, as the bizarre string of low-scoring games at Aces Ballpark continued.
  • Nick Noonan went down to Fresno and helped the Grizzlies paste Tucson, 10-1.
  • How about this: former Rainiers lefty Ryan Feierabend tossed a complete game eight-hitter as his Round Rock Express beat Albuquerque, 5-2.
  • Another hot former Rainiers player is Brad Nelson. The Iowa Cubs first baseman had his second straight game with two homers in Round Rock last night.
  • Perfect game guy Phillip Humber is struggling in the PCL.
  • Brett Hayes hit two dingers to help Omaha defeat Nashville, 10-7.
  • New Orleans picked up a pair of wins in Memphis yesterday.
  • I really enjoyed the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s response to the Wall Street Journal’s hatchet job on Cashman Field.

Carraway Deals In Vegas

April 27, 2013

Andrew Carraway turned in a brilliant outing on Friday night in Las Vegas, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning in the Rainiers 10-1 victory.

Vegas No. 3 hitter Josh Satin broke up the no-no with one out in the seventh, singling cleanly through the left side of the infield. Carraway had to settle for seven shutout innings, while earning his third straight win. Carraway is now 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA on the year.

Meanwhile, the Rainiers hitters continue to sting the ball.

Rich Poythress returned to the lineup after missing eight games due to a bruised rib. He made an immediate impact, going 4-for-5 with two doubles and five RBI.

Tacoma had 15 hits while scoring double-digit runs for the fourth time in the last six games. It should be noted, however, that this is a Hitter’s Coast League road trip running through Salt Lake City and Vegas.

Cashman Field in Vegas in particular is a launching pad – which makes Carraway’s outing even more impressive.

Despite the current hitting conditions, Tacoma has played only six of its 22 games so far in hitter’s parks. Tacoma ranks second among the 16 PCL teams with 140 runs scored – an average of 6.36 runs scored per game.

The offense got a little bit better yesterday when Michael Saunders joined the team for a rehabilitation stint. Saunders had six plate appearances yesterday, going 0-for-3 with a walk, a sac fly, and a hit-by-pitch. The HBP was almost comically awful: he got drilled in the right shoulder, exactly where he was injured when he crashed into the outfield fence back on April 10. After the game, Saunders said he was fine and it was no big deal.

Saunders is scheduled to be here for the rest of this weekend only – but, if he is not deemed ready for the Mariners on Monday, he could continue his rehab with the Rainiers on the homestand starting Monday. This seems a bit unlikely; everyone is hoping he’s ready to return to Seattle that day.

The Rainiers also added a relief pitcher yesterday, filling the roster at 25. Right-hander Tyler Burgoon is up from Double-A Jackson, where he posted a 1.04 ERA in six appearances. Burgoon had 14 strikeouts in 8.2 innings pitched.

Today the Rainiers shoot for their fourth straight win, which will be a season-high if they get it. Game time is 7:05, the broadcast is on 850 AM and streaming right here, and RHP Jeremy Bonderman (0-2, 5.06) faces RHP Collin McHugh (2-0, 1.93).

Links

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • The news on Danny Hultzen was not bad: he has a rotator cuff strain, and will not throw for two weeks before dialing it up once again.
  • The Angels jumped all over Aaron Harang and the Mariners on Friday night.
  • It’s kind of cool that the Rainiers game Thursday turned up as part of a story in the New York Daily News – an article about Zack Wheeler dealing with the PCL.
  • In the PCL, Cole Gillespie returned to his old stomping grounds and helped his Fresno Grizzlies defeat Reno, 9-8.
  • A rehabbing Yoenis Cespedes crushed a three-run homer and Sacramento downed Salt Lake, 10-1.
  • Colorado Springs shut out Tucson, 3-0, The Sky Sox lead the Pac-North with a 12-7 record.
  • Johnny Giavotella had the game winning hit as Omaha beat Iowa in the tenth inning. Omaha manager Mike Jirschele missed it – he was ejected earlier.
  • Former major league reliever Josh Lindblom worked into the seventh inning of Round Rock’s 4-3 win over Albuquerque. He’s 3-0 with a 1.90 ERA; this conversion looks good so far.
  • Weird things happened in Nashville. Nothing is more exciting than a walk-off balk!

Seriously. A walk-off balk.


Wild Night In Vegas

April 26, 2013

Somebody could write a book about last night’s game in Las Vegas. I don’t have time to write a book, so let’s just hit a few highlights.

First of all, our expected pitching prospect showdown between Danny Hultzen and Zack Wheeler fizzled out before the game even started.

Hultzen had trouble loosening up his throwing arm during his pregame warm-up routine, so the Rainiers scratched him for precautionary measures. At this time we have no further information regarding his condition and when he may pitch again, but you can bet that the Mariners/Rainiers are going to proceed very cautiously moving forward.

The timing on Hultzen’s scratch was literally right before the first pitch. I had finished my pre-game show, and we were in the commercial break before the game start when everyone in the press box noticed that Andrew Kittredge was loosing up in the bullpen instead.

Pressed into last-second emergency duty for his first Triple-A start, Kittredge struggled out of the gate and the Rainiers were down 7-1 after three innings.

Meanwhile, Wheeler was dealing. After allowing doubles to the first two batters of the game, Wheeler retired 12 of the next 13 and had five strikeouts in four innings.

Wheeler is legit, you guys. He was 96-98 miles per hour all night, and it is the easiest 96-98 I think I’ve ever seen – it looks effortless, he just casually goes into his throwing motion and wham! 97 at the knees.

However, Wheeler is in the minors for a reason, and we saw why in the fifth inning. He started to lose his command, and Tacoma put three runs on the board in the fifth, and when Stefen Romero greeted him in the sixth with a long home run (Romero’s first Triple-A dinger), that was it for Wheeler.

Tacoma’s bullpen kept the Rainiers in the game, but the defense made a comeback difficult. The Rainiers committed five errors, leading to four unearned runs.

Las Vegas carried a 10-6 lead into the ninth inning – and that’s when things got crazy. Three straight singles to open the inning loaded the bases. Then Vegas reliever Greg Peavey (Vancouver, WA – Hudson’s Bay HS) issued three consecutive bases loaded walks, making it 10-9.

The Rainiers had the bases loaded with one out and Denny Almonte at the plate. Almonte had not put a ball in play in his first four at-bats, but baseball is a funny game… and Almonte became a hero, lining the game-tying single to right when the team absolutely needed him to make contact.

The Rainiers would score three more runs, take a 13-10 lead into the bottom of the ninth, and then make a two-run error with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on a routine play to scare the heebie-jeebies out of everybody. But Logan Bawcom got the final out on a medium-deep fly ball to Almonte in center, and the Rainiers were 13-12 winners.

The game featured:

  • A 5-for-5 performance from Nick Franklin, boosting his season average to a cool .400.
  • Eric Thames extending his hitting streak to 9 straight, and he has a hit or a walk in all 21 games this season.
  • Carlos Triunfel launched a homer off Wheeler, and then took a 97 mph fastball in the back in his next AB. He tried to play through it but eventually left the game in the eighth inning.
  • A 3-for-5, three RBI game from Alex Liddi.
  • A second consecutive tough save converted by Logan Bawcom.
  • A pair of golden sombreros, from Almonte and Mike Zunino.

To recap, the Rainiers won a baseball game in which the starter got scratched, they made five errors, and two players struck out four times apiece. Vegas, baby!

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and you can listen on South Sound Sports 850 AM or stream the audio online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (2-1, 4.43) against Las Vegas RHP Carlos Torres (0-1, 4.61).

Links:

  • Todd Dewey wrote the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune.
  • Fun story from the Las Vegas Sun about Rainiers hitting coach Howard Johnson and 51s manager Wally Backman. Fact: HoJo once hit a grand slam off 51s pitching coach Randy St. Claire.
  • The Mariners shut out the Angels, 6-0. They needed that!
  • Kyle Seager is really heating up, Larry Stone writes.
  • Don Ruiz reports in this notebook that Michael Saunders might begin a rehab assignment with the Rainiers today. I think we can find a spot in the lineup for him.
  • On the roster front, look for the Rainiers to add a relief pitcher from Double-A Jackson today. The Rainiers have an open spot and the bullpen is running on fumes.
  • Here is your Vegas story: a bunch of Rainiers players went to Terry Fator‘s show on the off-day and got some press – including a mention in Norm Clarke’s famous gossip column. That first link has a good photo.
  • Read this cool story on the oldest living former major leaguer.
  • No Rainiers appear in this week’s Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet, but the blog stats say you guys like it so here it is anyway.
  • In the PCL, Tacoma’s comeback was not the wildest game in the league last night. The New Orleans Zephyrs beat Oklahoma City in 15 innings and it was a crazy one.
  • Yoenis Cespedes is rehabbing with Sacramento and he helped them beat Salt Lake, 6-5. Photo gallery.
  • Fresno beat up the Reno Aces, 11-5. The new members of the Aces are just getting used to playing baseball on the moon at Aces Ballpark.
  • Tucson added knuckleballer Eddie Bonine and got creamed by the Sky Sox, 13-5. Colorado Springs hit four triples in the game.
  • Nashville topped Memphis, 5-2, as my man Scooter Gennett had three hits.
  • Iowa went in to Omaha and came away with a 9-3 win.
  • Scott Van Slyke went 3-for-5 with a homer in Albuquerque’s win at Round Rock, and he’s batting .473 with eight homers and 25 RBI. Sheesh. Call him up already!
  • The independent Atlantic League is doing logical things to speed up the game, and it is working.

Let’s see if we have another wild game tonight!


Pitching Prospect Showdown In Vegas

April 25, 2013

We’re back and (hopefully) refreshed after an off-day in Las Vegas.

The team beat Salt Lake on Tuesday afternoon, 2-1, as Brian Sweeney, Lucas Luetge, and Logan Bawcom shut ‘em down. The Rainiers earned a split of the four-game series.

The Rainiers lost Carlos Peguero to the big league club, and so far there is no word on any replacement for him here in Tacoma. With Michael Saunders supposedly close to returning from the disabled list, we may not get a replacement for Peguero from below.

The club arrived in Vegas late on Tuesday night, and enjoyed an off-day here yesterday. Now we gear up for a four-game series starting tonight at 7:05.

This should* be a real treat tonight. Top pitching prospects Danny Hultzen (3-1, 2.78) and Zack Wheeler (0-1, 4.91) go head-to-head. Catch the broadcast on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here.

You will note that Wheeler’s stats aren’t all that great. He reportedly is dealing with some serious blister problems, causing him to issue 12 walks in 18.1 innings. However, he easily reaches 97 mph and has 21 strikeouts.

Las Vegas Series Preview

Las Vegas is a team that just wants to get out on the field and play. Their last game was Sunday in Colorado Springs – scheduled games on Monday and Tuesday were postponed due to snow and will be made up in late August.

The 51s are now the Mets affiliate, and they are 10-8 on the season. They had a four-game win streak end with a tough walk-off loss on Sunday in the Springs. Las Vegas has beaten up on Sacramento this year, going 6-2 against the Pac-South powerhouse.

Las Vegas is managed by Wally Backman, who is quite a personality. The former Mariners infielder played for the World Series champion 1986 Mets, where he was teammates with Rainiers hitting coach Howard Johnson (they are buddies).

Other than Wheeler, the top prospect on the team is catcher Travis d’Arnaud - but he is injured (again) and will not play in this series.

The 51s feature PCL star Andrew Brown, who has been one of the best hitters in the league for a few years now. He’s hitting .343 with 15 RBI so far. First baseman Josh Satin is batting .344 with four home runs, and young third baseman Wilmer Flores is hitting .279-1-10 in his first Triple-A season.

This is not the first time the Rainiers have ever faced a Mets affiliate. New York had a player development contract with New Orleans for two seasons, 2007-2008.

I’ll be curious to see if the Mets affiliation helps Las Vegas draw at the gate. After losing the Dodgers, Vegas attendance plummeted during the four years of the Blue Jays era. There are a lot of New York transplants here in Vegas; perhaps this affiliate will pay off for the team.

Links:

  • From Wednesday’s News Tribune, the Rainiers game story on the 2-1 win at Salt Lake.
  • I didn’t think I was going to be typing this sentence this season, but here it is. The Mariners are a disaster.
  • Larry Stone shows us that the Mariners 8-15 start will probably lead to 95-100 losses.
  • Dave Cameron writes that the Mariners poor start could lead to some job openings.
  • Rob Neyer wrote about Felix Hernandez reaching 100 career wins.
  • Former Rainiers Wladimir Balentien and Kam Mickolio appear in this video footage of a dust-up in Japan.
  • The entire PCL was off yesterday, but there is an interesting story in the Springs on the Colorado Rockies quarterback fascination. They are the team that drafted Russell Wilson, among several others.
  • The Toronto Blue Jays are using the waiver wire to help their Triple-A team win games. The Jays GM comes right out and says it in this story – and it’s refreshing to hear.

Sorry, no great Vegas stories for you… yet, anyway. We still have three more days here.

* it seems like all too often these pitching prospect showdowns end in a 15-12 slugfest. I would love to see a real pitcher’s duel tonight!


The Las Vegas Call-Up Wall

August 29, 2012

Going a little off-kilter for today’s post: I want to show you guys one of the “underground” things in the PCL that I think is really cool: the Las Vegas 51s Call-Up Wall.

Las Vegas clubhouse manager Stevie Dwyer has a little alcove off the visiting locker room that he uses as an office for himself and his assistants. It’s a sliver of a room, shaped like a shoe box.

Along one wall, he has hung up the locker nameplate of every visiting player who has been called up to the majors from the Cashman Field locker room since he started working as the clubbie years ago.

It’s a unique homage to every player who got called into the manager’s office and received the good news that they were going to the big leagues. Perhaps not coincidentally, the manager’s office is on the other side of the Call-Up Wall.

Here are some shots – click on it to enlarge:

The nameplates are sorted into columns by year.

Here is a group of Tacoma players who got called up in 2007:

I’m sure you all recall the John Parrish era. Tacoma was in Vegas on September 1st that year; thus there were a lot of call-ups.

Here is a column of more recent vintage:

Sometimes the clubbie has the called-up player sign his nameplate.

The Rainiers lost last night, 6-5. Tacoma had 15 hits and left 13 runners on base – if the Rainiers were in contention right now, it really would have been a tough loss.

Alex Liddi is on a mini-tear right now. He had three hits and two RBI’s yesterday, and he now has nine RBI in the last four games. He’s batting .330 with five home runs in August, with only 14 strikeouts in 106 at-bats this month. I think Mariners fans can look for him to see some time in the big leagues when the rosters expand.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05 and it airs on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP Danny Hultzen (1-3, 5.14) against Las Vegas LHP Bill Murphy (6-5, 4.72).

Links:

Game eight of the Nine Game Mega Series is tonight. Tacoma leads the Mega Series, four games to three. It’s tense!


Monday Update

April 30, 2012

Checking in from the lovely C Terminal of McCarran Airport in Las Vegas on the Rainiers travel day.

The team lost on Sunday afternoon to the Las Vegas 51s, 5-2. Las Vegas starter Scott Richmond pitched the best game he has ever thrown against Tacoma, carrying a one-hitter into the seventh inning. He was able to throw his breaking ball for strikes, and then get Rainiers hitters to chase it when he buried it in the dirt. He was sharp yesterday; didn’t look anything like the guy the Rainiers have knocked around in the past.

Tacoma scored its runs when Chih-Hsien Chiang pulled a two-run homer down the right field line in the seventh inning for his first Triple-A home run. The Rainiers managed to bring the tying run to the plate in both the eighth and the ninth innings, but couldn’t rally.

Here is the link to the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.

Today is an off-day, and the team is travelling to Tucson for a three-game series that starts on Tuesday at 7:05. Early schedules showed the Rainiers playing today, but it turned out that Tucson’s stadium is being used for something else today, so we are going to play a doubleheader in Tucson on July 29.

I’ll be back with a full blog post with all of the links and a brief preview of the Tucson Padres on Tuesday afternoon. There will be lots of time for blogging in Tucson!


What Happens In Vegas, Stays In Vegas

April 29, 2012

You know the slogan.

And that’s why we can’t talk about last night’s game – it happened in Vegas, so it’s on the super down-low don’t even talk about it!

Well, that was my plan for this post, but that’s probably just not a good idea.

The Rainiers lost, 15-5, and it wasn’t as close as the final score indicates.

Las Vegas had 12 runs by the end of the third inning, and it was 15-2 in the sixth.

Mauricio Robles started and he struggled to throw strikes, and when he did they got hit hard. The latter part is the surprise – usually when he’s in the zone, he doesn’t get hit. Robles was “touched” for eight runs in two innings.

Brian Sweeney followed and he allowed his first runs of the season – six of them, to be exact, and it was all over.

Today is a new day, and we have a nice 12:05 first pitch for the series final at Cashman Field. The Rainiers can salvage a split of the series with a win. Tacoma starts RHP Forrest Snow (0-2, 7.23) against Vegas RHP Scott Richmond (1-2, 8.59). You can catch the broadcast on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here.

Links:

  • We lead off with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. Read it if you dare.
  • The Rainiers are offering $5 tickets through the end of May – check out the video for… information? Laughs?
  • Here is my Minor League Notebook on longtime Rainiers Brian Sweeney and Cesar Jimenez, plus notes.
  • The Mariners four-game winning streak came to an end yesterday in Toronto.
  • John McGrath has a great column about fickle fans. Cliff’s Notes: it’s a long season, you guys.
  • Brendan Ryan is struggling at the plate.
  • Larry LaRue has two amusing anecdotes in the Mariners notebook.
  • Larry Stone’s Sunday Stuff includes a feature on Harvey Haddix, a notebook that includes stuff about a local kid, and power rankings.
  • The always interesting “21 Greatest Days” blog focused on friend-of-this-blog Pat Rice today. Rice is a former Mariner and Mariners minor league pitching coach who is now coaching for Fresno.
  • In the PCL, the Las Vegas paper has a story on 51s starting pitcher Jesse Chavez and his amazing April.
  • Reno outfielder Adam Eaton is playing well (good story here about misidentification and a bank error), and the Aces won their third in a row at Salt Lake.
  • The Bees are going to have to adjust to life without Mike Trout.
  • Starting pitcher Andrew Kown was dealing and Fresno dropped the Sky Sox, 3-1. The Grizzlies have won 7 of 9 despite a series of transactions involving the pitching staff.
  • Tucson defeated Sacramento as Vince Belnome had a good day at the plate.
  • Omaha blew out Memphis, 12-4, as leadoff man Derrick Robinson homered twice.
  • Albuquerque nipped New Orleans in the 12th inning, 4-3.
  • The transaction carousel goes round and round, and the Iowa Cubs lost again. This time, catcher Wellington Castillo got the call.
  • Look, it’s Haley’s Comet! The Nashville Sounds won! That ends their 10-game losing streak.

Despite the ugly results the last two days, the Rainiers can get a split down here with a win. Let’s get it done!


Broke In Vegas

April 28, 2012

It was the baseball equivalent of walking up to a roulette table, putting all of your money on black, and the ball stops on red.

The Rainiers were shut out in Las Vegas last night, 5-0.

Jesse Chavez did a number on the Rainiers, getting ground balls early and often will working seven scoreless innings. He did not allow a hit until Luis Rodriguez singled down the right field line with one out in the sixth.

After the game, we talked about great pitching performances at Cashman Field. They are rare – this place is a launching pad.

In 2006 when he was a starting pitcher, Cesar Jimenez carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning at Cashman. A left-handed batter sliced a line drive into the left field corner, and it barely stayed fair for a leadoff double. Jimenez finished with a 1-hit shutout.

The Rainiers were no-hit at Cashman Field in 2002 by a soft-tossing left-hander named Lindsey Gulin. That still boggles the mind – Russ Langer, the voice of the 51s, describes that no-hitter as “the PCL equivalent of Hideo Nomo‘s no-hitter at Coors Field before they put in the humidor.”

Tacoma finished with three hits on Friday night – all singles, and two were of the infield variety. The Rainiers drew one walk and had only one runner reach second base. The club has been shut out three times this season.

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 LHP Mauricio Robles (0-2, 6.88) against Vegas RHP Joel Carreno (1-2, 7.07).

Links:

  • Leading off is the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • The Las Vegas paper has a story on Mike Carp.
  • The Mariners are scorching hot right now, and Michael Saunders had his best game as a Major Leaguer.
  • Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez now has a heel problem which is slowing down his return.
  • Larry Stone is in Jackson, Tennessee and last night he saw Taijuan Walker pitch – he blogged about it.
  • The two top prospects in the minors were called up today: Bryce Harper from AAA-Syracuse to the Washington Nationals, and Mike Trout from Salt Lake to the Angels.
  • Not only did Salt Lake lose their star, they blew a 6-0 lead and lost to Reno yesterday, 12-7.
  • Colorado Springs shut out Fresno at Chukchansi.
  • The Nashville Sounds found a way to slow down their 10-game losing streak: rain. They’ll lose play today. 
  • Alex Sanabia is dealing for New Orleans. He’s 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA.
  • A rehabilitating Allen Craig (Cal Bear alert!) drove in two runs for Memphis last night.
  • In Oklahoma City a couple of brothers squared off for the first time in 12 years. It sounds like a fun sibling rivalry – talking trash about a strikeout in a high school scrimmage for 12 years?

Tonight is a mellow night in Vegas – night game, with a quick turnaround for the noon start on Sunday.


My Name Is Leury

April 27, 2012

The Mariners can have Larry Bernandez – the Rainiers have Leury Bonilla!

Pressed into starting duty due to an allergy attack that struck starting second baseman Luis Rodriguez, Leury (pronounced “Larry”) Bonilla had a big game at the plate and led Tacoma to a 6-4 win over Las Vegas on Thursday night in the opening game of an 11-game road trip.

Bonilla delivered a two-out, two-run single to cap a five-run first inning rally against former Mariners pitcher Aaron Laffey. Leury struck again in the fifth inning, crushing a two-out RBI triple to deep right-center, ending Laffey’s night.

Tacoma starter Jarrett Grube was knocked out in the fifth inning, extending the Rainiers string to six straight games in which the starting pitcher didn’t make it through five inning. However, the bullpen was lights out.

Sean Henn – facing his former team – tossed 2.1 scorless innings, including a nice bit of work escaping a jam he inherited in the fifth from Grube.

Shawn Kelly was next, pitching 2.1 scoreless innings for the save on his 28th birthday. Kelley had a 5-pitch inning in the eighth, enabling him to go back out there for the ninth to finish off the game.

Las Vegas outfielder Travis Snider – from Mill Creek, WA and Jackson High School – left the game after three innings. He attempted a diving catch in left field and landed on his glove hand, rolling over his right wrist. Hopefully it’s not a serious injury – it’s fine with us if he misses, say, three games.

Snider was 0-for-1 which ended his season-opening 18-game hitting streak. He’s batting .400 and leads the PCL with 23 RBI.

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 Jeff Marquez (1-1, 7.11) against Las Vegas RHP Jessie Chavez (2-1, 3.32). Chavez has been the top starter for Las Vegas so far this year.

Links:

  • Here is the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. A local writer is covering the series, he did a nice job getting quotes from Daren Brown and Leury Bonilla on a tight deadline.*
  • Holy Smokes, the Mariners swept the Tigers! They had 37 hits in the three-game sweep, temporarily shutting up all of the complainers who were so noisy three days ago. Young teams are going to be inconsistent.
  • Mariners Double-A pitcher Danny Hultzen won the MLB.com minor league pitcher of the week award.
  • However, this week’s Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet is completely Mariners-free.
  • In the PCL, Reno beat Salt Lake in a rain-shortened game, 4-1. The Angels are going to push players up the ladder more quickly with a new regime in place.
  • Chad Beck is the Las Vegas closer and it’s a lonely job. He has one save opportunity - the team is 6-15, and most of the wins have been blowouts.
  • Graham Godfrey came down from Oakland and tossed a gem for Sacramento in a 5-1 win over Tucson.
  • Fresno remains a game ahead of Sacramento as Travis Blackey and the Grizzlies shut out Colorado Springs, 3-0. Blackley is 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA – one of several reasons why Fresno is 16-5 on the year. Lee Smith throwing batting practice? Yikes!
  • Fresno isn’t the only team that is 16-5. Omaha reached that mark yesterday in a 3-2 win at Memphis that featured two home runs by David Lough. One was inside-the-park.
  • New Orleans drubbed Albuquerque, 9-4. Drubbed is a good word, Times-Picayune guy.
  • C’mon, Nashville – don’t be afraid to win a game. That’s ten in a row.
  • Oklahoma City had a grand slam from Mike Hessman in a 11-5 win over Round Rock. It was Hessman’s 331st career minor league home run – he is the active leader.

Great start to the road trip – let’s see if this can develop into a winning streak.

* I don’t cover the games in Las Vegas because I have to tear down and pack up the broadcast equipment after every game here – it’s the only stadium in the PCL where you can’t lock your gear in the broadcast booth. Cashman Field doesn’t have broadcast booths, we sit outside on an elevated deck.


Vegas, Baby!

April 26, 2012

Slot machines are a janglin’ as the Rainiers have arrived in Las Vegas for the start of their 12-day, 11-game road trip – the longest road trip of the season.

It’s bookended by stops in the gambling meccas of Las Vegas and Reno, so this trip officially qualifies for “Road Trip To Bankruptcy” status. The Tucson leg in the middle should serve as a much-needed oasis of sleep and sublimity.

In Vegas we stay in the nicest hotel on the old strip downtown. This is close to the ballpark and also more affordable than the main strip.

Players treat the Vegas series as a business trip. The one great benefit is that it’s a 24-hour city, so the guys can always get something to eat after the game – this is not possible in many cities.

We do have the day game on Sunday, and the team is spending the night in Vegas and flying to Tucson on the off-day Monday. Sunday will be the night that the guys will have free to explore the city – I’d bet that most of the team explores the strip on Sunday evening.

Tacoma activated reliever Scott Patterson from the disabled list today, and he is available to pitch immediately.

Patterson suffered from shoulder discomfort during spring training, so he was placed on the Tacoma disabled list but did not report to the Rainiers. Instead, he was working with the training staff in Arizona building arm strength.

This time of year in Arizona there are extended spring training games daily. These are generally made up of young players who will play short-season ball when Everett, Pulaski, and the Arizona Rookie League starts up in June.

Once healthy, Patterson was able to pitch an inning or two in these extended spring training games. Now he’s ready for Tacoma – and we’ll take him, he’s been outstanding here for two years.

Matt Fox, who missed a start with his own shoulder discomfort, was placed on the 7-day disabled list to make room for Patterson. The Rainiers are still hopeful that Fox won’t miss much time.

The Rainiers lost on Tuesday to Fresno, 11-5, and the Grizzlies won the series, three game to one.

Tacoma had trouble shutting down the Grizzlies offense. Fresno scored 38 runs on 56 hits over the four-game series. The Rainiers were fortunate to get that comeback win in the third game.

On the plus side, shortstop Carlos Triunfel drove the ball with authority on Tuesday. He launched a two-run homer over the bullpens in left field, and he smashed a triple to the gap in right-center. Triunfel has been working extensively with hitting coach Jeff Pentland on his hand positioning, and it’s good to see some results.

Tonight’s game in Las Vegas is at 7:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jarrett Grube (0-1, 10.80) against LHP Aaron Laffey (0-2, 6.75). Laffey is a former Mariner.

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Last night, on the off-day, a few of the Rainiers staffers gathered to watch Felix Hernandez and the 7th game if the Boston-Washington hockey series. Much to my surprise, one of my co-workers revealed that his goal in life was to have his name appear on this blog.

So congratulations, Thomas Knowlton, you have made the blog!


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