Rainiers Get Big Win Leading Into Home Stretch

August 29, 2016

The Rainiers avoided a Reno disaster by taking the final game of the five-game road series on Sunday afternoon, 4-3.

It was a tension-filled game that Pat Listach managed like it was the seventh game of the World Series. He used five relief pitchers to cover the final 3.2 innings, trying to get the best match-ups possible while protecting a slim lead in a high-scoring environment.

Once Andrew Kittredge struck out Mitch Haniger with the tying runner on base to end the game, the Rainiers had a 3.5 game lead over Reno with eight games remaining.

Tacoma plays all eight remaining games at home: four against Fresno, and four against Reno.

The Aces are on the road for their final eight, travelling to Sacramento before coming to Cheney Stadium.

It sure would be nice to have things locked up before Reno arrives in town on Friday, but one day at a time…

Awards Week started today, when the Pacific Coast League announced its annual All-PCL Team as voted on by league managers and broadcasters.

Tacoma placed two on the team: Dan Vogelbach was named as the designated hitter, and Stefen Romero one of the three outfielders.

It’s the first time Tacoma has placed multiple players on the All-PCL Team since 2001, when three Rainiers made it: Todd Betts (1B), Ramon Vazquez (SS), and Denny Stark (RHP).

Here is the 2016 All-PCL Team:

  • C-Austin Hedges, El Paso
  • 1B-Kyle Jensen, Reno
  • 2B-Carlos Asuaje, El Paso
  • SS-Orlando Arcia, Colorado Springs
  • 3B-Rob Segedin, Oklahoma City
  • OF-Manuel Margot, El Paso
  • OF-Hunter Renfroe, El Paso
  • OF-Stefen Romero, Tacoma
  • DH-Dan Vogelbach, Tacoma/Iowa
  • RHP-Brady Rodgers, Fresno
  • LHP-Ty Blach, Sacramento
  • RP-James Hoyt, Fresno

Awards Week continues with the Rookie of the Year tomorrow. Vogelbach may get some consideration, but Asuaje, Arcia, and Margot are all rookies, too.

Tacoma’s best chance for a major award is probably Listach as Manager of the Year, which gets announced on Friday.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers salvaged the final game of the Reno series, using six pitchers to keep the Aces offense in check during a 4-3 win. Tacoma has a 3.5-game lead with eight to play.

‘Magic Number’: Five. That’s the total number of Tacoma wins + Reno losses needed for the Rainiers to clinch the Pacific-North division title.

Today: Fresno (69-66-1) at Tacoma (75-59-1), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Houston Astros.

Season Series: Tied, 6-6.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Brady Rodgers (12-4, 2.91) at RHP Zach Lee (0-7, 7.04)

Rodgers was just named the right-handed starting pitcher on the All-PCL Team, and he has a good chance of winning the league’s Pitcher of the Year honor on Wednesday.

Hot Rainiers: Stefen Romero has hit safely in his last ten PCL games, with three home runs… Daniel Robertson has hit safely in ten of his last 11 games. He is hitting .348 since the all-star break…  Tyler Smith is batting .316 in August, and he has a five-game hitting streak.

Look Out For: Jon Kemmer has improved as the season has gone on. He’s hit safely in his last four games, and he’s batted .301 with eight home runs and a .982 OPS in the month of August… Max Stassi homered and drove in four runs yesterday against Sacramento… top closer James Hoyt was optioned back to Fresno by the Astros last week.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:


Rainiers Try To Avoid Sweep Today

August 28, 2016

When the Rainiers were travelling to Reno on Wednesday morning, the talk around the team was about how Tacoma could clinch the division title by winning four of the five games in Reno.

Things have worked out a bit differently.

Reno has won the first four games of the series, and pulled within 2.5 games of Tacoma. The series finale today is a big swing game in the standings: Tacoma will return home tomorrow with either a 3.5- or a 1.5-game lead over the Aces.

The Rainiers finish the season with an eight-game homestand: four against Fresno, followed by four against Reno.

Saturday’s game was the first close one of the series: Tacoma grabbed an early 6-2 lead in the third inning, but didn’t add-on in a ballpark which requires teams to add runs all game to win. Reno battled back, took advantage of some Rainiers defensive problems, and eventually won it 8-7.

Even if Reno sweeps, Tacoma will still have a 1.5-game lead. But the difference between that and a 3.5-game lead… well, today’s game is huge.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: We finally had a close game, but Reno prevailed 8-7. Zach Borenstein‘s pinch-hit, two-run triple with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning snapped a 6-6 tie and led Reno to the win.

‘Magic Number’: Seven. That’s the total number of Tacoma wins + Reno losses needed for the Rainiers to clinch the Pacific-North division title.

Today: Tacoma (75-59-1) at Reno (73-62), 1:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks.

Season Series: Reno leads, 9-2.

Reno has won six of the seven games played this year at Greater Nevada Field, and the Rainiers are 17-46 all-time in this ballpark.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Cody Martin (9-7, 3.93) at LHP Anthony Banda (4-3, 3.64)

Hot Rainiers: Stefen Romero has hit safely in his last nine PCL games, with three home runs… Daniel Robertson has hit safely in nine of his last ten games. He is hitting .346 since the all-star break…  Tyler Smith is batting .323 in August, and he is 7-for-17 at Reno… James Ramsey has gone 8-for-19 over his last five games.

Look Out For: Everybody. Reno has scored 44 runs on 55 hits over the first four games of this series. Both Socrates Brito and Kyle Jensen have 11-game hitting streaks.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 12:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

  • Matt Flemer tossed a gem as Albuquerque toppled El Paso, 5-4, to pull within 4.5 games of first place. The paper has a story on a dip in the Isotopes attendance, which seems to be weather-related.
  • Fresno: not dead yet. The Grizzlies lit up a rehabbing Matt Cain and beat Sacramento, 6-2. Fresno trails Tacoma by six games and Reno by 3.5.
  • Gabriel Ynoa delivered eight shutout innings as Las Vegas beat Salt Lake, 9-0.
  • Oklahoma City swept a doubleheader from Colorado Springs and is on the verge of clinching the American-North division title. A win on Sunday will do it.
  • Catcher Tomas Telis had a big game and helped New Orleans beat Round Rock, 5-2.
  • Jake Buchanan and Iowa shut out Omaha, 4-0. Both teams are playing out the string.
  • Nashville clinched the American-South on Friday and was supposed to have a hangover game on Saturday, but instead they beat Memphis, 2-1. Dillon Overton had a strong start and won his 13th game.

Jensen’s 30th Leads Reno To Win

August 27, 2016

The PCL home run leader got the Rainiers with a cheapie last night, setting the stage for Reno’s 12-3 win over Tacoma.

Kyle Jensen has hit 30 home runs and driven in 117 runs this season. I’m sure many of his home runs have been bombs.

But last night, with two on in the bottom of the first inning, Jensen lifted a fly ball down the right field line. The twisting, wind-blown opposite field fly banged off the foul pole in the corner for a three-run homer, giving Reno a 4-0 lead. The Aces led comfortably the rest of the way.

Tacoma has a 3.5-game lead with ten to play. A split of these last two games in Reno would be a big step in the right direction.

Somehow, the Rainiers have to stop Reno from scoring. The Aces have scored 36 runs on 45 hits over the first three games of the series.

The Aces have joined Fresno in the ranks of teams that are sound effects crazy.

After every pitch at Greater Nevada Field, they play some stupid sound effect on the PA system. A clang of a bell, a fart noise, “sit down in your seat,” the crying baby, and on and on and on.

It gets so tedious. I think they even stopped doing this in A-ball.

They also selected a walk-up song for each Tacoma batter, presumably in a mocking fashion. But sometimes it backfires – for example, we get to hear Elton John‘s best slow song every time Daniel Robertson hits. I haven’t asked D-Rob about it, but it looks like he’s enjoying it too, taking his time getting settled in at the plate.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Reno scored early and often in a 12-3 win over Tacoma on Friday night. The Rainiers have lost three straight games, and ten of the last 16. Stefen Romero went 3-for-5 with a triple and a homer.

‘Magic Number’: Seven. That’s the total number of Tacoma wins + Reno losses needed for the Rainiers to clinch the Pacific-North division title.

Roster Moves: The Mariners optioned Mike Freeman and Nori Aoki to Tacoma, placed Tom Wilhelmsen on the disabled list, and called up Dae-Ho Lee and Pat Venditte. They also called up reliever Dan Altavilla from Double-A Jackson.

Today: Tacoma (75-58-1) at Reno (72-62), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks.

Season Series: Reno leads, 8-2.

Reno has won five of the six games played this year at Greater Nevada Field, and the Rainiers are 17-45 all-time in this ballpark.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Jarrett Grube (1-4, 3.94) at RHP Matt Buschmann (8-10, 5.33)

Hot Rainiers: Daniel Robertson had his eight-game hitting streak end last night. He is hitting .346 since the all-star break… Stefen Romero has hit safely in his last eight PCL games, with three home runs…Tyler Smith is batting .315 in August… James Ramsey has gone 7-for-15 over his last four games.

Look Out For: Everybody.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story includes reaction from manager Pat Listach.
  • Felix Hernandez out-dueled Chris Sale and the Mariners earned a 3-1 win over the White Sox on Friday.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook explains the latest round of roster moves, and suggests Kyle Seager may return to action today.
  • John Sickels reviewed his preseason list of Mariners top prospects, to see how they are doing.

PCL Game Reports:

Rainiers need a win – hopefully today is the day!


Rainiers Struggle In Reno

August 26, 2016

The first two games of this five-day jaunt to Reno have been a disaster for Tacoma.

The Aces have simply obliterated Tacoma pitching, scoring 24 runs on 30 hits in a pair of blowout wins.

It’s reached a point in which any time a Rainiers pitcher throws a scoreless inning, it feels like a massive achievement. Tacoma has pitched only three scoreless frames in the first 18 innings here.

The offense is getting hits, but not scoring runs. In each of the two games Tacoma has scored early, and then gotten shut down for the remainder of the game.

Somehow the Rainiers need to win a game here. Scoring 15+ runs is probably the best way to do it. We need an offensive eruption.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Once again, Reno scored at will and trounced the Rainiers, this time by a score of 11-5. Tacoma had 14 hits in the loss.

‘Magic Number’: Seven. That’s the total number of Tacoma wins + Reno losses needed for the Rainiers to clinch the Pacific-North division title.

Today: Tacoma (75-57-1) at Reno (71-62), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks.

Season Series: Reno leads, 7-2.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Joe Wieland (12-5, 5.25) at RHP Billy Buckner (0-0, 9.00)

Hot Rainiers: Daniel Robertson is 15-for-34 over an eight-game hitting streak, and he is hitting .358 since the all-star break… Stefen Romero has hit safely in his last seven PCL games, with two home runs…Dae-Ho Lee has at least one hit in all six games he has played in, and he has homered twice… Tyler Smith is batting .306 in August.

Look Out For: Kyle Jensen leads the PCL in home runs (29) and RBI (113), and he’s on a nine-game hitting streak right now…Socrates Brito also has a nine-game hitting streak… Carlos Rivero hit three doubles last night, and he has hit four homers in his past nine games.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports


Oddities Abound In Series Opener

August 25, 2016

Reno used a relentless offensive attack to take the opening game of the key five-game series last night, 13-7. The game included a couple of things I don’t believe I have ever seen before.

First off, the Aces hit two inside-the-park home runs – and they were nearly identical.

Both Kyle Jensen and Socrates Brito hit high, deep fly balls to center field that hit high of the 25-foot tall fence and bounced back toward the infield – away from centerfielder Ryan Strausborger. The fence is so far away that both players were able to circle the bases – although there was a play at the plate in each case.

Here’s a link to high-quality video of Brito’s blast – Jensen’s was almost exactly the same.

I think that’s the first time I’ve seen one team hit two inside-the-park home runs in the same game.

The other oddity wasn’t nearly as fun: the Aces scored in every inning. Since they won the game at home, they batted in eight innings. This was their side of the linescore: 3-1-1-1-3-1-1-2. The linescore looked like Clayton Kershaw‘s salary: 31,113,112.

It was a tough game for the Rainiers, who scored five runs in the top of the first inning and got wiped out from that point forward.

But it’s just one game in the standings. Tacoma has a 5.5-game lead with 12 to play.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Reno scored in every inning and hit two inside-the-park home runs to take the opening game of the five-game series, 13-7. Each team had 15 hits, but Reno hit five home runs.

Roster Moves: Today the Mariners called up Tacoma infielder Mike Freeman and optioned reliever Tony Zych to Tacoma.

‘Magic Number’: Seven. That’s the total number of Tacoma wins + Reno losses needed for the Rainiers to clinch the Pacific-North division title.

Today: Tacoma (75-56-1) at Reno (70-62), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks.

Season Series: Reno leads, 6-2.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Sam Gaviglio (3-1, 2.58) at RHP Shelby Miller (5-1, 3.52)

Hot Rainiers: Daniel Robertson is 13-for-30 over a seven-game hitting streak, and he is hitting .353 since the all-star break… Stefen Romero has hit safely in his last six PCL games, with two home runs…Dae-Ho Lee has at least one hit in all five games he has played in, and he has homered twice… Tyler Smith is batting .309 in August.

Look Out For: Kyle Jensen leads the PCL in home runs (29) and RBI (112), and he’s on an eight-game hitting streak right now…Socrates Brito also has an eight-game hitting streak… Diamondbacks star A.J. Pollock has been with the club on a rehabilitation assignment.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

  • If you really want to read about Reno kicking Tacoma’s behind, here is the Rainiers game story.
  • The Mariners were shut out by the Yankees, 5-0, and Seattle has scored just one run in the last two games.
  • John McGrath pinch-hit for Bob Dutton on the Mariners Notebook.

PCL Game Reports:

  • Fresno is not dead yet. Cesar Valdez pitched a gem and the Grizzlies beat Sacramento, 1-0. Fresno trails Tacoma by seven games.
  • El Paso won a crucial game in 12 innings at Albuquerque, 4-2. That gave the Chihuahuas a 5.5-game lead over the red-hot Isotopes. Good game story from the Albuquerque Journal.
  • Las Vegas teed off on Salt Lake, 9-2.
  • Oklahoma City’s march toward the American-North division title was put on hold for a day by the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.
  • Raul Alcantara and Nashville shut out Memphis, 3-0. Nashville can clinch the American-South today with a win and a New Orleans loss.
  • New Orleans rode a strong start from Dylan Axelrod to a 2-1 win over Round Rock.

Rainiers Pitch Shutout, Head To Reno

August 24, 2016

Tacoma pitched a shutout on ‘bullpen day’ Tuesday night, beating Las Vegas 4-0. The win gave Tacoma a split of the four-game series, and it gave Tacoma a 6.5-game lead over second place Reno in the Pacific-North standings.

Now Tacoma heads to Reno for a five-game series, starting tonight at 7:05.

The Aces have fallen back a bit lately. They just lost three straight games to Sacramento, and it’s easy to find the culprit: Sacramento scored 35 runs during the three games. Yikes!

Tacoma can clinch its first division title since 2010 on this road trip, but it would take an emphatic series win. The Rainiers have to win four of the games in order to clinch in Reno. Otherwise, it will happen at home if it happens.

Looking at it from the Reno perspective, they probably feel like they need to win four (or five) in the series to get back into the race. If Reno takes three of the five games, they would be 5.5 games back with eight games left and that’s not a good spot for them. If Reno wins four of the five games, they are 3.5 games back with eight left and have a chance.

If the Aces win all five games, we’re going to be biting our nails up until Labor Day.

At any rate, it should be a fun series. A Tacoma win tonight in the opener would be a huge step toward the division title.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Four Tacoma pitchers combined on a three-hit shutout as Tacoma beat Las Vegas, 4-0. Paul Fry, Emilio Pagan, Pat Venditte, and David Rollins turned ‘bullpen day’ into ‘library day’ for the Las Vegas hitters. Their bats were quiet. Get it? Stefen Romero and Dae-Ho Lee hit back-to-back homers for Tacoma in the fourth inning.

Roster Moves: An additional move was made prior to last night’s game, after I “published” the blog: the Mariners activated Tony Zych from the disabled list, and optioned Stefen Romero to Tacoma. Today Cody Martin reports to the Rainiers, and pitcher Marvin Gorgas is returning to Everett.

‘Magic Number’: Seven. That’s the total number of Tacoma wins + Reno losses needed for the Rainiers to clinch the Pacific-North division title.

Today: Tacoma (75-55-1) at Reno (69-62), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks.

Season Series: Reno leads, 5-2.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Zach Lee (0-6, 5.45) at RHP Matt Koch (2-2, 2.54)

Koch pronounces his name “Cook” and I find this problematic.

Hot Rainiers: Daniel Robertson is 11-for-25 over a six-game hitting streak, and he is hitting .351 since the all-star break… Stefen Romero has hit safely in his last five PCL games, with two home runs… Dae-Ho Lee has at least one hit in all four games he has played in, and he has homered twice.

Look Out For: Kyle Jensen has been one of the most productive hitters in the PCL this year, and he’s on a seven-game hitting streak right now… Socrates Brito also has a seven-game hitting streak, but he’s easy to pick off because he’s constantly philosophizing on the basepaths and not paying attention to the game… OK, that last part wasn’t true. He’s a good player, though… Diamondbacks star A.J. Pollock has been with the club on a rehabilitation assignment.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:


Ynoa Shuts Down Rainiers

August 23, 2016

Tacoma continued its year-long struggle against Las Vegas on Monday night, dropping a 5-2 decision. The Rainiers are just 5-10 against Las Vegas this year, going into the final meeting tonight.

Las Vegas scheduled starter Robert Gsellman was called up by the Mets, so it looked like it was going to be a ‘bullpen game’ for the 51s.

Instead, they started Gabriel Ynoa, who had just been sent down by the Mets. Ynoa has been a good starter for Las Vegas all year, but spent the last two weeks working as a reliever in the majors. Word was that Las Vegas manager Wally Backman was hoping for five innings from Ynoa.

Instead, Ynoa pitched eight shutout innings and gave up just three hits.

Tacoma’s first two batters in the first inning hit line drive singles. The next Tacoma hit came with one out in the eighth inning – Ynoa pitched 7.1 no-hit innings in between singles.

It was an impressive performance by Ynoa, and it came at the expense of the Rainiers.

We also had a potentially key injury last night. D.J. Peterson injured his left pinkie finger attempting to make a diving stop on a line drive at third base early in the game, and he is getting it checked out by doctors today.

The good news is that according to manager Pat Listach, players often recover quickly enough to be able to hit with this injury. For a right-handed batter, the left pinkie finger doesn’t really do anything. We’ll have to wait and see, but there is a chance Peterson will be able to serve as a DH still – if not immediately, perhaps in the post-season.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Las Vegas starter Gabriel Ynoa shut down Tacoma for eight scoreless innings, and the 51s beat the Rainiers, 5-2. As usual at home, the Rainiers rallied in the ninth: down 5-0, they scored two runs and brought the tying run to the plate before making the final out. However this season may end, I’ll remember this team as the Rainiers club that never gave up.

Roster Moves: There are going to be several today, most involving the big league club. One announced so far: the Mariners called up Taijuan Walker to start tonight, and optioned Cody Martin to Tacoma. In a minor league move, Tacoma will add veteran reliever Al Alburquerque, who was recently released by the Angels. He was 1-0, 3.80 with eight saves for Salt Lake in 24 games, and appeared in two big league games with the Angels.

‘Magic Number’: Nine. That’s the total number of Tacoma wins + Reno losses needed for the Rainiers to clinch the Pacific-North division title (without resorting to tiebreakers).

Today: Las Vegas (61-69) at Tacoma (74-55-1), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: New York Mets.

Season Series: Las Vegas leads, 10-5.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Darin Gorski (4-3, 6.93) at LHP Paul Fry (2-1, 3.40)

It’s a ‘bullpen day’ for the Rainiers, and pretty much everyone is going to get into this game.

Hot Rainiers: Daniel Robertson is 10-for-22 over his last five games, and he is hitting .351 since the all-star break… Tyler Smith has gone 8-for-17 during a four-game streak.

Look Out For: Michael Conforto has had multiple hits in ten of his last 11 games, going 26-for-48 during that stretch. Call this guy up already!… Brandon Nimmo is 20-for-46 over his last ten games… T.J. Rivera leads the PCL with a .347 batting average, and Nimmo is second at .346.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

  • Sacramento is really helping out the Rainiers. Our temporary friends the River Cats walloped Reno last night, 12-4, keeping the Aces 5.5 games behind Tacoma. Reno manager Phil Nevin got ejected in the second inning.
  • The Isotopes continue to win. Albuquerque starter Kyle Freeland pitched seven innings of one-hit ball, and Pat Valaika hit for the cycle in a 7-1 win over Fresno. Albuquerque has won 15 of the last 16 games.
  • El Paso’s lead in the Pac-South continues to dwindle. The Chihuahuas were muzzled by Salt Lake, 2-0. El Paso’s lead over Albuquerque is down to 5.5 games.
  • Round Rock flattened Colorado Springs, 14-0. Carlos Gomez went 3-for-5 with a triple and two RBI.
  • Nashville beat up Omaha, 12-3, and eliminated Omaha from playoff contention. Omaha has been a force in the American Conference in recent years.
  • Iowa beat Memphis, 7-2, but the real story was that Tommy La Stella showed up.
  • New Orleans finally lost – Oklahoma City got ’em, 7-0. Jose De Leon delivered seven scoreless innings and struck out ten for the Dodgers.

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