Home Trend Carrying Over From Last Year

April 29, 2017

The 2016 Pacific North Division champion Tacoma Rainiers had a tremendous ability to win home games.

Last year’s club went 46-26 at Cheney Stadium, a whopping 20 games over .500. The team played about even on the road (35-36), but the huge home field advantage gave the Rainiers a final record of 81-62 and its first division title since 2010.

It’s still early, but things seem to be trending the same way in 2017.

On Friday night the Rainiers won their seventh consecutive home game, a tight 2-1 victory over Sacramento. Tacoma is 8-1 this year at Cheney Stadium.

The road is a bit of a different story. Tacoma is 4-7 so far in away games. But if the team can hang around .500 on the road, and continue to clean up at Cheney like it did last year, it should contend for another division title.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Five Tacoma pitchers combined to limit Sacramento to six hits in a 2-1 Rainiers victory on Friday night. D.J. Peterson‘s two-out, two-run double in the third inning was all of the offense the team needed.

Roster Moves: Prior to yesterday’s game the Rainiers placed infielder Gordon Beckham on the 7-day disabled list with hamstring tightness, and catcher Steve Baron was activated from the DL. Today the Mariners called up outfielder Boog Powell and placed reliever Evan Scribner on the major league 10-day disabled list.

Today: Sacramento (7-14) at Tacoma (12-8), 5:05.

Opponent Affiliation: San Francisco Giants.

Season Series: Tied, 3-3.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Dan Slania (0-2, 7.36) at RHP Sam Gaviglio (0-3, 3.66).

Hot Rainiers: Tyler Smith has hit safely in ten of his last 12 games, batting .348 (15-for-43) during the stretch… Tuffy Gosewish has reached base in seven straight games.

Look Out For: Jae-Gyun Hwang has hit safely in five of his last six games, going 9-for-23 with seven RBI during that span.

Ex-Rainiers: Sacramento has former Tacoma reliever Kraig Sitton. The River Cats are managed by Dave Brundage, who was the Rainiers manager in 2006. Sacramento pitching coach Dwight Bernard had the same role for Tacoma for seven years.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 4:50 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 Reports:

  • Albuquerque’s Jeff Hoffman finally put it all together and shut out Las Vegas on one hit for seven innings in an 8-4 win at Cashman Field.
  • Pat Listach likes to say that PCL stands for “Potential Comeback League.” Reno took an 8-1 lead over Fresno into the eighth inning and barely held on for an 8-7 win.
  • El Paso at Salt Lake got rained out.
  • Oklahoma City shortstop Charlie Culberson is on a two-day tear at the plate, and he was at it again in a 6-1 road win over Omaha.
  • Luke Voit homered twice, and Daniel Poncedeleon pitched well for Memphis in a 9-1 win over Round Rock.
  • Nashville received a strong start from Paul Blackburn in a 4-1 win over New Orleans. Blackburn – the pitcher the M’s traded to the A’s for Danny Valencia – has a 1.64 ERA after four starts.
  • Hiram Burgos and three Colorado Springs relievers combined to shut out the Iowa Cubs, 7-0. The paper has a story on Iowa’s Chesny Young (I prefer ‘Young Chesny’).

Rain Helps Rainiers Win

April 28, 2017

The local squad mudded out a win last night, beating Sacramento in a rain-shortened game, 4-0.

After a relatively rain-free afternoon, a light rain started as the National Anthem was being sung on Thursday night. The game got started, and the rain never stopped.

Tacoma’s grounds crew did a terrific job of keeping the infield playable for five innings, but eventually the field took too much water and the umpires called for the tarp.

Because five full innings were completed and a team was leading, it was an official game. Tacoma claimed the victory, 4-0.

Christian Bergman tossed five scoreless innings and earned the win, improving his record to 4-0 with a 1.96 ERA.

The Rainiers scored all four runs in the second inning against wild Sacramento starter Ricky Romero. The former Toronto Blue Jays star issued five walks in the inning, two coming with the bases loaded.

Tacoma won the game with just two hits – both singles by Mike Freeman.

Hopefully we’ll have rain-free baseball tonight.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers got a rain-assisted win, beating Sacramento 4-0 in a game that was called after five innings due to incessant rain which created muddy field conditions. Christian Bergman pitched five innings for the win.

Today: Sacramento (7-13) at Tacoma (11-8), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: San Francisco Giants.

Season Series: Sacramento leads, 3-2.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Michael Roth (2-1, 4.26) at RHP Ryan Weber (0-0, 0.00).

Hot Rainiers: Tyler Smith saw his seven-game hitting streak end last night… Boog Powell has been on base 15 times over the last six games.

Look Out For: Ryder Jones has hit safely in nine of ten games since coming off the disabled list… rehabilitating Mac Williamson went 3-for-4 with a homer and five RBI on Tuesday against Vegas.

Ex-Rainiers: Sacramento has former Tacoma reliever Kraig Sitton. The River Cats are managed by Dave Brundage, who was the Rainiers manager in 2006. Sacramento pitching coach Dwight Bernard had the same role for Tacoma for seven years.

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 News Tribune has a Rainiers game story, and another article which checks in on Leonys Martin.
  • The Mariners eeked out a 2-1 win at Detroit yesterday, and won their first road series of the year. Just-called-up Ben Gamel had the game-winning hit in the ninth inning. Three takeaways from the game.
  • Guillermo Heredia is making the most of his opportunity with the Mariners. That and more in the Mariners Notebook.
  • Several PCL players and two lower-level Mariners are featured in this week’s edition of the Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet.

PCL Reports:


New-Look Rainiers Return To Improved Cheney Tonight

April 27, 2017

The Rainiers are back in town tonight, opening a five-game homestand against the Sacramento River Cats at 7:05.

A lot has happened since the team last took the field on Monday night in Albuquerque.

Tuesday’s game was rained out, and Wednesday was a scheduled off day, so the team hasn’t actually played baseball in a couple of days.

Meanwhile, all heck broke loose with the Mariners.

Both Felix Hernandez (shoulder stiffness) and Mitch Haniger (oblique strain) landed on the disabled list after a 19-9 loss on Tuesday. There was some further shuffling of the pitching staff after that game, as you might expect.

Pitchers Chris Heston and Evan Marshall were optioned to Tacoma.

Seattle called up pitchers Chase De Jong, Dillon Overton, and Casey Fien. They also called up outfielder Ben Gamel, to replace Haniger.

We’ve had some further shuffling in Triple-A. Catcher Ryan Scott was shifted to Low-A Clinton, and pitcher Rafael Pineda was sent to extended spring training. Bullpen catcher Alexander Capriata is currently on the active roster.

Pitcher Rob Whalen was activated from the Mariners disabled list and optioned to Tacoma today; he had shoulder inflammation during spring training. We expected him to be in the Rainiers starting rotation entering spring, but they may have changed – I’ll check with pitching coach Lance Painter when I get to the park later today.

Today the team is adding 20-year-old infielder Joseph Rosa from extended spring training. Rosa went to Double-A Arkansas for a few days two weeks ago, getting into two games and going 2-for-7.

Finally, it was just announced that outfielder Leonys Martin has cleared waivers and is outrighted to Tacoma. At “publish” time I’m not yet sure if he’ll be here for today’s game.

If you’re coming to the game tonight, make sure to visit the new beer garden on the top deck down the left field line. It’s been massively improved, and it’s open for the first time tonight.

There is now a fire pit, a full-service bar, a BBQ stand, an outlet from the Tacoma restaurant It’s Greek To Me, and a place that sells massive cookies. I heard something about bocce ball, too?

In the big picture, I’m happy that small improvements continue to be made at Cheney Stadium. As I travel around the league, it’s the ballparks that make improvements every year or two that remain fresh. The Iowa Cubs are experts at this: we go there every other year, and it seems that every trip there is some small improvement at Principal Park. Not big money construction; just smaller projects that make the experience better.

We’ve seen that at Cheney since the 2011 renovation. The R Yard was built in left field, enclosing the park and adding some cool seats. The kid’s playground and whiffle ball field opened. Now a plain concrete deck has morphed into a nice beer garden.

Let us know what you think of the new deck!

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma got rained out on Tuesday and had an off day on Wednesday.

Roster Moves: See above.

Today: Sacramento (7-12) at Tacoma (10-8), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: San Francisco Giants.

Season Series: Sacramento leads, 3-1.

After opening the season going 3-1 against Tacoma, the River Cats lost ten of their next 11 games. They seem to have pulled out of it, winning two of their last three against Las Vegas.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Ricky Romero (0-1, 4.85) at RHP Christian Bergman (3-0, 2.50).

Yes, that is the former Toronto Blue Jays star. In baseball, left-handers have nine lives.

Hot Rainiers: Tyler Smith has a seven-game hitting streak, and he’s 14-for-38 over his last ten games… Boog Powell has been on base 14 times over the last five games.

Look Out For: Jae-Gyun Hwang was a star in the Korean League who took a gamble and is trying to make it in the USA. This is his first season, and he’s hitting .300 with 12 RBI in 17 games. He carries a four-game hitting streak into tonight’s game… Ryder Jones has hit safely in eight of nine games since coming off the disabled list… rehabilitating Mac Williamson went 3-for-4 with a homer and five RBI on Tuesday against Vegas.

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 whole PCL was off yesterday, but there are some good stories:


Rained Out In Albuquerque

April 25, 2017

Tuesday’s morning game in Albuquerque has been rained out. It was the final game of the series, so it will be made up when the Rainiers return to Albuquerque in July.

The make-up will be a doubleheader on Tuesday, July 18, with the first game starting at 3:35 (Pacific).

Both the Rainiers and this blog are taking Wednesday off. Tacoma will be home on Thursday to host Sacramento in a five-game series, and we’ll have a game preview post going up early that afternoon.


Rainiers Up Early Today

April 25, 2017

No time, super early game today, let’s get to it. Rainiers need a win today to finish with a 4-4 record on this road trip. It’s cloudy here and rain is in the forecast throughout the day.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: We got our high-scoring game, and it wasn’t a lot of fun. Albuquerque scored five runs in the first inning, went ahead 8-1 in the third, and won the game 12-8. The teams combined for 33 hits. Boog Powell went 4-for-5, and Tyler O’Neill hit two doubles and a homer.

Roster Moves: Before yesterday’s game infielder Mike Freeman was optioned to Tacoma, pitcher Chase De Jong reported, and pitcher Brett Ash was transferred to Double-A Arkansas. And we solved the mystery of the missing reliever Jonathan Aro: he has been suspended 50 games by the Commissioner’s Office for an unspecified violation of the Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. I’m not sure if it’s retroactive to opening day.

Today: Tacoma (10-8) at Albuquerque (9-10), 10:05 AM (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Colorado Rockies.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 4-2.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Dillon Overton (1-0, 8.44) at LHP Ryan Carpenter (1-1, 3.18).

Tacoma is using Ryan Weber to follow Overton, who is cleared for roughly 70-75 pitches. Carpenter is filling in for top prospect German Marquez, who got called up by the Rockies.

Hot Rainiers: Ben Gamel has a six-game hitting streak, and he has reached base in 16 straight games… Tyler Smith has a seven-game hitting streak, and he’s 14-for-38 over his last ten games… Boog Powell has been on base 14 times over the last five games.

Look Out For: Noel Cuevas has a ten-game hitting streak, and he’s 11-for-19 against left-handed pitchers… Raimel Tapia is 6-for-15 in this series, and Daniel Castro is 6-for-11 in the series.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 9:50 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:

  • It’s bad when the headline to the Rainiers game story in the local paper is “Isotopes Score Early, Often.”
  • The Mariners were off yesterday, but Bob Dutton has his notebook with several interesting items.

PCL Recaps:


Runs Scarce In Albuquerque?

April 24, 2017

The first two games of Tacoma’s series at mile-high Isotopes Park have been surprisingly low scoring, and the trend may continue tonight.

On Saturday there were extreme winds blowing in from right field, making hitting difficult. Tacoma won that game, 5-3, on a four-run rally which was spurred by walks.

Yesterday was a calm day, and there were even some breezes blowing out to left field. But strong pitching by Sam Gaviglio and Albuquerque’s Zach Jemiola kept the runs at bay, and the Isotopes won 3-2.

Tonight the weather report calls for more strong winds. If the wind is coming in from right field again, we could have another low scoring game.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma’s three-game win streak came to a halt with a 3-2 loss in Albuquerque on Sunday afternoon. Anthony Bemboom tripled and scored the go-ahead run in the seventh on Raimel Tapia‘s infield dribbler. Sam Gaviglio had another hard-luck loss, pitching well into the seventh inning.

Roster Moves: Yesterday the Mariners called up Dan Vogelbach and Chris Heston, optioned Chase De Jong to Tacoma, and designated Leonys Martin for assignment. If Martin clears waivers – a dubious proposition – he’ll be outrighted to Tacoma.

Today: Tacoma (10-7) at Albuquerque (8-10), 5:35 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Colorado Rockies.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 4-1.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Rafael Pineda (-) at LHP Harrison Musgrave (0-1, 5.40).

This was supposed to be Chris Heston’s start, but since he was called up it’s now a bullpen day. Pineda will be making the fourth start of his career and first above the Class-A level. He has not pitched in a game in 2017.

Hot Rainiers: Ben Gamel has a five-game hitting streak, and he has reached base in 15 straight games… Tyler Smith has a six-game hitting streak, and he’s 12-for-32 (.375) over his last nine games… Boog Powell has been on base ten times over the last four games.

Look Out For: Noel Cuevas has an nine-game hitting streak, and he’s 10-for-18 against left-handed pitchers.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:20 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:

  • We’ll start with a recap of yesterday’s Rainiers game.
  • The Mariners whacked the A’s on Sunday, 11-1, as Taylor Motter hit a grand slam. Three takeaways from the game.
  • The surprising roster moves are the subject of the Mariners Notebook.
  • John McGrath has a column on the Leonys Martin era.

PCL Reports:

  • A three-run homer by Fresno’s Colin Moran helped end Salt Lake’s eight-game winning streak. Fresno won the game, 5-2.
  • Sacramento ended it’s eight-game losing streak with a 7-6 win over Las Vegas, as Christian Arroyo‘s fourth hit of the game was the winner. The paper has an article on ex-Rainier Michael Morse, who is currently with Sacramento.
  • Reno’s Anthony Banda struck out eleven Chihuahuas in a 4-3 win at El Paso.
  • Colorado Springs staved off a ferocious Nashville rally and won 6-5 on Sunday. The Sky Sox took a 6-0 lead into the ninth. Sonny Gray is rehabbing for Nashville later this week.
  • Oklahoma City lost another close game at home, this one a 4-3 decision against Memphis. The paper has an article on Justin Masterson‘s comeback bid.
  • Omaha starter Josh Staumont says a strong wind in New Orleans helped him toss five innings of one-hit ball in a 4-2 victory.
  • In the game of the day, Round Rock blew a 5-0 lead in the ninth to visiting Iowa and went to extra innings. Each team scored two runs in the tenth, with the Express getting a pinch-hit two-run homer from Jared Hoying. Travis Snider‘s RBI double gave Round Rock an 8-7 win in the 13th inning.

The road trip will end with an early game on Tuesday – 10:05 AM first pitch!


Rainiers Blow Into Albuquerque, Get Win

April 23, 2017

An extreme change in weather made a big impact on the Rainiers series-opener at Albuquerque on Saturday night.

When the Rainiers took batting practice at 5:15, it was sunny, 75 degrees, and calm. Not a cloud in the sky. Perfect weather, really.

By 7:15 there was a strong wind blowing in from right field.

An hour later – around the third inning – it was very cold, and the wind was getting stronger by the minute.

Gusting winds made hitting a chore. Routine fly balls became adventures with surprise endings. And it was absolutely frigid.

Even the pitches were moved by the wind, which continued to strengthen as the night went on. Reliever Casey Fien – who got a five-out save – told me his fastball was moved laterally by the wind.

Tacoma scored four runs in the top of the first inning, before the wind became a huge factor. Then the wind came, and the pitchers had a big advantage – as long as most of the fly balls were caught.

The Rainiers won it, 5-3. Tacoma has won three straight games, and eight of the last ten, moving four games over .500 for the first time this season.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma scored four runs in the first innings on the way to a 5-3 victory at Albuquerque. Extreme winds blowing in from right field made both hitting and fly ball catching a challenge. Christian Bergman pitched into the seventh inning, allowing two runs, to get the win.

Roster Moves: Tacoma will be playing short-handed today as the Mariners are making moves. Gotta wait for them to announce it, but a look at last night’s box score should reveal one move.

Today: Tacoma (10-6) at Albuquerque (7-10), 12:35 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Colorado Rockies.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 4-0.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Sam Gaviglio (0-2, 3.38) at RHP Zach Jemiola (1-1, 9.53).

Hot Rainiers: Dan Vogelbach has hit safely in eight straight games, he has nine RBI over the last four games, and he has reached base via hit or walk in 15 straight games… Ben Gamel has reached in 14 straight games… Tyler Smith has a five-game hitting streak, and he’s 10-for-28 over his last eight games… D.J. Peterson has homered three times during a six-game hitting streak.

Look Out For: Noel Cuevas has an eight-game hitting streak, and he’s 10-for-18 against left-handed pitchers… after a slow start Jordan Patterson appears to be heating up. He has a four-game hitting streak.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 12:20 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 Reports: