After a ten-day stretch in which 10+ runs were required to win a Tacoma Rainiers baseball game, we had a return to old school, pitching-and-defense baseball on Wednesday afternoon.
Tacoma topped Fresno, 2-1, as Justus Sheffield and Tayler Scott limited the Grizzlies to seven hits.
Sheffield was throwing strikes, which has been his key this year. He got ahead of the hitters consistently on Wednesday, walking only one over his seven frames. The lone walk came in the sixth inning, right after he allowed his only run on a solo homer to top prospect Carter Kieboom.
Other than the homer and the walk in the sixth inning, it was ground ball after ground ball. Sheffield kept his infielders busy, recording 14 of his 21 outs via the grounder (13 actual ground balls, one of which was turned into a double play). Even the six singles that he allowed were mostly ground balls that found holes in the infield.
Tayler Scott protected a one-run lead by pitching scoreless relief in the eighth and ninth to earn his first save. It did get a little scary in the ninth when he issued two walks, but he was able to escape with the help of catcher Austin Nola, who threw out a base stealer.
Scott’s brutal month of April is safely in the rear-view mirror now. In May he has pitched in seven games, working 12 innings and allowing just one run on three hits. He has walked five and struck out 19 this month, posting a 0.75 ERA.
Tonight is expected to be the final game of Kyle Seager‘s rehabilitation assignment. Latest word from Seattle is that they intend to activate him from the 60-day injured list on Saturday. That means he would play for Tacoma today, fly to Oakland to meet the M’s tomorrow, and be ready to go in their 1:05 game on Saturday.
Ichiro made his second coaching appearance at Cheney Stadium on Tuesday, helping the Rainiers outfielders, working in the cage in the afternoon, and pitching batting practice. There is no set schedule to when he appears in Tacoma – right now it seems to happen when he wants to do it, and so far the only clue he might arrive is if the big club is on the road.
It’s fun to have Ichiro just randomly show up, like Rickey Henderson used to in Sacramento back when they were an Oakland A’s affiliate. Rickey would drive out from the Bay Area, hold court in the dugout before the game, coach first base and try to get the River Cats stealing bases, etc. I’d be sitting there thinking “that’s the greatest leadoff hitter in baseball history right there.” Now we’ve got a similar thing going, except it’s the player with the most hits in the world throwing batting practice right over there.
YESTERDAY: Tacoma starter Justus Sheffield put together his best outing of the season, staying in control and getting ahead in the count for seven innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 win over Fresno. Sheffield walked just one while generating 13 ground balls in the game. Tayler Scott pitched the final two innings for the save, and Ryan Court hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth.
ROSTER MOVES: Yesterday the Mariners announced that relievers Nick Rumbelow and Mike Wright cleared waivers and were outrighted to Tacoma; they could arrive as early as today which will require some roster moves.
TODAY: Fresno (23-23) at Tacoma (23-24), 7:05.
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: Washington Nationals.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Randy Knorr.
SEASONS SERIES: Tacoma leads, 2-0.
PITCHERS: RHP Kevin McGowan (-) at RHP Tyler Cloyd (1-2, 4.37)
McGowan was just acquired from the independent Atlantic League and makes his Fresno debut today.
HOT HITTERS: Tim Lopes has hit safely in 14 of his last 16 games, collecting 26 hits during that time… Braden Bishop is 15-for-40 with three homers since returning from the big leagues… Ryan Court has gone 13-for-26 during an eight-game hitting streak, and he has 13 RBI during the streak… Jose Lobaton and Kristopher Negron have a six-game hitting streaks.
OPPONENT NEWS: Make sure to keep an eye on Fresno shortstop Carter Kieboom, who is considered one of the top prospects in all of minor league baseball. He’s hitting .352 with eight homers in 105 at-bats for Fresno – but he struggled in his first MLB call-up, going 5-for-39 for the Nationals in an 11-game stint… Jacob Wilson is off to the best start of his career, batting .329 with 14 homers. This is new territory for the former Memphis Redbirds infielder, who has never hit like this in Triple-A.
FAMILIAR FACES: Austin Voth is a graduate of Kentwood High School (Class of 2010) and pitched three years at the University of Washington… former Mariner Vidal Nuno pitched briefly for Tacoma in 2015.
BROADCAST: The pregame show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Talk 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.
- The Mariners lost the final game in Texas yesterday and got swept by the Rangers. They are off today and play in Oakland on Friday.
- Lookout Landing has a “State of the Farm” report.
In the PCL:
- Reno blasted five more homers in a 9-1 win at El Paso. Yasmany Tomas hit another one; he has six homers in his last three games.
- Salt Lake scored seven runs in the top of the second inning at Sacramento, but saw the River Cats tie it up before the Bees moved ahead in the late innings and won, 9-8. Justin Bour hit a grand slam for the Bees.
- Las Vegas closer Brian Schlitter nailed down his PCL-leading eighth save in a 7-5 win over visiting Albuquerque. The Aviators have been a good comeback team so far this season.
- Iowa swept a doubleheader on the road against Omaha. They won the first game 6-3 behind a 4-for-4, 5-RBI performance by Ian Happ. Jim Adduci‘s three-run homer was the key hit in a 5-3 victory in the nightcap.
- 24-year-old New Orleans starter Elieser Hernandez struck out 12 men over six innings of one-hit ball in a 9-1 win over Oklahoma City. He leads the league with a 1.07 ERA.
- Former Rainier Tyler O’Neill had three hits and a homer to help Memphis to a 10-0 win at Nashville. O’Neill is batting .316 with eight homers for the Redbirds, who visit Tacoma on the next homestand starting June 4.
- Cy Sneed tossed eight scoreless innings, and Yordan Alvarez belted his 19th home run as Round Rock took down San Antonio, 4-0.