Rainiers Hit Road For Final Stretch

August 30, 2015

The Rainiers split the final two games of the home portion of the schedule, winning the first game 6-5 before dropping the second to Nashville on Sunday evening, 8-4.

James Jones had a game-winning RBI single in the opener, and Jabari Blash hit two more homers in the nightcap.

The Rainiers finished the year with a 36-36 record in home games.

Kudos to you, the fans: Tacoma drew 352,521 fans this year – the second-highest total in franchise history, trailing only the 2011 season (which was the first in the new ballpark).

Now Tacoma plays the final eight games of the season, all on the road. It will be four games in Salt Lake City followed by four in Las Vegas to finish the year.

We’ll be watching to see who finishes the season strong, who gets called up when rosters expand, and possibly to see if the Rainiers can play spoiler in the Pacific-South division race.

It was a fun time at Cheney Stadium this year – I hope y’all enjoyed it.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers split a day/night doubleheader with Nashville, and now the team hits the road for the final eight-game road trip.

Blash-O-Meter: Jabari Blash has hit nine homers in his last 15 games, and 13 in his last 22 games. He is hitting .286-19-40 in 43 games since coming back from Double-A.

Today: Tacoma (65-71) at Salt Lake (54-82), 6:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim.

Season Series: Salt Lake leads, 8-4.

This has been arguably the most disappointing season series for Tacoma. Salt Lake has been vying for worst record in the PCL all year, yet somehow they have managed to win eight of 12 against Tacoma.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Mike Montgomery (4-3, 3.74) at LHP Nate Smith (1-3, 8.00)

Hot Rainiers: Patrick Kivlehan has an eleven-game hitting streak, going 20-for-45 with five homers and seven doubles during the streak… Sean O’Malley is 11-for-20 over a five-game streak… Tony Zilch Zych has pitched a scoreless outing in 21 of his last 22 relief appearances (including his brief stint at Double-A).

Look Out For: Rehabbers. Holy smokes, Salt Lake has a lot of them. Four, to be exact. Matt Joyce, Collin Cowgill, David Freese, and Taylor Featherston are all on rehabilitation assignments with the Bees right now. Presumably they will all be activated from the Angels disabled list when rosters expand on Tuesday.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:50 (Pacific) 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:

That’s it for today – travel day. Catch you on the other side in the SLC.


Double Dip Today

August 30, 2015

Last night’s game was postponed early due to the wild wind and rain we had yesterday, so we are playing two seven-inning games today.

The first will be at 1:35, and the second game starts at 5:35.

The team is forced to do split admissions because of the large advance ticket sale for the final two home games of the season, so here is a reminder:

  • Tickets for Sunday’s game are good for the 1:35 game.
  • Tickets for Saturday’s postponed game are good for the 5:35 game.

We know this is unusual and a tad bit confusing, but it’s the hand we were dealt.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Ohhhh, the wind and rain

Blash-O-Meter: Jabari Blash has hit seven homers in his last 13 games, and 11 in his last 21 games. He is hitting .270-17-36 in 41 games since coming back from Double-A.

Roster Move: The Mariners recalled Mayckol Guaipe for relief help, and optioned Mike Montgomery to Tacoma. That was announced moments before I started working on this post – with rosters expanding on Tuesday, I’m not sure yet if Montgomery is going to pitch for Tacoma, or not.

Today: Nashville (60-74) at Tacoma (64-70), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Oakland A’s.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 2-0.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Zach Neal (7-9, 3.94) at RHP Adrian Sampson (2-3, 6.91) in the first game, TBA vs. RHP Chien-Ming Wang (3-4, 5.50) in the second game.

Hot Rainiers: Patrick Kivlehan extended his hitting streak to nine games, going 17-for-38 with five homers and six doubles during the streak… Sean O’Malley has had three consecutive three-hit games… Tony Zilch Zych has pitched a scoreless outing in 21 of his last 22 relief appearances (including his brief stint at Double-A).

Look Out For: Jason Pridie has a nine-game hitting streak into tonight’s contest… Craig Gentry has hit safely in seven straight games.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 1:20 (Pacific) on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here. Bob Robertson joins me in the booth for the first game. We’ll take a break between games, and the second game’s broadcast will start at 5:30.

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

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story has details about today’s games.
  • My weekly minor league notebook for The News Tribune looks at rising relief prospects Tony Zych and Paul Fry. I also made my PCL MVP prediction (note: in recent years I’ve been bad at this).
  • Things got dicey, but the Mariners held on for a 7-6 win over the White Sox on Saturday.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook has all of the latest tidbits and details.
  • Larry Stone writes that the Mariners need to rebuild, and must at least consider the possibility of trading Felix Hernandez. Not sure I agree with him on this one (the second part, that is).
  • Baseball needs to add netting down the lines to protect the fans, Ryan Divish writes.
  • In the PCL, El Paso missed a chance to pick up a game on first place Las Vegas. Mike Bolsinger pitched Oklahoma City to a 4-1 win last night, and the Chihuahuas are still 2.5 games out of first. The game was delayed by a runaway wiener dog on the field – here’s the video.
  • Joey Gallo homered to support Chi Chi Gonzalez as Round Rock took down Las Vegas, 4-1.
  • Iowa swept a doubleheader from Sacramento, which included a walk-off in the 12th inning of game two.
  • Omaha used an “early onslaught” to beat down Fresno, 9-5. Big game for The Butler, Cheslor Cuthbert.
  • Albuquerque shortstop Trevor Story hit a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Isotopes a thrilling 6-5 win over Colorado Springs in front of a huge crowd. Albuquerque has only two players who have been on the roster all season long.
  • The New Orleans Zephyrs set a positive franchise record: most shutouts pitched in a season. They tossed their 15th of the year in a 4-0 win over Salt Lake.
  • Reno beat Memphis 8-2 and is making a push to reach the .500 mark.

The final home games of the are season today, but we roll on to Salt Lake City for four games starting Monday night.


Saturday’s Game Postponed

August 29, 2015

Tonight’s game has been postponed due to high winds, rain, and a dreary forecast for the remainder of the night.

We’re playing two seven-inning games on Sunday, with split admissions: the regularly scheduled game will go on as planned at 1:35, and then the make-up of Saturday’s game will start at 5:35.

These are the final two home games of the season and there has been a large advance ticket sale for both of them – which is why we can’t play a standard doubleheader. The combined tickets sold for Saturday & Sunday is far beyond Cheney Stadium’s capacity if the team played a single-gate doubleheader, so the club is forced to split it.

Sunday’s tickets are good for the 1:35 game, and Saturday’s tickets are good for the 5:35 game. For additional details, here is the team’s press release.

Let’s play two!


Offense And Bullpen In Peak Form

August 29, 2015

Tacoma won its third straight game on Friday night, beating Nashville 8-3.

The offense has been explosive during the three-game win streak. Tacoma has scored 33 runs, on 45 hits, and has hit nine home runs during the three games.

Twice in the past week the Rainiers have matched their season-high by hitting five homers in a game. Each of the last two games, the Rainiers have hit back-to-back home runs (Stefen Romero and Patrick Kivlehan on Thursday, and Jabari Blash and Kivlehan last night).

It’s not all homers, though: the Rainiers bullpen is on an impressive run.

Over the past five games, Tacoma’s bullpen has collectively pitched 24 innings and allowed just one run. That’s a 0.38 ERA.

Tacoma is 64-70. That’s six games under .500 with ten to play. They need to go 8-2 to get to .500 for the season. Very tough to do, indeed, but something to pull for down the stretch.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma continued its offensive surge, knocking 13 hits including two homers in an 8-3 win over Nashville on Friday night.

Crowd: Tacoma drew 7,355 last night and continues an excellent homestand at the gate. Really, the crowds have been fantastic all season – thanks for showing up!

Blash-O-Meter: Jabari Blash has hit seven homers in his last 13 games, and 11 in his last 21 games. He is hitting .270-17-36 in 41 games since coming back from Double-A.

Roster Move: I was surprised to walk into the locker room and see James Jones before the game yesterday – he was activated from the disabled list, and went 2-for-5 with two RBI in his first game since breaking a toe with a foul ball on July 10.

Today: Nashville (60-74) at Tacoma (64-70), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Oakland A’s.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 2-0.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Zach Neal (7-9, 3.94) at RHP Adrian Sampson (2-3, 6.91).

Hot Rainiers: Patrick Kivlehan extended his hitting streak to nine games, going 17-for-38 with five homers and six doubles during the streak… Sean O’Malley has had three consecutive three-hit games… Tony Zilch Zych has pitched a scoreless outing in 21 of his last 22 relief appearances (including his brief stint at Double-A).

Look Out For: Jason Pridie has a nine-game hitting streak into tonight’s contest… Craig Gentry has hit safely in seven straight games.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 (Pacific) 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:

Tonight is our final home night game of the season. Weather is a potential issue – just follow the Rainiers various social media accounts for the most current information.


Day Of Change

August 28, 2015

Today we woke up to the news that the Seattle Mariners have made a change at the top. General Manager Jack Zduriencik was “relieved of his duties,” with his assistant Jeff Kingston handling interim duties while they search for the next GM.

We’ll let the news gathering outlets cover this story in the links down below, but I want to touch on one aspect here.

Moves like this create a ripple effect throughout the organization. People we see often at Cheney Stadium were hired by Zduriencik, and now they have to wonder about their futures with the organization.

Baseball operations executives, player development personnel, scouts, and even minor league coaches are now wondering about their future as the entire organization is in a period of transition.

There are a lot of good people in the Mariners system, and hopefully everyone lands on their feet. For now, these people just wait and see who gets hired for the top spot, and go from there.

The Rainiers hit five home runs last night in a 12-5 win over Nashville.

Patrick Kivlehan and Shawn O’Malley each hit two home runs, and Stefen Romero connected on one.

For O’Malley, it was his first two-homer game since high school. He’s now hit five home runs this season, which is a new career high for him.

Starting pitcher Forrest Snow picked up his tenth win of the season. Snow is Tacoma’s first ten-game winner since the 2010 season, when two pitchers did it: Luke French won 11 games, and Chris Seddon won ten.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers hit five home runs and bludgeoned Nashville, 12-5. Tacoma has hit five homers in a game three times this season – and twice in the last week.

Roster Move: In Jack Z’s final roster move, catcher John Hicks was called up by Seattle, with Mike Zunino optioned to Tacoma. This is the first major league call-up for Hicks, who hit .245 with six homers for Tacoma while leading the PCL in caught stealing percentage (44%).

Today: Nashville (60-73) at Tacoma (63-70), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Oakland A’s.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 1-0.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Nathan Long (3-4, 5.17) at LHP James Paxton (0-1, 13.50).

Hot Rainiers: Ji-Man Choi is 12-for-19 over his last five games… Patrick Kivlehan extended his hitting streak to eight games, going 16-for-35 with four homers and six doubles during the streak… Sean O’Malley has had back-to-back three-hit games… Tony Zilch Zych has pitched a scoreless outing in 20 of his last 21 relief appearances (including his brief stint at Double-A).

Look Out For: Jason Pridie is working on an eight-game hitting streak into tonight’s contest…Rangel Ravelo hit his first Triple-A home run last night in a 3-for-3 game. He has a seven-game hitting streak.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 (Pacific) 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:

Tonight is the final Friday Night Fireworks game at Cheney Stadium this season. Come out if you can!


The Amazing Ji-Man Choi

August 27, 2015

The Rainiers mysterious Korean first baseman is up to something.

Barely seen the last two years due to suspension (last year) and a broken fibula (suffered the first game of spring training, this year), Ji-Man Choi has reappeared for the final two-and-a-half weeks of the PCL season, and he has immediately become The Most Interesting Man On The Field.

First of all, he started switch-hitting. Who the heck starts switch-hitting at age 24 in Triple-A?

So far, so good on that front: a natural lefty, he’s 4-for-7 as a right-handed batter in his first week of switch-hitting.

Then last night he had the Rainiers biggest individual RBI game of the season. Choi went 4-for-5 with seven runs batted in during the Rainiers strange 13-7 win over Memphis.

Choi hit a grand slam in the first inning (video in links down below), an RBI single in the second, a two-run single in the fourth, and a leadoff double in the sixth.

Choi doesn’t speak enough English to do a radio interview, but he told me that he’s always wanted to switch-hit and this spring the Mariners agreed to let him try. Choi did talk about last night’s game (through an interpreter) to MiLB.com in the first link down below.

He’ll be fun to watch over the final 12 games.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma blew a 7-0 lead when Memphis rallied to score seven runs in the top of the third inning – on just two hits. There were a week’s worth of errors and walks in the inning. Tacoma shook it off and scored six unanswered runs afterwards to take the game and earn a split of the series.

Today: Nashville (60-72) at Tacoma (62-70), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Oakland A’s.

Season Series: First meeting of the season.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Brad Mills (5-11, 4.32) at RHP Forrest Snow (9-8, 3.97).

Hot Rainiers: Ji-Man Choi is 9-for-15 over his last four games… Patrick Kivlehan extended his hitting streak to seven games, going 14-for-30 with two homers and six doubles during the streak… Tony Zilch Zych has pitched a scoreless outing in 20 of his last 21 relief appearances (including his brief stint at Double-A).

Look Out For: Nashville’s new ballpark is a pitcher’s park and the team doesn’t have very impressive hitting stats, but they just spent four days in Reno to get the bats warmed up. Jason Pridie was a PCL All-Star and he carries a seven-game hitting streak into tonight’s contest… Joey Wendle has a ten-game hitting streak, going 17-for-44 during it. His 37 doubles ranks second in the league… Nashville split the series in Reno, but has gone 5-2 over the last week.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 (Pacific) 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 from The News Tribune is just a blow-by-blow, but MiLB.com talked to Ji-Man Choi and has embedded video of his grand slam.
  • Tacoma’s Jabari Blash is getting some national attention from Fangraphs (warning: stats! math! pork chops!).
  • The superstars – and Ketel Martestepped up for the Mariners in an 8-2 win over Oakland yesterday.
  • Bob Dutton’s John McGrath’s Mariners Notebook looks at Nelson Cruz‘s MVP chances. He’s right, winning influences voters, whether we agree with it or not. That happens even in the PCL, too: since no individual stood out from the crowd this season, I voted for the best player who played a lot on the best team and Fresno’s Matt Duffy got my vote.
  • Larry Stone has a column on how the Mariners season went off-track.
  • In the PCL, Omaha’s Jose Martinez is honing in on the batting title. His average keeps going up – he’s now at .392. Omaha picked up a 5-1 win over Sacramento last night.
  • Las Vegas is heating up – or perhaps is simply playing games against New Orleans – at just the right time. The 51s beat New Orleans 10-6 last night and have won 5-of-6. New Olreans has lost… uhhh… opens up calculator… 17 of the last 18 games.
  • El Paso remained 2.5 games behind Las Vegas in the Pacific-South division race by edging Colorado Springs, 2-1, in a game with a dramatic finish.
  • Carlos Pimentel became the PCL’s first 12-game winner in Iowa’s 3-2 home win over Fresno.
  • Reno whacked Nashville last night, 11-5, as Peter O’Brien had a big game at the dish.
  • The Salt Lake Bees have rehabbing Collin Cowgill, Matt Joyce, and David Freese batting 2-3-4 in the lineup. They beat Round Rock in ten innings, 7-5.
  • The Dodgers returned to Albuquerque and some fans came out in Dodgers gear. The ‘Topes won the game, 11-6, and turned a triple play (with video).

It’s the final Thirsty Thursday of the year, you guys. Don’t cry in your beer.


Fresno Ends 16-Year Playoff Drought

August 26, 2015

The Rainiers division was settled last night.

We’d like to offer our congratulations to the Fresno Grizzlies, who clinched the Pacific-North title with last night’s win over the Iowa Cubs.

In their first year as a Houston Astros affiliate, Fresno has ended a 16-year playoff drought. The Grizzlies last reached the PCL playoffs in their first year in the league: 1998.

It will be interesting to see what happens to Fresno’s roster after the first of September, when the major league rosters expand. The Astros are trying to hang on to the AL West lead, and they’ll call up players who they think can help them do that.

But that’s a common story in the PCL playoffs. Call-ups effect all of the playoff teams.

Who said Gonzaga is strictly a basketball school?

We’ve got an all-Bulldogs pitching match-up tonight at Cheney Stadium, when two Gonzaga Baseball products square off head-to-head.

Tacoma’s Tyler Olson pitched four years for the Zags, before the Mariners drafted him in the seventh round of the 2013 draft.

Memphis starter Arturo Reyes started out at Columbia Basin College, but transferred to Gonzaga for his junior year – the 2013 season. Reyes was selected by the Cardinals in the 40th round of that draft.

The former teammates are both from Washington: Olson grew up in Spokane, and Reyes is from Warden.

Arturo is the younger brother of former El Paso and Tucson pitcher Jorge Reyes, who faced the Rainiers many times from 2012-2014. He’s in the Braves organization now.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Memphis first baseman Dan Johnson hit a two-run homer in the first inning, and a three-run homer in the second as the Redbirds cruised to an 8-2 win over the Rainiers on Tuesday night. Tacoma needs a win tonight to salvage a series split.

Injury Update: Jabari Blash left last night’s game after seeing one pitch – a foul ball he hit down the left field line. Turns out he had some severe cramping in his right calf, but it subsided later and he’s OK now. Manager Pat Listach said he’s going to try to give him a day off today, but we’ll see.

Roster Moves: Tacoma activated pitcher Sam Gaviglio from the disabled list and he pitched two nice scoreless inning in relief last night. Gaviglio had been out since July 5th with a sore elbow.

Today: Memphis (66-65) at Tacoma (61-70), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: St. Louis Cardinals.

Season Series: Memphis leads, 2-1.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Arturo Reyes (0-1, 7.71) at LHP Tyler Olson (2-4, 5.09).

It’s a Gonzaga Bulldogs showdown (more in the main body above).

Hot Rainiers: Patrick Kivlehan scored both Tacoma runs last night. He extended his hitting streak to six games, going 12-for-26 with two homers and five doubles during the streak… Tony Zilch Zych has pitched a scoreless outing in 20 of his last 21 relief appearances (including his brief stint at Double-A).

Look Out For: Dan Johnson has hit safely in eight straight games; after his two early home runs last night the Rainiers walked him twice… Xavier Scruggs is 12-for-34 with three homers in his last nine games.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 (Pacific) 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:


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