Rainiers Snare Win Before Home Opener

April 17, 2015

Facing the prospect of being swept in a four-game series right before the home opener, the Tacoma Rainiers responded with their best-pitched game of the season in an 11-inning, 3-1 victory over Albuquerque on Thursday afternoon.

Sam Gaviglio, Logan Bawcom, Mark Lowe, and Justin Germano combined to limit the Isotopes to five hits over 11 innings.

The stellar joint effort by the four pitchers enabled the Rainiers to get a win by taking advantage of two Albuquerque fielding mistakes in the top of the 11th.

This team needed the win.

Tacoma had lost four straight games, and amazingly all four of them were one-run defeats. In each game, the Rainiers opponent won in its final at-bat – and two of them came on walk-off homers.

Thursday’s game was the first close win the Rainiers have secured this season. The other two victories came by scores of 10-2 and 17-5.

So now it’s time for the home opener, tonight. Listed start time is 7:05, but that’s when the opening ceremonies will begin. I’ve been told that we should expect a good show before the game even starts – so make sure you’re in your seats at the top of the hour.

For radio and webstream listeners/viewers, we’ll be starting the Rainiers pregame show at 7:15.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers snapped a four-game losing streak by beating Albuquerque in the 11th inning, 3-1. Sam Gaviglio carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and left at the end of the frame with the score tied, 1-1. Leury Bonilla doubled to open the 11th and scored when Albuquerque pitcher Simon Castro threw the ball away after fielding a James Jones bunt.

Today: El Paso (4-4) at Tacoma (3-5) 7:30 PM (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: El Paso is the San Diego Padres farm club.

Season Series: 2-2. The two teams split a four-gamer in El Paso to open the season.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Mike Kickham (0-0, 10.38) vs. RHP James Needy (0-0, 12.27)

This is a rematch of Sunday’s game, which was the final game of the season-opening four-game series in El Paso. The Chihuahuas won, 7-6, but neither starting pitcher was around when El Paso scored the winning run in the eighth. Kickham had trouble with walks, while the Rainiers were able to hit Needy around a bit.

Rehabber: Chris Taylor played the entire game at shortstop on Wednesday, and then took Thursday off (it was the first off-day of his rehabilitation assignment). He’s supposed to play today.

Injury Update: Stefen Romero missed his third straight game with back tightness.

Hot Rainiers: Jesus Montero hit safely in all eight games on the road trip, including a 3-for-5 performance yesterday. Shawn O’Malley and James Jones carry five-game streaks into tonight’s home opener.

Look Out For: Veteran corner infielder Brett Wallace has a seven-game hitting streak and is batting .500 (12-for-24) on the season. Catcher Austin Hedges is also on a roll, going 8-for-15 with 8 RBI in his last four games.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 7:15 (Pacific) on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here. Pacific Northwest sportscasting legend Bob Robertson will join me on the air tonight, and for all Sunday home games this season.

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

Links:

The weather is perfect today for a Home Opener. Let’s all have a great time at the park tonight!


Gutierrez Thriving

April 15, 2015

The Rainiers dropped their fourth straight one-run game on Wednesday night – and this one was unlucky; check the game story down below – but they do have some positives right now.

One of the positive notes is the play of outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who has looked really solid at the plate despite taking the entire 2014 season off.

Gutierrez had two more hits last night. The second one was an opposite-field line drive double over the right fielder’s head which hit the base of the wall on the fly. This two-run double tied the game in the eighth inning.

He’s started six of the seven games so far and is batting .409, with nine hits in 22 at-bats. Five of his nine hits have gone for extra bases (four doubles, one homer). He’s driving the ball to all fields – he also hit a very long double to right in El Paso earlier on the trip.

Mariners fans know Gutierrez as a center fielder, but he has played left field in five of the six games. He has one game in center, but James Jones has seen the majority of the starts there.

It’s good to have a healthy Gutierrez in the lineup and producing. Maybe the SABR Biography* on his major league career can’t be written just yet.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Albuquerque beat the Rainiers for the third straight day, 7-6. All three wins have been by one run.

Rehabber: Chris Taylor went 1-for-3 with a walk and scored a run. He played the entire game at shortstop for the first time on his rehabilitation assignment.

Injury Update: James Jones returned to the lineup last night, but Stefen Romero missed his second straight game with back tightness.

Today: Tacoma (2-5) at Albuquerque (5-2), 11:05 AM (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Albuquerque is now the Colorado Rockies farm club.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Sam Gaviglio (1-0, 0.00) vs. LHP John Lannan (0-0, 0.00)

This is an interesting match-up as each pitcher tossed shutout ball in his season debut. Gaviglio went five scoreless at El Paso and Lannan delivered six shutout against Reno. Gaviglio is a Triple-A rookie and Lannan has lots of Major League experience.

Hot Rainiers: Jesus Montero is the last man standing in the “get a hit in every game” club. He went 1-for-4 with 2 RBI yesterday and has hit safely in all seven games.

Look Out For: A sweep. Yuck. The Rainiers made it through the entire 2014 season without being swept. The last time they were swept was July 30 to August 2 of 2013, when Omaha wiped ’em out in a four-gamer at Cheney Stadium.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 10:50 AM (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 explains how the team got unlucky on Wednesday.
  • Tacoma catcher John Baker told the Albuquerque Journal about how Mixed Martial Arts training helps him with the mental aspects of baseball.
  • The Mariners were swept by the Dodgers and get a needed off-day to regroup today. They start a nine-game homestand on Friday.
  • Lloyd McClendon is committed to Fernando Rodney as his closer, Bob Dutton writes in his Mariners Notebook.
  • Just nine games into the season, this ESPN writer says all of the Mariners biggest preseason concerns have been the team’s biggest problems so far.
  • In the PCL, Fresno scored seven runs in the first inning didn’t actually beat Salt Lake until the 11th inning, 9-8. Matt Duffy went 5-for-6 and started the winning rally. Salt Lake starter Andrew Heaney – a highly regarded prospect – didn’t make it out of the first inning.
  • El Paso’s bullpen stepped up in a 4-2 win over Reno.
  • Sacramento topped Las Vegas, 4-3. The River Cats have the best record in the Pac-North at 5-2.
  • Memphis first baseman Xavier Scruggs homered twice in a 4-2 win over Omaha.
  • Round Rock infielders Ed Lucas and Tommy Field had big games to help the Express win at Colorado Springs, 9-4. The story focuses on Sky Sox closer David Goforth.
  • It was 2001 all over again in Oklahoma City, when Barry Zito and Freddy Garcia squared off last night. Both pitchers were long gone when the Dodgers Kike’ Hernandez won it with an RBI single in the 10th.
  • Vinny Rottino had the game-winning hit in a 3-2 New Orleans victory over Iowa.

The team flies home after this day game, and we’ll be all set for the home opener at Cheney Stadium on Friday night. It’s going to be a great one!

* none of the Rainiers coaches have SABR Biographies yet, but Jaime Navarro‘s father (and former Tacoma Giants pitcher) Julio Navarro does.


Rainiers & Mariners On Same Path

April 15, 2015

Both the Rainiers and the Mariners have lost back-to-back games on walk-off hits.

The Mariners have lost on game-winning singles by the Dodgers two straight days. The Rainiers have lost on walk-off homers by Albuquerque Isotopes two days in a row.

Both Isotopes heroes won it with their second homer of the game: Dustin Garneau leading off the bottom of the tenth inning on Monday, and Tim Wheeler leading off the bottom of the ninth yesterday.

Both losses were tough ones for the Rainiers: on Monday Tacoma gave up a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning, and on Tuesday the Rainiers had missed opportunity to break the game open in the seventh inning.

The good news for both the Mariners and the Rainiers is that it is still very early. The M’s are 3-5 and the R’s are 2-4 – hardly alarming at this point.

The Tacoma Rainiers made a big announcement regarding Friday’s home opener: none other than Mariners legend Edgar Martinez will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Albuquerque walked off the Rainiers for the second day in a row – this time with a Tim Wheeler homer to lead off the bottom of the ninth and win it, 6-5. Jabari Blash had a nice game for the Rainiers, launching a two-run homer and hitting a key double in the ninth.

Rehabber: Chris Taylor went 1-for-5 as the DH.

Injury Update: James Jones (sore shoulder) pinch-ran in the ninth and could be cleared to start today. Stefen Romero was a late scratch from the starting lineup with back tightness.

Today: Tacoma (2-4) at Albuquerque (4-2), 5:35 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Albuquerque is now the Colorado Rockies farm club.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Roenis Elias (1-0, 7.20) vs. RHP Jon Gray (0-1, 11.25)

Elias earned the win in his 2015 debut on Friday, starting the game Tacoma won at El Paso, 17-5. He allowed a three-run homer three batters into the first inning, then settled down and got through five.

Gray is considered the Colorado Rockies top pitching prospect. He was the third player chosen in the 2013 draft and today will be his first Triple-A start (he pitched in relief following rehabbing Jorge De La Rosa last week).

Hot Rainiers: Jesus Montero is the last man standing in the “get a hit in every game” club. He went 1-for-4 yesterday and has hit safely in all six games.

Look Out For: Walk-offs. Three of Albuquerque’s four wins have come on walk-off hits, including the first two games of this series.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:20 PM (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:


Montgomery Deals In Tacoma Debut

April 14, 2015

Tacoma suffered a tough 4-3 loss to Albuquerque last night, wasting a high-quality Tacoma debut by left-hander Mike Montgomery.

Acquired at the end of spring training from Tampa (traded for Erasmo Ramirez), Montgomery’s Mariners organization debut couldn’t have gone much better.

Montgomery allowed five hits and one run over six innings, walking one and striking out three. He had only 51 pitches through five innings and finished with 71 (44 strikes).

Coming right after hitters, Montgomery kept his fastball down and got a lot of ground balls – including two double plays.

He has a history of issuing more walks than you would like to see, but that certainly wasn’t a problem on Monday night.

Montgomery left the game with a 2-1 lead, and it grew to 3-1 before Tacoma gave it up in the late innings and eventually lost in the tenth. The grisly details are in the first link down below.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers could not hold a late 3-1 lead and lost in the tenth inning at Albuquerque, 4-3. Isotopes backup catcher Dustin Garneau hit two homers and threw out three attempted basestealers.

Rehabber: Chris Taylor went 2-for-3 with a walk but was caught stealing twice. He played shortstop for seven innings yesterday; today he is scheduled to DH.

Roster Move: Prior to yesterday’s game, reliever Dominic Leone was recalled by Seattle to replace Tom Wilhelmsen, who was placed on the disabled list. There has not yet been a replacement for Leone on the Tacoma roster – just a guess here, but if Joe Beimel is throwing well in extended spring he would be the logical replacement candidate.

Today: Tacoma (2-3) at Albuquerque (3-2), 5:35 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Albuquerque is now the Colorado Rockies farm club.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Jordan Pries (0-1, 13.50) vs. LHP Jorge De La Rosa (0-0, 2.25)

Pries has a successful 2014 with the Rainiers, and an outstanding Cactus League, but he struggled in his opening day start for Tacoma on Thursday. The problem: he had trouble keeping the ball down in the strike zone. He’ll try to fix that tonight.

De La Rosa is a veteran member of the Colorado Rockies starting rotation who is rehabilitating a strained groin with the Isotopes. This is his second rehab start – he went four innings in his first, giving up one run to Reno on opening night. He went 14-11, 4.10 for the Rockies last year; in 2013 he was 16-6, 3.49.

Hot Rainiers: The bats slowed down last night in the 4-3 loss. Ketel Marte and Jesus Montero are now the only Rainiers to hit safely in all five games, although Franklin Gutierrez has a four-game hitting streak.

Look Out For: Garneau, apparently. Let’s see if the Rainiers can contain him the next three games.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:20 PM (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 – let’s see if the Rainiers can even up the series.


On To Albuquerque

April 13, 2015

Tacoma wrapped up the series in El Paso with a 7-6 loss on Sunday, settling for a split of the four-gamer. Details can be found in the game story from The News Tribune (always the first link down below).

It looks like outfielder James Jones is OK. He injured his right shoulder crashing into the center field fence yesterday. Manager Pat Listach described it as a “stinger” and suggested that it is a very minor thing, although Jones will get checked out today.

After the game yesterday we had a rare event in the PCL: a bus trip. El Paso and Albuquerque are about a four-hour drive from one another, so we loaded up on two busses and hit the road.

The team left about two hours after the game. The delay is involved in the packing: all of the team’s uniforms and equipment gets packed up and loaded into the cargo compartment of the busses, along with everybody’s personal baggage. This takes a long time.

Then we had the drive. Lots of movie watching, card playing, and music listening occurs on these trips. The guys generally enjoy themselves – the bus trips are a nice diversion from all of the commercial airline travel that occurs in the PCL.

It will be a four game series here in Albuquerque before we fly home to Tacoma for the home opener on Friday night.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers played their first close game of the season, dropping a 7-6 decision to the Chihuahuas. Brett Wallace singled in the winning run in the bottom of the eighth.

Rehabber: Chris Taylor went 0-for-5 as the DH yesterday. He should play some shortstop today.

Roster Move: I’m hearing rumblings that we’ll have our first roster move of the season today. Stay tuned.

Today: Tacoma (2-2) at Albuquerque (2-2), 5:35 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Albuquerque is now the Colorado Rockies farm club.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Mike Montgomery vs. RHP Jair Jurrjens

We’ll see another Mariners organization debut when Montgomery takes the mound tonight. A one-time Kansas City Royals top prospect, Montgomery was traded to Tampa in the big James Shields/Wil Myers deal. The Mariners acquired him at the end of spring training for Erasmo Ramirez. Montgomery had a terrific first half for Triple-A Durham last year, then struggled after the break.

Jurrjens is a former all-star starter for the Atlanta Braves who is trying to recapture the success he had from 2008 to 2011. The Curacao native is only 29 years old and has appeared in the major leagues for all or part of the last eight years.

Hot Rainiers: Carlos Rivero is hitting .600, for crying out loud. He went 1-for-2 with a double yesterday, and is 9-for-15 on the season. Rivero, Ketel Marte, Jesus Montero, and Stefen Romero have each hit safely in all four games.

Look Out For: Pinch hitters. Albuquerque hit two pinch-hit home runs in yesterday’s 16-10 win over Reno. The ‘Topes scored a total of just seven runs over the first three games before breaking out on Sunday.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:20 PM (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:


Taylor Looks Sharp And So Do His Teammates

April 12, 2015

Chris Taylor started his rehabilitation assignment with the Rainiers on Saturday night, playing the first five innings of the game at shortstop. Everything went well.

Taylor was 1-for-3 at the plate, lining a double to the left field corner in his third at-bat.

Defensively, Taylor was involved in a lot of action at shortstop. With groundballer Sam Gaviglio on the hill, Taylor saw a lot of action and even turned two double plays (one in which he was the pivot).

Taylor will DH today and get some more at-bats.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Sam Gaviglio delivered five scoreless innings and earned the win in his Triple-A debut as Tacoma beat El Paso, 10-2.

That Happened: Puyallup High School product Adam Cimber came in to pitch the ninth inning in his Triple-A debut for El Paso, and Tacoma’s Franklin Gutierrez greeted him with a homer to right-center.

Today: Tacoma (2-1) at El Paso (1-2), 12:05 (Pacific).

Affiliations: Tacoma is the Mariners affiliate; El Paso is the San Diego Padres farm club.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Mike Kickham vs. RHP James Needy

Kickham was a Mariners winter waiver claim, and the Rainiers know a lot about him having faced him with Fresno six times in the past two seasons (he went 0-2, 7.67 vs Tacoma in those six starts – he had two really good ones, and four not-so-good outings). Kickham works with a fastball, slider and change. This will be his Mariners organization debut.

James Needy is a 24-year-old righty who is coming off a great season at Double-A San Antonio last year (10-5, 2.90 in 24 starts), and this will be his Triple-A debut. He faces an uphill battle, though: nobody likes a needy chihuahua.

Hot Rainiers: Carlos Rivero is officially on fire. He launched a 3-run homer in the second inning and is 8-for-13 on the year, with two dingers. Rivero, Franklin Gutierrez, Ketel Marte, Jesus Montero, and Stefen Romero have each hit safely in all three games.

Look Out For: Chihuahuas OF Tommy Medica had two more hits last night, and he has been the team’s most consistent hitter through three games.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 11:50 AM (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 in The News Tribune looks at Carlos Rivero, among others.
  • The gamer from the El Paso Times has quotes from Sam Gaviglio (enjoy the multiple misspellings – my favorite is Gavigliano).
  • Once again I’m writing a Sunday Minor League Notebook for the paper, the first one is a PCL preview. The plan is to have notes from the Mariners farm system and the PCL in this weekly column.
  • The Mariners got a needed 5-4 extra-inning win against Oakland on Saturday, as Brad Miller did it all. J.A. Happ provided an excellent start.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook is a tidbit fiesta.
  • Guys, I’m out of town, so will somebody please check on my pal McGrath? We’re one week into the baseball season and he’s already stressed out. Maybe he’s just exhausted from compiling his power rankings.
  • Ryan Divish of the Times made some preseason picks for the big award winners. Stefen Romero is his prospect to watch.
  • We had our first ridiculously wild PCL game of the season last night in Sacramento. Tied 2-2 after 17 innings, Salt Lake scored three runs in the top of the 18th against Sacramento reliever Brett Bochy. But the Bees were out of pitching, so they brought in catcher Charlie Cutler to try to get the save – and he lost it on a walk-off grand slam by Jarrett Parker.
  • Albuquerque lost at home to Reno, 7-3. The news story is a feature on pitcher Aaron Laffey.
  • Nashville topped Colorado Springs, 5-3. The newspaper story is about the pitch clocks and says they are distracting. This is the total opposite of what I have seen in El Paso – I haven’t seen the clock get below 12 seconds; there has been no reason to look at it. It appears to serve no purpose, other than that of an unrealistic threat.
  • Hmmm. Apparently a Las Vegas pitcher was regularly running the clock down to the minimum at Fresno the other day. Now I want to see it in a different stadium – maybe it resets earlier, based upon who is operating it?
  • Fresno lost to Las Vegas last night, 7-2. There are some funny lines in this Fresno columnists’s article about the Houston Astros affiliation with the Grizzlies.
  • It took three games, but Kris Bryant finally homered in a 13-0 win at Memphis. Thank goodness the planets are once again properly aligned and all is right in the world.
  • Chris Heisey homered twice and Zach Lee pitched well as Oklahoma City defeated Round Rock, 8-2. Local product Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez starts for the Express at OKC today (he’s a big prospect).
  • Omaha shut down New Orleans, 5-1.
  • Tacoma native Ron Cey threw out a ceremonial first pitch in Tulsa and The Daily Oklahoman spoke with him.

Our first day game of the year – fun times! We bus to Albuquerque right afterwards; a four-hour drive. I’ll have a blog update for you early on Monday afternoon.


Rainiers Score Reversal

April 11, 2015

One of the elements of baseball which differentiates it from the other sports is the everyday nature of it. Have a bad game? There will be another game tomorrow.

The first two days of the Rainiers season have been a perfect example of this.

Tacoma lost the opener on Thursday, 11-4. It was an ugly game for the Rainiers.

Just 24 hours later, the Rainiers pounded El Paso 17-5. It was a beautiful game for the Rainiers.

Tacoma ripped 20 hits. Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit, one run, and one RBI (note: there was an error in the official box score which contradicted this; it has since been fixed).

The Rainiers sent 11 batters to the plate during a seven-run second inning. Franklin Gutierrez led off the inning with a double, and he drove in the final two runs with another double. He hit double doubles in the second inning. Mmmmmm double doubles.

Pat Kivlehan made his Triple-A debut and hit a hard two-run double to right-center, and homered off utility infielder Mike McCoy in the ninth. It counts as his first Triple-A homer, but we’ll make a note when he hits his first one off of a real Triple-A pitcher.

El Paso’s defense was a zoo. The Chihuahuas were charged with four errors, and misplayed several other balls in which no error was charged.

So we’ve had an 11-4 and a 17-5. Maybe we’ll get a close game tonight?

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma ripped 20 hits in a 17-5 win at El Paso.

Today: Tacoma (1-1) at El Paso (1-1), 6:05 (Pacific).

Affiliations: Tacoma is the Mariners affiliate; El Paso is the San Diego Padres farm club.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Sam Gaviglio vs. LHP Robbie Erlin

This will be the Triple-A debut for Gaviglio, and also his Mariners organization debut. He was acquired in an off-season trade from St. Louis, with Rainiers infielder Ty Kelly going to the Cardinals. Gaviglio is from Ashland, Oregon and played at Oregon State.

Chihuahuas starter Erlin has been bouncing back-and-forth between Triple-A and the big leagues for the past two years. Erlin is known for having a good curveball.

Hot Rainiers: Stefen Romero and Carlos Rivero each had four hits last night, and six hits on the season. Romero is 6-for-11 with 5 RBI, and Rivero is 6-for-9. Rivero had a chance to go 5-for-5 last night, but he flied out against a position player (Mike McCoy) in the ninth inning.

Look Out For: Chihuahuas DH Tommy Medica went 3-for-4 last night, with a three-run homer in the first inning which gave El Paso a 3-0 lead.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:50 PM 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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