Cliff Lee Was Awesome; Bullpen Not So Much

By now you probably know that Cliff Lee had an outstanding rehab outing yesterday, pitching six innings of three-hit ball – not allowing anything to be hit hard. He didn’t walk anybody and he’ll be starting for the Mariners on Friday against Texas.

The standing-room-only crowd of 7822 was there to see Lee, but they also saw the Rainiers offense held to just one run by Salt Lake starter Trevor Bell. Rainiers reliever Mike Koplove had a rough outing, the Bees scored four runs in the seventh and won the game, 4-1.

The focus was on Lee. Here are some Cliff’s Links:

  • The Seattle Times sent columnist Steve Kelly to Tacoma, and he filed this report which includes quotes from scouts. Geoff Baker added Kelly’s updates to his blog – I link to it because of the picture: that’s former Cheney Stadium groundskeeper Bob Christofferson in the background.
  • The Mariners official site has video.
  • The News Tribune’s game story includes a neat chart showing Cy Young Award winners who pitched for minor league teams in the state of Washington. Incidentally, we determined that Lee was first Cy Young Award winner to pitch at Cheney Stadium after winning the award since Fernando Valenzuela* came into town with Edmonton in 1991.
  • Ryan Divish added in a blog item that Lee won’t be hanging around Tacoma – he’s flying to Kansas City to join the team, even though he is pitching at home on Friday. 
  • marc w at USS Mariner is a talented photographer and he has a couple of shots of Lee on the blog. The first comment made me LOL.

And from the Pacific Coast League, we had some wild finishes last night:

  • It took a very RG-unfriendly 4 hours and 7 minutes, but it paid off in the end: Las Vegas infielder Jarrett Hoffpauir hit for the cycle, and slugger Brian Dopirak hit a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam. Vegas beat Sacramento, 14-11. There is a great shot of former Rainier Jeremy Reed at the top of this game story.
  • Colorado Springs and Reno played one of the wildest extra-inning games you can imagine yesterday. Tied 5-5 at Reno, the Sky Sox scored five runs in the top of the tenth inning, only to allow six in the bottom of the tenth. Reno won it on Jeff Bailey’s walk-off two-run bomb – the ball went through the windshield of a parked car and came to rest on the front seat. 
  • The Sky Sox lost Eric Young Jr to the Rockies, and they added Paul LoDuca to the roster. Yes, Paul LoDuca. And they got bad news from Class-AA, where a top prospect hit the disabled list.
  • Giants pitching prospect Madison Bumgarner tossed a gem and hit a homer as Fresno defeated Portland, 4-2.
  • The Iowa Cubs had a “miserable day.”
  • It doesn’t happen to me very often, but Oklahoma City ran a pitcher out there whom I have never heard of. He went eight shutout innings, allowing one hit, to beat Memphis, 8-0.

Tonight the Rainiers host Salt Lake for game three of the series. It’s at 7:00 and RHP David Pauley (0-2, 4.00) gets the nod for Tacoma, against Salt Lake LHP Daniel Davidson (2-0, 4.82). Here’s something you probably haven’t thought of that occurs to RG’s: the Salt Lake starter happens to have the exact same name as one of my closest friends, which makes broadcasting the game a very weird experience. I’ll be stumbling through the game on 850 AM, or streaming at

*long-time Tacoma Tigers/Rainiers employee Kevin Kalal was an intern in 1991. He said that he had never seen a human being drink a six-pack of Coors Light as fast as Fernando did after his start that day. And Kalal had just graduated from Washington State.


5 Responses to Cliff Lee Was Awesome; Bullpen Not So Much

  1. marc w. says:

    I was at the Fernando start as well. I remember thinking that he looked absolutely done, and that it was sort of a shame to see him get knocked around in the PCL (he gave a ton of hits/HRs that half-season).

    Maybe he just learned to stop shotgunning Coors after his starts, because he came back to pitch another 574+ innings in the big leagues after that start. Hardly seemed possible.

    Hey, did Mark Davis play in Tacoma in his comeback attempt in 1997? He’d won the Cy Young before, and I know he played in several PCL games that year…

  2. marc w. says:

    Oh, and I *think* Mike McCormick pitched for Tacoma after winning a Cy Young with the Giants in ’67.

    • Mike Curto says:

      McCormick did. He won the NL Cy in 1967 and made eight starts for the Tacoma Cubs in 1973.

      I’m not sure about Mark Davis, and that’s a tough one to research. It was two years before I got here; the Rainiers do not have day-by-day records going back through the year. He pitched in 17 games for Tuscon – that’s about 6 weeks, probably, and this was before the Triple-A merger, so it is pretty likely he faced Tacoma. In Tacoma? Who knows.

  3. stan says:

    Mike McCormick pitched for the Giants in 1956. Dusty Rhodes played for the Giants and was a star in the 1954 W.S. Danny O’Connell played for the New York Giants in 1957. All three of those guys played in Tacoma. Were there any other New York Giants who played for Tacoma? Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any others.

    Put me down as another paying customer who saw Fernando pitch in Cheney Stadium.

    • marc w says:

      In addition to those three, Jim Constable played for the ’57 Giants and the ’63 and ’64 Tacoma Giants. There’s also Ramon Monzant, Curt Barclay and Danny O’Connell who spent a bit of time with the NY Giants in ’57 before joining the 1960 Tacoma club.

      Bill Werle played for San Francisco and Tacoma in the PCL, but neither SF or NY in MLB. So he and Salvador Taormino may be the only guys to play under the same set of lights/seats in different states.

      And though he didn’t play for the NY Giants, it’s worth noting that Julio Navarro, father of the Rainiers’ current pitching coach, played for the Tacoma Giants from 1960-1962.

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