RiverCats Win At Safeco

The best-of-five Pacific Conference Finals moved to the Rainiers temporary home at Safeco Field on Friday, and the RiverCats felt comfortable.

Sacramento hit two home runs and took advantage of a wild Mauricio Robles to win the game, 6-2. Tacoma still leads the series, two games to one, and can advance to the PCL Championship Series with a win on Saturday or Sunday.

Robles had trouble with his command. He walked Eric Sogard and allowed a two-run homer to Matt Watson in the first inning.

In the third, Robles issued two walks and mixed in a wild pitch, allowing a run to score without giving up a hit.

In the sixth inning, with one on and two out Robles walked Chris Carter, extending the inning for Michael Taylor – who hit a game-breaking three-run homer to right field, making it 6-1.

Sacramento had good starting pitching from Vin Mazzaro, who allowed one run in five innings to earn the win. Still, I like the fact that Rainiers hitters had patient at-bats against Mazzaro, running his pitch count up to 102 after five, getting to the bullpen early.

The problem was Sacramento’s hefty lead. A 6-1 deficit at Safeco is a big hole, indeed. The RiverCats had strong relief pitching by Edwar Ramirez and Lenny DiNardo, and Tacoma never really threatened to come back.

The series continues with a noon game on Saturday at Safeco Field. Plenty of great seats are available – you can walk up and buy tickets at the gate. The broadcast airs on 850 AM and streams online via www.tacomarainiers.com.

Tacoma starts RHP Yusmeiro Petit (4-2, 4.85), who was the winning pitcher when Tacoma clinched the division title on Sunday in Fresno. In that game Petit had far-and-away his best game of the season, pitching seven shutout innings.

The RiverCats will start RHP Brett Tomko (2-1, 7.16), a former Rainiers and Mariners pitcher. The 37-year-old Tomko joined the RiverCats in August and has made only six starts. Tomko wasn’t even supposed to pitch in this series – but Oakland called up scheduled starter Bobby Cramer, so Tomko gets the ball.

Here’s a trend to keep an eye on: in this series, Sacramento’s two losing pitchers are both former Rainiers and Mariners: Travis Blackley and John Halama. How cosmically coincidental would it be if Tomko took the loss tomorrow, ending the series?

As for playing at Safeco, I think the Rainiers players and the media (for example: me) had it best. The Rainiers got to use the huge visitor’s clubhouse at Safeco – a massive upgrade from any PCL locker room. And I was allowed to use the Mariners broadcast booth, which was pretty sweet. I’ll save that experience for an off-season post.

As for the fans, well… what did you think? I could see that you got great seats, down low between the bases. I was hoping for about 3,500 fans and the total was less – the paid attendance was 2,460. History says it will be a smaller crowd for Game Four on Saturday. At least it was a lively crowd – the fans certainly made some noise, even though there wasn’t much to cheer.

At any rate, the Rainiers need to get this done on Saturday. Nobody in a Rainiers uniform wants to play on Sunday night in Game Five.

Here are a few links:

  • Seattle Times baseball scribe Larry Stone was at the game, and he wrote about Dustin Ackley.
  • The News Tribune was there, too.
  • Memphis completed a three-game sweep of Oklahoma City to advance to the PCL Championship series. Redbirds starter Lance Lynn struck out 16 batters over seven innings. The defending league champs have won 10 straight PCL playoff games, dating back to 2000.
  • The Mariners Class-AA West Tennessee affiliate got smoked last night, 11-1, evening up that playoff series, 1-1.
  • Also, the M’s Low-A Clinton affiliate advanced to the Midwest League semifinals with a 6-2 win last night. Youngster Erasmo Ramirez tossed a gem.
  • Baseball Prospectus ran a free Q&A with Dave Niehaus and Rick Rizzs. This is really a fun read.

An early one today! Gotta head up North…

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