The Pacific Coast League champion Tacoma Rainiers were unable to win the Triple-A National Championship game, falling to International League champion Columbus by a 12-6 score on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.
The Rainiers simply ran into a juggernaut. Starting with the International League championship series against Durham, Columbus scored 49 runs in its last five games, twice had a 20-hit game, and then connected for 19 more hits last night.
Columbus outfielder Jerad Head won the Bobby Murcer MVP Award, driving in four runs.
After the game four players got the call to Seattle: Mike Carp, Matt Mangini, Greg Halman, and Anthony Varvaro. All except Carp are making their first trip to the majors.
In all, it was a highly satisfying season. Tacoma won its first outright PCL title since 1969. The team took a huge lead in the standings with a veteran team, saw the stars get promoted to Seattle, and held on to win the division with a very young group of prospects who will likely anchor the 2011 Rainiers.
Ponder this for a moment: Tacoma held off Salt Lake and clinched the division title with three 21-year-old starting pitchers in the rotation for the final month of the season.
The Rainiers became road warriors for the playoffs. The team rode a Ryan Feierabend gem to a Game Five win over Sacramento to advance to the finals, and then went home-run crazy by belting 11 taters in a three-game sweep at Memphis to win the crown.
Appropriately enough, it was third-year Rainiers pitcher Andy Baldwin who earned the win in the clinching game, tossing scoreless relief in extra innings.
Today the team scattered to spots all around the globe. Some players went to the majors. Others went to Mariners instructional league, which started on Monday in Peoria, Arizona. Manager Jose Castro went to instructs, too. Many Rainiers are going to play in the Venezuelan Winter League, where the Mariners have a working relationship with the Lara club – Castro and pitching coach Jaime Navarro will be on the coaching staff.
Other players drifted into their off-season with no specific plans. Some are six-year minor league free agents, and will be free to sign with any club. David Winfree, Tug Hulett, Baldwin, and Scott Patterson are among those who fall into this group.
It’s always a little sad when the season ends, and this year was no different – even with the PCL championship.
This blog will continue during the off-season, but updates will be more infrequent. Not daily anymore – probably 2-3 updates a week.
I’m going on vacation for two weeks, and then will return with Cheney Stadium construction updates (with photos!), off-season Mariners moves, maybe some sure-to-be-wrong MLB playoff predictions, and whatever else comes to mind – I actually have a list of off-season subjects sitting on my desk at home. We will have content here all off-season. I may even work on that FAQ that has been “Coming Soon!” for seven months.
A few links:
- Here is the Triple-A National Championship Game story from The News Tribune.
- The Daily Oklahoman added a notebook from the game with a few Tacoma tidbits.
- Baseball America was there, as well.
- The esteemed John McGrath tackled the Felix Hernandez for Cy Young argument.
- A Mariners teenager was voted #1 prospect in the Arizona Rookie League.
- Elsewhere in the PCL, the proposed new stadium in Escondido is meeting some opposition.
- Las Vegas re-upped for two years with Toronto, and Sacramento signed a four-year player development extension with Oakland. So, the PCL’s only affiliation changes were in Round Rock and Oklahoma City, which swapped Texas and Houston.
I’ll post a link to the championship radio call when it is live. Thanks for reading all season, and check in often over the Winter!