Tacoma ended its long losing streak to Reno on Thursday night, defeating the Aces by a final score of 9-1. Tacoma had lost its last 16 games against Reno.
The game was much closer than the final score indicates.
Vinnie Catricala hit a two-out, two-run single in the first, and Carlos Triunfel ripped a two-run homer in the fourth. Mike Jacobs hit a solo homer in the fifth for Reno, making it 4-1.
Blake Beavan really pitched a nice game. He escaped a jam in the first with help from nice defensive plays by Catricala and Nick Franklin, and Beavan got a big double play grounder to escape a sticky jam in the seventh, when Reno loaded them up with nobody out and didn’t score.
Tacoma broke it open in the bottom of the eighth with a five-run rally.
The big blow was a confusing play with Franklin at the plate. He was up with two on and two out, and he drove a pitch to deep right field. The right fielder went to the wall, jumped, and just missed catching it – the ball hit the top of the fence, and bounced back onto the field.
Franklin stopped at second base, thinking it was a live ball. Right fielder Adam Eaton picked up the ball, and heaved it in the general direction of the infield – and it went into the third base dugout.
At that point the base umpire pointed Franklin home, and Nick advanced around third and touched home.
I was watching the replay in the booth, and it really looked like the ball hit the top of the fence, bounced off a tree branch behind the fence, and came back onto the field. I thought it was a homer – and so did others on press row who saw the replay, including Reno announcer Ryan Radtke. We thought that when the umpire waved Franklin in, it was because he was ruling “home run.”
It wasn’t until after the game that it was confirmed by the umpires that they saw it as a live ball, a double, and a throw into the dugout for an error, advancing Franklin two more bases.
There is no replay review allowed in Triple-A baseball. Had this been a Major League game, they would have looked at the replay and perhaps ruled it a homer – although I must say the video wasn’t totally conclusive, so who knows what would have happened? What I saw was the ball hit the top of the fence, and then change directions one more time before bouncing onto the field – so I figure it had to hit something behind the fence.
Oh well, whatever. Franklin hit it hard, runs scored, and the Rainiers won! We’ll take it.
Franklin was 1-for-4 with a double, a walk, three strikeouts, a run, and two RBI in his Triple-A debut.
Franklin arrived in town with a bit of hype, and I want to have a brief talk about expectations.
As you know, I’ve been watching these Triple-A baseball games for a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of good hitters come up from Double-A, play in Tacoma for a while, and eventually establish themselves in the majors.
One of the things I have learned is this: it is very, very rare for a hitter to come up from Double-A and immediately start crushing Triple-A pitching. It just doesn’t happen much.
The list of Rainiers who struggled upon first seeing Triple-A pitching is long: Adam Jones (.229 for his first two months). Shin-Soo Choo (.252 after four months). Mike Morse (.253 after two months, got called up anyway). Asdrubal Cabrera (hit .236 and got traded). Many, many more – you can look at Catricala on this year’s club for an example.
Two recent exceptions to the rule: when Kyle Seager first arrived in Tacoma, he couldn’t make an out if he tried. Dustin Ackley was quite consistent upon arrival in Tacoma, keeping his average right around .275 from the start.
My point is don’t place too high of an expectation on Franklin right away. Triple-A is often the first time that hitters see pitchers who are able to command breaking pitches within the strike zone, and this takes some getting used to.
He can get off to a slow start and still turn out to be an excellent hitter – it’s happened many time before.
We have a roster move today: the Rainiers have added left-handed reliever Brian Moran from Double-A Jackson. He replaces Jeff Marquez on the active roster – Marquez was placed on the disabled list with a staph infection.
Moran was 1-2 with a 1.14 ERA in 24 games for Jackson. He pitched 31.2 innings and allowed 30 hits and five unintentional walks while striking out 29.
Moran pitched at the University of North Carolina where he was teammates with current Mariners Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley.
Tonight’s series finale is at 7:05, and the Rainiers can earn a series split (with Reno!) with a victory. The broadcast is on 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Brian Sweeney (2-1, 4.53) against Reno RHP Charles Brewer (3-4, 5.50). Brewer just finished serving a 10-game suspension for doctoring baseballs with a foreign substance, which is some good ammo for any hecklers coming to the game. It’s Friday Night Fireworks right after the final out.
- Here is the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
- The Mariners were off, but Ryan Divish filed a nice story on reliever Oliver Perez, who was recently called up by the Mariners. It will make you root for the guy.
- Larry Stone asks the question: who will be the Mariners all-star(s)?
- Let’s take that further: who will be Tacoma’s all-stars? I think Luis Jimenez has a chance to win the voting and start at the DH position. Guillermo Quiroz might be asked to go as a reserve catcher, Luis Rodriguez and Carlos Triunfel could be considered as reserve infielders. On the pitching side, really only Josh Kinney makes sense.
- Alex Liddi makes an appearance on this week’s Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet.
- I, for one, would enjoy a “That’s A Clown Question, Bro” t-shirt.
- Former Rainiers left-hander Travis Blackley had his best major league game yesterday. In the notes, catch up on Oakland’s daily round of transactions – it was a light day, only four roster moves.
- In the PCL, Sacramento added pitching prospect Dan Straily from Double-A, and he tossed seven shutout innings in his Triple-A debut to beat Fresno. Brandon Hicks hit a grand slam – he has homered in four straight games, and he has 18 RBI in his last seven games.
- Travis Snider hit another crucial home run to help Las Vegas defeat Tucson.
- The Sky Sox – who Tacoma plays tomorrow – beat Salt Lake last night, 9-5.
- Round Rock starter Martin Perez pitched a complete game using just 90 pitches and the Express beat Iowa, 6-2. Joey Butler robbed Anthony Rizzo of a home run.
- Nashville is adding top Brewers starting pitching prospect Tyler Thornburg from Double-A – he has an unusual style. The Sounds won another 1-run game.
- Memphis topped Omaha in the 11th inning on a two-run single by Lou Montanez.
- Albuquerque’s home game against New Orleans was suspended due to rain, just one inning away from being an official game.
- The only baseball link is that he threw out the first pitch at Cheney last night – and often sports a Rainiers hat when photographed in public – but I like Isaiah Thomas, the former UW guard who is now with the Sacramento Kings. He’s doing good things in the community.
Let’s get the split today, and then see Danny Hultzen tomorrow in Colorado Springs!