Memphis Blues Again

Let’s get the negatives out of the way quickly, and then focus on some positives.

Tacoma lost again in Memphis on Saturday night, this time by a score of 7-5. The team has dropped five in a row and is 21 games under .500, matching a season-low. It’s been that kind of year.

Tacoma hasn’t won a regular-season game in Memphis since 2008, losing six in a row. The last time Tacoma won a regular season game here, Ryan Feierabend was the winning pitcher, for cripe’s sake. It was July 29, 2008 – the box score is kind of fun to look at; Luis Valbuena went bananas.

Of course, we’ve happily traded all of these regular-season losses for sweeping the PCL Championship Series here in 2010. That’s a good trade – but it’s time for this regular-season streak to end.

OK, on to the positives:

Justin Smoak ripped two long doubles, one off the right-field fence and the other off the center field fence (400 feet away). Both came from the left side of the plate, and both came off Shelby Miller fastballs – and he has a major league fastball.

Smoak has revamped his swing from the left side, as detailed in that News Tribune story I linked to yesterday. It was a very, very good thing to see him crush a couple of pitches – those were his hardest-hit balls since being sent down.

Luis Jimenez hit one of his tape measure home runs, while going 3-for-4 with four RBI.

Autozone Park is right downtown, and there is a small area beyond the right-center field fence and past the Tacoma bullpen where a public sidewalk ends. There is room for about a dozen people to watch the game for free – the vantage point is far away from the field, but hey, it’s free. There has been a handful of people out there for both games so far.

Jimenez dropped a 450-foot souvenir on them in the second inning, crushing a Miller fastball for a two-run homer.

Charlie Furbush had his first good rehabilitation appearance, working a 1-2-3 sixth inning, striking out two of the three batters he faced. All three batters he faced have MLB experience. His pitches looked crisper this time out – that was a big step towards returning to the Mariners.

Alex Liddi continued his late-season surge. He singled and doubled, and both balls were hit very hard. Liddi has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games, going 17-for-47 (.362) with two home runs. As I wrote before, he can still salvage his season with a strong finish.

The Rainiers have some positives – now, let’s end these two losing streaks.

Today’s game is at 4:05 (Pacific), and as always you can listen on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (3-6, 4.52) against Memphis RHP Brandon Dickson (5-9, 3.56). Dickson ranks 6th in the PCL in ERA, but isn’t getting much run support.

Links:

  • I wrote the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune, focusing on Memphis starter Shelby Miller. The Memphis newspaper took the same angle.
  • My minor league notebook for the paper checks in on the prospects the Mariners acquired at the trade deadline.
  • The Mariners took advantage of a bunch of Angels errors to win, 7-3. Hey – that’s what good teams do!
  • Larry LaRue wrote a feature on outfielder Trayvon Robinson.
  • LaRue’s notebook includes a state-of-the-union address on the Mariners catching situation.
  • Larry Stone’s Sunday baseball package in the Seattle Times includes a column on two plummeting MLB teams, a major league notebook, power rankings (good one on #27), and thumbs up-and-down.
  • John McGrath steps up to the plate with a fun column about why the dog days are worth watching.
  • Former Rainiers infielder Willie Bloomquist landed on the disabled list, so the Arizona Diamondbacks called up a stunned Reno infielder Jake Elmore.
  • The Iowa Cubs and Las Vegas 51s were suspended in the fourth inning due to rain – in Las Vegas. It is the first suspended home game in Las Vegas franchise history (since 1983). They haven’t had a rainout since 2008.
  • Nashville had a big eighth inning rally and beat Salt Lake, 5-3. Catcher Jason Jaramillo is trying to get back to the big leagues.
  • Even the Tucson newspaper is running articles about my main man Wil Myers. Omaha beat Tucson last night as Chris Dwyer tossed a complete game – no easy feat in Tucson. The Padres called up Tucson reliever Cory Burns.
  • Round Rock won a pitcher’s duel in Colorado Springs. Yes, a pitcher’s duel. Humidor!
  • Tom Koehler picked up his 12th win for New Orleans in a 4-3 victory over Fresno.
  • Oklahoma City lost its eighth game in a row.

Elvis Week continues here in Memphis – I was grabbing some food after the game last night and four Elvises (Elvi?) walked into this place.

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