Hultzen Recovers, Liddi Strikes!

Tacoma picked up a 4-3 win over Reno on Sunday afternoon, as Operation: Spoiler had a successful day two.

The victory helped tighten the Northern Division pennant race a little more. Second place Colorado Springs is still four games back, but third place Salt Lake pulled within five games to stay in the race. There are 15 games left.

Danny Hultzen drew the start yesterday, and he walked three of the first four batters he faced in the first inning – it certainly looked like it was going to be a disaster start for Hultzen.

But he got things under control. He escaped the first inning with just a sac fly bringing in one run, and then proceeded to set down the side in order in each of the next four innings.

All told, Hultzen retired the final 14 batters he faced. He pitched five no-hit innings, with the three walks, one run, and six strikeouts. He looked absolutely terrific from innings two-through-five.

Tacoma was trailing 2-0 in the sixth when Nick Franklin pulled a solo homer to right. Franklin has a little six-game hitting streak going, lifting his average to .246, and he is slugging .420 in Triple-A.

The Rainiers tied the game in the bottom of the seventh on a solo blast from an unlikely source: reserve catcher Brandon Bantz, who had hit only one home run all year and was mired in a 5-for-49 slump entering the game. It was a big moment for Bantz; he was pretty fired up.

In the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs, Alex Liddi ripped a two-run homer off Jensen Lewis to give Tacoma a 4-2 lead. Over his last 20 games, Liddi is batting .338 (26-for-77; only ten strikeouts) with three homers. It’s great to see him playing at the level we hoped he would in 2012.

Danny Farquhar allowed a run in the ninth but was able to nail down the save. The run ended a fun streak: Farquhar had not allowed a run in 25.1 innings, dating back to June 20. The streak covered four different teams (Sacramento, Trenton, Scranton, and Tacoma), two levels of the minors, and three different organizations (A’s – Yankees – Mariners).

Tonight’s game is at 7:05 and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Erasmo Ramirez (4-3, 4.05) against Reno RHP Charles Brewer (9-7, 6.14).

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune focuses on Danny Hultzen‘s start.
  • How about that Mariners juggernaut? They finished off a three-game sweep of the Twins yesterday, they are 22-13 since the all-star break, and they have won 12 of the last 13 games at Safeco Field.
  • Blake Beavan has been getting the job done since his recall from Tacoma.
  • Congratulations to Josh Kinney – who started the season in Tacoma – on getting his first major league save yesterday.
  • Here is this week’s Minor League Wrap from USS Mariner.
  • Big congratulations to long-time PCL manager Tony DeFranceso, who was promoted to interim manager of the Houston Astros.
  • In the PCL, Kole Calhoun led Salt Lake to a 5-4 win over Colorado Springs.
  • Las Vegas won their second in a row at Sacramento, pulling within 3.5 games of the River Cats.
  • Albuquerque shut out New Orleans, opening up a four-game lead in the American-South. Jerry Sands has a 20-game hitting streak.
  • In their first game without manager Tony D, Oklahoma City knocked off Round Rock. Pitching coach Leon Roberts managed the game, but Tom Lawless will handle the club from today until the end of the season.
  • Nothing quite like a late-August doubleheader between two teams without playoff aspirations. Tucson and Fresno split it, and Fresno’s Francisco Peguero extended his hitting streak to 20 games.
  • Jake Odorizzi continues to deal for the Omaha Storm Chasers.
  • The Iowa Cubs are having a brutal season on the field – but they are still doing well at the gate. In the story, GM Sam Bernabe shares his Theory Of The Ten Percent.
  • Interested in actual baseballs? The Las Vegas paper has a story about PCL baseballs.
  • Rochester renewed it’s Player Development Contract with the Twins. This might seem random, but some people think this will cause a domino effect leading to the New York Mets being in Las Vegas next year. Las Vegas seems like the only PCL affiliation that might change after the season – we’ll see.

The Rainiers final homestand of the season continues all week – make sure you get out to the ballpark!

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