Rainiers Fall, Let’s Talk About Awards

Las Vegas evened up the series by taking down Tacoma on Thursday night, 6-1, in what could be described as kind of a dud of a ballgame for the Rainiers.

Tacoma didn’t have much in the way of offense, collecting just six hits and scoring one run. They had one big missed opportunity – loading the bases with one out in the second, and not scoring – but that was really about it.

It was tight for a while. Hector Noesi held Vegas to three runs in six innings, but after he left the 51s plated three runs against Tacoma reliever Brian Moran.

Moran, who has pitched well for Tacoma, struggled in three areas in the seventh: he walked the leadoff man, made a mental mistake fielding a bunt, and didn’t hold runners close resulting in a key double steal. These little things all factored into the three-run rally. The inning served as a reminder that this is the minor leagues and players are still learning things that you take for granted when watching the majors.

Once Las Vegas opened up the 6-1 lead, the game just kind of fizzled out and that was that.

I turned in my awards ballot yesterday, and here’s who I voted for:

MVP: Adam Eaton, Reno. He leads the league in batting average, on-base percentage, hits, runs, stolen bases, doubles, total bases… and he’s the catalyst for a first-place team. He’s not just a product of the ballpark in Reno – he’s putting up big numbers on the road, too.

Pitcher of the Year: John Ely, Albuquerque. 14-7, 3.10 ERA while pitching half of his games in one of the worst places to pitch on the planet – he actually has a lower ERA in home games at Isotopes Park (2.76). He leads the league in wins and is the ace of a first-place club.

Rookie of the Year: Eaton. He’s my MVP pick, and he’s a rookie, so that’s all she wrote.

Manager of the Year: Darren Bush, Sacramento. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the River Cats always win because the Oakland A’s front office makes a concerted effort to win Triple-A championships, but they have won this year without a true star player – they had zero candidates for any of the positions on the All-PCL team, and Bush had to deal with the extreme number of transactions that come as a result of being the A’s Triple-A affiliate.

All-PCL Team:

  • C – Tim Federowicz, Albuquerque. He gets the nod over Travis d’Arnaud because he stayed healthy.
  • 1B – Anthony Rizzo, Iowa. Despite being called up a while ago, he still has the best numbers at the position.
  • 2B – Johnny Giavotella, Omaha. He’s going to repeat here, I think.
  • 3B – Jedd Gyorko, Tucson. Better numbers than Ryan Wheeler of Reno, in not-quite-as-much of a hitter’s park.
  • SS – Adeiny Hechevarria, Las Vegas. Excellent with the glove and hit pretty well, too.
  • OF – Adam Eaton, Reno.
  • OF – Wil Myers, Omaha. My main man!
  • OF – Andrew Brown, Colorado Springs. The offensive leader of the best Sky Sox team we have seen in a while.
  • DH – Luis Jimenez, Tacoma. Home town vote or deserving? I think both.
  • RH Starter – John Ely, Albuquerque.
  • LH Starter – Brad Hand, New Orleans. I selected him over Ryan Verdugo of Omaha in a close decision because he has better stuff and more strikeouts.
  • Reliever: Chad Beck, Las Vegas. Dude had a 1.49 ERA this year in Vegas. That’s insane.

We’ll see if my thinking is in line with the league or not – the winners will be announced shortly!

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and it is sold out. You can listen to the broadcast on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP Danny Hultzen (1-2, 4.35) against Las Vegas LHP Bill Murphy (5-5, 4.95).

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune was penned by Don Ruiz.
  • Benjamin Hill – the guy from MiLB.com who visits ballparks around the country – stopped by Cheney Stadium and filed this report.
  • The Mariners were off yesterday – they are in Chicago to take on the first-place White Sox tonight. They have already matched their win total from two years ago.
  • Jerry Brewer handicaps the American League Cy Young Award race.
  • Larry LaRue has an off-day story on Mariners reliever Tom Wilhelmsen.
  • In the PCL, Reno held off Fresno to maintain a 3.5-game lead in the Pacific-North. Daniel Cabrera is trying to help the Aces down the stretch.
  • Colorado Springs had a come-from-behind victory at Tucson to stay close to Reno.
  • Sacramento shaved its magic number to clinch the Pac-South over Las Vegas down to five. The River Cats got a late grand slam from Brandon Hicks to knock off Salt Lake.
  • Former Rainiers catcher Adam Moore had a nice game and his Omaha Storm Chasers blasted New Orleans, 11-1.
  • Albuquerque now leads New Orleans by four games in the American-South, after beating Memphis, 6-3. The Redbirds signed an infielder to help finish out the season.
  • It’s too late, but the Round Rock Express are finally starting to play well. Former Rainiers slugger Brad Nelson belted his 22nd home run last night.
  • Drama! Ejections! A one-run game! Tempers were high in Oklahoma City’s 2-1 win at Iowa last night.
  • Tucson general manager Mike Feder is “baffled” by attendance struggles.

Looking forward to tonight’s game – Hultzen’s final Cheney Stadium start of 2012.

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