Sweeney Delivers Six

April 30, 2013

Brian Sweeney tossed six shutout innings as the Rainiers won their sixth straight game on Monday night, 4-1 over the Tucson Padres. It was the opening game of an eight-game homestand.

Sweeney, Brian Moran, and Lucas Luetge combined to limit Tucson to four hits and one unearned run. It was the fourth game in a row in which the Rainiers pitching staff had allowed three runs or fewer – a remarkable feat considering that three of those games were played in the Las Vegas launching pad.

Tacoma’s team ERA is down to 3.93. That ranks 6th-best in the 16-team PCL, and is the best among the eight Pacific Conference teams.

Offensively, Tacoma had seven hits and four runs. Eric Thames continues to swing a hot bat, going 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. He has played in every game this year, reaching base with either a hit or a walk in all 25.

Mike Zunino hit a long triple to center in his first at-bat, collecting his first career Cheney Stadium hit.

Nick Franklin contributed an RBI single, extending his hitting streak to ten. He has reached base in all 16 games he has played in, and he has a six-game streak of games with an RBI.

Tacoma is 15-10 going into the final game of the month. This is the most victories for the franchise in the month of April since the 2001 PCL Championship team went 18-5 in the first month of the season.

Roster moves: yesterday the Mariners activated Michael Saunders from the disabled list, and optioned Carlos Peguero to Tacoma.

Today the Rainiers officially added Jimmy Gillheeney to the roster, with utility man Leury Bonilla going back to Double-A Jackson.

The second game of the Tucson series is tonight at 6:05, and you can listen on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here (yes, the online audio stream was fixed yesterday and we should be all set moving forward). Tacoma starts LHP Jimmy Gillheeney (Triple-A debut) against Tucson RHP Wilfredo Boscan (0-0, 0.00).


  • Don Ruiz had the pleasure of covering last night’s 2 hour, 18 minute Rainiers game. His story for The News Tribune has lots of reaction from Mike Zunino.
  • Story of the day: historian David Eskenazi has an article on our stadium namesake Ben Cheney and his impact on sports and the American lumber and housing industries. This seems like a good time to remind everybody that the Cheney family pronounces it “CHEE-nee.”
  • Michael Saunders came off the disabled list and made an instant impact for the Mariners. The other Saunders – Joetossed a rare complete game in the Mariners win last night.
  • The A’s beat the Angels in the 19th last night, after a 6 hour, 32 minute game. Brandon Moss was the hero, and everyone was so exhausted that he just pied himself. <<< watch this video, it’s hilarious.
  • In the PCL, Fresno walked-off Sacramento in the bottom of the 11th in a fierce battle between rivals. One of the PCL’s top hitter, Sacramento’s Stephen Vogt, returned to his homeland.
  • Erick Aybar is rehabilitating with Salt Lake, but he couldn’t prevent the Bees from losing their seventh game in a row last night.
  • Former Rainiers pitcher D.J. Mitchell tossed a gem in his first start for Las Vegas, earning a win in Reno. Aces speedster Tony Campana tied the record by stealing three bases in one inning – which included a straight steal of home. Make sure you watch the video on there, which includes fantastic calls by too-good-to-be-in-Triple-A Reno broadcaster Ryan Radtke.
  • New Orleans pounded out 14 hits in a 6-3 win over Omaha.
  • Oklahoma City leadoff man Trevor Crowe had three hits, two walks, three steals, and scored four runs in a 9-8 win against Nashville. Brett Wallace is trying to find his rhythm with the Red Hawks.
  • Albuquerque’s pitching rotation is a mess, but the Elian Herrera saved the day with a walk-off hit against Memphis. A crowd of 6,948 ‘Topes fans ate an incredible 17,071 dogs on their annual 50-cent hot dog night. That’s 2.47 hot dogs per person.
  • Former Rainiers slugger Brad Nelson went 4-for-5 but his Iowa Cubs lost to Round Rock, 10-9.

It’s a beautiful day in Tacoma, and the weather is supposed to be nice all week. Come join us at the ballpark!


Rainiers Return Home After Winning Big In Vegas

April 29, 2013

Tacoma ran its win streak to five straight games on Sunday afternoon, completing a four-game series sweep of Las Vegas with a 5-3 victory.

It was Tacoma’s first four-game sweep at Cashman Field since April 12-15, 2004. The winning pitchers for Tacoma in that sweep? The foursome of Cha-Seung Baek, Bobby Madritsch, Clint Nageotte, and Jeff Heaverlo.

Tacoma (14-10) is four games over the .500 mark for the first time since the final day of the 2010 season (the PCL Championship year).

The Rainiers five-game win streak is the longest since early in the 2011 season, and the four-game sweep was Tacoma’s first since a 2010 sweep of Salt Lake on Independence Day.

The team is a remarkable 11-5 on the road this year – but only 3-5 at home. Time to turn that around! An eight-game homestand opens tonight, with the Tucson Padres coming to town.

Players Of The Week

Tacoma swept the PCL Player of the Week awards for the week that ended yesterday.

Andrew Carraway won the Pitcher of the Week award, with his Las Vegas no-hit bid earning the award. He ended up pitching seven shutout innings in one of the league’s launching pads. Carraway talked a lot about that game in this story.

Nick Franklin won the Hitter of the Week award. Franklin played in six games this week, hitting .474 (9-for-19) with six walks and one strikeout. He had a 5-for-5 game on Thursday, and a home yesterday. He’s driven in at least one run in five straight games.

Roster Round-Up

The Rainiers are adding pitcher Jimmy Gilheeny to the roster, up from Double-A Jackson where he went 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA in four starts. He actually met the team at the airport on Sunday night and bussed down to Tacoma with his new club.

I am assuming that Gilheeny is taking Danny Hultzen‘s spot in the rotation, but I’ll need to confirm that with Daren Brown when I get to the ballpark today. Gilheeny does not need to actually be added to the 25-man roster until it’s his day to pitch – which would be Tuesday. Placing Hultzen on the disabled list will open a spot for him.

On another front, when the Mariners activate Michael Saunders from the disabled list today, they are going to have to send someone to Tacoma. There are a few options here – but no matter who they choose, the Rainiers will then have 26 players – one too many. We’ll have to wait and see.

Tucson Series Preview

The Padres are coming in hot. They have won eight of their last 11 games, after starting out an abysmal 3-9, to pull within one game of .500 at 11-12. Tucson beat Colorado Springs the last two days, helping the Rainiers in the standings.

Tucson has a hot leadoff hitter in Daniel Robertson. The vertically challenged outfielder is a real pest at the plate, grinding out at-bats while hitting .386 with a .472 OBP. Nobody has been able to keep him off base yet this season.

Veteran Travis Buck is in the lineup and he can be a tough out – he’s hitting .267 but leads the team with 17 RBI.

Outfielder Jaff Decker is worth keeping an eye on. First of all, he pronounces his name “Jeff” – a real disappointment for us broadcasting types. He’s a patient hitter who draws a lot of walks and has a touch of power.

The Padres – like the Mariners – seem to have semi-exclusive manufacturing rights to produce major league relief pitchers. The Tucson bullpen is full of guys who have already had success in the majors and are trying to get back up there: Brad Boxberger, Nick Vincent, Miles Mikolas, and Tommy Layne all pitched well in San Diego last year.

Tucson has one former Rainiers player on its roster: catcher Rene Rivera, who appeared in grand total of 19 games for Tacoma from 2004 to 2006. Rivera also caught 51 games for the Seattle Mariners during that time.

Tacoma outfielder Stefen Romero and Tucson reliever Jorge Reyes were teammates for at least one season at Oregon State University.

Mondays With Bob

It’s a Monday night home game, so that means that Pacific Northwest broadcast legend Bob Robertson will be joining me in the booth, and he’ll call the middle innings.

Tonight’s game is at 6:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here (note: the stream was not working yesterday due to technical problems, but I hope it will be working today). Tacoma starts RHP Brian Sweeney (2-0, 3.78) against Tucson knuckleballing RHP Eddie Bonine (0-1, 6.00).


  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • Jason Bay hit an important home run and the Mariners beat the Angels on Sunday.
  • John McGrath wonders if it is possible that the Mariners are lucky that Josh Hamilton chose the Angels over Seattle.
  • Rainiers hitting coach Howard Johnson and Las Vegas manager Wally Backman reminisced about the 1986 World Series.
  • Lookout Landing has a feature on Rainiers left fielder Stefen Romero.
  • Great story out of San Francisco on the 30th anniversary of Lee Elia‘s famous blow-up. “Cubs fans don’t even have jobs – that’s why they’re at the game!” (expletives removed).
  • In the PCL, Tucson beat Colorado Springs yesterday and earned a series split. Daniel Robertson reached base four times and Gregorio Petit went 4-for-4.
  • Charles Brewer tossed a gem and Reno was able to avoid being swept at home by Fresno.
  • Sacramento finished off Salt Lake, 7-2, earning a four-game sweep. Salt Lake loses at Raley Field like the Rainiers lose at their own house of horrors, Aces Ballpark.
  • Salt Lake is reeling, and their most dangerous hitter was traded to the Orioles.
  • Memphis swept a very un-PCL-like doubleheader at Nashville, 1-0 and 2-1.
  • Iowa hit four home runs in a 10-6 win at Omaha.
  • Chris McGuiness had the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth as Round Rock defeated Albuquerque, 4-3.

It’s great to be back home. See you at Cheney Stadium!

Rainiers Win Fourth Straight, Go For Sweep

April 28, 2013

The Rainiers made it four straight wins with an 8-2 victory in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

The game was much closer than the final score indicates – it was 5-2 for the majority of it, and Danny Farquhar escaped a big jam in the bottom of the eighth before Tacoma scored three insurance runs in the top of the ninth to seal it up.

Jeremy Bonderman earned is first win of the season – and his first since 2010. He lasted six innings, allowing two runs (both on solo home runs). It was the best outing of his comeback bid so far.

Tacoma has had back-to-back high-quality starting pitching performances in a very tough place to pitch. Another one today should lead to a sweep of the four-game series.

The final game of the road trip is at 12:05 today, when LHP James Paxton (1-2, 6.61) faces RHP Chris Schwinden (2-2, 6.75). Catch the broadcast on 850 AM or streaming right here.


  • Here is the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • Felix tossed a gem and the Mariners beat the Angels, 3-2.
  • Larry Stone’s Sunday baseball package has a column on if it is too late for the young Mariners position players, a notebook, and power rankings.

Sorry for the paucity of links, these 12:05 games in Las Vegas come earlier than the 12:05 games everywhere else.

Carraway Deals In Vegas

April 27, 2013

Andrew Carraway turned in a brilliant outing on Friday night in Las Vegas, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning in the Rainiers 10-1 victory.

Vegas No. 3 hitter Josh Satin broke up the no-no with one out in the seventh, singling cleanly through the left side of the infield. Carraway had to settle for seven shutout innings, while earning his third straight win. Carraway is now 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA on the year.

Meanwhile, the Rainiers hitters continue to sting the ball.

Rich Poythress returned to the lineup after missing eight games due to a bruised rib. He made an immediate impact, going 4-for-5 with two doubles and five RBI.

Tacoma had 15 hits while scoring double-digit runs for the fourth time in the last six games. It should be noted, however, that this is a Hitter’s Coast League road trip running through Salt Lake City and Vegas.

Cashman Field in Vegas in particular is a launching pad – which makes Carraway’s outing even more impressive.

Despite the current hitting conditions, Tacoma has played only six of its 22 games so far in hitter’s parks. Tacoma ranks second among the 16 PCL teams with 140 runs scored – an average of 6.36 runs scored per game.

The offense got a little bit better yesterday when Michael Saunders joined the team for a rehabilitation stint. Saunders had six plate appearances yesterday, going 0-for-3 with a walk, a sac fly, and a hit-by-pitch. The HBP was almost comically awful: he got drilled in the right shoulder, exactly where he was injured when he crashed into the outfield fence back on April 10. After the game, Saunders said he was fine and it was no big deal.

Saunders is scheduled to be here for the rest of this weekend only – but, if he is not deemed ready for the Mariners on Monday, he could continue his rehab with the Rainiers on the homestand starting Monday. This seems a bit unlikely; everyone is hoping he’s ready to return to Seattle that day.

The Rainiers also added a relief pitcher yesterday, filling the roster at 25. Right-hander Tyler Burgoon is up from Double-A Jackson, where he posted a 1.04 ERA in six appearances. Burgoon had 14 strikeouts in 8.2 innings pitched.

Today the Rainiers shoot for their fourth straight win, which will be a season-high if they get it. Game time is 7:05, the broadcast is on 850 AM and streaming right here, and RHP Jeremy Bonderman (0-2, 5.06) faces RHP Collin McHugh (2-0, 1.93).


  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • The news on Danny Hultzen was not bad: he has a rotator cuff strain, and will not throw for two weeks before dialing it up once again.
  • The Angels jumped all over Aaron Harang and the Mariners on Friday night.
  • It’s kind of cool that the Rainiers game Thursday turned up as part of a story in the New York Daily News – an article about Zack Wheeler dealing with the PCL.
  • In the PCL, Cole Gillespie returned to his old stomping grounds and helped his Fresno Grizzlies defeat Reno, 9-8.
  • A rehabbing Yoenis Cespedes crushed a three-run homer and Sacramento downed Salt Lake, 10-1.
  • Colorado Springs shut out Tucson, 3-0, The Sky Sox lead the Pac-North with a 12-7 record.
  • Johnny Giavotella had the game winning hit as Omaha beat Iowa in the tenth inning. Omaha manager Mike Jirschele missed it – he was ejected earlier.
  • Former major league reliever Josh Lindblom worked into the seventh inning of Round Rock’s 4-3 win over Albuquerque. He’s 3-0 with a 1.90 ERA; this conversion looks good so far.
  • Weird things happened in Nashville. Nothing is more exciting than a walk-off balk!

Seriously. A walk-off balk.

Wild Night In Vegas

April 26, 2013

Somebody could write a book about last night’s game in Las Vegas. I don’t have time to write a book, so let’s just hit a few highlights.

First of all, our expected pitching prospect showdown between Danny Hultzen and Zack Wheeler fizzled out before the game even started.

Hultzen had trouble loosening up his throwing arm during his pregame warm-up routine, so the Rainiers scratched him for precautionary measures. At this time we have no further information regarding his condition and when he may pitch again, but you can bet that the Mariners/Rainiers are going to proceed very cautiously moving forward.

The timing on Hultzen’s scratch was literally right before the first pitch. I had finished my pre-game show, and we were in the commercial break before the game start when everyone in the press box noticed that Andrew Kittredge was loosing up in the bullpen instead.

Pressed into last-second emergency duty for his first Triple-A start, Kittredge struggled out of the gate and the Rainiers were down 7-1 after three innings.

Meanwhile, Wheeler was dealing. After allowing doubles to the first two batters of the game, Wheeler retired 12 of the next 13 and had five strikeouts in four innings.

Wheeler is legit, you guys. He was 96-98 miles per hour all night, and it is the easiest 96-98 I think I’ve ever seen – it looks effortless, he just casually goes into his throwing motion and wham! 97 at the knees.

However, Wheeler is in the minors for a reason, and we saw why in the fifth inning. He started to lose his command, and Tacoma put three runs on the board in the fifth, and when Stefen Romero greeted him in the sixth with a long home run (Romero’s first Triple-A dinger), that was it for Wheeler.

Tacoma’s bullpen kept the Rainiers in the game, but the defense made a comeback difficult. The Rainiers committed five errors, leading to four unearned runs.

Las Vegas carried a 10-6 lead into the ninth inning – and that’s when things got crazy. Three straight singles to open the inning loaded the bases. Then Vegas reliever Greg Peavey (Vancouver, WA – Hudson’s Bay HS) issued three consecutive bases loaded walks, making it 10-9.

The Rainiers had the bases loaded with one out and Denny Almonte at the plate. Almonte had not put a ball in play in his first four at-bats, but baseball is a funny game… and Almonte became a hero, lining the game-tying single to right when the team absolutely needed him to make contact.

The Rainiers would score three more runs, take a 13-10 lead into the bottom of the ninth, and then make a two-run error with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on a routine play to scare the heebie-jeebies out of everybody. But Logan Bawcom got the final out on a medium-deep fly ball to Almonte in center, and the Rainiers were 13-12 winners.

The game featured:

  • A 5-for-5 performance from Nick Franklin, boosting his season average to a cool .400.
  • Eric Thames extending his hitting streak to 9 straight, and he has a hit or a walk in all 21 games this season.
  • Carlos Triunfel launched a homer off Wheeler, and then took a 97 mph fastball in the back in his next AB. He tried to play through it but eventually left the game in the eighth inning.
  • A 3-for-5, three RBI game from Alex Liddi.
  • A second consecutive tough save converted by Logan Bawcom.
  • A pair of golden sombreros, from Almonte and Mike Zunino.

To recap, the Rainiers won a baseball game in which the starter got scratched, they made five errors, and two players struck out four times apiece. Vegas, baby!

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and you can listen on South Sound Sports 850 AM or stream the audio online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (2-1, 4.43) against Las Vegas RHP Carlos Torres (0-1, 4.61).


  • Todd Dewey wrote the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune.
  • Fun story from the Las Vegas Sun about Rainiers hitting coach Howard Johnson and 51s manager Wally Backman. Fact: HoJo once hit a grand slam off 51s pitching coach Randy St. Claire.
  • The Mariners shut out the Angels, 6-0. They needed that!
  • Kyle Seager is really heating up, Larry Stone writes.
  • Don Ruiz reports in this notebook that Michael Saunders might begin a rehab assignment with the Rainiers today. I think we can find a spot in the lineup for him.
  • On the roster front, look for the Rainiers to add a relief pitcher from Double-A Jackson today. The Rainiers have an open spot and the bullpen is running on fumes.
  • Here is your Vegas story: a bunch of Rainiers players went to Terry Fator‘s show on the off-day and got some press – including a mention in Norm Clarke’s famous gossip column. That first link has a good photo.
  • Read this cool story on the oldest living former major leaguer.
  • No Rainiers appear in this week’s Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet, but the blog stats say you guys like it so here it is anyway.
  • In the PCL, Tacoma’s comeback was not the wildest game in the league last night. The New Orleans Zephyrs beat Oklahoma City in 15 innings and it was a crazy one.
  • Yoenis Cespedes is rehabbing with Sacramento and he helped them beat Salt Lake, 6-5. Photo gallery.
  • Fresno beat up the Reno Aces, 11-5. The new members of the Aces are just getting used to playing baseball on the moon at Aces Ballpark.
  • Tucson added knuckleballer Eddie Bonine and got creamed by the Sky Sox, 13-5. Colorado Springs hit four triples in the game.
  • Nashville topped Memphis, 5-2, as my man Scooter Gennett had three hits.
  • Iowa went in to Omaha and came away with a 9-3 win.
  • Scott Van Slyke went 3-for-5 with a homer in Albuquerque’s win at Round Rock, and he’s batting .473 with eight homers and 25 RBI. Sheesh. Call him up already!
  • The independent Atlantic League is doing logical things to speed up the game, and it is working.

Let’s see if we have another wild game tonight!

Pitching Prospect Showdown In Vegas

April 25, 2013

We’re back and (hopefully) refreshed after an off-day in Las Vegas.

The team beat Salt Lake on Tuesday afternoon, 2-1, as Brian Sweeney, Lucas Luetge, and Logan Bawcom shut ’em down. The Rainiers earned a split of the four-game series.

The Rainiers lost Carlos Peguero to the big league club, and so far there is no word on any replacement for him here in Tacoma. With Michael Saunders supposedly close to returning from the disabled list, we may not get a replacement for Peguero from below.

The club arrived in Vegas late on Tuesday night, and enjoyed an off-day here yesterday. Now we gear up for a four-game series starting tonight at 7:05.

This should* be a real treat tonight. Top pitching prospects Danny Hultzen (3-1, 2.78) and Zack Wheeler (0-1, 4.91) go head-to-head. Catch the broadcast on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here.

You will note that Wheeler’s stats aren’t all that great. He reportedly is dealing with some serious blister problems, causing him to issue 12 walks in 18.1 innings. However, he easily reaches 97 mph and has 21 strikeouts.

Las Vegas Series Preview

Las Vegas is a team that just wants to get out on the field and play. Their last game was Sunday in Colorado Springs – scheduled games on Monday and Tuesday were postponed due to snow and will be made up in late August.

The 51s are now the Mets affiliate, and they are 10-8 on the season. They had a four-game win streak end with a tough walk-off loss on Sunday in the Springs. Las Vegas has beaten up on Sacramento this year, going 6-2 against the Pac-South powerhouse.

Las Vegas is managed by Wally Backman, who is quite a personality. The former Mariners infielder played for the World Series champion 1986 Mets, where he was teammates with Rainiers hitting coach Howard Johnson (they are buddies).

Other than Wheeler, the top prospect on the team is catcher Travis d’Arnaud – but he is injured (again) and will not play in this series.

The 51s feature PCL star Andrew Brown, who has been one of the best hitters in the league for a few years now. He’s hitting .343 with 15 RBI so far. First baseman Josh Satin is batting .344 with four home runs, and young third baseman Wilmer Flores is hitting .279-1-10 in his first Triple-A season.

This is not the first time the Rainiers have ever faced a Mets affiliate. New York had a player development contract with New Orleans for two seasons, 2007-2008.

I’ll be curious to see if the Mets affiliation helps Las Vegas draw at the gate. After losing the Dodgers, Vegas attendance plummeted during the four years of the Blue Jays era. There are a lot of New York transplants here in Vegas; perhaps this affiliate will pay off for the team.


  • From Wednesday’s News Tribune, the Rainiers game story on the 2-1 win at Salt Lake.
  • I didn’t think I was going to be typing this sentence this season, but here it is. The Mariners are a disaster.
  • Larry Stone shows us that the Mariners 8-15 start will probably lead to 95-100 losses.
  • Dave Cameron writes that the Mariners poor start could lead to some job openings.
  • Rob Neyer wrote about Felix Hernandez reaching 100 career wins.
  • Former Rainiers Wladimir Balentien and Kam Mickolio appear in this video footage of a dust-up in Japan.
  • The entire PCL was off yesterday, but there is an interesting story in the Springs on the Colorado Rockies quarterback fascination. They are the team that drafted Russell Wilson, among several others.
  • The Toronto Blue Jays are using the waiver wire to help their Triple-A team win games. The Jays GM comes right out and says it in this story – and it’s refreshing to hear.

Sorry, no great Vegas stories for you… yet, anyway. We still have three more days here.

* it seems like all too often these pitching prospect showdowns end in a 15-12 slugfest. I would love to see a real pitcher’s duel tonight!

Comeback Falls Short

April 22, 2013

The Rainiers were down 10-3 and 13-5 early to Salt Lake last night, and they made it interesting – only to lose in the end.

A six-run top of the sixth inning made it 13-11, and Tacoma had the tying runners on base in the 7th and 8th innings. It just didn’t happen.

The Rainiers entered the game having allowed only 9 home runs in the first 18 games of the season. That was the lowest total of all PCL pitching staffs.

I guess we were due for some correction, because Salt Lake hit four dingers last night. Two players – Roberto Lopez and Jimmy Swift – hit their first career Triple-A homers off James Paxton in the second inning.

Paxton had a very rough outing, Jhonny Nunez gave up a grand slam, and even Bobby LaFromboise served up a three-run dinger to a left-handed hitter (Brad Hawpe).

The Rainiers hitters stayed patient and drew eight walks, which led to the big sixth inning. Give some credit to Salt Lake center fielder Scott Cousins, who made a diving catch of Leury Bonilla‘s liner to end the eighth – if that ball wasn’t caught, it probably would have tied the game.

Tacoma can still get a split of the series, but the Rainiers need a win in the early game today.

First pitch is at 11:05 AM (Pacific). Tacoma starts RHP Brian Sweeney (1-0, 4.63) against Salt Lake RHP Matt “The Cobbler” Shoemaker (1-2, 3.79). The broadcast will be live on 850 AM and streaming online here.

Both team’s bullpens are spent. The team with the most effective starter will have a big advantage.


  • Here is the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • Congratulations to former Rainiers pitcher Felix Hernandez, who won his 100th career game yesterday.
  • Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez strained a hamstring last night. If he has to go on the disabled list, there are two Rainiers outfielders on the 40-man roster: Eric Thames and Carlos Peguero. Thames has clearly been better in the PCL, but Peguero put up big numbers in spring training – the last time Eric Wedge saw either of these guys. Which will it be? It could be neither; Michael Saunders is set to come off the disabled list on Friday.
  • Scott Van Slyke of Albuquerque is matching Mike Zunino in PCL run production. Van Slyke hit his league-leading 7th home run yesterday, and he’s batting .446 with 23 RBI. Zunino is ahead of him by two RBI, with five homers and a .259 average.

Sorry for the lack of links, the long game (3:56) last night and the early start today have kept this blog brief. There will be no new blog on Wednesday (our first off day of the season!), and I’ll be back with something new on Thursday around 1:00 or 2:00. We are spending the off day in Las Vegas so perhaps I’ll have a Vegas tale for you… or perhaps whatever happens will just have to stay in Vegas. We’ll see.

Rainiers Drop Close One

April 22, 2013

I thought the Rainiers were going to get started on a winning streak here in Salt Lake City, but the club stumbled slightly and lost to the Bees on Sunday night, 5-3.

Salt Lake scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning after the Rainiers failed to turn a double play that would have ended the inning with no runs scoring.

After that first inning, Jeremy Bonderman and Lucas Luetge shut out the Bees for the remainder of the game.

The offense put three runs on the scoreboard, with Carlos Triunfel driving in all of them. There were a couple of missed scoring opportunities, but nothing egregious – just a few chances with two outs, when a clutch hit would have gotten the job done. Triunfel was the only guy to come through with two outs yesterday.

Tacoma is 9-9 on the year. It feels like this team is ready to string together a bunch of wins – the starting rotation is strong, and the lineup is dangerous.

Tonight’s game is at 5:35 (Pacific). Tacoma starts LHP James Paxton (1-1, 3.68) against Salt Lake RHP A.J. Schugel (0-1, 8.25). The broadcast airs on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streams online right here.


  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune has… wait for it… details on last night’s Rainiers game.
  • It’s been a tough start for the Mariners, who saw the word “clobbered” appear in a headline today.
  • Ryan Divish’s Mariners notebook has several good items in it.
  • In the PCL, Tyler Colvin‘s two-run single gave Colorado Springs its fourth walk-off win of the season – and they’ve only played nine home games. The Sky Sox beat Vegas, 8-7.
  • Sky Sox corner man Matt McBride is learning to catch to try to reach the majors.
  • Reno hung a 10-spot on the Sacramento River Cats.
  • Tucson shortstop Dean Anna – whom I had never heard of until this morning – homered twice in a 5-4 win at Fresno.
  • The Salt Lake Bees are rotating through three catchers.
  • Brett Pill is healthy for Fresno, and that’s trouble for PCL pitchers.
  • Round Rock super-prospect Jurickson Profar hit a grand slam home run to dead center field in a 7-1 win over New Orleans. “I hit it good,” he said.
  • Albuquerque got beat up by Oklahoma City, but the Isotopes looked awesome in their Negro Leagues replica uniforms.
  • Omaha coasted to an 8-3 win at Nashville.

Heads up: we have an early game on Tuesday, at 11:05 AM Pacific time.

Out, Safe, Out. You’re Really Out Now.

April 21, 2013

Tacoma ripped the Salt Lake Bees Saturday night, 13-4, in the opening game of an eight-game road trip. Tacoma had 21 hits, eight different players had two or more hits, and the fellas hit four homers.

All told, it was a fun game. I already wrote about it – check the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune (always the first link below) for the details.

Now, let’s talk about something really weird that happened.

Third inning, runner at second base, two outs, Eric Thames at the plate. Rainiers already lead, 9-1, so there isn’t much at stake here.

Thames hits a grounder to first – it’s one of those plays where the first baseman fields the ball, and pitcher has to cover the bag. These are often very close plays.

Eric is booking down the line, and his momentum is carrying him low to the ground. It’s going to be a bang-bang play, and Thames ends up diving head first into the bag.

The first base umpire is a PCL rookie, and he has a moment of indecision. He starts to make an “out” call, pumping his fist, then he changes to a safe indication – which appears to be his final call.

However, according to Rainiers first base coach Brent Johnson, the umpire yelled “out!”

Thames, who was face-down on the ground, gets up and runs into the dugout. Inning over.

Except, he’s safe.

The runner at second saw all of this happen, and he races home and scores.

At this point the play is over, and the pitcher – thinking Thames was called safe – has the ball and has walked back toward the mound. He tosses to the first baseman, who touches the bag, and the umpire calls Thames out – for real this time.

Manager Daren Brown needed an explanation, and he got one: Thames was safe, then called out for “abandoning his base,” and the run counted because it scored before the out was properly made.

It was 10-1 and Brown didn’t press the issue. If it was a close game there would have been some serious fireworks.

After the game, both Brown and Johnson had Thames’ back, saying the umpire yelled “out” and Eric did nothing wrong. It was just a strange, strange play.

Could you imagine if that happened in a tie game in the eighth or ninth inning? Both managers would be arguing! Tacoma: you called him safe and out at first – he was confused! Salt Lake: you yelled out, the run shouldn’t count!

Let’s hope that nothing like this occurs tonight, when Tacoma and Salt Lake meet for game two of the series at 5:35 (Pacific). Tacoma starts RHP Jeremy Bonderman (0-1, 5.28) against RHP Billy Buckner (2-0, 2.55). The broadcast airs on 850 AM and streams online right here.


It’s strange having a Sunday evening game. Coming soon: our first midweek day game, on Tuesday.

Bullpen Gets It Done

April 20, 2013

The Rainiers picked up a 4-2 victory over Fresno on Friday night, bringing the club’s record back up to the .500 mark at 8-8 on the year. The Rainiers wrapped up their first homestand with a 3-5 record.

Danny Hultzen pitched well and earned the win, with Alex Liddi hitting a three-run homer and Eric Thames chipping in a solo shot.

There is plenty on Hultzen in the links down below, so I’m going to talk about the bullpen.

Reliever Jhonny Nunez had his first successful outing in a high-leverage situation, tossing scoreless relief in the 7th and 8th innings while protecting a slim two-run lead. After Thursday’s 11-inning game in which the bullpen threw seven innings, Tacoma was relying on Nunez and he was able to do the job.

Logan Bawcom nailed down the save with a scoreless ninth. It wasn’t easy – he walked the leadoff man and allowed a hit as well – but he got it done.

It was Bawcom’s first Triple-A save. He had 26 saves last year split between three lower-level teams, and 27 saves in Class-A ball the year before. Don’t be surprised if Bawcom gets more save opportunities as the year goes on.

Now the Rainiers hit the road for a nine-day, eight-game trip. The first four are in Salt Lake City, and the last four are in Las Vegas with a day off between series. Guess which city we are spending the off-day in? Thank you, PCL schedule makers. I take back all of those awful things I have said about you!

Tacoma just played the ancient Salt Lake Bees in a four-game series at Cheney Stadium, and the Bees took three-of-four. They are the same team we just saw, with the notable exception of former major leaguer Brad Hawpe, who was just signed by the Angels for depth purposes.

After taking 3-of-4 at Tacoma, Salt Lake went to Tucson and won the first game… and then dropped three straight, including a 12-4 disaster last night. Maybe they’ve slowed down a bit; they were 10-3 after the first game in Tucson and now they are a more realistic 10-6.

Tonight’s game is at 5:35 pm (Pacific). Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (1-1, 4.96) against Salt Lake RHP Barry Enright (1-1, 5.82). As always, the broadcast is on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here.


  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune, with reaction from Stefen Romero on his first Triple-A game.
  • In this story on MiLB.com, Danny Hultzen talks about surviving without his best stuff.
  • Yu Darvish must have gotten tired of getting beat up by the Mariners. Last night he tossed seven shutout innings in the Rangers 7-0 win. This is an excellent game story from friend-of-the-blog Ryan Divish.
  • It appears that Michael Saunders is close to being ready to come off the disabled list.
  • In the PCL, Las Vegas spanked Sacramento, 10-5. Touted prospect Zack Wheeler was wild – we should see the flame-thrower start against the Rainiers later on this trip.
  • Tucson ripped Salt Lake, 12-4. The story focuses on former Rainiers and Mariners catcher Rene Rivera, who keeps on going. He’s only 29!
  • Colorado Springs topped Reno, 5-2. Infielder Taylor Harbin has been playing the outfield recently.
  • Nothing quite like a doubleheader sweep: Omaha took down Albuquerque twice, with a 3-2 score in both games.
  • Oklahoma City picked up a 5-2 win over Round Rock.
  • Matt Diaz hit a 3-run homer and New Orleans shut out Memphis, 4-0.
  • The lede says it all on this one: Nashville lost a minor league baseball game to Iowa, 5-0.

It’s raining at 1:00 in the afternoon here in Salt Lake City. In fact, the weather is exactly like what we just left in Tacoma. Hopefully it will clear up tonight.