The Rainiers lost the final game in Fresno on Sunday afternoon, 5-4. Execution was the issue – I wrote about it for the newspaper, you can click the first link down below to read the game story.
After the game the Rainiers had a blissfully uneventful three-hour bus ride to Sacramento, where we checked into our downtown hotel. First impression on arrival in Sacramento: it is very, very windy here right now.
The River Cats are 1-3. They lost their first three games of the season for the first time in franchise history, but they avoided being swept by Las Vegas with an 8-4 win yesterday.
Sacramento has already been active with transactions, most recently claiming International League veteran Stephen Vogt on waivers from Tampa Bay. The River Cats parent club Oakland is always extremely active on the transaction wire – the last 2-3 spots on the 40-man roster, and the last 1-2 spots on the 25-man roster will see dozens of players revolve through in a single calendar year. They keep acquiring “free talent” and try to catch lightning in a bottle. Sometimes it works, like last year with Brandon Moss.
The top prospects on today’s version of the River Cats are outfielder Michael Choice and starting pitcher Sonny Gray. The Rainiers are going to miss Gray – he tossed six shutout innings yesterday against Vegas. Choice is a right-handed power hitter who launched a grand slam against Las Vegas yesterday. He plays center field although he’s not a burner on the basepaths – at least, not in a base-stealing way.
There are a few Sacramento mainstays on this team. Michael Taylor, Daric Barton, and Travis Banwart have managed to survive the churning of Billy Beane‘s Triple-A roster.
One former Rainiers player is on the River Cats. Left-hander Justin Thomas came up through the Mariners system, pitching for Tacoma in 2008 and 2009. He’s primarily been a reliever since 2008, but the River Cats started him on Saturday and he pitched into the sixth inning. However, he is not expected to start in this series – Oakland sent down Dan Straily and he is pitching on Thomas’s scheduled day.
Tacoma and Sacramento are in different divisions, but they will play each other 16 times this year.
The big picture: Sacramento has won the Pacific-South division title 11 of the 13 years they have been in the league. The 1-3 start makes you wonder, is this a rare non-contending year in Sacramento? It’s just a tad bit too early to jump to any conclusions; there are 140 games left to be played.
Tonight’s series-opener is at 7:05, and the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP D.J. Mitchell against Sacramento RHP Bruce Billings.
- We start with my Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
- Michael Kickham pitched well for Fresno against the Rainiers in his Triple-A debut.
- The Mariners have their home opener today, and it will be the first game with the drawn-in fences. John McGrath has an excellent story on the change.
- The M’s lost in Chicago yesterday, 4-3.
- Ryan Divish is a pillar of logic and reasoning in this blog post on the first week of the Mariners season.
- Larry Stone warns the Mariners not to take the Astros lightly.
- The Mariners aren’t the only team that makes good commercials. Have you seen Hunter Pence as John Belushi in Animal House?
- Baseball America’s prospect notebook includes items on the hot starts of Mike Zunino and Double-A outfielder Julio Morban.
- Here’s a Fangraphs Q&A with one of my favorite broadcasters, Jon Miller.
- In the PCL, here’s the latest tidbit from the Sacramento Bee on the River Cats.
- The Salt Lake Bees will not go undefeated in 2013. Tucson got ’em, 9-1.
- Give the Colorado Springs Gazette some brownie points for using the word “stymied” in the headline. The Sky Sox got stymied by Reno’s Tyler Skaggs.
- Round Rock left 14 on base and lost to Omaha, 5-2. The Express were going for a series sweep.
- Albuquerque skipper Lorenzo Bundy is pretty pleased with his team after a four-game sweep of the Iowa Cubs.
- Big rumor out of Austin, where the Nolan Ryan – Texas Rangers drama could have a trickle-down effect in Round Rock. Maybe this will save New Orleans!
- Some good tidbits from around the world of minor league baseball can be found here – including an update on MiLB home run king Mike Hessman, who is closing in on No. 400.
Home opener coming Friday!