The Rainiers closed out the Salt Lake series with a 7-3 victory last night, salvaging the final game of the four-game series and avoiding a sweep.
Joe Dunigan hit his first Triple-A home run in the fifth inning, starting a 5-run rally that also included a three-run blast by Alex Liddi and a solo shot by Carlos Peguero.
Andrew Carraway pitched into the sixth inning to earn his first win of the year, and Danny Farquhar was terrific for 2.1 scoreless innings of relief.
Now the Rainiers welcome the Fresno Grizzlies to town for a four-game series starting tonight and lasting through Friday.
Fresno is 7-5 on the year. Tacoma opened the season at Fresno, going 2-2. The Rainiers had a chance for a series win, but lost the final game and settled for the split. Fresno then split four with Vegas before going to Tucson and taking 3-of-4.
The San Francisco Giants affiliate is mostly the same team we saw in the season-opening series, with a few exceptions: Todd Linden will not play in this series, as he was placed on the disabled list two days ago. Starting pitcher Andrew Kown has been released, and replaced by veteran Shane Loux who will start today. The team added Brett Bochy to the bullpen – yes, he is Giants manager Bruce Bochy‘s son, and he’s supposed to be pretty good.
The top prospects on the team are center fielder Gary Brown and starting pitchers Michael Kickham and Chris Heston. The speedy Brown had a key triple and scored the winning run in Fresno’s wild 12-11 win at Tucson last night.
Other players of note: outfielder Roger Kieschnick was on his way to a big season last year before suffering a shoulder injury that cost him three months; he’s healthy now and is a dangerous hitter. Second baseman Kensuke Tanaka is in his first season in the USA after playing 10+ years for the Nippon Ham Fighters, where he was Brian Sweeney‘s teammate for three seasons.
Familiar faces on the Grizzlies: Linden, Yusmeiro Petit, and pitching coach Pat Rice. Linden graduated from Central Kitsap High School and played two years at the University of Washington. Petit was a member of the 2010 PCL champion Rainiers. Rice is a former Mariners reliever and he spent years as a pitching coach in the Mariners farm system before landing in Fresno.
Tonight’s game is at 6:05 and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jeremy Bonderman (0-1, 6.97) against Fresno RHP Shane Loux (first appearance of 2013).
The Rainiers added pitcher Hector Noesi to the roster last night, and he will slot into the rotation and start on Thursday in the spot that was originally held by D.J. Mitchell. Noesi made two starts at Double-A Jackson and did not allow a run in 11 innings, earning the Southern League Pitcher of the Week award.
- Here is the Rainiers game story from Meg Wochnick of The News Tribune.
- Larry Stone caught up with Mike Zunino. Daren Brown has some great remarks about how Triple-A pitchers are trying to exploit him. The Times sent a photographer – there are nine pictures of Zunino in this gallery.
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reports that the Mariners are in the process of buying Root Sports. As I post this, the Mariners have confirmed the story is true.
- Former Rainiers infielder Dustin Ackley is struggling, and changing his swing mechanics, and… ugh. We’re pulling for you, Dustin.
- Taijuan Walker had his first real good start at Double-A Jackson. He tossed six scoreless innings, but still walked four batters. Patience!
- In the PCL, Fresno topped Tucson 12-11 in a wild back-and-forth game down in Arizona.
- Las Vegas made six errors, which certainly didn’t help in a 19-5 loss to Colorado Springs. There is a ballpark debate down in Vegas.
- Jesse Chavez tossed a gem and Sacramento defeated Reno, 7-3, to complete a four-game road sweep. Reno is only 3-9 to start the year, but they have excellent defense in the middle infield.
- Iowa got blasted by Albuquerque, 11-5, but rehabilitating Darwin Barney had four hits.
- Oklahoma City whitewashed Memphis, 11-0.
- New Orleans held on to beat Round Rock, 3-2, and won the series.
- Xavier Nady threw out the go-ahead runner at home plate, and then hit the game-winning home run in Omaha’s 3-2 victory over Nashville.
See you at the park!