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.
- I wrote the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune.
- My Sunday minor league notebook for the paper is about the paucity of cycles in Tacoma, and picks out a few hot hitters and pitchers in the Mariners farm system.
- The Mariners were the first team to ever get shutout in consecutive games at The Ballpark In Arlington. They will score again – trust me on this one.
- Geoff Baker got an interesting quote from Hector Noesi, who had a wake-up moment when the Mariners sent him to Double-A.
- For your enjoyment, Larry Stone’s Sunday baseball package is ready to go: a column about the Mariners not taking advantage of the new fences at Safeco, a major league notebook, and power rankings.
- In the PCL, nearly 14,000 fans watched Fresno lose to Tucson, 5-4.
- Nothing beats going to the ballpark and seeing a record-breaking performance, right? Tell that to Sky Sox fans who saw their team break the franchise record for most wild pitches in a game. Las Vegas beat ’em, 10-6.
- Sacramento pitcher Brian Gordon started his career as an outfielder – 16 years ago. The River Cats beat Reno, 6-4, as Stephen Vogt was 2-for-3 with a homer. Vogt leads the PCL in most hitting categories.
- Nashville halted a four-game losing streak by downing Omaha, 11-5.
- Jared Cosart pitched Oklahoma City to a rare 3-1 win at Albuquerque. Humidor!
- Round Rock held off New Orleans behind the pitching of Josh Lindblom.
- The Quad Cities ballpark is right on the bank of the Mississippi River, and it often floods. Check out this picture.
It’s strange having a Sunday evening game. Coming soon: our first midweek day game, on Tuesday.