Wild Night In Vegas

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).

Links:

  • 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!

6 Responses to Wild Night In Vegas

  1. Mark says:

    Mike, Not going to lie about I turned off the broadcast early. Like how they battled back. I can’t remember the last time that happened in the 9th? I am getting concerned about Reno will get some players back when the D-Backs get healthy. Hopefully, we can get some wins from them before that happens. Thanks for the updates.

  2. Mike – So can Franklin be a big league SS or not? Why is he playing so much 2B? It seems like considering the Mariners most urgent needs, they should be giving him a shot their. While Triufel’s bat has certainly heated up, his defensive has always been suspect. He may have a little more range than Nick but he always committed a lot of errors.

    • Mark says:

      Nick isn’t on the 40 man and remember they were trying to trade him in the off season. I like the idea of moving Ackley to the outfield and Nick at 2nd base. Got to like a switch hitter with some power.

    • Mike Curto says:

      Personally, I think Nick looks better defensively on the right side of the bag. That being said, I’m a radio guy, not a scout. He’s playing shortstop today…

  3. You are talking perfect world. Perhaps you are a little busy watching Tacoma, but the Mariners currently aren’t in a perfect world scenario.

    In the past we have brought up some SS prospects that had questionable defensive ability (Morse, Lopez) but had the bats.

    I would just love to see Seager, Franklin, and Ackley (the good hitting version) on the field together.

    Mike – Does Franklin remind you a little of Seager. I just love how Seager plays the game…I really hope that Franklin follows in his footsteps.

    How about Romero. Does he have enough pop to be a corner OF?

  4. Also, has Zunino gotten some hitting instruction recently from the Mariners? Someone must have been messing with his swing.

    Usually our catcher prospects don’t fall off the cliff until they get to the Seattle…

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