Sky Sox Get One

May 31, 2013

Colorado Springs won the third game of the showdown for first place in the Pac-North, a 10-8 decision on Thursday night.

The Rainiers three-game win streak ended, and Tacoma’s lead in the division was trimmed down to a half-game. Whoever wins the final game of the series tonight will be in first place.

After three innings at Security Service Field, it looked like the Sky Sox were set on getting full revenge for the 25-6 drubbing the Rainiers handed them on Wednesday. The Sky Sox had a 9-3 lead, and the Rainiers “bullpen day” was quickly starting to look like a disaster.

But Tacoma relievers managed to allow just one run over the next five innings, and the Tacoma offense was the run-scoring machine that it has been all year. The PCL’s top offense tightened the gap down to two runs in the ninth, and the Rainiers loaded the bases with two outs for Dustin Ackley.

Ackley was hot. He was 7-for-11 with three walks in his last two games. Sky Sox closer Coty Woods looked like he was on the ropes.

Ackley worked the count, found a pitch he liked, and drove a fly ball to deep right field.

In the high elevation of Colorado Springs (6,531 feet above sea level), every deep fly ball looks like a homer. This one did off the bat, too – I thought for a moment that Ackley had just hit a grand slam to give the Rainiers the lead. But the ball settled into the glove of Sky Sox right fielder Corey Dickerson, who was a step in front of the warning track, and that was the ballgame.

The Rainiers will try to win the series in the final game of the road trip tonight at 6:05 (Pacific). Tacoma starts RHP Blake Beavan (3-2, 4.35) against Sky Sox ace LHP Drew Pomeranz (6-1, 4.02). The broadcast airs on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streams online right here.

A word on Corey Dickerson: this guy can play. He’s a Triple-A rookie, and was the Colorado Rockies Minor League Player Of The Year winner last year at Class-A and AA. He’s a left-handed hitting leadoff man with power – he already has ten triples and seven home runs this season, to go with a .360 batting average.

Now Dickerson does play in Colorado Springs, so we have to do a home/away breakdown:

  • HOME: 419/455/774 1.230 OPS, 5 triples 5 homers
  • AWAY: 308/333/496 .829 OPS, 5 triples 2 homers

OK, that’s a big split – no surprise, all Sky Sox players have big splits (except for reverse-split Ryan Wheeler for some reason). Still, the away numbers look pretty solid, and on the field he passes the “eye test” and looks like a promising player. He’s someone to follow.

Links:

Can’t wait to get home to Cheney Stadium tomorrow – we are supposed to have some beautiful weather on this homestand, so plan on coming out to the ballpark.

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Blowout City In Colorado Springs

May 30, 2013

Well, that was something.

Tacoma beat Colorado Springs in a record-setting performance on Wednesday night, 25-6. It was the third straight win for the Rainiers, who now lead the division by 1.5 games over the Sky Sox.

The box score is crazy-time. After the game, manager John Stearns hung it on the wall by his locker, and hitting coach Howard Johnson (@20HoJo) tweeted a picture of it. You can check it out online right here.

There are a lot of great little tidbits on the game. Let’s dive in, bullet-point style.

  • The 25 runs is the most since Tacoma became the Rainiers and affiliated with the Mariners in 1995. It might very well be a Tacoma franchise record – we do not have individual game records going back before then. The previous high was when Tacoma scored 24 runs in a game at Tucson on June 6, 2011.
  • The 30 hits is also a Rainiers-era franchise record. The highest recent hit total was a 25-hit game in Sacramento on June 28, 2004.
  • It was the second-biggest outburst by a Sky Sox opponent ever at Security Service Field (built in 1988). Salt Lake had 28 runs and 33 hits on July 29, 1994. It was also the second-biggest blowout loss in Sky Sox history (they lost that same game to Salt Lake by 25).
  • By going 30-for-58 at the plate, Tacoma raised its team batting average eight points in one day, from .265 to .273. They climbed from 12th to 9th in the league in batting average in one day.
  • Every single Tacoma player in the starting lineup had at least two hits and scored at least one run.
  • Tacoma scored in each of the first six innings, batting around three times (in the first, fifth, and sixth).
  • By the middle of the sixth inning, Tacoma was ahead 25-1.
  • Abraham Almonte went 6-for-6 at the plate, becoming the first Tacoma player to get six hits in a game since Jerry Owens on August 25, 2009 at Fresno. Prior to Owens, Pat Borders had a six-hit game in Colorado Springs on May 8, 2003.
  • All six of Almonte’s hits were singles. That’s one short of the PCL record for most singles in a game, set by Everett McCann of Portland in 1924.
  • Almonte is now batting .515. He’s had only 33 at-bats, with 17 hits, but still… he’s hitting .515. You just don’t see that number very often. He’s hit safely in all nine games in which he has batted for Tacoma.
  • Eric Thames and Brad Miller each had six RBIs. According to Sky Sox historian Chris Moyer, it was only the second time that two players ever had six or more RBI in one game against the Sky Sox. The other time it happened was when Nashville’s Prince Fielder and Corey Hart did it on August 6, 2005.
  • Thames has 10 RBI over his last three games.
  • Miller hit blackjack with his first Triple-A home run, a three-run shot to center field that made it 21-1 in the sixth inning. Miller had his first two Triple-A extra-base hits in the game.
  • Dustin Ackley had eight plate appearances in the leadoff spot. He had four singles, a homer, and two walks to reach base seven times. He scored four runs and drove in three.
  • The Franklin Gutierrez rehabilitation assignment continues to gain steam. He hit a pair of long doubles, and has now hit safely in his last four games going 7-for-21. Look for Gutierrez to play center field tonight.
  • Normally we would get pretty excited about Nate Tenbrink getting four hits with two doubles and a homer, scoring four runs, and driving in four more. But today? Meh.
  • Sky Sox starting pitcher Chris Volstad has been a major league rotation member for the last five years, and he opened this season in the majors with the Rockies. He allowed 11 runs in 2.1 innings.
  • Colorado Springs backup catcher Dallas Tarleton pitched a scoreless top of the ninth inning. This came after the Rainiers scored 25 runs against real pitchers.
  • The Rainiers 25 runs last night is more runs than the parent Seattle Mariners have scored in their last eight games combined (24).
  • Overlooked in all of the offense, Tacoma starter Andrew Carraway delivered another Quality Start – his seventh in his last eight outings. He’s 6-1 with a 2.98 ERA and nobody ever talks about him…

I got a request to post a picture of my scorecard from last night’s game. This is just the Tacoma side; click on the picture to enlarge it.

Note the excessive white-out on top of the inning columns due to batting around three times.

Note the excessive white-out on top of the inning columns due to batting around three times.

There are still two games left on this road trip before the Rainiers return home on Saturday. The question of how the teams will respond tonight is an interesting one.

Both teams are having “bullpen days” today because of scratched starting pitchers. James Paxton is battling a minor knee problem and will not pitch for Tacoma, and Sky Sox scheduled starter Roman Colon has landed on the disabled list.

Tonight’s game is at 6:05 (Pacific) and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jonathan Arias (0-0, 9.45) against Sky Sox RHP Corey Riordan (3-1, 5.60).

Links:

  • I wrote the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune, which includes some fun quotes from manager John Stearns.
  • The MiLB.com story on the game has quotes from Brad Miller and Abraham Almonte. One correction to the story: the previous high for runs scored in a game was 24, two years ago in Tucson – here’s my blog post on that game (note that Dustin Ackley factored heavily in that game, as well).
  • Yesterday the Mariners called up Alex Liddi to Seattle, and optioned pitcher Brandon Maurer to Tacoma. Ryan Divish has a report on the roster move and speculation about the Mariners starting rotation.
  • Jason Churchill has a scouting-centric post on Maurer and Jeremy Bonderman.
  • The Mariners lost a heart-breaker in San Diego, 3-2.
  • Former Mariners farm director Pedro Grifol has resurfaced as a major league coach with the Royals.
  • Elsewhere in the PCL, we had a bunch of normal scores. Were these guys even trying to score?
  • Sacramento beat Salt Lake, 7-2. Seven runs – is that all you got, Sacramento?
  • Seven runs was enough in Vegas yesterday, too – by far, as the 51s beat Reno, 7-1.
  • The Tucson paper has a story on the Padres playing “Murphy Ball” and bunting a lot – so they went out and beat Fresno with a walk-off home run by Jonathan Galvez.
  • Nashville topped Iowa, 4-3, as Caleb Gindl and Josh Prince each drove in a pair of runs.

How many runs will score tonight? The other day Sacramento won in Tucson, 20-5, and then got shut out the next day 2-0. Baseball!


Rainiers Move In To First; Sweeney Moves Up

May 29, 2013

The Rainiers won the opening game of the Colorado Springs series on Tuesday night, 5-4.

It was the first of 16 games between the two teams this season, and if it served as a preview of how the season series is going to go, we are in for a lot of exciting games.

Tacoma moved into first place with the win, a half-game ahead of the Sky Sox.

The key yesterday was the relief pitching of Brian Moran and Logan Bawcom, and I wrote about them in the game story (link down below).

Here I want to talk about Brian Sweeney, who earned the win despite not having a real good outing (by his standards). Sweeney allowed three runs over 2.2 innings, but Tacoma took the lead while he was on the hill.

Sweeney improved his season won-loss record to 6-1. The victory was the 34th of his career in a Tacoma uniform, and he is now tied for sixth on the all-time Tacoma win list. Here’s how it looks:

  1. Ron Herbel (1961-1963, 1972) – 43
  2. Mark Wiley (1972-1976) – 40
  3. Steve Luebber (1972-1973, 1975, 1977) – 39
  4. Eddie Bane (1974-1977) – 38
  5. Gerry Thomas (1962-1964) – 36
  6. Mike Pazik (1974-1976), Brian Sweeney (1999-2000, 2002-2003, 2010, 2012-2013) – 34

He needs nine wins to tie Herbel. Seems unlikely for 2013, but you never know!

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 Andrew Carraway (5-1, 2.98) against Colorado Springs RHP Chris Volstad (2-0, 4.02).

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. The story focused on Tacoma’s pitching yesterday.
  • Mike Zunino spoke to the Colorado Springs paper about the Rainiers pitching approach.
  • The Mariners lost to the Padres, 6-1. They have some injury issues.
  • The Seattle Times has more reaction from Nick Franklin on his call-up.
  • Jackson Generals broadcaster Chris Harris did a fine job handling the skunk delay last night in Tennessee. Video.
  • Speaking of Jackson, Erasmo Ramirez tossed five innings yesterday in his first appearance of the year. He’ll be in Tacoma soon, I think.
  • In the PCL, Reno’s Kila Ka’aihue hit his league-leading 15th home run and the Aces won in Las Vegas, 6-5.
  • Sacramento is heating up – the River Cats topped Salt Lake last night, 9-4.
  • Tucson took down Fresno, 5-1. The story focuses on reliever Colt Hynes.
  • Nashville interim manager Charlie Green is fitting in nicely, but the Sounds still aren’t winning.
  • Aaron Cunningham homered twice in Round Rock’s 3-2 win at New Orleans.
  • My main man from last year – Wil Myershomered twice last night in the International League.

Great start to the series here in the Springs, let’s see if it can continue tonight.


Miracle Comeback In Reno

May 28, 2013

Tacoma pulled off something new on Monday afternoon in Reno: a miracle comeback.

Trailing 10-6 going to the top of the ninth inning, Tacoma rallied to score five runs and claim an 11-10 win. Alex Liddi (he went 4-for-5) and Stefen Romero had big two-run doubles in the rally, with Romero’s game-winner coming with two outs.

The Rainiers earned a split of the four-game series, which was a nice turnabout seeing how it looked like it was going to be yet another series loss at Aces Ballpark.

Tacoma (31-21) gained a game on first place Colorado Springs, and the Rainiers are only a half-game out of first going into the big series that starts tonight.

Roster Round-Up

Prior to yesterday’s game we had six roster moves.

The Mariners called up Nick Franklin and Hector Noesi, sending down Dustin Ackley and Lucas Luetge. Both Ackley and Luetge are expected to join the team today in Colorado.

Tacoma sent Jimmy Gillheeney to Double-A Jackson, and brought up Forrest Snow from Jackson. Snow pitched in relief yesterday.

Colorado Springs Preview

The Sky Sox are 31-19 on the season, good for first place in the Pac-North. Tacoma will play the Sky Sox 16 times this season, and tonight is the first game.

Colorado Springs missed a chance to get a four-game sweep of Fresno, dropping the final game of the series yesterday, 8-1.

Despite that score, the Sky Sox are in first place because of offense. They have a formidable lineup, featuring major league types like Tyler Colvin and Josh Rutledge along with young, dangerous hitters Ryan Wheeler and Matt McBride. The Sky Sox lead the PCL in runs scored and have a team batting average of .301.

Their pitching staff ranks in the middle of the league – and that’s not bad, considering the environment. Colorado Springs sits roughly 6,200 feet above sea level, and baseballs fly around Security Service Field. They installed a baseball humidor last year to prevent balls from drying out, and it seemed to temper the scoring a little bit.

The Sky Sox ace pitcher is Drew Pomeranz, and he is scheduled to start the final game of the series on Friday.

Colorado Springs has a new manager this year: Glenallen Hill, former major league outfielder who spent part of the 1998 season with the Mariners.

Tonight’s Game

It will start at 6:05 (Pacific) and will air on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jeremy Bonderman (2-4, 4.68) against Sky Sox RHP Drew Carpenter (1-4, 6.38).

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story detailing the comeback has reaction from Alex Liddi.
  • John McGrath wrote about the Dustin Ackley transaction.
  • Aaron Harang tossed a shutout and the Mainers won their second in a row.
  • Geoff Baker wrote about the Jeremy Bonderman situation. Today may be Bonderman’s last game with Tacoma.
  • If you want to get depressed, read Baker’s blog post on the big picture.
  • Nick Franklin was John Sickels’ prospect of the day.
  • For ESPN Insiders: Keith Law updated his Top-25 Prospects list, and one Rainiers player appears.
  • Baseball Prospectus subscribers can read Ben Lindbergh’s take on the Michael PinedaJesus Montero trade.
  • In the PCL, the Sky Sox lost to Fresno yesterday, 8-1. Shane Loux pitched a complete game for the Grizzlies.
  • The Colorado Springs paper has a preview of the big series with Tacoma. It contains the unfortunate news that I will have to endure another Jimmy Buffett Night.
  • Tony Pena’s kid hit two homers and Las Vegas beat Salt Lake, 9-7.
  • One day after losing 20-1, Tucson shut out Sacramento 2-0. As River Cats broadcaster Johnny Doskow said on twitter, this is why baseball is the greatest game.
  • New Orleans was unable to finish off a sweep of Omaha. Kevin Kouzmanoff is getting healthy with the Zephyrs.
  • An Iowa reliever has returned from Tommy John surgery.
  • Albuquerque’s Alfredo Amezaga hit a three-run double in the ninth to beat Nashville.

This should be a fun series!


Please No, Not Another Streak!

May 27, 2013

One day after ending Tacoma’s 14-game Aces Ballpark exclusive losing streak, the Rainiers went out and… lost to Reno, 8-4.

This better not be the start of another awful Reno streak.

Tacoma scored four runs on six straight hits to open the third inning, taking a 4-0 lead. After that, the Rainiers had one baserunner for the remainder of the game.

The Rainiers are still in second place, but they now trail first-place Colorado Spring by 1.5 games. Tacoma travels to the Springs on Tuesday to see the Sky Sox for the first time this year.

We have a big-time roster shake-up today, as the Mariners continue to try to solve problems at the major league level. Here’s what I know so far:

The Mariners have called up Nick Franklin and Hector Noesi. Dustin Ackley and Lucas Luetge were optioned to Tacoma.

Jimmy Gillheeney was sent to Double-A Jackson, and Forrest Snow has come up from Jackson to Tacoma.

One game remains in Reno and the Rainiers can get a series split with a win. As I type this, I don’t know who is starting for either team. Noesi got called up by Seattle, and Reno starter Tyler Skaggs got called up because the Diamondbacks need him in a doubleheader today. It looks like both Tacoma and Reno are having bullpen days.

Today’s game is at 1:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM, or streaming online right here.

Links:

  • I wrote the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune, but it did not get posted to the newspaper’s website. You gotta buy a paper to read my stuff!
  • The Mariners eight-game losing streak came to an end yesterday, with a 13-inning win over Texas. Yoervis Medina got some big outs.
  • In the PCL, Colorado Springs topped Fresno, 8-6. The Sky Sox go for a sweep today.
  • Josh Satin homered and the Las Vegas 51s beat Salt Lake, 13-9. That’s the first story I have read that included a player’s SAT score.
  • Tyler Skaggs is starting in the majors instead of in Reno.
  • Good story from Colorado Springs on Fresno pitching coach and friend-of-the-blog Pat Rice.
  • Iowa swept a doubleheader from Oklahoma City.
  • New Orleans put down Omaha, 5-1.
  • Khris Davis had three hits and Nashville defeated Albuquerque.

Have a great Memorial Day holiday, and take a moment to remember what it is all about.


It’s Over!

May 26, 2013

Tacoma ended its 14-game Reno-only losing streak with a 9-5 win at Aces Ballpark on Saturday night.

It was Tacoma’s first win in Reno since April 30, 2011 – or roughly 25 months.

After the game, winning pitcher Blake Beavan said “that was the first time I’ve ever shook hands here,” referring to the team’s post-victory congratulations around the pitcher’s mound.

Eric Thames had a big game at the plate, launching a long home run and finishing with four RBI.

Of note, Jesus Montero ripped a triple. The right-center fence is 424 feet from home plate, and he hit a deep fly that direction. There wasn’t any circus in the outfield or anything – he just hit it in a gap that was very far away from third base, and turned it into a triple.

For more on the game, check the first link below.

Today’s game is at 1:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Use the TuneIn app for smart phones and iPads, etc. Tacoma starts LHP Jimmy Gillheeney (2-1, 3.62) against Reno RHP Charles Brewer (2-4, 4.85).

Links:

That’s all of the links I have time for this morning – a slow internet connection in the Reno hotel is not helping things. The room service breakfast was pretty good, though, so it’s not all bad!


Crazy Reno Streak Continues

May 25, 2013

Tacoma lost it’s 14th consecutive game at Aces Ballpark in Reno on Friday night, 8-5.

This is a wacky streak. The Rainiers have gone 8-2 against Reno in the last ten games at Cheney Stadium, so something weird is going on here.

I can’t remember the last time I walked out of Aces Ballpark a winner, but fortunately this guy reminded me: it was April 30, 2011, when the Rainiers out-slugged Reno 11-9.

I firmly believe that you need to score 10+ runs to win in Reno (this stadium is the biggest launching pad in the PCL). The five runs Tacoma scored yesterday is just not going to cut it.

There were some interesting notes yesterday: South Kitsap High School alum Willie Bloomquist helped beat the Rainiers, and Jesus Montero played his first-ever game at first base. Details are in the game story linked below.

We have another roster move: the Mariners designated Robert Andino for assignment, and called up Carlos Triunfel. We’re all very happy for Triunfel, who showed improvement this year and hopefully will stick in the big leagues.

Today the Rainiers will add shortstop prospect Brad Miller to the roster. At Double-A Jackson, Miller hit .294 with six home runs and 25 RBI, with a .379 OBP. He made nine errors in 38 games in the infield (29 games at SS, six at 2B, three at 3B).

I expect Miller to play most games at shortstop, while occasionally flip-flopping with second baseman Nick Franklin so that both players continue to get some reps at the other position.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM, and streaming online right here. For smart phone and iPad listening, use the TuneIn app. Tacoma starts RHP Blake Beavan (2-2, 3.70) against Reno RHP Chase Anderson (3-5, 5.47).

Links:

I hereby decree that it is time to end this Reno losing streak. Begone, Reno losing streak!