Location Changes, Rainiers Stay The Same

The environment was different, but the Rainiers settled right in to Cheney Stadium in the opening game of an eight-game homestand on Saturday night.

After eight straight road games played in launching pads at Reno and Colorado Springs, Tacoma pitchers rejoiced upon arrival at Cheney Stadium, for the wind was blowing in. Strongly. Straight in from left field.

For the first time in nine days, there were no home runs.

Sacramento took advantage of some sloppy Tacoma infield play to score three runs in the top of the first, but James Paxton, Brian Sweeney, Lucas Luetge, and Logan Bawcom combined to deliver eight scoreless innings after that.

The Rainiers took advantage of a Sacramento error to get back in the game, then tied it in the fifth.

With the score 3-3, Eric Thames pulled a one-out double to right in the bottom of the seventh. Then shortstop Brad Miller crushed a long triple over the head of the center fielder to bring in the go-ahead run. Miller scampered home on a safety squeeze bunt single by Abraham Almonte, and the Rainiers had a two-run cushion.

Sweeney got the win, raising his record to 7-1 on the year. He leads all PCL pitchers in victories – and he also claimed sole possession of 6th place on the Tacoma All-Time Win List, with his 35th career Tacoma win.

We had a roster move prior to the game, which was already well-publicized: first baseman Jesus Montero hit the disabled list with a torn meniscus in his left knee, and he’s out 4-6 weeks. Replacing him on the roster is recently outrighted infielder Robert Andino.

We’ll have at least one roster move today: pitcher Jeremy Bonderman was called up by the Mariners, and the Rainiers are adding pitcher Erasmo Ramirez. The Mariners had to make a 40-man roster move for Bonderman; they designated Vinnie Catricala for assignment. Also, the Mariners placed Justin Smoak on the DL with a strained oblique to make room for Bonderman – this means Alex Liddi gets to stay in the big leagues for longer; I thought he would be on his way back to Tacoma today.

Today’s game is at 1:35, and it seems like a great day to head out to Cheney Stadium. If you can’t make it to the park, the broadcast airs on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streams online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Erasmo Ramirez (0-0, 0.00) against Sacramento RHP Bruce Billings (6-2, 4.78).

Links:

  • We start with Meg Wochnick’s Rainiers game story from The News Tribune, with reaction from Brad Miller.
  • My weekly minor league notebook for the paper is about Denny Almonte‘s big change.
  • The Mariners got walked off in Minneapolis. Bummer.
  • Ryan Divish has the details on the Jesus Montero injury.
  • Refill your coffee and settle in for Larry Stone’s Sunday baseball package: we have an entertaining column about the 2009 draft and the what-ifs, power rankings, and thumbs up-and-down.
  • Meanwhile, John McGrath has a column on Dustin Ackley and the draft. It’s classic McGrath: first he made me laugh, then he had me hooked.
  • In the PCL, former Rainiers infielder Luis Rodriguez slugged a grand slam* to help his Salt Lake Bees beat Colorado Springs, 7-4. With that result, Tacoma now has a 2.5-game lead over the Sky Sox. Thanks, Luis!
  • Zack Wheeler was on the hill for Vegas, it was Star Wars Night in Fresno, and you might as well just put it on a tee for Fresno Bee writer Marek W in this game story. Wheeler dominated and Vegas won, 2-1.
  • It’s just not the Reno Aces year. The top hitter on the defending PCL champions team took an “out” in his contract and became a free agent. PCL home run leader Kila Ka’aihue is on the open market. Then the Aces lost in extra innings to Tucson.
  • Kevin Kouzmanoff is healthy and he went 4-for-7 with two doubles, a homer, and four RBI in the New Orleans Zephyrs 7-6 come-from-behind, 13-inning win at Iowa last night.
  • Oklahoma City had a six-run rally in the ninth inning to beat Albuquerque, 13-10.
  • I’m concerned about longtime Omaha manager Mike Jirschele, who is quoted as saying “It’s been one of those two weeks” in the story on the Storm Chasers 8-5 win over Memphis.
  • Round Rock beat Nashville, 8-5. In the story, Ryan Feierabend recalls draft day (the draft starts Thursday).

I’m pulling for Jeremy Bonderman to have a good start this morning (11:05 AM first pitch I think). It’s been a long time between MLB pitches for him, and he worked hard to get back.

* I laughed so hard I almost shot coffee out of my nose reading that newspaper article – they were pranking the writer, using an interpreter for Rodriguez. I did a radio interview with Luis last season and his English is very good!

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