We had a battle of top-shelf pitching prospects at Cheney Stadium last night, when Tacoma’s James Paxton squared off against Zack Wheeler of Las Vegas. The game turned out to be a hitter’s game instead, as the teams combined to score 17 runs on 25 hits.
It seems like that always happens.
Vegas roped nine extra-base hits (six doubles and three homers) and cruised to a 12-5 win. Nine of the runs came against Paxton, who had good stuff but poor command of his pitches. Lots of balls were up in the strike zone, causing long hits.
Wheeler’s easy 97 mph heat is fun to watch, but the Rainiers got to him eventually, too. Trailing 9-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Tacoma hitters went to work and scored three runs, forcing Wheeler to throw 38 pitches in the inning. In fact, Wheeler didn’t finish the fifth – he threw 105 pitches overall – and was not able to secure the win.
There wasn’t much drama in the late innings, as Vegas beat the Rainiers for the first time this season (in six tries!).
Tacoma still leads the Pac-North by 2.5 games over the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. One little note: the Rainiers have reached 13 games over .500 three times recently, but have not been able to get that next win for a new high-water mark. They keep fluctuating between 12 and 13 games over .500.
Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM or stream the broadcast online right here. A reminder for smart phones and iPads, etc, use the TuneIn app. Tacoma starts RHP Erasmo Ramirez (0-1, 3.18) against Las Vegas RHP Matt Fox (1-1, 4.09).
- We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
- The New York Post’s national baseball writer was at Cheney Stadium covering Zack Wheeler. Here is his story on Wheeler, and he also wrote about Las Vegas manager Wally Backman.
- The Tacoma Rainiers send out a heart-felt congratulations to Jeremy Bonderman, who earned his first big league win since September 8, 2010 in the Mariners 4-1 win over the Yankees last night. Nice work, Jeremy!
- The Mariners made their Round 3-through-10 draft picks yesterday. Rounds 11-40 are today.
- Todd Milles has a run-down on local players selected on day two of the MLB draft.
- Lots of children of former major leaguers were drafted, including Jacob May – the son of Mariners minor league hitting coordinator Lee May Jr.
- In the PCL, Reno downed Colorado Springs, 3-1, keeping the Tacoma lead at 2.5 games. We can thank Reno pitcher Michael Bolsinger, who was terrific in his Triple-A debut.
- Salt Lake has Peter Bourjos on rehab, and he was instrumental in the Bees 4-2 win over freefalling Fresno.
- Tucson has some big dudes on the team, including former Rainiers outfielder Mike Wilson. They couldn’t stop the Padres from getting hammered by Sacramento. 14-5.
- Omaha was shut down by Brett Oberholtzer and Oklahoma City, 5-2.
- Cubs prospect Junior Lake drew some oohs and aahs from the crowd, but Iowa lost to Martin Perez and Round Rock, 3-1.
- Albuquerque hit three homers in a 4-1 win at New Orleans. Former Mariners lefty Aaron Laffey delivered seven strong innings.
- Nashville got edged in Memphis, 2-1.
- Not the PCL, but there was an epic game in the Double-A Texas League last night. Sixteen innings, 5 hours, 25 minutes, and a mid-game fireworks delay.
Only two games left on this homestand, and then the Rainiers go on the longest road trip of the year: 12 games.