Omaha Takes Opener

July 31, 2013

The Omaha Storm Chasers won the opening game of the series on Tuesday night, 4-1. They beat Tacoma’s Taijuan Walker, who has now allowed nine runs in his last 11 innings.

Walker gave up nine hits and four runs over six innings. He was leaving pitches up in the zone during the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th innings.

It could have been a lot worse for Walker, but center fielder Abraham Almonte threw out two runners at third base. That was fun to watch – since Omaha and Tacoma were playing for the first time this year, the Storm Chasers had no idea about Almonte’s great arm. They learned through experience; I doubt they will challenge him anymore.

As fun as it was watching Almonte gun down two runners, it was disturbing to see the Rainiers make two more baserunning blunders that cost them unnecessary outs. The Rainiers have been hurt badly by mental errors in the last three games.

Tacoma has lost four in a row, and now trails Salt Lake by two games in the standings. Hopefully they can get it turned around tonight.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM, streaming right here, and available via the TuneIn app for iPads and smart phones. Tacoma starts RHP Blake Beavan (4-3, 5.37) against Omaha LHP Chris Dwyer (7-8, 3.46).

Links:

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Rainiers Return Home

July 30, 2013

Reno is in the rear-view mirror – thank goodness – as the Rainiers open an eight-game homestand tonight at Cheney Stadium.

Bad things happen to the Rainiers in Reno, and that trend continued as they lost in the bottom of the ninth inning yesterday, 7-6. The game ended on a walk-off error.

Even though Tacoma has been one of the best teams in the PCL all season, and Reno has been one of the league’s worst all season, the Aces went 10-6 against Tacoma this year.

The Rainiers have never won a season series against Reno. Maybe next year?

Anyway, we’re done with those guys. Now the Omaha Storm Chasers come to town for a four-game series.

The Royals Triple-A club is coming in hot: they’ve won four of their last five games, and are 18-10 since June 29.

Omaha has a former Rainiers catcher in Adam Moore – although he is on the disabled list, and I’m not sure if he made the trip to Tacoma.

The Storm Chasers also have Ben Broussard on the roster. The 36-year-old first baseman is part of Mariners infamy: in a 2006 deadline deal, Seattle traded then-Rainiers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to Cleveland for Broussard. It has gone down as one of the worst trades in Mariners history.

Omaha’s hot hitter to keep an eye on is Christian Colon. The former first-round draft pick homered in three straight games last week, and has four dingers in his last ten games. His season numbers aren’t impressive, but he’s hitting .309 in July and is young enough that this might be a case of a player improving over the course of the season.

Today’s game is at 7:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM, streaming right here, and available via the TuneIn app for iPads and smart phones. Tacoma starts RHP Taijuan Walker (2-0, 2.42) against Omaha RHP Brian Sanches (7-2, 3.44).

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • The paper also has a huge feature on Jesus Montero, and where he stands in the Mariners organization.
  • The Mariners activated Michael Morse from the disabled list, and designated Jason Bay for assignment. It’s one of those ten-day deals for Bay – although it seems extraordinarily unlikely that he would come to Tacoma.
  • Larry Stone has a piece on interim Mariners manager Robby Thompson.
  • Someone punched the Mariners Moose.
  • Mariners pitching prospect Edwin Diaz gets some love from Baseball America in this notebook.
  • Tucson’s bullpen locked down Salt Lake, and the Padres 4-3 victory kept Tacoma just one game out of first.
  • Las Vegas swept a doubleheader from Sacramento, Jordany Valdespin “pimped” a homer, there was a beanball war, benches cleared, managers Wally Backman and Steve Scarsone went at it, and everyone got ejected. Vegas, baby!
  • Fresno’s game at Colorado Springs yesterday was rained out.
  • Everything you want to know about how Manny Ramirez is doing in Round Rock is right here.
  • Nashville’s Aaron Laffey prevented Omaha from sweeping the Sounds. In the notes, we learn that we are not going to get to see Omaha flamethrower Yordano Ventura.
  • Oklahoma City’s George Springer needs one homer for a 30-30 season.
  • I’m all-for pink jerseys to raise money for breast cancer awareness, but designers can make them look classy, right? Albuquerque won in these things.

It’s great to be home for an extended stretch, now let’s see if Walker can deal tonight.


Rainiers Get 17 Hits, Lose, Gain Ground

July 29, 2013

It was a weird day all-around for the Rainiers on Sunday.

The team collected 17 hits in Reno, but scored only five runs and lost to the Aces, 6-5. Fundamental problems on the bases were detrimental in the late innings.

Even though the team lost, they gained a half-game on first place Salt Lake. The Bees dropped both games of a doubleheader in Tucson, ending their seven-game winning streak and starting a two-game losing streak.

Tacoma is now one game out of first place, with 35 to play.

Nate Tenbrink hit a three-run homer last night, continuing his hot hitting. He’s hit in eight straight games since the all-star break, with four home runs during the stretch.

Rehabbing Mariners slugger Michael Morse was a late scratch from the lineup. It appears that his rehab is over and he’ll be activated by the Mariners tomorrow in Boston.

For the fifth season in a row, the Rainiers have lost the season series to Reno. However, Tacoma can salvage a split of this four-game road series with a victory today.

Today’s game is at 1:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM, streaming right here, and available via the TuneIn app for iPads and smart phones. Tacoma starts RHP Hector Noesi (2-1, 7.20) against Reno RHP Nate Adcock (2-1, 8.00).

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • Nick Franklin homered twice as the Mariners beat the Twins yesterday, earning a split of the four-game series.
  • Larry Stone has notes on Eric Wedge and Daren Brown.
  • Tucson swept that doubleheader from Salt Lake. First game, second game. Thank you, Padres!
  • Sacramento lost a home game in Las Vegas. Yes, in Las Vegas. They play a DH today.
  • Jeff Manship steered Colorado Springs to victory, ending the Sky Sox six-game losing streak.
  • Oklahoma City’s George Springer is going off, and he has a chance to win minor league player of the year awards. Tacoma missed him – Springer was in Double-A when the Rainiers played the RedHawks in May.
  • Brian Flynn tossed a gem and New Orleans won in Albuquerque, 3-2. Dee Gordon broke the Isotopes single-season stolen base record.
  • Omaha has been hot; they beat Nashville yesterday, 4-1.

The benefit of today’s day game is that the Rainiers get to fly home tonight. Everyone should be well-rested for the homestand that opens on Tuesday, with Taijuan Walker on the mound against Omaha at 7:05.


Pitcher’s Duel? In Reno? No. Way.

July 28, 2013

The good news is we saw the best pitcher’s dues in the five-year history of Aces Ballpark last night. The bad news is that the Rainiers lost, 1-0.

Tacoma’s James Paxton and Reno’s Zeke Spruill locked horns in the first ever 1-0 game at Reno’s launching pad, which was built in 2009.

Paxton gave up a run in the second inning on a single to right, a sharp grounder back to the mound that went off his glove for an infield single, a wild pitch, and a sacrifice fly.

That was it – the only run of the game. Paxton went eight innings, giving up four hits and one run with no walks.

Paxton has not walked a batter in 26 innings pitched. He’s allowed five runs in his last 30 innings, for a 1.50 ERA over his past four starts.

After a rocky start to the season, Paxton has now been highly effective for eight starts, posting a 2.41 ERA during that span. Looks like he’s ready to help in Seattle, whenever he is needed.

Tonight’s game is at 6:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM, streaming right here, and available via the TuneIn app for iPads and smart phones. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (6-3, 4.05) against Reno RHP Charles Brewer (4-9, 5.47).

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story for The News Tribune has reaction from both managers regarding the brilliant pitcher’s duel. In the notes, Hector Noesi will take Brandon Maurer’s spot in the Tacoma rotation.
  • My minor league notebook for the paper looks at the incredible parity in the PCL, and the recent history of six-hit games.
  • In his Sunday baseball column at the Seattle Times, Larry Stone asks if the Mariners are going to use their head or their heart as the trade deadline approaches. Stone also has his power rankings.
  • Seattle got shut out by former PCL pitcher Samuel Deduno and the Twins last night.
  • The Mariners called up Brandon Maurer and will use him out of the bullpen.
  • Salt Lake keeps winning. The Bees beat Tucson last night, 4-2, to pull 1.5 games ahead of Tacoma.
  • Colorado Springs is sinking like a rock in a lake. The Sky Sox lost their sixth in a row yesterday.
  • Las Vegas took sole possession of first place in the South once again, beating Sacramento 9-4.
  • George Springer hit an inside-the-park home run to help Oklahoma City shut out Iowa.
  • Omaha beat Nashville in the 11th inning when Eugenio Velez dropped a fly ball.
  • Albuquerque defeated New Orleans twice on Saturday.
  • Since trading third baseman Mike Olt, Round Rock is playing a catcher at third. Leury Garcia hit a walk-off homer to beat Memphis last night, 6-5.
  • Cool story about the girls on the grounds crew in Oklahoma City.
  • Additional cool story about Ken Levine visiting Isotopes Park.

Rare Sunday night game tonight, followed by a day game on Monday. The Rainiers return home Tuesday night with Taijuan Walker on the mound against Omaha.


Rainiers Tame Aces After Wild Ride

July 27, 2013

Tacoma took down the Reno Aces in 12 innings last night, 9-7, in perhaps the craziest win of the season.

The game ended at 11:30 PM, and I quickly typed up a play-by-play style story for The News Tribune as we were well past the paper’s deadline.

I have no idea if the story made it into the print edition, and I can’t find it on their website, so… I’ll just copy it here.

RENO, Nev. – It took two tries, but eventually a two-run Tacoma lead in extra innings stood up.

Tacoma scored twice in the top of the 12th inning to defeat the Reno Aces in the opening game of a four-game series on Friday night, 9-7. It was the second straight extra-innings win for the Rainiers, who have won four of their last five games.

Carlos Peguero was the hitting star, going 6-for-7 at the plate while contributing in almost every Rainiers rally.

Peguero singled in his first two at-bats against rehabilitating Arizona Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy. However, he was the only Tacoma batter to have any early success against McCarthy, who carried a 5-1 lead into the sixth inning.

Michael Morse led off the sixth with a single, before Peguero homered to straight-away center field for his 16th of the season.

Peguero’s fourth hit was a leadoff double in the eighth, and he later scored on Carlos Triunfel’s single to make it 5-4.

Tacoma (60-47) would tie the score in the ninth, when Stefen Romero tripled home Nate Tenbrink with one out. Romero was stranded at third, as Aces closer Chaz Roe struck out Morse on three pitches before getting Peguero to ground out – Peguero’s only out of the night.

Abraham Almonte and Robert Andino each hit solo home runs in the top of the tenth against Reno reliever Brett Lorin, and Tacoma had a 7-5 lead.

Three batters into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Aces had tied it up. Juan Rivera, Brad Snyder, and Alfredo Marte greeted Tacoma closer Logan Bawcom with consecutive hits.

Marte reached third with one out, but Bawcom stranded him there and the game moved on.

Peguero’s fifth hit – a single – helped load the bases in the top of the 11th, but Tacoma was unable to score.

Two runs in the top of the 12th did the trick. Andino hit a leadoff single against Eury De La Rosa, and Tenbrink sacrificed him to second before Ty Kelly reached on an infield single putting runners at the corners.

Stefen Romero lifted a sac fly to center, scoring Andino as Kelly advanced to second. Reno elected to intentionally walk Morse and face Peguero – who singled through the left side for his sixth hit, driving in Kelly with a big insurance run.

Peguero became the second Tacoma player to collect six hits in a game this season, joining Abraham Almonte. Only two Rainiers had accomplished the feat in the previous 13 years.

Jonathan Arias retired all three batters he faced in the bottom of the ninth, earning his first Triple-A save.

Short Hops: the Rainiers found themselves with just one catcher on the roster, because Jason Jaramillo was left back in Seattle in case he was needed to replace the injured Mike Zunino. Scott Savastano served as the emergency catcher on Friday, and Jaramillo is expected to rejoin the team today.

Tacoma now trails Salt Lake by a half-game in the standings.

Roster update: today the Mariners called up Tacoma starter Brandon Maurer, with the intention of using him as a reliever. They optioned Hector Noesi to Tacoma.

Maurer was listed as Monday’s starter for Tacoma – I do not know yet who is going to take his spot in the rotation, but Brian Sweeney is always a good guess.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM, streaming right here, and available via the TuneIn app for iPads and smart phones. Tacoma starts LHP James Paxton (7-7, 4.40) against Reno RHP Zeke Spruill (3-3, 3.64).

Links:

  • The Mariners lost in 13 innings last night, 3-2.
  • Mike Zunino is out roughly six weeks with a broken hamate bone. The Mariners signed free agent Humberto Quintero to fill his spot.
  • Salt Lake was rained out in Tucson (it’s monsoon season – click on the picture in that link). They’ll try to play one game tonight, and then a makeup doubleheader tomorrow.
  • Colorado Springs is in a free fall – they took a 6-3 lead into the ninth inning at home last night, only to see Fresno score seven runs and win the game 10-6. The PCL’s leading hitter Corey Dickerson was recalled by the Rockies.
  • Big battle in the South, where Sacramento won the series opener at Las Vegas to pull into a tie for first with the 51s. Las Vegas manager Wally Backman wants to win the division.
  • Chris Dwyer tossed a gem and Omaha beat Nashville, 6-1.
  • Memphis downed Round Rock, 7-4.
  • Oklahoma City used a huge inning to defeat Iowa, 10-6.
  • Ken Levine posted the portion of the script he wrote for The Simpsons in which he unwittingly named the Albuquerque Isotopes. The ‘Topes game yesterday was suspended due to rain – in the first inning.

If I wasn’t in Reno, I would definitely attend the second annual Moveable Feast on Sunday at Cheney Stadium. There will be nearly 40 food trucks there, so bring an empty stomach.


Poythress Produces

July 26, 2013

Tacoma first baseman Rich Poythress had his second huge game in the last week, hitting two home runs including a walk-off shot in the Rainiers 6-5 win over Tucson on Thursday night.

The victory gave Tacoma a series victory over Tucson (three games to one), and kept Tacoma within one game of the streaking Salt Lake Bees.

Poythress hit a two-run homer in the fourth, doubled in the sixth, and then pulled his game-winning blast in the tenth.

It was the second two-homer game since the all-star break for Poythress, who is hitting .364 (8-for-22) with four homers and 11 RBI in six games since the break.

Poythress’s big game took the spotlight from starting pitcher Taijuan Walker, who struggled for his first time at the Triple-A level.

After four starts holding the opponent to either one or zero runs, Walker gave up five in five innings.

Still, there were stretches where he looked outstanding: in the first three innings, he retired nine of the ten batters to come to the plate – six via strikeout. He hung a breaking ball to former Rainiers slugger Mike Wilson, and we all know what happens when a pitcher does that: dinger.

It was the fourth inning when he struggled. With two on and two out, he allowed four straight batters to reach base – the bottom four in the Tucson lineup – and four runs crossed the plate. It appeared to me that he was simply leaving pitches up in the strike zone during this stretch.

After Walker left, four Tacoma relievers combined to toss five shutout innings to help the club to the victory. Brian Sweeney, Carter Capps, Bobby LaFromboise, and Josh Kinney did the work.

Rainiers catcher Jason Jaramillo contributed a huge hit: a two-out, two-strike RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the game, 5-5.

Now the team moves on to Reno, to face the last-place Aces. However, it was the Aces who swept Tacoma in the four-game series at Cheney Stadium heading into the all-star break, sending Tacoma into a tailspin in which they lost eight out of ten games.

Reno is back to plummeting in the standings, though: they just played an EIGHT GAME MEGA SERIES against Las Vegas, and lost seven of ’em – including the last five in a row. Their pitching has not been strong – they have given up 10+ runs in three of the last five games.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM, streaming right here, and available via the TuneIn app for iPads and smart phones. Tacoma starts RHP Blake Beavan (4-3, 5.10) against rehabilitating twitter star Arizona Diamondbacks RHP Brandon McCarthy (0-0, 12.46).

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune is chock-full-of Poythress.
  • The Mariners clubbed the Twins, Ryan Divish writes. They’ve won nine of the last ten games.
  • Chris Nelson helped the Salt Lake Bees win their sixth in a row. Salt Lake opens a series at Tucson tonight.
  • Colorado Springs is dropping in the standings, after getting walked off by Sacramento last night.
  • Las Vegas edged Reno, 5-3, and has now won eight of its last nine games.

That’s all of the links for today, due to PCL travel. Will have updates for you all weekend!


Rainiers Rebound

July 25, 2013

Tacoma bounced back and picked up a 5-3 win over Tucson on Wednesday night, remaining one game behind Salt Lake in the Pacific-North standings.

Brandon Maurer had his best start since early June, lasting 6.2 innings allowing just five hits and two earned runs. He struck out a season-high eight batters,

The rehabilitating Franklin Gutierrez made an impact offensively, driving in three runs with a single, a double, and a sac fly.

Guti managed all of those RBIs because leadoff man Abraham Almonte kept getting on base. Almonte singled, doubled, and tripled – scoring a run each time he reached base.

Two other rehabilitating Mariners factored in the game. Michael Morse was 0-for-3 with a walk as the DH – look for Morse to play most of the game in right field tonight. Relief pitcher Stephen Pryor contributed a 1-2-3 eighth inning, protecting a two-run cushion.

The Rainiers have won two of the first three games against Tucson, and they have a chance to notch a series victory tonight. Considering all that has happened lately, a home series victory would be a huge step toward getting things back on track.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM, streaming right here, and available via the TuneIn app for iPads and smart phones. Tacoma starts RHP Taijuan Walker (2-0, 0.86) against Tucson LHP Robbie Erlin (6-3, 5.21).

Links:

This is the last game of the brief homestand, but don’t fret: the road trip that starts Friday is just a four-game weekend junket to Reno, and the Rainiers will be back home on Tuesday night.