We’re back from the All-Star break and ready to get the “second half” started tonight, when the Rainiers take on Fresno at Chukchansi Park.
Tacoma comes out of the all-star break in first place in the Pacific-North division standings. The Rainiers hold a one-game lead over Salt Lake, and Colorado Springs is also in the mix as they are only three games back.
Tacoma went into the break with a four-game losing streak; hopefully the three days off will help the team pull out of that spiral.
We’ve got some news to pass along, so let’s get to it.
Pitching Coach Trade
The Mariners have made a mid-season pitching coach exchange, sending longtime Tacoma pitching coach Dwight Bernard to Double-A Jackson, and promoting Terry Clark from Jackson to Tacoma.
This is very strange. I’ve been in minor league baseball for 20 years, and this is my 15th in Tacoma. I’ve never seen any team in any league I’ve worked in make a mid-season exchange of coaches like this.
While he hasn’t elected to speak about it publicly, I can assure you that Dwight was surprised by the news.
The prevailing opinion is that this job trade was made solely to assist one man: Taijuan Walker. Walker made huge strides working with Clark over the course of the first half at Jackson, showing massive improvement and earning his recent promotion to Tacoma.
While Walker was also excelling under Bernard – he actually had improved numbers, allowing just one run in his first 16 innings – clearly the Mariners believe his working relationship with Clark is extremely valuable.
Clark is in his first season in the Mariners organization. He has previously worked with three other pitchers currently on the Rainiers staff: Chance Ruffin, Forrest Snow, and Jonathan Arias.
The big question – and I don’t have an answer to it – is this: what about all of the successful work Bernard has done with the rest of the guys on the pitching staff?
Another issue for down the road is that it could be difficult for the Mariners to hire quality minor league coaches in the future. Candidates now know that they might get shuffled around the organization during the season.
The PCL lost the Triple-A All-Star Game to the International League, 4-3.
Indianapolis catcher Tony Sanchez hit a three-run homer in the top of the second inning, giving the IL a 4-2 lead. At that moment it appeared that we were in store for a typical Reno slugfest. However, the all-star pitching staffs took over from that point forward.
The Rainiers players availed themselves nicely.
Brian Moran entered in the top of the fifth inning and pitched a scoreless frame. He struck out Jim Negrych and Chris Colabello, allowed a single to Vince Belnome, and then got Mauro Gomez to pop up to end the inning.
Carlos Peguero went into right field in the sixth. He drew an eight-pitch walk in his lone plate appearance, leading off the seventh.
Peguero was on deck when the game ended. If the PCL had managed to get one baserunner in the bottom of the ninth, Peguero would’ve had a shot at a walk-off. Instead, he was stranded in the on-deck circle.
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 Brandon Maurer (2-4, 5.40) against Fresno LHP Eric Surkamp (2-0, 2.81).
- The Mariners reasoning behind the Tacoma pitching coach exchange can be found in this story from MiLB.com.
- Reports from the Reno newspaper on the Triple-A All-Star Game: a game story, a notebook, a piece on keynote speaker John Smoltz, a fan reaction piece, and a general news story on the event itself.
- John McGrath writes that the fate of Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik and his entire staff are on the line in the second half. This type of job stress can cause unusual moves like mid-season minor league pitching coach exchanges.
- Ryan Divish has his Mariners mid-season review.
- The Seattle Times sent Larry Stone to the major league all-star game – he filed a game story, and a piece on Felix‘s scoreless inning. Stone also caught up with former Rainiers Adam Jones and Steve Delabar.
- Geoff Baker has one of his long blog posts about who the Mariners might trade at the deadline. I’m not a big trade speculation guy, but I know a lot of you are – so here it is.
- Hometown hero Matt Davidson won the Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby.
- Forbes named the Sacramento River Cats as the most valuable minor league baseball team.
- Albuquerque all-star Nick “Chili” Buss goes by his real middle name – his father gave him the middle name in homage to Chili Davis.
- Former Rainiers Steve Delabrador, Dog Fister, and Shih Tzu Choo all make the list of Top 50 Baseball Dog Names. << warning: ridiculous sense of humor required.
- The Cuban National Team is playing in Des Moines right now, and a player defected. For some reason the headline “Cuban Player Defects To Iowa” makes me laugh. Defect to Iowa? Is that even possible?
One thing I won’t be doing this weekend: defecting to Fresno. No chance.