After playing 47 games all alone at the top of the division standings, the Rainiers have company.
Salt Lake moved into a first-place tie with Tacoma yesterday, winning their game against Sacramento before Tacoma lost at Fresno, 5-2.
While there have been signs that the Tacoma hitters are ready to break out again (seven runs, 13 hits on Thursday; 11 runs, 14 hits on Saturday), the team still goes through long stretches where it just looks flat on offense. Tacoma has lost seven of the last eight games, scoring two runs or fewer in six of them.
Manager John Stearns said after the game that he’ll be getting players out for early hitting work with hitting coach Howard Johnson during the homestand which starts tonight.
I know that there is a sense that the Rainiers aren’t going to be able to hang on to the division – the losses were massive (Nick Franklin, Alex Liddi, Eric Thames, Mike Zunino, Brad Miller) – but Tacoma has some things going in its favor right now. First, the starting rotation is strong, and the pitching has been good even through this downturn. Second, the schedule favors Tacoma: the Rainiers have four games left with Salt Lake, all at home. Tacoma has five games left with Colorado Springs, all at home.
There are exactly six weeks left – 42 games. The Rainiers have a home field edge, with 25 at home and 17 on the road. The two contenders have to come to Cheney, with no return games remaining.
Tucson comes to town now, and they are in first place in the Pacific-South. Tacoma just took two-of-three from them in their ballpark before the all-star break – with the same group of players we see now.
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 (6-7, 4.58) against Tucson RHP Brandon Kloess (2-3, 4.05).
- We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
- The Mariners crushed the Houston Astros to complete a three-game sweep, and have now won six in a row. Interesting series ahead: the last time the Mariners got hot, they went to Cleveland and got swept in a four-gamer. Now the Indians come to Safeco.
- Salt Lake scored eight straight runs to beat Sacramento, 9-7, and pull into a tie with Tacoma. Click the link just to see the picture of the Salt Lake bee dumping a bucket of water on some poor kid (note face of other youngster in background).
- Tucson lost to Colorado Springs last night, 6-4. The Sky Sox are one game behind Tacoma and Salt Lake.
- Las Vegas worked Reno, 15-8. Former Rainiers pitcher DJ Mitchell got the win in relief, helping himself at the plate with a three-run double.
- Oklahoma City escaped a jam and won in Memphis, 3-2. Let me tell you from first-hand experience, it’s difficult to escape a (blues) jam in Memphis.
- I liked the headline in the Albuquerque Journal: ‘Topes chased by Storm.
- New Orleans got whipped by Nashville, 7-1.
- Evan Meek tossed eight scoreless and Round Rock beat Iowa, 3-0. Somehow, the newspaper story was able to focus on a players socks without getting boring.
- Oklahoma City emerged with a 3-2 win at Memphis. Wade LeBlanc pitched well, and things got tight in the ninth inning.
It’s great to be back home – lots of home games left this year!