Rainiers Struggle But Still Afloat

Tacoma lost its third straight game in Tucson on Friday night, and this one was ugly: the Rainiers trailed 13-1 after eight innings, before rallying to score five runs in the ninth and make the final score a bit more respectable at 13-6.

Fortunately, the team is still only four games behind first-place Salt Lake. The Bees lost their sixth in a row yesterday, and just like Tacoma they have dropped the first three games of their current five-game series.

Somebody is going to have to win when the Bees come to Tacoma on Monday. In the meantime, Tacoma has two more chances to try to narrow the gap.

One thing we know will happen tonight: we will be entertained. The San Diego Chicken – or if you prefer, The Famous Chicken – will be making a rare appearance at Tucson’s Kino Stadium tonight.

The Chicken essentially invented the modern mascot, following in the grand tradition of Max Patkin and travelling throughout major and minor league baseball.

In the 1980s and 1990s, a performance by the Chicken at the local minor league ballpark was a must-see event. The Tacoma Tigers often booked the Chicken for games back when Stan Naccarato was the GM – drawing big crowds, I’m told.

Now the Chicken is mostly retired. Ted Giannoulas, the man behind the mascot, has always played the role and does not allow anyone else to wear the suit. After 39 years in the costume, Ted is no spring chicken anymore.

Today will be one of only two baseball games the Chicken will perform at this year. My understanding is he’s doing it as a favor to longtime Tucson GM Mike Feder, in the final homestand of Tucson baseball.

I’ve seen the Chicken many times over the years, and he’s always a treat.*

Tonight’s game is at 7:05 (Pacific), 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 (3-2, 6.00) against Tucson RHP Burch Smith (5-1, 3.86).

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • Ryan Divish has a very informative blog post updating the status of Mike Zunino, Taijuan Walker, and DJ Peterson.
  • Felix Hernandez took another of those tough Felix losses – this time it was a 2-0 decision against the Angels.
  • Eric Wedge is back at the helm of the Mariners.
  • Reno keeps on beating Salt Lake, allowing the Rainiers to stay in the race.
  • Las Vegas defeated Fresno in an extremely dramatic, 9-8 ten-inning game. Vegas has won six straight and leads the Pac-South by two games.
  • Sacramento split a doubleheader at Colorado Springs, falling two games behind Las Vegas.
  • Springer, Springer, Springer. It’s all George Springer in the American Conference right now. He hit his 37th homer of the year in Oklahoma City’s 4-2 win at Round Rock last night.
  • Iowa’s Kyle Hendricks tossed a gem and the I-Cubs shut out Memphis, 2-0.
  • Omaha still has a two-game lead over Memphis in the American-North despite losing to Kevin Mattison and the New Orleans Zephyrs, 8-4.
  • Those whacky Isotopes held on for a 9-7 win over Nashville last night. There was a two-run sac fly double-play in the game – really.
  • My Mondays broadcast partner Bob Robertson is gearing up for Washington State football, but in a slightly different role. You can hear Bob call the Rainiers game with me on Monday night.

It’s hard to believe, but that was road game No. 70 last night. The Rainiers have two left here in Tucson, and that’s it for the road in 2013 – unless the team pulls a whammy on Salt Lake and advances to the playoffs.

* one Chicken memory: we’re on the road somewhere, and the Chicken is performing that night. Ted is staying at the same hotel as the Rainiers, and he hops on the team bus to get a ride to the ballpark. He sits right next to Rainiers infielder Chad Akers, whom he recognizes from previous appearances somewhere. Ted and Akers look just like brothers – a fact that the rest of the Rainiers constantly remind Chad for the next few weeks. 

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