Rainiers Escape Tucson With Win, Must Sweep

Taijuan Walker delivered one of his finest starts of the year, and the Rainiers won the final game in Tucson on Sunday night, 6-4.

It was the last road game of the year – Tacoma finished the season going 36-36 in away games.* The Rainiers avoided a sweep at the hands of Tucson, and remained five games behind Salt Lake.

Walker lasted six innings, giving up one runs on six hits (all singles). He struck out nine and walked two.

In a radio interview earlier Sunday, Mariners GM Jack Z said that Walker’s innings limit for this season is 160. He is now at 141 IP on the year, with one PCL start remaining (unless Tacoma makes the playoffs – then he’d have one or two more).

Stefen Romero had a big game offensively, going 3-for-5 with a two-run homer and three RBIs. He’s a big part of the Rainiers offense – it’s too bad he’s had so many nagging injuries this season; he’s only played in 87 games.

Tacoma closer Logan Bawcom worked a scoreless ninth to earn his 20th save. He’s the first Rainiers player to get 20 saves in a season since Randy Messenger saved 25 games in 2009.

Now it’s time for the big series with Salt Lake, and the Rainiers have their backs against the wall. Trailing by five games with eight to play, the Rainiers must sweep the Bees to have a chance at the division title. A sweep leaves the Rainiers one game back with four to play (Tacoma hosts Sacramento at the end, Salt Lake is home against Reno).

If the Rainiers win three, they would be three back with four games left. Obviously that’s not mathematically impossible to overcome, but it sure is extraordinarily unlikely. The Rainiers need to sweep.

One thing to consider if the Rainiers do get the sweep: they would win the tiebreaker with Salt Lake based on head-to-head record, making the resulting one-game deficit easier to overcome. A tie at the end of the season would be good!

On the other side of the equation, Salt Lake will clinch the title if they get two wins in Tacoma. That’s our visiting clubbie’s worst nightmare, so let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.

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 Blake Beavan (4-6, 5.95) against Salt Lake RHP Tommy Hanson (0-1, 3.27).

Links:

  • Here’s the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • The Mariners got swept by the Angels.
  • Eric Wedge explained what the Mariners are doing with Brandon Maurer.
  • Salt Lake worked Reno and ended up taking two-of-five there.
  • Las Vegas saw its seven-game win streak end with a 4-1 loss to Fresno.
  • Sacramento pulled within two games of Las Vegas by crushing Colorado Springs, 12-4. The Sky Sox made four errors in one inning – yikes!

That’s all I have time for today – we’re flying home, our last travel day of the season. I’m looking forward to this series – it will be a lot of fun, especially if Tacoma wins the opener.

* which leads one to wonder, why did we go on all of those road trips, anyway?

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