Lots going on today, so let’s get to it.
The Rainiers were eliminated from playoff contention last night, as Salt Lake clinched the division title with an 8-4 victory. They celebrated in the visiting locker room at Cheney Stadium, much to our clubbie’s delight.
Salt Lake was as many as nine games behind Tacoma in late May. Their turnaround was remarkable, as they are now 16 games over .500 and on the cusp of 80 wins despite posting a negative run differential. Salt Lake manager Keith Johnson was named the PCL Manager of the Year today.
Our congratulations to Salt Lake, who will play either Las Vegas or Sacramento in the playoffs.
After the game, moves started to happen.
Abraham Almonte was called into the office to receive the good news: he was getting his first promotion to the majors – two days before anticipated.
Almonte will certainly be the Rainiers Team MVP for 2013. He hit .314 with 11 homers and 50 RBI in 94 games – from the leadoff spot. He drew 49 walks and posted a .403 on-base percentage. Almonte was 20-for-27 in stolen base attempts.
Almonte can drag bunt and he can hit for power. He also has the best throwing arm from center field we have seen in Tacoma since Adam Jones played here.
Analysts have pegged Almonte as a fourth outfielder type in the majors. After watching him play for four months, I believe he is better than that. Here’s hoping I’m correct on this one.
The Rainiers also officially lost Taijuan Walker today, as he will be starting for the Mariners tonight in Houston. Go get ’em, Tai!
Also out of the picture is left-handed reliever Brian Moran, who sprained his right ankle on Wednesday night. He is out for the remainder of the PCL season, and unfortunately the injury clouds his chances for a September call-up.
The Mariners have promoted two players from Double-A Jackson to Tacoma. Outfielder James Jones and left-handed reliever Nick Hill are on their way.
Jones hit .275 with six homers and 45 RBI in 101 games. He’s a speed player: he hit ten triples and stole 28 bases in AA. This is probably a 2014 preview, as Jones seems like a strong candidate to play daily for Tacoma next year.
Hill is a product of the US Military Academy who had to jump through a lot of hoops to pursue his professional career. He’s dealt with injury issues, but rebounded this season to post a 2.17 ERA in 42 games out of the Jackson bullpen.
One other move occurred today: the Mariners traded Michael Morse to the Baltimore Orioles for Triple-A outfielder Xavier Avery, and assigned Avery to Tacoma.
Avery hit .237 for Norfolk, with two homers, He has 29 stolen bases between Double-A and Triple-A this year.
This trade just happened this morning, and Avery is with the Norfolk club. It remains to be seen if he will actually report to Tacoma before the season ends with the day game on Monday – I say coin flip, 50/50 shot.
The Sacramento River Cats come to town today, and the Rainiers can play spoiler.
Sacramento trails Las Vegas by two games in the Pacific-South. Las Vegas has possession of the tiebreaker, so their magic number is two.
Sacramento’s string of six consecutive Pac-South division titles is on the ropes. Ending that streak would be a fun way for the Rainiers to finish off this season.
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 Forrest Snow (3-0, 3.34) against Sacramento LHP Carlos Hernandez (1-2, 6.00).
- The News Tribune has the story on the Rainiers elimination.
- Erasmo Ramirez earned the win and Franklin Gutierrez had a big game as the Mariners ended a six-game losing streak.
- Ryan Divish has a blog post on the Michael Morse for Xavier Avery trade.
- Taijuan Walker is giddy about making his first major league start tonight.
- Jerry Brewer wonders if Walker has superstar potential.
- Lookout Landing has a nice post on former Rainiers slugger Wladimir Balentien.
- Salt Lake’s Keith Johnson won PCL Manager of the Year.
- Las Vegas took down Colorado Springs, 10-7. The 51s magic number is two, and they return home to face Tucson this weekend.
- Sacramento topped Fresno last night, 3-2, in front of a sellout crowd.
- The final Triple-A game in Tucson for the forseeable future was played last night, and Reno won in the ninth inning, 2-1.
- In the American-North, Memphis pulled into a first-place tie by beating New Orleans while Omaha lost at Iowa. Both teams are 67-73, so we’re going to get it: our first PCL playoff team with an under-.500 record since the current format was established in 1998. Wooooo!
- Omaha added Carlos Pena for the stretch run.
- Albuquerque put on a good show for a big crowd in the final home game of the season.
- Oklahoma City has already clinched a playoff spot, so why not play 14 innings?
It’s the final Friday Night Fireworks of the season – come on out to the ballpark!