Romero Rocks Cats

The Rainiers saved up one of their most stunning victories of the year for the penultimate game of the season.

Trailing 9-5 going to the bottom of the eighth inning, it took Tacoma just five batters (and perhaps five minutes) to score five runs and take a 10-9 lead. They held on to win by that score as Josh Kinney nailed down his first save of the year.

Sacramento brought in the former Red Sox lefty Hideki Okajima to start the eighth, and Carlos Triunfel opened with a bunt single. Leury Bonilla doubled to the corner, and Xavier Avery singled home two runs (capping off a 5-for-5 game).

Tacoma caught a break when Ty Kelly hit a weak grounder up the first base line. Sacramento first baseman Anthony Aliotti fielded it in the baseline and was waiting to tag Kelly – but Kelly veered left well onto the infield grass to go around him. No question, Kelly should have been called out of the base path – but somehow the umpiring crew missed it. The TV replay I saw in my booth was particularly amusing.

Stefen Romero made it matter by launching a ridiculously long three-run homer to left field, giving the Rainiers the 10-9 lead.

It was the second homer of the game for Romero – just a part of a *nine* home run game at Cheney Stadium. Really, I swear it’s true: there were nine homers yesterday, four by Sacramento and five by Tacoma. Heck, the first two Tacoma batters in the bottom of the first inning went deep just to get us started (Avery and Kelly).

It was weird that the ball was flying out like that. There were times when the wind was blowing out, but at other times it blew in, and it was generally changing directions and was not really strong or anything.

Tacoma is now 76-67 on the year – that’s nine games over .500. I hate to say this, but… Salt Lake has lost the first three games of their home series against Reno, and Tacoma is now two games back. If the Rainiers had just won one of those last two games against Salt Lake… Anyway, I know I’ll be picking Las Vegas when I do my PCL Playoffs Preview post on Wednesday.

So today is the last day of the season, game number 144. It was a fun season – there were times when it really was flying by.

Today’s game is at 1:35, 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 Andrew Carraway (6-7, 4.37) against Sacramento RHP Arnold Leon (4-3, 4.21).

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune’s own Don Ruiz. From the story: James Paxton was told he is going to the big leagues.
  • The Mariners were shut out by Houston’s Brett Oberholtzer – who perhaps not coincidentally shut down the Rainiers in Oklahoma City back in May.
  • Seattle will use Tom Wilhelmsen in short relief.
  • One Mariners affiliate has advanced in the playoffs: the short-season rookie-level team in the Appalachian League. The Pulaski (Virginia) Mariners are going to the league championship series. Brent Johnson, who was Tacoma’s first base coach for the first half of the season, is their hitting coach.
  • Former Rainiers pitcher Steve Delabar made the most of his time on the Toronto Blue Jays disabled list: he became an ordained minister and married off his brother and our old pal Mallory!
  • The American-North is tied going into the final day. Memphis failed in a bid to clinch last night, getting stunned by Oklahoma City.  Omaha moved into a tie by defeating Round Rock, 6-1. Memphis holds the tiebreaker, so the Redbirds will go to the playoffs unless A) they lose, and B) Omaha wins.
  • Las Vegas named Eric Campbell team MVP – a big problem for newspaper readers, because they had to deal with one of the worst headlines of all-time.
  • Oklahoma City expects to keep its roster intact for the PCL playoffs.
  • Salt Lake keeps losing to Reno.
  • Colorado Springs held on for a 4-2 win at Fresno.
  • The Isotopes took down New Orleans, 5-1.
  • The Tennesseean lists the Nashville Sounds top five moments of 2013.
  • First big decision made: I’m going to spend my off-season ranking Neil Young‘s records from best to worst, like this guy.

The Rainiers season is over, so there will be no blog update on Tuesday. I’ll be back on Wednesday with my annual exclusive (because nobody else does it) PCL Playoff Predictions.

I know we picked up some new readers this season (unique page-views are up, thank you!), so for you new people: please keep checking in during the off-season. I’ll post daily during the PCL playoffs, and then 2-3 times a week during the depths of the winter with news and notes pertinent to the Rainiers, Mariners, and PCL as a whole.

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