Kelly, Carraway Lead Rainiers To Win

April 30, 2014

The Rainiers evened-up the series with Sacramento at a game apiece by winning on Tuesday night, 9-2.

Ty Kelly – playing an hour away from where he grew up in Tracy, CA – hit two home runs and drove in four. It was the second career two-homer game for Kelly; he did it in Class-A in 2012 when he took then-prospect Danny Salazar (currently an Indians starting pitcher) deep twice in Frederick, MD.

Tacoma starting pitcher Andrew Carraway delivered his best outing of the year, tossing six shutout innings to earn the win. Carraway allowed six hits and one walk, striking out five.

The Rainiers have a roster move for today: slugging outfield prospect Jabari Blash is joining the team from Double-A Jackson. Blash was hitting .262 with five homers and 20 RBI in 25 games at Jackson. He was leading the Southern League in walks and runs scored, and he was tied for first in homers. Blash’s slash line was 262/418/512.

To make room for Blash, Julio Morban was sent back to extended spring training. Morban has still not fully recovered from his broken leg suffered last August – he was able to DH for Tacoma, but could not patrol the outfield. He’ll do more rehabilitation work and we’ll see him when he’s ready.

Wednesday’s game starts at 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jordan Pries (0-1, 4.22) against Sacramento RHP Arnold Leon (1-1, 3.75).

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • From the same paper, here’s Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook.
  • Former Rainiers catcher Mike Zunino had four hits and the Mariners beat the Yankees last night, 6-3.
  • Former Rainiers third baseman Greg Dobbs was let go by the Marlins. Could be the end of the road for Dobbs, who had a long career considering he was primarily used in a reserve role.
  • In the PCL, Reno became the first team to not lose a series to Las Vegas. The Aces beat the PCL’s top team 7-5 last night, and is 2-0 so far in their four-game series. However, pitcher Archie Bradley – the ace of the Aces – hit the disabled list.
  • Las Vegas has Mets defensive wizard Juan Lagares playing on a rehabilitation assignment.
  • Fresno made it two straight wins to christen the new ballpark in El Paso, as Gary Brown hit an inside-the-park three-run homer. And the El Paso Times is calling the Chihuahuas the “C-Dogs.”
  • Albuquerque infielder Chone Figgins was once roomates with Salt Lake manager Keith Johnson. Salt Lake defeated Albuquerque in 11 innings, 4-3, on 50-Cent Hot Dog Night. They averaged 2.27 hot dogs per fan.
  • Kyle Skipworth hit a grand slam and New Orleans pounded Nashville, 9-4.
  • Oklahoma City’s Gregorio Petit hit a two-run homer in the first inning and that was it as the RedHawks beat Round Rock, 2-0. The Daily Oklahoman has a piece on PCL home run leader Jon Singleton.
  • Colorado Springs rode a solid outing from rehabilitating Jhoulys Chacin to a 7-1 win at Memphis.
  • Omaha and Iowa were rained out in Des Moines. They’ll play two on Thursday.

They just announced that tonight’s Mariners game in New York was rained out. Don’t worry – we’ll be playing tonight in Sacramento, for sure.

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Tough Loss In Sacramento

April 29, 2014

Tacoma lost the opening game in Sacramento in ten innings on Monday night, 2-1. It was a tough loss: Tacoma took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, only to see Sacramento’s Michael Taylor single in the tying run.

Sacramento won it in the tenth, when Tyler Ladendorf and Alden Carrithers hit back-to-back doubles with two outs. Leury Bonilla just missed making a diving catch at the warning track on Carrithers game-ending drive.

Tacoma could have intentionally walked the left-handed Carrithers (hitting .375), setting up a force out at all three bases and creating a right-vs.-right matchup with Jose Martinez (hitting .222). But they decided to let Logan Bawcom go after Carrithers, and Carrithers won that battle.

Hindsight is always 20-20, isn’t it?

Starting pitcher Anthony Fernandez was terrific before leaving with an injury last night. He was spinning a one-hit shutout with two outs in the sixth inning, but his elbow tightened up on him and he left the game. Manager Roy Howell said he’ll be checked out soon.

It was the day that hitting streaks died. Jesus Montero saw his 11-game hitting streak come to an end, going 0-for-4. Gabriel Noriega‘s eight-gamer croaked with an 0-for-3. Nick Franklin‘s seven-game PCL streak checked out with an 0-for-4.

Tacoma made an all-Ramirez  roster move, releasing veteran reliever Ramon Ramirez and adding starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez. Erasmo is tentatively slated to start on Friday night in Tacoma.

The Rainiers are now 1-4 on this eight-game road trip. Hopefully they can get things turned around tonight.

Tuesday’s game starts at 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (1-1, 5.28) against Sacramento RHP Josh Lindblom (1-2, 7.23).

Links:

Off to the ballpark – it’s another very nice day down here in Sacramento.


Rainiers Squeak Out Win, Move On To Sacramento

April 28, 2014

The Rainiers edged Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon, 5-4, avoiding a sweep at the hands of the PCL’s best team.

Hisashi Iwakuma was nickled-and-dimed for three runs in the bottom of the first inning without allowing a hard-hit ball. His fastball velocity was steady at 89 in the first inning, but slipped to 86 by the time his rehabilitation outing finished in the fourth. He had good movement on everything, though.

Is he ready to join the big league rotation? That’s for the Mariners to decide – they had plenty of people watching him, including Player Development Director Chris Gwynn, Pitching Coordinator Terry Clark and Special Assistant to the GM Ted Simmons.

The Rainiers won the game after Iwakuma left. Jesus Montero launched a long go-ahead three-run homer in the fifth inning, Mark Rogers delivered four outstanding innings in his Tacoma debut, and Logan Kensing closed it out with a difficult save (protecting a one-run lead in Vegas is always a tough save).

I think it was important for Tacoma to win one in Vegas. The two teams will play each other 12 times in a span of 20 days, and starting that off with a four-game sweep would have been a real downer.

The Rainiers made a roster move yesterday: reliever Carson Smith was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a finger problem on his pitching hand. I haven’t had a chance to ask him about it yet but I will.

Rogers took his spot on the roster – he was on the disabled list since spring training due to, of all things, non-baseball injuries he suffered in a car accident.

Now it’s on to Sacramento for a four-game series. The River Cats just split a four-game home series with El Paso, and they are 13-10 on the season. They have one big change from when we saw them at Cheney Stadium seven days ago: defensive wizard Andy Parrino was re-claimed off waivers from Texas and he is patrolling shortstop.

Monday’s game starts at 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP Anthony Fernandez (1-1, 4.95) against Sacramento RHP Zach Neal (1-1, 6.55).

Links:


Rainiers Need Win – Iwakuma Pitches Today

April 27, 2014

Tacoma is one loss away from being swept in Las Vegas, so why not turn to a rehabilitating major leaguer who took third place in the American League Cy Young Award voting to try to get a win.

Hisashi Iwakuma makes a rehabilitation start for Tacoma today in Las Vegas. Iwakuma went 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA for the Mariners in 2014 and placed third in the Cy Young voting behind Yu Darvish and winner Max Scherzer.

Iwakuma has been out of action since early spring training with a tendon strain in the middle finger of his throwing hand. He pitched a simulated game at Safeco Field on Tuesday and should be ready to throw somewhere between 70 and 80 pitches today.

The Rainiers need him. Tacoma lost its third in a row on Saturday night, dropping an 11-3 decision to the best team in the PCL (Las Vegas is now 18-5 on the year). The Rainiers fell to 10-10.

Walks were the big issue on Saturday. Rainiers pitchers issued eight walks, and four of them came around to score runs. Another one occurred with the bases loaded, forcing in a run.

The Rainiers three hot hitters kept it going: Jesus Montero was 2-for-4, extending his hitting streak to ten games. Chris Taylor had another multiple-hit game, going 3-for-5. He’s 15-for-31 during a seven-game stretch. Gabriel Noriega hit a pair of doubles, and he now has a seven-game hitting streak.

Sunday’s game starts at 12:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 11:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (Triple-A debut) against Las Vegas RHP Logan Verrett (1-1, 4.67).

Links:

  • We’ll start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. Apparently manager Roy Howell was not pleased by the microscopic strike zone of rookie PCL umpire Brendon Henson.
  • My minor league notebook for the TNT has items on Chris Taylor and Carlos Peguero.
  • The Mariners lost to Texas on Saturday evening, 6-3.
  • Bob Dutton has a lot of good stuff in his Mariners notebook.
  • Ryan Divish’s Sunday baseball pieces for the Seattle Times include a column about the end of the month-long transfer rule problem in MLB, plus some power rankings.
  • Adam Jude wrote an interesting story on the sites of Seattle’s old sports stadiums.
  • In the PCL, Albuquerque tossed a rare double-shutout in a doubleheader sweep at Fresno. They won 2-0 and 1-0. Matt Magill and Stephen Fife made the starts. Fresno had five hits – total, in the two games. Yikes!
  • Reno prospect Archie Bradley had a rough night and the Aces lost to Salt Lake, 8-5. I’m going to try one of Reno’s local sausages when we go there this year.
  • Marcus Walden and the Sacramento bullpen shut down El Paso in front of a sellout crowd, 2-1. Former Japanese league star Leon Lee is having a ball with Johnny Doskow on River Cats radio broadcasts.
  • Washington State Cougars product Adam Conley tossed seven shutout innings in a 3-0 New Orleans win over Omaha.
  • Round Rock’s Nick Tepesch tossed a complete game five-hit shutout against Nashville. It was the first nine-inning shutout of the season in the PCL.
  • Iowa Cubs second baseman Arismendy Alcantara had five hits in a 13-inning, 9-6 win at Colorado Springs. The Sky Sox, by the way, are amused by the Michael Pineda pine tar incident.
  • Nashville hit three homers and beat Oklahoma City, 6-3. No link because The Daily Oklahoman‘s website seems to be down.

Vegas Squeaks Out Win

April 26, 2014

The Las Vegas 51s made it two straight wins against Tacoma, hanging on for a 7-6 victory on Friday night.

The game was notable for the wind: it was gusting up to 50 miles per hour to straight-away center field.

This made every ball hit in the air an adventure. Many of the hits and runs came as a result of fly balls that would normally be outs. I actually expected the game to be much higher-scoring, considering the conditions.

Supposedly the wind will die down tonight (in fact, the “strong wind advisory” was expected to be called off at 11:00 last night). On the other hand, the temperature is expected to drop into the 50s tonight – you should see these Las Vegans freak out about the “cold,” it’s hilarious!

Jesus Montero continues to swing a hot bat. He went 2-for-4 with an opposite field (and wind-aided; everything was wind-aided last night) home run off top prospect Noah Syndergaard. Montero has a nine-game hitting streak, and he has homered in his last three games.

Montero is also starting to look a little more fluid at first base. Still a long way to go, definitely, but you can see some progress.

Saturday’s game starts at 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Chance Ruffin (0-1, 6.08) against Las Vegas RHP Jacob deGrom (2-0, 1.57).

Links:

  • Manager Roy Howell talked about the conditions in the Rainiers game story.
  • Justin Smoak saved the day with a clutch hit and a game-saving defensive play in the Mariners win over Texas on Friday night.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook includes an item on Cole Gillespie‘s call-up.
  • In the PCL, rain hit the Pacific Conference. Salt Lake picked up a 7-1 win at Reno in a game rain-shortened to six innings.
  • Fresno’s home game against Albuquerque was rained out. The Grizzlies signed Federal Way’s Travis Ishikawa.
  • Sacramento waited out the rain before putting a 14-5 beating on El Paso. Outfielder Jeff Francouer pitched another scoreless inning for the Chihuahuas – he’s pitched three times this week!
  • Mike Fiers tossed another gem and Nashville beat Oklahoma City, 5-3. Fiers is 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 26.2 innings.
  • Good news from Oklahoma City, where they think manager Tony DeFrancesco may be able to return to the team in a month or so. He’s been battling cancer.
  • Memphis shut out Round Rock, 8-0. The Austin paper has a story on the loaded Memphis outfield.
  • New Orleans has been scoring a lot of runs this week, and they trounced Omaha 10-5 on Friday. Carlos Peguero hit two dingers for Omaha.
  • Chris Rusin had his best start of the season and Iowa picked up a 9-2 win at Colorado Springs.

Tacoma has dropped two in a row, and Las Vegas has won five in a row. Let’s see if both streaks can end tonight.


Rough Start To Vegas Trip

April 25, 2014

The Rainiers lost the first game of the eight-game road trip on Thursday night, dropping an 11-4 decision to the Las Vegas 51s.

It was just the third loss in the last 11 games for Tacoma – the Rainiers record is now 10-8. Meanwhile, Las Vegas improved its record to a PCL-best 16-5. That’s the best 21-game start in Las Vegas franchise history.

The game got away from the Rainiers in the bottom of the fifth inning. Already trailing 2-0, Tacoma allowed four unearned runs due to two infield errors, making it 6-0.

Jesus Montero pulled a long three-run homer in the sixth to make it 6-3, but Vegas kept tacking on runs and the Rainiers did not threaten again.

Tacoma looks to get even tonight in what should be an entertaining pitching match-up: Jordan Pries tossed six shutout innings and allowed one hit in his Triple-A debut on Sunday, and Noah Syndergaard is ranked by pretty much every outlet as the top pitching prospect in the PCL right now.

Friday’s game starts at 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jordan Pries (0-0, 0.00) against Las Vegas RHP Noah Syndergaard (2-2, 4.95).

Links:


It Won’t Rain In Vegas, Right?

April 24, 2014

Right? It can’t possibly rain here, can it?

The team has arrived in Las Vegas and we are ready to begin the Tacoma Rainiers first multiple-city road trip of 2014. Four games in Vegas, followed by four games in Sacramento, and hopefully not a single rain drop in either place.

The Rainiers are coming in hot, having won eight of the last ten games. It’s a good thing, too, because Vegas has been the best team in the PCL over the first three weeks of the season.

Las Vegas is 15-5, and they are doing it with the perfect combination: good pitching and good hitting. The 51s lead the league in runs scored, and they rank seventh in team ERA (which is really good considering that their home ballpark is a launching pad).

The Rainiers are set to face the two top prospects in the Las Vegas rotation right away: Rafael Montero tonight, and Noah Syndergaard tomorrow.

Wally Backman remains at the helm of the New York Mets Triple-A affiliate. He’s had big offensive production from Triple-A rookie Allan Dykstra (no relation to Lenny, batting .419-3-18 in 16 games) and returning super-utility guy Eric Campbell (.346-3-18 in 19 games).

Las Vegas scored 21 runs on Tuesday against El Paso. They were off Wednesday like everyone else in the league, so hopefully that massive outburst followed by the 24-hour break will serve to cool off their bats somewhat.

We had some roster moves today: The Mariners optioned Nick Franklin to Tacoma, and called up Cole Gillespie. It sounds like the organization wants Franklin to play every day, and an older player like Gillespie may be better suited for a part-time role with the big league club.

Also, starting pitcher James Gillheeney was transferred to Double-A Jackson, and reliever Nick Hill was activated from the disabled list. With Hisashi Iwakuma scheduled to start Sunday, and Erasmo Ramirez figuring to make a start next week, the team sent Gillheeney to AA so he could make his starts.

Thursday’s game starts at 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (1-0, 5.91) against Las Vegas RHP Rafael Montero (2-0, 3.80).

Links:

That’s all the links I have time for today – we didn’t get into the hotel until 2:00, and I need to make my way to the ballpark.