Rainiers Happily Done With Chihuahuas

June 29, 2014

Tacoma played its final game of the 2014 season against El Paso on Sunday, and that’s a good thing.

The Rainiers allowed three runs in the eighth inning and lost to the Chihuahuas, 6-4. That closed a miserable season series against the San Diego Padres Triple-A club, which saw the Rainiers lose 12 of the 16 games.

Tacoma didn’t get creamed by the C-Dogs (that’s what they call them here; I am not making that up). Ten of the 16 games were settled by two runs or less.

The games in El Paso were particularly crazy, as this is one of those hitter’s parks like Reno and Albuquerque and Colorado Springs where no lead is safe.

Tacoma made a nice rally in the 7th to take the lead, and two pretty cool things happened.

Xavier Avery homered for his fourth time in 36 hours. This from a man who hit two homers in his first 247 at-bats of the season. Avery told me he made a mechanical adjustment to help him stay back on the ball a little longer, and welp… here we are!

Abraham Almonte hit two triples in the game, and he switch-hit the them: one from the right side, and one from the left side of the plate. Two triples in one game is a very rare feat, but switch-hit triples? That’s gotta be super-rare.

Now the Rainiers return home and face division rival Reno in a four-game series. This will be an important series for the team if it is going to make a run at the division: you gotta make headway against the teams you are trying to chase down.

Reno just went 3-2 in a five-game series at Albuquerque. It appears that right now the Aces are getting good starting pitching but their offense is erratic. They are in transition, too: impressive infielder Nick Ahmed was called up, they claimed MLB veteran Ronny Cedeno off waivers, and they acquired another vet in Argenis Diaz.

The most shocking thing from my research was learning that Mike Jacobs is actually in a slump. He’s hitting .172 with two homers in June, and this guy has been crushing the PCL for three years.

On the other hand, outfielder Alfredo Marte is currently with them, and he’s been terrorizing the PCL while waiting for his next big league opportunity. Marte hit two homers yesterday in Albuquerque.

A word of wisdom for Rainiers base runners: don’t try to steal when Bobby Wilson is catching. He’s been gunning down runners for years, and he’s nailing them at a 47% clip this season.

It should be a good series, and it is an important one for Tacoma considering the time of year. If the Rainiers are going to make a run, now would be a good time to start a winning streak.

Monday’s game starts at 6:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 5:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Erasmo Ramirez (1-3, 4.55) against Aces RHP Zeke Spruill (3-4, 6.75).


Sorry for the lack of links – the El Paso-to-Tacoma travel day is a real beast. Both of the Rainiers road trips to El Paso this year were there-and-back – which makes no sense from a league travel perspective. El Paso is an easy bus ride from Albuquerque, and the league should schedule teams to visit both cities on the same road trip.

Off my soap box – let’s see if the Rainiers can have a good series against Reno!


After 16 Hours, Rainiers Prevail

June 29, 2014

What a day yesterday was.

It was, without a doubt, the most time I have ever spent “at work” since becoming a baseball broadcaster two decades ago.

We knew the day/night split doubleheader was going to result in a long day – especially since the El Paso Chihuahuas front office elected to play two nine-inning games.

But who knew that the second game would go 13 innings, with 27 runs scoring, and 12 pitching changes, and last 5 hours and 21 minutes?

Rainiers players arrived at the stadium at 9:00 AM (local time) for the noon start in the first game.

The first game was a dramatic one – heck, the baseball was thrilling all day. Tacoma overcame a 6-1 deficit in the late innings, tied it up on a ninth inning homer by Xavier Avery, and then lost in the bottom of the ninth inning on a walk-off RBI single by Jeff Francoeur.

That game lasted 2 hours, 46 minutes – a normal length, and actually quite quick considering how tense the game was in the final two innings.

The teams hung around the ballpark for four hours and waited for the night game, which started at 7:05.

The night game was one of the wildest I’ve seen. Chris Nelson hit a first inning grand slam for El Paso, and the Chihuahuas had a 5-2 lead with two outs in the sixth inning and their starter Matt Wisler was dealing.

Suddenly, Wisler stopped dealing. The Rainiers had three straight two-out hits, including Avery’s third homer of the doubleheader, scoring five runs. Then Tacoma tacked on three more in the seventh, grabbing a 10-6 lead.

El Paso struck back, with four runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie it up. Francouer had the game-tying, two-out, two-run single to even it up.

Tacoma scored twice in the top of the tenth inning, and El Paso got two in the bottom of the tenth. Francouer missed a chance to walk off both games, instead grounding into a double play to end the tenth.

Neither team scored in the 11th or 12th innings, although there were plenty of base runners.

Tacoma finally broke through with a three-run top of the 13th  – a lead that held up. Chris Taylor snapped the 12-12 tie with a two-run single to left off El Paso reliever Branch Kloess.

Chance Ruffin – who was listed as Tacoma’s starter for Tuesday – came in from the bullpen and pitched a scoreless bottom of the 13th to get the save. Of course it wasn’t easy: two Chihuahuas reached base and the tying run was at the plate when Ruffin got the final out.

The game ended at 12:26 AM local time. It was fireworks night, and amazingly about 25% of the sellout crowd was still on hand when they launched the fireworks.

By the time the players showered and went back to the hotel, they had spent over 16 hours at the ballpark. Many position players played over eight hours of baseball.

The hardest working guy on the field was El Paso catcher Rocky Gale. He entered the first game in the second inning after starter Adam Moore left with a knee injury. Gale caught the remainder: 21 innings, lasting just under eight hours. Tip of the cap to you, Rocky Gale.

Days like this always provide unique occurrences, and Saturday was no different. Rainiers reliever Todd Coffey performed a rare feat: he got the decision in both games of the doubleheader.

Coffey took the loss in the first game, allowing a double to Alex Castellanos and Francoeur’s walk-off hit.

Coffey then came back and earned the win in the second game, tossing 1.1 scoreless innings before the Rainiers rallied in the top of the 13th.

Kudos to Coffey, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery. Nobody can doubt the health of the major league veteran now – he pitched in both games of a doubleheader!

After the game, players were walking around like zombies in the locker room. Thank goodness today isn’t a day game (like we often have on Sundays).

Sunday’s game starts at 5:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 4:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP James Gillheeney (3-6, 5.80) against Chihuahuas LHP Juan Oramas (4-3, 5.96).

On the roster front, it sounds like Forrest Snow is coming back from Double-A Jackson. Not sure if he’ll be able to help the staff today – he pitched four innings on Friday night.

There could be more moves – I’ll find out when I get to the park.


  • The Rainiers game story for The News Tribune was way, way too late to make the print edition.
  • The Mariners plan to recall Taijuan Walker and have him start Monday in Houston. Tacoma will slot Erasmo Ramirez into his rotation spot.
  • My minor league notebook for the paper looks at 17-year-old Mariners prospect Luiz Gohara, and checks in on growing PCL legend Manny Ramirez.
  • The Mariners were one-hit by Josh Tomlin, but they’re still five games over .500.
  • For Mariners fans, here’s an interesting piece from Bob Dutton which poses the unanswerable question, do the Mariners owners believe in this year’s team?
  • Jerry Brewer has a column saying the Mariners should make a playoff push.
  • John McGrath has a recap of the first half of the MLB season.
  • Larry Stone caught up with Dave Valle, who is in his first year managing at short-season Everett. The squad is struggling (4-12), but this is really a teaching level.
  • Ryan Divish has some notes on Tim Lincecum and the Oakland stadium lease, and here are his power rankings.
  • In the PCL, Sacramento blew a ninth inning lead but beat Las Vegas in the tenth on a game-winning RBI double by Nick Buss.
  • Reno shut out Albuquerque 2-0 behind the pitching of Andrew Chafin. The news story focuses on local product Brian Cavazos-Galvez.
  • Fresno rallied late to edge Salt Lake, 3-2, on Tim Lincecum Bobblehead Night.
  • Omaha had 15 hits in a 7-4 win at Oklahoma City. Carlos Peguero returned to the Storm Chasers and homered.
  • Round Rock at Memphis got rained out.
  • Colorado Springs received some help from rehabilitating Nolan Arenado in a 6-0 win over Iowa.
  • Nashville whitewashed New Orleans, 13-0, as Sean Halton had four hits and Taylor Jungmann tossed seven shutout innings.

Today is the final game of the season between Tacoma and El Paso – thank goodness. El Paso leads the season series, 11-4. A win today and a split of the four-game road series would be a nice bit of closure for the Rainiers.

Raniers Drop Series Opener, Play Two Today

June 28, 2014

Tacoma’s four-game win streak ended with a 4-3 loss at El Paso on Friday night.

The Rainiers got unlucky in the first five innings against El Paso starter Dann Roach. Roach was wild and issued a lot of walks, but the Rainiers batters kept hitting line drives right at defenders.

Roach even carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Justin Smoak broke it up with a one-out double. This despite walking the leadoff man in four of the first six innings.

Roach finished with a weird pitching line: 6 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, 6 walks, 0 strikeouts.

How does that even happen?

Anyway, by the time the Rainiers started to get some hits to fall in, it was just a little too late.

The Rainiers will try to turn the tables on the Chihuahuas in today’s day/night split doubleheader.

Saturday’s first game starts at 11:05 AM (Pacific), and the late game will be at 6:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins 15 minutes before first pitch on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (3-4, 4.52) against Chihuahuas RHP Chris Smith (–) in the day game, and it will be RHP Jordan Pries (4-5, 2.65) against RHP Matt Wisler (4-4, 5.62) in the night game.


  • I wrote the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune – it now comes with a box score. The El Paso paper has a photo gallery from the game.
  • The Mariners edged Cleveland, 3-2, as Endy Chavez ripped his annual home run. The Mariners are 43-37 one game shy of the halfway point.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook has all kinds of stuff about the ever-changing roster. He also has a brief item on Jabari Blash‘s 50-game suspension.
  • The Rainiers remained eight games behind first place Sacramento in the Pac-North. The River Cats got shut down by Las Vegas veteran Giancarlo Alvarado last night.
  • Reno was swept in a doubleheader at Albuquerque, losing both games by a score of 3-2. There was a lot going on: Purple Night, Laker Girls, a walk-off home run in game one by Brian Cavazos-Galvez, and a gem tossed in game two by Stephen Fife.
  • Fresno lost at home to Salt Lake, 9-7. Football star “Ickey” Woods was there, and he shuffled. Talk about good timing: the Fresno Grizzlies are having a Tim Lincecum throwback bobblehead giveaway today and fans started lining up last night!
  • Jimmy Nelson pitched like, well, Jimmy Nelson in Nashville’s 5-0 win over New Orleans. Nelson went seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts, and he now leads the PCL in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. That’s the pitching Triple Crown.
  • Rising star Domingo Santana‘s fourth hit of the game was a walk-off three-run homer to give Oklahoma City an 8-5 win over Omaha.
  • Round Rock third baseman Ryan Rua – freshly promoted from Double-A – launched a crucial three-run homer in the eighth inning as the Express beat Memphis, 8-7.
  • Iowa’s “vaunted” infield produced big offensive numbers in a 16-3 win at Colorado Springs.

Off to the ballpark, where I will spend the next 13 or 14 hours. It’s a huge, state-of-the-art facility – which means, I believe, that I will be able to find a nice sofa somewhere for a cat nap between games.

Bagged Out In El Paso

June 27, 2014

The Rainiers game at El Paso on Thursday night was postponed because Tacoma’s baggage did not make it to El Paso. We call that getting “bagged out.”

It seems to happen once a season somewhere in the PCL, and it is one of the things that the league tries very hard to make sure doesn’t happen.

Here’s what happened:

The team flew a commercial airline that we often use and have a great track record with from SeaTac to Houston, changed planes, and flew from Houston to El Paso.

In the transfer of planes in Houston, the airline’s baggage handlers did not switch the Rainiers baseball equipment bags to the proper plane. So while the Rainiers players and coaches made it to El Paso, the team had no gloves, shoes, bats, uniforms, medical equipment, etc.

It was an airline snafu, and we were at its mercy.

The equipment bags were successfully tracked and they were scheduled to arrive late last night. We should be good to play today.

It was a real bummer for the El Paso Chihuahuas, who were anticipating a sellout crowd last night.

In order to recoup some of that lost revenue, the Chihuahuas are having the teams make up the postponed game with a split doubleheader on Saturday. The first game will be played at 11:05 AM (Pacific), and the second one at 6:05 (Pacific). They’ll clear out the stadium and charge two separate admissions.

For reasons that are entirely unclear, the split doubleheader games do not fall under the Minor League Baseball rule that doubleheader games are scheduled for seven innings. So it will be two nine inning games on Saturday.

This makes no sense at all – it is illogical and inconsistent. Why would you have a rule creating seven-inning doubleheader games for the purpose of protecting the pitching staffs, and then have it only apply to certain types of doubleheaders?

Apparently this rule has changed within the last 12 years. The only other time Tacoma has played a day/night, split-admission doubleheader was May 2, 2002 at brand-new Chukchansi Park in Fresno. Both games were seven innings.

The Mariners are expected to fly in (at their cost) an extra pitcher to help cover these additional innings, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Padres also do that.

Saturday is going to be a long, hot day. But first we have a single game to play tonight.

Friday’s game starts at 6:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 5:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Matt Palmer (1-4, 4.76) against Chihuahuas RHP Donn Roach (0-1, 3.57).


  • Here is the story from The News Tribune on the Rainiers game getting postponed.
  • Today is your last day to vote for the Triple-A All-Stars, so get after it!
  • The broadcast teams for the Triple-A All-Star Game have been announced. Congrats to the Iowa Cubs Deene Ehlis for drawing the assignment.
  • The Mariners were off yesterday, so Todd Dybas wrote a feature on ex-Rainiers outfielder James Jones while Ryan Divish has one on Logan Morrison.
  • A current Rainiers pitcher and another Mariners prospect appear on this week’s edition of Baseball America’s Prospect Hot Sheet.
  • Lookout Landing caught up with Ty Kelly.
  • The rest of the PCL was in action last night. In a nationally televised game, Andy Parrino hit a game-winning home run in the 11th inning and Sacramento beat Las Vegas, 7-5.
  • Where have you gone, Miguel Olivo? Albuquerque now has four catchers on its active roster – which was not enough to beat Reno in 14 innings last night.
  • Mike Kickham tossed a gem and Fresno shut out Salt Lake, 8-0.
  • Iowa split a doubleheader at Colorado Springs, while player-coach Manny Ramirez made his I-Cubs debut. Manny started game two in left field and went 0-for-4 at the plate.
  • Round Rock rolled to a 9-1 victory at Memphis.
  • Omaha won in Oklahoma City as catcher Francisco Pena had a big night. The Oklahoma City newspaper has a feature on Futures Game-bound outfielder Domingo Santana.
  • New Orleans blew out Nashville, 11-1. Rehabilitating Christian Yelich hit a three-run homer for New Orleans.

Off to the ballpark. Let’s play 27 innings in 27 hours!

Walker Dominates, Nady Walks

June 26, 2014

The Rainiers enjoyed a well-earned off-day on Wednesday, and the team starts a four-game series in El Paso tonight. Tacoma brings a four-game win streak into Chihuahua World, and the Rainiers have won 11 of the last 13 games overall.

Taijuan Walker was about as good as possible on Tuesday evening, tossing his first career shutout. Walker allowed four hits and one walk, while striking out eight. He threw a season-high 109 pitches.

It was Tacoma’s first complete game shutout since James Paxton pitched one at Tucson on July 8 of last season.

Tacoma scored its only runs on a two-run homer by Xavier Nady in the first inning. The longtime major leaguer ended his stint in Tacoma with a seven-game hitting streak and game-winning hits in his final two games.

Yes, I said he ended his stint in Tacoma. Nady exercised an option in his contract and became a free agent after Tuesday’s game. The Mariners initially signed him to provide a right-handed bat on the big league bench, but as soon as he signed Stefen Romero and especially Cole Gillespie got hot in the big leagues – ending the immediate need for Nady.

Nady will look for a major league spot, but it is possible that he will retire.

Rehab Row is down to a duo here in El Paso. Justin Smoak and Corey Hart are expected to continue on with the Rainiers for a little while.

Yesterday the Mariners optioned starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez to Tacoma, and recalled reliever Brandon Maurer. Because of an off-day on the schedule the Mariners could go without a fifth starter for one trip through the rotation.

Also, the Rainiers should be getting Jesus Montero back from Seattle with Michael Saunders presumably activated from the DL.

Thursday’s game starts at 6:05 PM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 5:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Matt Palmer (1-4, 4.76) against Chihuahuas RHP Donn Roach (0-1, 3.57).

There is some concern about the status of tonight’s game. The Rainiers did make it to El Paso, but most of the team’s equipment was not on the same flight. It’s supposed to come in on a later flight, but we’ll see about that. Stay tuned on Twitter for updates.


  • Here is the Rainiers game story on Taijuan Walker‘s shutout from Wednesday’s News Tribune.
  • Tacoma gained a full game on Sacramento, which lost in New Orleans on Tuesday. Tacoma trails the River Cats by 7.5 games in the standings – that’s the closest Tacoma has been to first place since May 24.
  • Iowa’s Kris Bryant hit another home run on Tuesday – his first five Triple-A hits have all been homers.
  • Mariners prospects D.J. Peterson (just promoted to Double-A Jackson) and Gabriel Guerrero (Advanced-A High Desert) were selected to play in the MLB All-Star Futures Game.

That’s it for today – flying from SeaTac to El Paso is a real grind; we were up at 3:00 AM and had a layover in Houston which isn’t even remotely close to being in between the two cities.

‘Rehab Row’ Rallies Rainiers

June 24, 2014

The three Seattle Mariners currently rehabilitating with Tacoma had big games as the Rainiers won their third straight extra-innings game over Oklahoma City on Monday night, 9-8.

Justin Smoak drove a two-run homer onto the ‘R Yard’ deck in left field to tie the score 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth.

After the Rainiers fell behind 8-4, Tacoma rallied to score for runs in the bottom of the eighth inning – all after there were two outs. Michael Saunders hit a bases-loaded double to make it 8-7, and Corey Hart tripled him in to tie the game.

Tacoma won the game in the tenth inning, when Xavier Nady singled with two outs to score Xavier Avery with the winning run. That rally was rated Double-X.

Saunders had a huge game, going 4-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBI. Even the out he made was a line drive.

While clearly ready for the big leagues, neither Saunders nor Smoak is eligible to come off the disabled list for another day (Smoak can be activated Wednesday, and Saunders on Thursday). Hart can be activated any time, but the thinking before yesterday’s game was that he still needed to get his timing back at the plate. That means we are probably going to see all three players in the lineup again tonight.

A few Tacoma team trends:

  • Tacoma has won three in a row, and 10 of the last 12 games.
  • All three games against Oklahoma City have gone to extra innings, and Tacoma has played extras in four of the last five games.
  • The team goes for a sweep tonight – it just swept Nashville on the road two series ago.
  • The Rainiers have pulled within five games of .500, at 36-41. The team was 26-39 and buried in the standings just two weeks ago.
  • Yesterday the Rainiers won despite allowing five home runs. Rather than wonder how this happened, it’s best to just not think about it.

Tuesday’s game starts at 6:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 5:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Taijuan Walker (1-1, 5.82) against RedHawks RHP David Martinez (5-4, 4.36).


  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune now comes with a box score!
  • Logan Morrison had a big game as the Mariners blew out the Red Sox, 12-3. It all hinged on a long Dustin Ackley at-bat.
  • The Mariners signed No. 1 pick Alex Jackson, and there is also a James Paxton update in this Mariners notebook.
  • The Mariners need to add more offense, Larry Stone writes. However, that would require increasing the payroll and history says it is unlikely that the Mariners will do that.
  • The legal case involving Mrs. Peguero is closed.
  • Salt Lake Bees broadcaster Steve Klauke is calling his 3,000th PCL game today.
  • Nate Freiman homered twice and Sacramento beat New Orleans, 4-2.
  • Colorado Springs beat Reno, 6-4, as the Aces continued to have a rough homestand.
  • A healthy Neftali Feliz nailed down the save in Round Rock’s 5-4 win over Fresno.
  • Kris Bryant keeps homering for Iowa. He hit one in a 4-3 victory over Albuquerque last night, and knocked another one in a day game that is going on today as I write this.
  • Salt Lake’s Brennan Boesch won PCL Player of the Week, but his Bees lost to Nashville yesterday 8-6.
  • Las Vegas outfielder Matt den Dekker hit a three-run homer to give the 51s an 8-5 win over Memphis in ten innings. Las Vegas pitching coach Frank Viola was a pivotal figure in what is considered the greatest College World Series game.
  • Sloppy play cost the Omaha Storm Chasers in a 6-2 loss to El Paso.

It’s the final game of the homestand tonight. The entire PCL is off tomorrow, although the Rainiers host their annual charity golf tournament. Tacoma has an extremely tough travel day on Thursday getting to El Paso for a quick four-game road trip – I’ll try to get a blog post up, but I make no promises!

Rainiers Replay

June 23, 2014

No two baseball games are exactly alike, but we learned this weekend that they can be nearly identical.

After Tacoma beat Oklahoma City 4-3 in 11 innings on Saturday night, the two teams met again Sunday. Tacoma won 4-3, again – and once again it was in extra innings, although this time it took just ten innings.

Nick Franklin singled home Ty Kelly with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning to win it for the Rainiers.

As is often the case with extra-inning games, the bullpen was instrumental in both games. Tacoma relievers tossed six scoreless innings on Saturday, and came right back with four more on Sunday.

Rehabilitation Row contributed for Tacoma. The Rainiers batted Michael Saunders, Corey Hart, and Justin Smoak 1-2-3 in the lineup and they combined for four hits, one run, and two RBI.

Gabriel Noriega had two more hits including an RBI double. Noriega is now batting .338 – good for second in the PCL, four points behind Nick Evans of Reno.

Tacoma has won nine of its last 11 games, and has once again pulled within six games of the .500 mark.

Monday’s game starts at 6:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 5:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP James Gillheeney (3-6, 5.36) against RedHawks RHP Asher Wojciechowski (0-0, 4.91).

It’s a Monday home game – that means that Pacific NW broadcasting legend Bob Robertson joins me on the air, and he’ll call play-by-play of the middle innings.


  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune has reaction from Nick Franklin and manager Roy Howell.
  • The Mariners won another tight one in Kansas City on Sunday, completing a sweep of the Royals.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook reports that No. 1 draft pick Alex Jackson is likely to officially sign today.
  • In Baseball America’s minor league transactions we learn that recent Rainiers reliever Clay Rapada signed with Baltimore.
  • Sacramento stunned New Orleans by scoring three runs in the ninth inning for a 4-3 victory, spoiling a strong start by former Washington State Cougars pitcher Adam Conley.
  • Colorado Spring infielder Rafael Ynoa homered twice as the Sky Sox won in Reno, 9-5. The Aces now trail Sacramento by two games in the Pac-North.
  • Round Rock beat Fresno in the ninth inning on a game-winning hit by Brett Nicholas.
  • Salt Lake brought pitcher Caleb Clay back from Korea, and he earned the win in a 4-1 victory over Nashville.
  • Omaha took down El Paso 7-6 in a wild tenth inning. Johnny Giavotella had the game-winning hit.
  • Memphis needed 11 innings to beat Las Vegas, 7-5. Randall Grichuk hit a two-run double to win it. Las Vegas outfielder Cory Vaughn attended Tony Gwynn’s memorial service in San Diego.
  • Kris Bryant homered twice in Iowa’s 7-6 win over Albuquerque.
  • Minor League Baseball teams responded to the moronic remarks made by NCAA President Mark Emmert.
  • We’ll finish with Baseball America’s minor league round-up.

Just two games left on this homestand – come on out to the ballpark.

Quintero Carries Rainiers

June 22, 2014

Tacoma outlasted Oklahoma City on Friday night, picking up a 4-3 win in 11 innings at Cheney Stadium.

Catcher Humberto Quintero wielded the big stick. He launched a game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh off RedHawks starter Brett Oberholtzer, and then he had the game winning hit in the 11th.

Tacoma had Chris Taylor at second base with two outs in the bottom of the 11th when Xavier Nady legged out a little roller to third base for an infield single. It was a very close play at first: Oklahoma City manager Tony DeFrancesco was ejected for arguing the play, and the one look at the replay I had in my booth was inconclusive.

Once the dust cleared and Tony D made his exit, Quintero laced a line drive single to right field, scoring Taylor with the winning run. That ended a little two-game slide for the Rainiers, who have now won eight of the last ten games.

Tacoma had a bunch of rehabilitating Mariners in the lineup: Michael Saunders, Corey Hart, and Justin Smoak all started and are likely to continue to play for Tacoma throughout this series with Oklahoma City. Saunders and Smoak aren’t even eligible to be activated from the disabled list until after the homestand ends on Tuesday.

Sunday’s game starts at 1:35 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 1:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jordan Pries (4-5, 2.50) against RedHawks RHP Nick Tropeano (5-4, 2.09).

(Based on the above statistics, it appears today’s game is a battle between starting pitchers who aren’t getting much run support).


  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune has reaction from Humberto Quintero and Roy Howell.
  • My Minor League Notebook for the paper is about Mariners pitching prospect Victor Sanchez, who is 19-years-old and in Double-A already.
  • Summer is here – and that is usually not a good thing for the Seattle Mariners, John McGrath writes. Can this year be different?
  • Well, the Mariners did pick up another ninth inning win yesterday, and they go for a sweep in Kansas City today.
  • Brad Miller is coming around, Bob Dutton writes in his Mariners notebook.
  • Ryan Divish has his MLB power rankings.
  • Tacoma gained a game on first-place Sacramento, which lost to Brian Flynn and New Orleans last night.
  • Reno is back within one game of first after beating Colorado Springs in 12 innings, 6-5. Nick Ahmed had the game-winning hit. The Aces have a couple of all-star candidates.
  • Adam Duvall doubled in the go-ahead run and Fresno beat Round Rock in 12 innings, 4-3.
  • Memphis outfielder Tommy Pham returned to his home town but his Redbirds lost in Las Vegas, 11-5.
  • Chicago Cubs Assistant GM Randy Bush watched as Iowa got shut out by Albuquerque, 4-0.
  • El Paso ripped a bunch of homers – including a Jeff Francouer grand slam – in a 12-3 blasting of Omaha. El Paso pitcher Matt Wisler is featured in the always excellent Sunday notebook from Fangraphs.
  • Brewers top prospect Jimmy Nelson got back on track (after the Rainiers beat him last start) and Nashville ended an eight-game losing streak with a 7-4 win at Salt Lake.
  • By now you’ve probably heard that former Rainiers and Mariners great Raul Ibanez was released by the Angels. They called up Efren Navarro to replace him.

It’s going to be Vanderbilt against Virginia in the College World Series championship. The Rainiers have two Virginia products (Chris Taylor and Andrew Carraway) and no Vanderbilters, so we don’t get a clubhouse rivalry this year.

Death By A Thousand Singles

June 21, 2014

Colorado Springs singled the Rainiers to death on Friday night, collecting three doubles and 13 singles on the way to an 11-4 win over Tacoma. The Sky Sox salvaged a split of the four-game series.

Rainiers starting pitcher Matt Palmer was touched for nine hits in just 2.1 innings – and all nine hits were singles, with three of them infield singles. That led to five early runs for the Sky Sox.

The positives for the Rainiers came on the offensive side of things.

Rehabilitating Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders went 3-for-4 with a walk and two RBI. Suddenly hot-hitting outfielder Xavier Nady went 3-for-5, and he has ten hits in his last 26 at-bats. Abraham Almonte continued his resurgence with two hits – he’s hit .322 over his last 13 games, going 19-for-59 with two homers, six walks, and 11 strikeouts.

Nick Franklin homered in the bottom of the ninth, when the game was far out of reach. However, that could be a big hit if it snapped Franklin out of his slump (he’s 8-for-60 since returning from Seattle). If Franklin starts hitting like normal this lineup will be quite potent.

Now the Oklahoma City RedHawks come to town for the first time since 2012. They are the Houston Astros farm club, and they have a number of young prospects to keep an eye on. Infielders Enrique Hernandez and Ronald Torreyes are (almost) Altuve-sized and very young for Triple-A, and powerful outfielders Domingo Santana and Preston Tucker show promise.

Oklahoma City just took three-out-of-four at Reno, and their hitters got healthy putting up big numbers at Aces Ballpark. They have been playing well overall, boasting a 42-34 record that puts them in a first-place tie with Omaha in the American-North.

The good news (or bad news, depending on your perspective) is that the Rainiers are not going to face Astros top pitching prospect Mike Foltynewicz, who started last night in Reno. Reportedly Foltynewicz has lit up PCL scoreboard radar guns at 100 mph multiple times this season.

Saturday’s game starts at 5:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 4:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (3-4, 4.45) against RedHawks LHP Brett Oberholtzer (1-2, 4.88).


  • We’ll start as always with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • The heating-up Brad Miller homered in the ninth to give the Mariners a 7-5 win at Kansas City on Friday night.
  • There are lots of good notes in Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook.
  • Sacramento earned a series split at Round Rock with a 7-5 win last night. It was a battle between AL West affiliates.
  • Reno fell two games behind Sacramento after a 12-8 loss to Oklahoma City last night.
  • Fresno snapped a 2-2 tie by scoring four runs in the eighth inning, earning a split at New Orleans. Apparently the Giants are calling up Fresno infield prospect Joe Panik.
  • Memphis exploded for 13 runs and hammered Salt Lake to win the series on the road, three games to one.
  • Kyle Hendricks pitched well and Javier Baez had a big game at the plate in Iowa’s 8-3 win over El Paso.
  • Nashville suffered a total meltdown in the ninth and lost at Las Vegas, 5-4. The Sounds carried a 4-1 lead into the inning and have now lost eight in a row.
  • Albuquerque was rained out at Omaha. It was the final meeting of the year between the two teams, so it will not be made up.

This is our final 5:05 Saturday start time this season – all remaining Saturday home games will start at 7:05.

Streak Ends In Longest Game Of The Year

June 20, 2014

Colorado Springs ended the Rainiers seven-game win streak on Thursday night, knocking off Tacoma in 14 innings, 8-7.

The game was the Rainiers longest of the season in terms of both innings (14) and time (4:33).

The Rainiers had a chance to win it in the 13th, putting runners at first and second with one out, but they couldn’t push a run home.

The Sky Sox won the game in the 14th, scoring the winning run on a throwing error by third baseman Gabriel Noriega with two outs in the inning.

That was the last of the Rainiers three errors on the night. For anyone who was listening to the broadcast, that number was decreased from four to three in a post-game scoring change (which also changed starting pitcher Taijuan Walker‘s line to five innings, seven runs (six earned).

The Tacoma bullpen was outstanding once again, going nine innings and allowing just one (unearned) run. In the last 12 games, Tacoma’s bullpen has given up four earned runs in 46 innings pitched.

Now we’ll see if the Rainiers can bounce back and win this series against the Sky Sox.

Friday’s game starts at 7:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Matt Palmer (1-3, 3.46) against Sky Sox RHP Juan Nicasio (first PCL appearance – just sent down by Rockies).

The Pacific Coast League has levied some suspensions resulting from Monday’s non-brawl in Nashville.

Outfielder Xavier Avery served the first of a three-game suspension last night, and outfielder Jabari Blash will serve three games when Avery is done.

Both were due to “instigating,” according to manager Roy Howell.

Avery was ejected from that game, so I’m sure there was reasonable cause in the eyes of the umpires and league.

But why was Blash suspended? He was hit in the head by a pitch, and he was not ejected from the game. If they didn’t eject him from the game, how could he get suspended?

By suspending Blash, the league office is implicitly saying that the umpires made a mistake by not ejecting him from the game.

From the Rainiers perspective, the suspensions couldn’t come at a better time. The trio of Mariners on rehabilitation who are expected to play this weekend will lighten the blow.


We’ve got Friday Night Fireworks tonight – come for the baseball, stay for the pyrotechnics!