We got teased by the Baseball Gods on Saturday night at Cheney Stadium.
For six innings, we were treated to a terrific ballgame. We saw a leadoff homer on the first pitch by Xavier Avery in the bottom of the first inning. Tacoma right fielder Jabari Blash leaped in the air, reached over the fence, and stole a home run in the third. Albuquerque actually hit two solo shots in the fourth inning, with ex-Rainiers favorite Alex Liddi launching the second one.
After six innings it was 2-1 and a tight game. Both starters were throwing well, the game was 1 hour, 45 minutes old – we had been watching a crisp pitcher’s duel with some highlight-reel moments.
Then it got bogged down in the late innings, as both bullpens sputtered. The Rainiers pen sputtered much more than Albuquerque’s, and the Isotopes emerged with a 7-2 victory that clocked in at 3:23.
This series is tied up 2-2 going to the fifth and final game today. Tacoma has a chance to win the series – the team hasn’t won a series since taking two-of-three from Las Vegas, May 2-5 (one game was rained out).
It’s been quiet on the roster front the last few days. One item to pass along: outfielder Abraham Almonte has been out since Monday with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He’s day-to-day and it sounds like he could return any moment.
Finally, I have a fun stat to pass along to you. Before sharing it, let’s all agree not to put any meaning into it right now, and just note that it is a current trend that is somewhat amusing: second baseman Ty Kelly has hit seven HRs in his last 141 at-bats, while first baseman Jesus Montero has one home run in his last 137 at-bats.
Montero hit seven homers in his first 80 at-bats of the season, and he’s swinging it well right now, so nobody is worried about him. It’s just an unlikely and kind of funny trend that is currently going on: little second baseman out-homering big first baseman for six weeks.
Hopefully I just reverse-jinxed Montero into hitting three home runs today. Wait, did I double-reverse-jinx him by typing this? Now I’m confused.
Sunday’s game starts at 1:35 (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 1:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP James Gillheeney (1-5, 6.68) against Albuquerque RHP Jeff Bennett (2-1, 3.65).
- We’ll start with Grant Clark’s Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
- My Minor League Notebook for the paper recognizes that the Mariners bucked a trend in the draft, and has an item on a Rainier Beach High School product in Triple-A.
- Dustin Ackley had the big hit as the Mariners beat Tampa Bay and won for their sixth time in the last seven games.
- Get all of the latest dope in Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook.
- The Mariners added a few local players with their late draft picks, Ryan Divish reports. You can find Divish’s MLB power rankings right here.
- The Jackson, TN newspaper has a feature on Double-A third baseman (and future Rainier) Patrick Kivlehan.
- The AL West is a division on the rise, John Shea writes in his Sunday MLB notes column.
- In the PCL, Pacific-North leading Sacramento waxed Salt Lake on Saturday night, 13-4. Former Rainiers and Mariners pitcher Joel Pineiro started for Salt Lake and got hit hard.
- Reno remained tied in first with Sacramento by knocking off El Paso, 6-4. Reno has won six straight series – the Reno newspaper has a good article on how the four-game series results are crucial in the PCL.
- Former Cy Young Award winner Frank Viola returned to his job as the Las Vegas pitching coach – his story is sad, triumphant, and eye-opening. Vegas lost to Fresno on Saturday, 7-2, as Adam Duvall hit his PCL-leading 19th home run.
- Meanwhile in Vegas, the World Series Of Poker is off to a great start.
- Colorado Springs beat Iowa as Des Moines continues to wait for the arrival of Manny Ramirez.
- Zach Cox ripped two dingers and New Orleans rocked Round Rock, 8-2.
- Oklahoma City ace Mike Foltynewicz was dealing and the RedHawks picked up a 5-2 win at Omaha.
- Veteran outfielder Jeremy Hermida had a big game to lead Nashville to a 4-3 win at Memphis.
Did any of you guys hang out at the pinball show this weekend? I would have swung by… if I had learned about it before today!