Rainiers Win Again, But Baseball Loses A Legend

Tacoma made it four straight wins with a 4-3 victory at Nashville on Sunday afternoon.

Forrest Snow became the fourth straight Tacoma starting pitcher to allow two runs or fewer, lasting five innings and giving up two runs (one earned). Chance Ruffin followed with three shut-down innings in relief.

Ruffin ended up getting the win when Jabari Blash snapped a 2-2 tie with a long two-run homer to left field in the seventh inning. Blash has homered in three straight games and is on an extended hot streak – check out the first link down below for more on that.

Tacoma has already handed Nashville its first home series loss of the season. Now the Rainiers will attempt to get their first series sweep of the year, but they face a tough customer in the final game.

Nashville starter Jimmy Nelson is the Milwaukee Brewers No. 1 ranked prospect, and he has been the best starting pitcher in the PCL so far this season. He leads the league in ERA and ranks second in strikeouts. He tops out at 96 mph and reportedly has a wipeout slider. This will be an interesting one.

Monday’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 RHP Andrew Carraway (2-4, 4.99) against Nashville RHP Jimmy Nelson (7-1, 1.51).

Barring a match-up in the PCL Championship Series (wouldn’t that be something?), this will be Tacoma’s final game played at Nashville’s Greer Stadium. Today’s radio pregame show will include a guest from the Nashville front office to talk about the future here.

We have sad news today, with the passing of baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn.

The news touches close to home. The Seattle Mariners Director of Player Development is Chris Gwynn, who is Tony’s younger brother. Chris is one of the architects of the Rainiers roster, a frequent visitor to Cheney Stadium, and a huge part of the baseball side of the Mariners organization.

All of us with the Tacoma Rainiers send our condolences to the Gwynn family.

As for Tony? He was the single greatest hitter I have ever seen in person. He could shoot just about any pitch through what he called the “5.5 hole” – the open space between the shortstop and the third baseman.

There are going to be some incredible remembrances written about Gwynn, because he was so friendly and engaging with everybody, including the media. Some really talented writers are going to put out some great stuff in the coming days.

It was before my time, but maybe a reader or two saw Gwynn play at Cheney Stadium. Tony played in 93 games for the Hawaii Islanders in 1982 before getting called up to San Diego on July 19. We don’t have a game-by-game account of the 1982 Tacoma Tigers season in our archives, but Gwynn and Hawaii probably played in Tacoma before he was called up.

Gwynn played in 110 PCL games (93 with Hawaii in 1982, and 17 with the inaugural Las Vegas club in 1983). He hit .330 in this league – which is actually eight points lower than his lifetime major league average.

Links:

  • We’ll start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune, which has all of the Jabari Blash fun facts I could come up with.
  • For rolling coverage of Tony Gwynn, look to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
  • My favorite piece on Gwynn so far is this post from Marlins broadcaster Glenn Geffner, who I have known for many years. Geffner went from Triple-A radio to Padres PR Director to Marlins radio (an unusual path), and he worked closely with Gwynn. Geffner once told me the favorite part of his job in each off-season was writing Tony Gwynn’s media guide bio, which I recall was roughly 20 pages long.
  • Here is a look back at Tony Gwynn’s minor league days, which began in Walla Walla.
  • The Mariners five-game losing streak came to a halt with a 5-1 win over Texas on Sunday.
  • Among other things in this Mariners notebook, Lloyd McClendon makes it sound like Taijuan Walker could stay in Tacoma for a bit longer.
  • In the PCL, the Rainiers picked up a game on first place Sacramento and got their deficit under ten games for the first time since May 27. Tacoma can thank Javier Baez and the Iowa Cubs for a 4-3 win at Raley Field yesterday.
  • Reno remained one game behind Sacramento in the standings, getting shut down by Tim Cooney and Memphis on Sunday. Oscar Taveras homered for Memphis.
  • Omaha out-slugged Fresno for a 10-7 victory at Chukchansi Park, completing a four-game road sweep.
  • Tough day in Albuquerque, where reliever Josh Judy suffered a scary injury and the ‘Topes blew a late lead and lost to red-hot New Orleans.
  • Oklahoma City built an 11-1 lead and held on for a 13-9 victory against Las Vegas.
  • Colorado Springs edged Salt Lake on Father’s Day, 4-3, as new father Rafael Ynoa had four hits.
  • It took 12 innings, but El Paso ended Round Rock’s six-game win streak with a 5-4 win.
  • We’ll close with Baseball America’s minor league round-up.

Today is the last game of the road trip – the team returns home on Tuesday for a nice eight-game homestand. See you at the ballpark!

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