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.