All Stars & Fireworks

Happy July 3rd Fireworks Extravaganza Day!

Let’s blow some stuff up. With proper safety parameters in place, of course. Our local pyrotechnics experts will do that after tonight’s game.

We’ve got some good news today, as four Tacoma Rainiers have been named to the Pacific Coast League All-Star team.

Shortstop Chris Taylor and third baseman Gabriel Noriega were elected as starters, and infielder Nick Franklin and reliever Logan Kensing were also selected to the team.

The Triple-A All-Star Game will be played on July 16 at Durham, North Carolina. The game will be televised nationally on the MLB Network and there will be a national radio broadcast as well.

Taylor, 23, is batting .322 with five homers and 30 RBI. He’s reached base with a hit or a walk in 48 of his last 50 games, and he has a .393 OBP. In addition to the five homers, Taylor ranks third in the PCL with six triples and he has 18 doubles and a .520 slugging percentage.

The 23-year-old Noriega has been a pleasant surprise at the plate, hitting .328 with 22 multiple-hit games in his first 63 Triple-A contests. His batting average ranks third in the league going into tonight’s game.

Around two big league call-ups, Franklin (also 23) has posted a .302 average in the PCL, with nine homers and 37 RBI in 56 games. He has a .397 OBP and is slugging .491. Franklin tied a career-high by extending his hitting streak to 11 games last night.

Kensing – who celebrates his 32nd birthday today – will make his first all-star appearance as a professional. A veteran of all or part of seven Major League seasons, Kensing has posted a 1.70 ERA in 53 innings out of the Tacoma bullpen. Kensing has allowed just two home runs and 17 walks while striking out 48.

Congratulations to the four Rainiers all-stars!

Here are two all-star tidbits for Rainiers fans:

The last time Tacoma had four all-stars was 2001. That year – which was a championship season – Tacoma had three starters in shortstop Ramon Vazquez, designated hitter Juan Thomas, and pitcher Denny Stark. First baseman Todd Betts made the team as a reserve.

Tacoma has not had two starters elected to the game since 2007. The honorees that season were outfielder Adam Jones and pitcher Justin Lehr.

Stark and Lehr are the only two pitchers in Tacoma franchise history chosen to start the all-star game.

Apparently the Rainiers were saving up their offense for tonight’s game, because they got shut out by Trevor Cahill and the Reno Aces last night, 7-0.

Tacoma had just three hits and didn’t make it to third base. It was only the third time Tacoma has been shut out all season (and two of those shutouts have been pitched by Reno, who has the best team ERA among Pacific Conference clubs).

The Rainiers need a win tonight to salvage a split of the four-game series.

Thursday’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 Jordan Pries (4-5, 3.11) against Aces RHP Charles Brewer (3-5, 7.28).

Tickets are tight. Earlier this morning, only a few standing room only tickets were available.

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. Err… no we won’t. I can’t find it on their website.
  • The full PCL All-Star roster can be found right here (scroll down for an easy-to-read list). They’ll be playing the International League all-stars, and their team is here.
  • Larry Stone has the story of the day: a feature on former Rainiers third baseman Vinnie Catricala, who just graduated from the Sacramento police academy.
  • Here’s an awesome bit from El Paso broadcaster Tim Hagerty, on the time Corey Hart pinch-hit for Corey Hart.
  • On that subject, it was the other Corey Hart who played for Nashville in the 2005 PCL Championship Series at Cheney Stadium. The current Corey Hart – the one rehabbing with the Rainiers right now – only played for Nashville at Cheney during the regular season that year. He was in the big leagues during the PCL playoffs.
  • The Mariners finished off a sweep of the Houston Astros with a 5-2 victory yesterday. The M’s are off today.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook can be found right here.
  • For a national perspective on the Mariners, check out Bob Nightengale’s story for USA Today.
  • Jonah Keri at 538 writes that the Mariners have been lucky thus far, but concludes that they might be able to fight it off.
  • The Mariners signed one of the top international prospects to a big signing bonus. Brayan Hernandez is a 16-year-old outfielder from Venezuela. See you in Tacoma in five or six years, Brayan!
  • Former Rainiers outfielder Eric Thames is playing in Korea, and one of his teammates made a sign so they could translate his dugout banter.
  • Sacramento ended a 4 hour, 50 minute 15-inning marathon at Raley Field with back-to-back two out hits to beat Fresno, 2-1.
  • Salt Lake scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning to beat Las Vegas, 10-9.
  • El Paso and Albuquerque split a traditional doubleheader.
  • Colorado Springs topped Oklahoma City, 7-5, and help is on the way for the Rockies.
  • Nashville shut out Memphis, 5-0. Jimmy Nelson improved to 10-2 and dropped his ERA to 1.56. I’m sure he’ll start the All-Star Game if the Brewers don’t call him up.
  • Round Rock knocked off New Orleans, 4-2.
  • Kris Bryant had two hits and Arismendy Alcantara hit his 11th triple in Iowa’s 4-3 win over Omaha.
  • A Mariners prospect showed up on today’s Baseball America minor league round-up.

This is always one of the most fun nights of the year, and I’m looking forward to the big crowd and the fireworks. On Friday morning, the team will wake up early and fly to Fresno to play in their Fourth of July game.

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