Hot Rainiers Open Big Series Tonight

Tacoma continued its excellent play of late, defeating Las Vegas on Thursday night 5-4 in a quick game at Cheney Stadium.

Starting pitcher Jordan Pries returned to form, allowing three runs (one earned) over seven crisp innings.

Abraham Almonte had three hits, including two inning-opening doubles which started rallies.

The big blow came off the bat of Ty Kelly, who launched a go-ahead three-run homer in the sixth inning. Kelly has a career high 14 home runs this season.

Now Tacoma faces first-place Sacramento in a five-game series – which includes a Saturday evening doubleheader – and we’re going to find out if the Rainiers will be in a pennant race in August.

The Rainiers enter this series eight games behind Sacramento, with 39 games left. If they can win four of five against Sacramento, things will be very interesting. Taking 3-of-5 would be a little helpful, and keep Tacoma in the hunt. Losing three wouldn’t be a disaster, but it would make a comeback very tough with no more head-to-head games against Sacramento left.

If Tacoma loses four or all five, they won’t be mathematically eliminated but it would take an unlikely series of events for the Rainiers to get back in the race.

Friday’s game starts at 7:05 PM (Pacific) – 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 (1-8, 5.50) against Sacramento RHP Arnold Leon (9-4, 4.62).

Yesterday the Mariners promoted shortstop Chris Taylor and DH Jesus Montero to Seattle, sent Taijuan Walker back to Tacoma, and placed Willie Bloomquist on the disabled list.

Taylor went 1-for-3 last night, collecting his first major league hit (a single off Wei-Yin Chen of the Orioles). It looks likes he’s going to get a chance to play up there.

I’m happy for Taylor, but a little bit disappointed – and here’s why: Taylor is currently 2nd in the PCL with a .328 bating average, and leader KiKe’ Hernandez is going to drop out due to a lack of plate appearances soon (he’s in the majors). Unfortunately, Taylor is 45 plate appearances away from qualifying for the batting title at the end of the season.

In 54 years of PCL baseball, only one Tacoma player has ever won the batting title – Troy Neel in 1992. It would have been a lot of fun to see Taylor make a run at it.

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune has reaction from Jordan Pries and manager Roy Howell.
  • The Mariners were shut out by Baltimore last night, 4-0.
  • Jesus Montero might be re-joining the Rainiers today, according to Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook.
  • Ryan Divish has an interesting blog post on Montero’s batting stance.
  • John Sickels wrote about Chris Taylor.
  • Buster Olney’s column today (for ESPN Insiders) explains new rules in the independent Atlantic League which are being installed next week to speed up play. They were designed by a group of MLB executives. I would willingly tithe a portion of my salary to the PCL league office to see these rules enforced in this league.
  • Also for Insiders, here is Keith Law’s analysis of the Stephen PryorKendrys Morales trade.
  • There are encouraging words about Mariners prospect Gabriel Guerrero in this week’s Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet.
  • Sacramento maintained its lead in the Pacific-North by whacking El Paso, 13-2.
  • Reno remained 4.5 games behind Sacramento by beating Salt Lake, 4-3. Some Dominican fans are bringing music to the games in Salt Lake City.
  • Wowza. Down 7-4 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Joc Pederson launched a grand slam off all-star closer Heath Hembree and Albuquerque beat Fresno, 8-7.
  • The Iowa Cubs added another top prospect in Jorge Soler, and we have a photo gallery. Soler went 1-for-3 with two walks, Javier Baez homered, and Iowa ripped New Orleans 11-2.
  • Some of us old guys remember when Carlos Pena was a top prospect. Pena homered in the ninth to give Round Rock a 2-1 win at Oklahoma City.
  • Nashville opened up a 2.5-game lead in the American-South with a 4-2 win over Colorado Springs.
  • Carlos Peguero slugged his 13th homer of the year in Omaha’s 3-2 win at Memphis.

Big series starts tonight – and don’t forget, there will be Friday Night Fireworks!

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