Sacramento swept a doubleheader from the Tacoma Rainiers on Saturday night, putting the Rainiers hopes of making a run at the River Cats for the division title in serious jeopardy.
The two wins opened Sacramento’s lead up to nine games over Tacoma, with 36 to play. The Rainiers could really use wins in the final two games of this series, which will be Tacoma’s final head-to-head games against the division leader.
Sacramento won the first game 8-5, as Daric Barton hit a key three-run homer and Andy Parrino drilled a two-run triple. Justin Smoak homered twice in the game, but the Rainiers needed more than that.
The second game was a pitcher’s duel that Sacramento won, 2-1. It was a “bullpen game” for the River Cats, and that’s not good for opponents: Sacramento’s greatest strength is its terrific bullpen. Four pitchers held Tacoma to just four hits total.
A few Tacoma highlights: Nate Tenbrink homered in the first game and doubled in the second, and it looks like he is dead-set on making up for lost time and helping the club down the stretch. Smoak hit those two dingers in the opener, and nearly had a third in the second game. Forrest Snow delivered another solid spot-start, but he got stuck with the loss in that 2-1 game. Stephen Kolscheen racked up six strikeouts in 2.2 innings of relief, mostly on elevated fastballs to left-handed batters.
The Rainiers need a win badly on Sunday, and rehabbing Mariners starter James Paxton needs a strong start. It seems to me that these two things would go together quite well. It should be a beautiful day afternoon at Cheney Stadium – come out to the park if you can.
Sunday’s game starts at 1:35 PM (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 Paxton (0-1, 6.00) against Sacramento LHP Drew Pomeranz (0-0, 4.50).
- The News Tribune has a Rainiers game story on the first game.
- My Sunday minor league notebook paper looks at Mariners Class-A slugger Jordy Lara, who homered in five straight games this week.
- The Mariners ended a four-game losing streak by beating Baltimore on Saturday afternoon, 4-3.
- John McGrath has a column on Saturday’s Mariners game.
- Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook has many items, including a look at the program for James Paxton.
- Ryan Divish has his power rankings.
- This is a very interesting article from Lookout Landing on batters swinging at 3-0 pitches, and how often it happens.
- The old Portland Mavericks have been in the news a lot lately, due to a documentary that is showing on Netflix. I haven’t seen it yet, but Larry Stone sure makes it sound like a lot of fun. For an opposing viewpoint, Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus thought the film stunk.
- The Hall Of Fame inductions are today, and former Tacoma Cubs infielder Bobby Cox is one of them. Here’s the blog post I wrote in the off-season about Cox’s time in Tacoma.
- The Mariners dropped $1.85 million on a 16-year-old outfielder from Venezuela named Brayan Hernandez.
- In the PCL, everybody is talking about the big brawl in Reno last night. The Isotopes and Aces really had it out. I thought that the Dodgers fan site TrueBlueLA had a surprisingly objective overview of the situation, which includes video. A fan behind home plate took video from a different angle. The newspaper report is very brief for now, probably because of deadline issues. One thing we know for sure is that there are going to be a lot of suspensions, and even more fines. Reno won the game, 7-3.
- Speaking of brawls, it’s the 35th anniversary of a big one in Milwaukee.
- El Paso beat Fresno in the bottom of the ninth inning on Rocky Gale‘s game-winning RBI. Fresno is trying to recover from losing five players – or 20% of its roster – in 24 hours.
- On a day in which Las Vegan Greg Maddux was honored, the 51s lost to Salt Lake, 5-2. The game story focuses on Maddux, Ed Graney wrote a massive Sunday feature on Maddux, and Ron Kantowski has a column on the newly minted Hall of Famer. Grant Brisbee’s three most ridiculous Maddux games can’t be missed.
- Nashville coasted to an 8-1 win over Oklahoma City and has won five in a row.
- Trailing 7-3, New Orleans scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and stunned visiting Omaha, 8-7.
- Iowa closer Blake Parker has an interesting background. His I-Cubs got swept in a doubleheader by visiting Memphis on Saturday. We feel your pain, Iowa.
- Colorado Springs split a doubleheader with Round Rock after Sky Sox owner David Elmore was inducted into the PCL Hall of Fame.
Don’t forget, we have another day game on Monday at 11:35 AM. Start making your lunch plans for Cheney Stadium now!