Omaha’s Brooks Shuts Down Rainiers

August 24, 2014

Omaha starting pitcher Aaron Brooks pitched a complete game six-hitter as the Storm Chasers topped Tacoma on Saturday night, 5-1.

Tacoma scored a run in the fourth inning to tie the game, 1-1, on Justin Smoak‘s RBI double. The Rainiers proceeded to load the bases with one out and it looked like Tacoma might break through with a big inning.

It didn’t happen.

Not only did Brooks escape that jam, it was the beginning of a streak of 17 straight batters he retired to end the game. Tacoma did not get a man on base after the fourth inning.

It was an impressive outing for Brooks, who improved to 11-3 for Omaha.

Meanwhile, the Rainiers playoff chances took a big hit. With Sacramento winning at Memphis, Tacoma is now five games out of first place with nine to play.

The Rainiers welcome the struggling Iowa Cubs to town tonight. Iowa has one of the best prospects in all of the minor leagues in third baseman Kris Bryant, but that doesn’t mean they are winning right now: Iowa ended an eight-game losing streak last night, and they have lost 10 of their last 12 games.

Sunday’s game starts at 5:05 PM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 4:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Forrest Snow (2-3, 3.06) against Iowa RHP Dallas Beeler (8-6, 3.80).


  • In the Rainiers game story, manager Roy Howell says that Omaha’s Aaron Brooks pitched the best game anyone has against Tacoma this year.
  • My minor league notebook for the TNT previews the Iowa Cubs series and looks at Mariners prospect Jabari Henry who hit his 30th home run on Friday night.
  • The Mariners used one big inning to down the Red Sox, 7-3. Seattle is going for a sweep today.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook has all of the tidbits you need and desire.
  • Lloyd McClendon talked about September call-ups, and Ryan Divish took a stab at guessing who they might be.
  • For his Sunday notebook, Ryan Divish spoke with Mariners third base coach Rich Donnelly about taking risks.
  • John McGrath ranks the 30 major league teams. He also has a column about how Friday’s epic Mariners comeback could be the turning point of the season.
  • If you are an ESPN Insider, Buster Olney’s piece on Tumwater resident Stephen Vogt has some interesting insight on Triple-A.
  • In the PCL, Sacramento increased its lead in the Pacific-North by beating Memphis on Saturday night, 6-3. The River Cats had a strong start by Deck McGuire.
  • Reno fell two games behind by losing to Iowa, 10-7. Jorge Soler went 5-for-5 and the Aces missed out on a sweep.
  • Nashville beat Fresno, 6-2. Nashville and Memphis are tied in first in the American-South with nine games to play.
  • Ben Paulsen hit three home runs and Colorado Springs picked up a 12-10 win over Albuquerque. In the game, Joc Pederson became the first PCL player to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in 80 years.
  • Oklahoma City beat up El Paso, 10-2. We have a Q&A with RedHawks infielder Ronald Torreyes.
  • Salt Lake and Round Rock split a doubleheader in Utah.
  • Las Vegas outfielder Cory Vaughn hit a walk-off homer and the 51s beat New Orleans, 10-8. The newspaper story focuses on the salaries paid to minor league players.

Opportunity Missed

August 23, 2014

Tacoma missed a chance to pull within three games of first place last night, dropping a 2-1 game to Omaha in front of a packed house at Cheney Stadium.

The Rainiers ran into Omaha’s Liam Hendricks, who has been the best starting pitcher in Triple-A baseball this season.

Hendricks started the season with Buffalo in the International League, where he was leading the circuit in ERA. He was the starting pitcher and winner for the IL in the Triple-A All-Star Game, and then was traded near the deadline to the Royals organization.

In just his fifth start for Omaha, Hendricks tossed eight innings without allowing an earned run. He gave up just six hits and two walks, while recording seven strikeouts. Hendricks is now 4-1 with a 2.83 ERA in five PCL starts.

The loss hurt Tacoma, which had strong pitching performances of its own from James Gillheeney, Blake Beavan, and Logan Bawcom.

First place Sacramento lost, second place Reno won and is now only one game back, and Tacoma remains in third place and four games out of first. Only ten games remain.

Imagine how tight things would be if Tacoma had won last night! Still, the boys aren’t out of the race yet. We’ll see what happens tonight.

Saturday’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 (9-6, 3.77) against Omaha RHP Aaron Brooks (10-3, 4.32).


  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune has reaction from Ketel Marte and manager Roy Howell. One big correction: the final out was a controversial called strike three, not a swinging strike. I haven’t had a chance to look at the video yet, but I’ve been told that pitch appeared quite low.
  • The Mariners miraculous 5-3 comeback win over Boston was so dramatic you may want to read about it twice. So, here’s Ryan Divish’s story for the Seattle Times, and here is Bob Dutton’s version from the TNT.
  • Dutton’s Mariners notebook includes a Michael Saunders update.
  • There could be a big affiliation shuffle in the PCL this fall, and a newspaper report out of Oklahoma says the Dodgers are moving to Oklahoma City next year. That’s news to the folks in Albuquerque.
  • Sacramento scored first and did not score again in a 4-1 loss at Memphis. Redbirds starter Tim Cooney won his league-leading 13th game.
  • Reno pulled to one game back by crushing Iowa, 11-6. Reno goes for a four-game sweep tonight.
  • Fresno’s Chris Heston pitched a complete game four-hit shutout at Nashville and won, 3-0. Nashville trails Memphis by one game in the American-South.
  • Having already clinched the Pacific-South title, the Las Vegas 51s picked up an 8-7 win over New Orleans while pausing to enjoy the Little League World Series.
  • El Paso beat Oklahoma City on Tony Cody Decker‘s eighth inning homer.
  • Joc Pederson homered (32) and stole a base (29) in Albuquerque’s 13-7 win at Colorado Springs, and he’s one steal away from becoming the PCL’s first 30-30 man since 1934.
  • Round Rock was rained out at Salt Lake, they’ll play two today.

It’s the last Saturday night home game of the year – see you at the park!

Rainiers Still In Race

August 22, 2014

Third place Tacoma continued to pressure the division leaders with a 7-3 win over Omaha on Thursday night.

With first place Sacramento losing, Tacoma is now four games back in the standings with 11 to play. Reno sits in second place, two games out of first.

Erasmo Ramirez was terrific last night, needing just 100 pitches to make it through eight innings. He allowed just five hits and three runs (two earned). Ramirez issued no walks and struck out six.

Ty Kelly led the offense with three hits and two runs batted in. Gabriel Noriega hit an opposite-field two-run homer, Ketel Marte also went deep, and Leury Bonilla had two hits including a go-ahead RBI double.

I received a lot of questions about why two guys didn’t play. Michael Saunders is battling some sort of virus and was sent home by the team doctor. Stefen Romero banged his shoulder into the outfield fence the other day and manager Roy Howell wanted to give him a day or two to recuperate – Romero might return to action tonight.

Here are your updated Tacoma win trends: the team has won two in a row, seven of the last nine, 21-of-31, and is 44-24 over the last 68 games.

Friday’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 LHP James Gillheeney (3-9, 5.98) against Omaha RHP Liam Hendricks (3-1, 3.67).


The last Friday Night Fireworks of the season go off tonight – we’re expecting a packed house!

Rainiers Catch Storm Chasers

August 21, 2014

Tacoma rallied to score three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, coming back from a 4-3 deficit to beat the Omaha Storm Chasers on Wednesday night, 6-4.

It was the opening game of a four-game series for the Rainiers, who have now won 20 of their last 30 games. It was also the first game of the Rainiers final homestand of the year, which runs through Wednesday.

Taijuan Walker started and allowed a pair of home runs in the third inning, but nothing the rest of the way. He delivered a quality start, lasting six innings and giving up three runs while throwing exactly 100 pitches.

Both homers he gave up were interesting.

Carlos Peguero hit the first one. The ex-Rainiers slugger has homered in four straight games for Omaha, with a pair of two-homer games during that stretch. The notoriously streaky hitter has eight homers in his last seven games, and 13 homers over his last 20 games. He’s up to 28 dingers on the year, which ranks second in the PCL behind Albuquerque’s Joc Pederson.

The other home run was hit by Seattle native Matt Fields. A 2004 graduate of Rainier Beach High School who also played a year at Green River Community College, Fields was playing in his first professional game in the Pacific Northwest last night – and he’s been playing professionally since 2005! With friends and family in the stands, Fields launched a two-run homer to left in the third inning.

The homers didn’t hurt the Rainiers. John Hicks hit a two-run shot for Tacoma, Gabriel Noriega went 4-for-4, and Justin Smoak singled in the go-ahead run as Tacoma emerged with the victory. 

Two hot hitters stayed that way: Stefen Romero went 1-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, and Smoak had two hits and a walk while reaching base in his 16th straight contest.

Tacoma remains five games behind first place Sacramento, which also won. There are 12 games left in the regular season.

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 Erasmo Ramirez (4-5, 3.77) against Omaha LHP Buddy Baumann (1-3, 2.63).


  • In the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune, Taijuan Walker says he had poor location on the two home run balls.
  • The Mariners took a frustrating loss in Philadelphia. They’re off today, then play in Boston on Friday.
  • Among the subjects covered in Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook is… playoff tickets.
  • The Pacific Coast League named Round Rock’s Jason Roberts as Athletic Trainer Of The Year.
  • They named the broadcast team for the Triple-A National Championship Game.
  • Sacramento scored five runs in the top of the first and won at Memphis, 6-3. No story to link to – with the Sacramento newspaper’s erratic coverage of the local nine, and the Memphis paper’s stronger-than-Fort-Knox paywall, we may not have a story link for this entire series.
  • Reno broke open a close game with a six-run eighth inning and beat Iowa, 11-4. The Aces remain three games behind Sacramento.
  • Fresno at Nashville was rained out. They’re playing two today.
  • Oklahoma City could have pulled within one game of first place Omaha in the American-North, but instead the RedHawks got shut down by El Paso’s Matt Wisler, 2-1.
  • New Orleans turned a triple play in a 4-0 win at Las Vegas. Sixteen years with the Rainiers and I still haven’t seen one here 😦
  • Round Rock’s Robbie Ross Jr. tamed the streaking Salt Lake Bees in a 5-2 road win. 
  • Albuquerque won at Colorado Springs, 7-4. The news story focuses on Sky Sox infielder Rafael Ynoa, who has had a nice season.
  • We’ll close it out with Baseball America’s daily round-up.

Tonight is our final Thirsty Thursday of the season – come on out and enjoy it!

Rainiers Head Home For Final Time

August 19, 2014

Tacoma comes home to open the final homestand of the 2014 (regular?) season tonight, as the club hosts Omaha for four games and then Iowa for four. It’s a Wednesday-through-Wednesday stretch of baseball at Cheney Stadium.

The team played well on the road, posting a winning record with a 5-3 trip through New Orleans and Round Rock.

It could have been a terrific road trip, but Round Rock salvaged a split of the four-game series by using two big innings to defeat the Rainiers on Tuesday night, 10-5.

That was a tough loss for the Rainiers, because first-place Sacramento ended a three-game losing streak and avoided being swept at home by beating Oklahoma City, 7-4.

Tacoma now trails Sacramento by five games, and Reno also lost so they are three games behind Sacramento.

Thirteen games remain. Tacoma is not eliminated, but things got a lot tougher after yesterday’s result.

Omaha comes in leading the American-North division by three games over Oklahoma City.

The Storm Chasers are led by former Tacoma slugger Carlos Peguero, who is on one of his patented hot streaks. Peguero has hit five homers in the last three games, and he has 13 homers over his last 19 games played. That’s ridiculous, of course – but when he’s locked in, he’s a force. Some things haven’t changed, though: he’s struck out 122 times in 326 at-bats this season. Memo to Tacoma pitchers: breaking balls low and away, guys.

Wednesday’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 Taijuan Walker (6-3, 4.57) against Omaha RHP Clayton Mortensen (5-3, 3.70).


  • The Rainiers game story has details on how it went down last night in Round Rock.
  • Hisashi Iwakuma was dealing and the Mariners beat the Phillies, 5-2. They have a morning game today at 10 AM Pacific.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook has a bunch of good tidbits, as always.
  • The exploits of Carlos Peguero are detailed in this story from Omaha.
  • Reno dropped to three games back with a 3-2 loss at New Orleans. Reno does have five games head-to-head with Sacramento over Labor Day weekend.
  • I can’t say I didn’t laugh when I read that Manny Ramirez homered off of Randy Wolf. Manny will be in Tacoma with the Iowa Cubs on Sunday.
  • No links, but Nashville won while Memphis lost so those two teams are in a dead heat atop the American-South.

That’s it for today – long flights and then we start this homestand. Come join us at Cheney Stadium – I don’t know if the team can catch Sacramento, but they’ve really been playing well for over two months and are fun to watch right now.

Hot Rainiers Make A Move In Division Race

August 19, 2014

The Rainiers banged out 15 hits, Jordan Pries delivered six scoreless innings, and Tacoma beat Round Rock on Monday night, 6-2.

Tacoma made a big move in the standings. The team gained on both Sacramento and Reno, and things are really starting to tighten up.

Sacramento has lost three straight to Oklahoma City, and Reno took a tough 11-inning loss in New Orleans last night. Sacramento is still in first place, and Reno is two games back.

Sitting in third place, the red-hot Rainiers are now only four games out of first. This is the closest Tacoma has been since May 20.

There are 14 games left in the season. Tacoma wraps up the Round Rock series tonight, then comes home to play Omaha and Iowa before finishing up with a five-game series at Fresno.

The Omaha-Iowa homestand will be fun. Those two teams are battling each other for first place in the American-North, and they will have a lot on the line just like the Rainiers. These should be some pretty intense games on the upcoming homestand!

Tacoma has won five of the last six games, and has clinched a winning record on the current road trip. Now the team tries to win the series here in Round Rock – it would be the third straight road series won by Tacoma if they get it done. The Rainiers have not lost a road series since they went 1-3 at El Paso in late June.

Tuesday’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 Forrest Snow (2-2, 2.18) against rehabilitating Round Rock LHP Derek Holland (0-1, 9.64).


  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune has reaction from Jordan Pries and manager Roy Howell.
  • Familiar foe Jerome Williams shut down the Mariners on Monday night, 4-1. Back at ’em tonight.
  • Larry Stone is starting to see some similarities between this year’s Mariners and the 1995 club.
  • There are tidbits galore in Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook.
  • Cats Slump Continues” cries the headline in the Sacramento Bee. It seems that their offense is really struggling. Nick Tropeano shut ’em down last night.
  • New Orleans took down Reno in the 11th inning on a walk-off home run by Brian Bogusevic. The deep fly ball was actually tipped over the left field fence by outfielder Zach Borenstein.
  • Austin Fleet went the distance for a shutout as Fresno beat Colorado Springs, 5-0.
  • Nobody in the league is hotter than Memphis right now. The Redbirds won their ninth in a row, taking down El Paso, 7-4. Memphis leads the American-South by one game over Nashville.
  • Nashville kept close by knocking out Albuquerque, 9-3, on 50-cent Hot Dog Night. Jason Rogers went 4-for-5 with three RBI. Joc Pederson hit his 30th home run, and he needs two steals for 30-30.
  • A top prospect debuted, Carlos Peguero homered again, and Omaha was a 9-5 winner over Las Vegas.
  • Iowa is struggling without Kris Bryant in the lineup. He pinch-hit last night, but they lost to Salt Lake again – this time by a 7-5 score as Vance Albitz homered twice.

Early post today, because I’m going on a lunch adventure. I’ve been told to beware of falling into a post-meal meat coma – hopefully that won’t cause any problems for tonight’s broadcast.

Round Rock Evens The Score

August 18, 2014

The Round Rock Express tied up the series 1-1 by beating the Rainiers on Sunday evening, 5-2.

Tacoma had an excellent start from James Gillheeney and carried a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning.

But Round Rock connected for four consecutive two-out RBI hits in the seventh, taking a 5-2 lead. Then the Rainiers loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the eighth, only to fail to score.

The Rainiers look to regain the lead in the series tonight.

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 Jordan Pries (8-6, 3.95) against Round Rock LHP Edwar Cabrera (1-1, 4.50).

We had roster moves on Sunday. Pitcher Carson Smith was activated from the disabled list, and Matt Palmer was released. Palmer was struggling this year, but the veteran was a positive influence on the club and is a class act. Hopefully he’ll get a chance with another team soon.

Another move involved the big league club: the Mariners recalled pitcher Roenis Elias who starts for them today, and they optioned outfielder James Jones to Tacoma. I’m not sure if Jones is meeting the Rainiers today – I guess we’ll find out when the lineup comes out.