Rainiers Lose Top Starter, Yet Reach .500

Tacoma received some bad news prior to yesterday’s game, then went out and beat Las Vegas and reached the .500 mark for the first time in months.

Top starting pitcher Justin Germano opted out of his contract and became a free agent, leaving a big hole in the Tacoma rotation.

Germano, 32, is a veteran who has spent time in the major leagues with seven different teams. Players with his experience are often able to negotiate “outs” when they sign a minor league contract. Apparently, Germano’s stated that if he wasn’t in the majors with Seattle on July 1, he could become a free agent if he wanted to.

Well, he wanted to.

This is not a light decision for a player. Germano was having a great year, going 7-3 with a 2.83 ERA for the Rainiers. To make this decision, he had to look and see what his chances were of getting called up by Seattle in the next three months versus what his chances would be of reaching the majors with one of the other 29 teams.

He and his agent decided that he had a better chance of returning to the majors with another team, so he opted out.

This is a bummer for the Rainiers, but if you step back and look at the situation you can see why he did it. The Mariners are about to have an extra starting pitcher: when they activate Hisashi Iwakuma from the disabled list, they are going to have to send somebody who doesn’t deserve a demotion to Triple-A. This would have bumped Germano down the ladder another rung – and then the same thing could happen again in August, when/if James Paxton comes back.

So it is a smart decision for Germano, but it puts the Rainiers in a tough spot.

The Rainiers shook off the Germano decision and handled Las Vegas last night, 4-2. A couple of items of note:

  • With a record of 40-40, the team is back to .500 for the first time since the team was 2-2 after the season-opening series in El Paso. Tacoma has been no more than one game over .500 at any point this season – and the team has been as many as ten games under.
  • The Rainiers are six games back of first place Fresno, which has seen its roster significantly weakened by recent Houston Astros call-ups. This four-game series in Fresno which starts on Saturday could shape the pennant race. Or, it could just be a split and nothing changes.
  • Tacoma has gone singles-crazy. The Rainiers last 22 hits have all been singles, and 27 of their 28 hits in this series against Las Vegas have been singles. This is odd: the Rainiers rank second in the PCL in home runs.
  • Yesterday, the Rainiers were listing Andrew Kittredge as the fill-in starter for Germano when his rotation turn comes around on July 5. Like everything in Triple-A baseball, this is subject to change.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Forrest Snow pitched like a PCL All-Star, delivering seven innings and allowing one run on four hits in Tacoma’s 4-2 win over Las Vegas.

Injury Update: Shawn O’Malley is going to be out for about a week after jamming his left wrist on second base during Tuesday’s game. X-rays came back negative, so he shouldn’t be out for long.

Roster Moves: Justin Germano opted out of his contract, Leury Bonilla was activated from the disabled list, and Chris Taylor was called up by the Mariners who designated Willie Bloomquist for assignment. Tacoma has an open roster spot and could use an infielder – specifically, a shortstop.

Today: Las Vegas (45-35) at Tacoma (40-40), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: New York Mets.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 4-2.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Darrin Gorski (4-6, 5.66) at RHP Jordan Pries (3-1, 4.64)

Hot Rainiers: Jesus Montero is 10-for-16 over his last four games, which includes the two-homer game he had on Saturday.

Look Out ForDanny Muno carries an eight-game hitting streak into tonight’s contest. The 51s are expected to add infielder Dilson Herrera today, just sent down by the Mets.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 (Pacific) on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story in The News Tribune focused on Forrest Snow, but also was the first report of Chris Taylor going to the majors.
  • The International League roster for the Triple-A All-Star Game is out, and Baseball America has the rosters for both teams on one handy web page.
  • Not only did the Mariners get a rare two wins in a row, both were shutouts down in San Diego. The M’s are 11-10 since that dreadful 11-game homestand in which they went 2-9.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook says that the Rainiers will soon be adding catcher Erik Kratz. We’ll see.
  • Today is the first day of the International Signing Period – AKA the Wild Wild West of baseball scouting and player acquisition. The Mariners have signed a 16-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic.
  • Mariners rival the Angels has a conflict in the front office, and General Manager Jerry DiPoto departed. For details on the issues that caused the fracture, check out Jonah Keri’s story.
  • In the PCL, Fresno starter Mike Hauschild could become a household name if he pitches like he did last night in El Paso.
  • Albuquerque out-slugged Reno 11-8 and Matt McBride is going to the all-star game. The Isotopes have 27 runs and 34 hits in the first two games of that series.
  • Sacramento’s Adam Duvall was named to the all-star team, and then 15 innings and 4:57 later he had the walk-off hit in the River Cats 4-3 win over Salt Lake.
  • Yordano Ventura had a good rehab start, but his Omaha club was shut out by New Orleans, 2-0.
  • Iowa’s Kyle Schwarber had a good game in a 4-3 win over Round Rock.
  • New Nashville starter Nathan Long tossed seven scoreless innings in a 2-0 win over Colorado Springs.
  • Oklahoma City hit three solo homers in a 3-2 win at Memphis.
  • We’ll wrap things up with the Korean Bat Flip version of the Carlton Fisk home run. I love it!

Got a ticket update for the July 3rd game: as of noon on Thursday, there were scattered single reserve seats and some general admission berm tickets still available.

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