All-Stars Named On Junior’s Day

June 30, 2016

We’re having Ken Griffey Jr. Night at Cheney Stadium tonight, and all kinds of interesting news is breaking today.

First off, if you want one of the 2,500 Griffey bobbleheads, head out to the park very early. I don’t know exactly how early, but there is already a line now, so… yeah.

That probably wasn’t news. Here is some news:

The Pacific Coast League announced the All-Star Team today, and two Rainiers players were elected starters.

Stefen Romero was voted as one of the three starting outfielders. He’s been among the league leaders in batting average all season, and he’s currently batting .336 with nine homers, 43 runs batted in, and he has an OPS of .963. He’s made visible strides in his offensive development this year, cutting down his strikeouts and chasing fewer pitches outside of the zone. This is his first Triple-A All-Star honor.

Closer Blake Parker was elected as one of two “starting” relievers on the team. He and also-elected James Hoyt have been the top two closers in the league all year. After missing almost all of 2015 with an injury, Parker has bounced back in a big way this season: he’s 14-for-14 in save opportunities, and he has posted a 2.15 ERA in 29.1 innings pitched. He has struck out 41 while walking just six batters. Parker will be making his second Triple-A All-Star appearance – he represented the Iowa Cubs in the 2014 game.

The game is coming up on July 13, and it is in Charlotte. Next year, Tacoma!

We’ve got at least one major roster move today, and possibly more coming.

The Mariners have promoted former first round draft pick D.J. Peterson to Tacoma, and he is expected to be in the lineup tonight.

Unlike last year when he was moved up to Triple-A for no apparent reason, this time Peterson appears to be ready for the promotion.

Peterson has been on an extended hot streak at Double-A Jackson – a streak that has lasted for six weeks.

Since May 20, Peterson is hitting .331 with a .396 OBP and a .610 SLG. In his last 35 Double-A games, Peterson went 45-for-136 with 11 doubles, nine homers, and 23 RBI. He drew 13 walks and had 37 strikeouts.

It’s the first time he has had an extended stretch dominating the Double-A level, and he has earned the promotion.

Peterson now plays nothing except first base, and that’s where he’ll play for Tacoma.

Unfortunately, this made Efren Navarro expendable, and he was released after Tuesday’s game.

It’s surprising that Navarro’s stint with Tacoma did not go well. He had always been one of the most dangerous hitters in the PCL while with Salt Lake the past five seasons, but he struggled to hit in Tacoma.

Navarro batted .243-5-31 for the Rainiers, but the home/road split tells a story: he hit .171 with a .488 OPS at Cheney Stadium, and .298 with an .825 OPS on the road.

The Rainiers will feel a loss on defense and in the clubhouse. Navarro played his usual gold glove level defense at first base, and he was a good veteran presence on the team.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers were off yesterday. They lost on Tuesday in Fresno, 5-3, and had to settle for a split of the four-game series there. It was still a successful road trip, with the team going 5-3 on the eight-gamer.

Roster Moves: D.J. Peterson joins the team from Double-A Jackson today, and Efren Navarro was released (see above if you just skipped down). Mariners catcher Steve Clevenger broke a bone in his hand last night, so they’ll have to call someone up today.

Today: Las Vegas (41-37) Tacoma (44-34-1), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: New York Mets.

Season Series: Las Vegas leads, 6-2.

Yeah, they’ve worked us over pretty good. All eight were in Las Vegas; Tacoma finally gets them on the home turf tonight.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Darin Gorski (0-1, 7.20) at RHP Jarrett Grube (0-0 3.77).

Hot Rainiers: Tyler Smith is 7-for-16 over his last five outings… Zach Shank is always a hot hitter, and right now he’s 9-for-his-last-19… Stefen Romero has gone 12-for-26 over his last six games… Rob Brantly has gone 9-for-24 over his last seven games, but he’s going to be away from the team for a few days.

Look Out For: Shark week? Roger “The Shark” Bernadina has a seven-game hitting streak, going 12-for-35 during the run. He hit two homers on Saturday against Sacramento… Eric Campbell lost his job as the Mets utility man, but he’s always hit well in the PCL. He has hit safely in nine of his last ten games (13-for-38).

Ex-Rainiers and Local Dudes: Las Vegas has former Rainiers infielder Ty Kelly, and Redmond high School product Michael Conforto. Manager Wally Backman is a native of Hillsboro, Oregon.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 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 entire PCL was off last night, but there are a few stories:

This is going to be a great holiday weekend at Cheney Stadium, hopefully you can make it out for a game or four!


Aoki Impresses In Rainiers Win

June 28, 2016

Outfielder Nori Aoki reported to the Rainiers on Monday night in Fresno, and he made an instant impact.

Leading off the game, Aoki had a 16-pitch plate appearance against Fresno starter Brad Peacock, ending it with a double down the left field line.

Peacock ended up throwing 39 pitches in the first inning – and then another 30 in the second inning, which included a ten-pitch at-bat by Daniel Robertson. Tacoma only scored two runs against him, but Peacock was gone after three innings and 88 pitches.

These prolonged at-bats meant that Fresno had to go to the bullpen early, and their pen is a little bit taxed right now. Fresno manager Tony DeFrancesco chose to keep reliever Kevin Chapman in for the eighth inning of a 2-2 tie, even though Chapman had already pitched two innings.

Tacoma rallied against Chapman and scored three runs, with Luis Sardinas getting the big hit, and ended up winning the game 6-2.

Tonight the Rainiers end the road trip – and for the first time this season, we can say it was a really good trip. It’s guaranteed to be Tacoma’s first winning road trip of the season: the Rainiers are 5-2 on the trip going into the last game.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma rallied late to beat Fresno, 6-2. With the score 2-2 in the eighth, the Rainiers pushed three runs across the plate, with a two-run single by Luis Sardinas snapping the tie. Sardinas was 3-for-5 with three RBI in the game.

Roster Moves: Jesus Sucre joined the team as anticipated last night, he caught seven innings of the Tacoma win. Sucre is on a major league rehabilitation assignment, so he does not count on the Tacoma roster – which means that PJ Jones is still active. Nori Aoki also reported and made an instant contribution.

Today: Tacoma (44-33-1) at Fresno (37-39), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Houston Astros.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 6-5.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Zach Lee (0-0, 7.50) at RHP Cesar Valdez (4-1, 3.71).

Hot Rainiers: Tyler Smith is 6-for-13 over his last four outings… Zach Shank is always a hot hitter, and right now he’s 8-for-his-last-16… Stefen Romero has gone 12-for-26 over his last six games… Rob Brantly has gone 9-for-24 over his last seven games, but he’s going to be away from the team for a few days.

Look Out For: Jon Kemmer has gone 6-for-10 in this series, raising his season batting average from .238 to .257 in the process… closer James Hoyt has seven saves in the last 14 days.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 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:

PCL Game Reports:

  • Fight! Fight! Fight! New Orleans and Memphis got into a massive brawl at Autozone Park – enjoy the video. That was Jose Urena throwing at Jeremy Hazelbaker to start the fight. There were six ejections, and the music guy should have been the seventh. Who won the game? Who cares Memphis won, 4-3.
  • The El Paso Chihuahuas infested Reno, 13-3, and Tacoma now has a 3.5-game lead over Reno in the standings.
  • Albuquerque established a new franchise record by losing its 11th straight game – this one a 5-3 defeat against Salt Lake.
  • Sacramento’s Ty Blach pitched a complete game, six-hit shutout against Las Vegas – and did it at Cashman Field. Wow.
  • Nashville’s Renato Nunez singled home the winning run in the 12th inning to give the Sounds a 3-2 win over Omaha.
  • It took 14 innings and five hours on the dot for Colorado Springs to win at Round rock, 3-2. Kyle Wren had the game winning hit.
  • Iowa and Oklahoma City split a doubleheader and each game went to extra innings. Sometimes baseball makes you ask the question, why?

We have a day off on Wednesday and I ain’t blogging. The next update will come prior to Ken Griffey Jr. Night at Cheney Stadium on Thursday!


Rainiers Lose Game, Gain Heart

June 27, 2016

Tacoma’s four-game winning streak ended with an 8-4 loss in Fresno on Sunday evening, but something really cool happened.

At some point on Sunday, catcher Rob Brantly found out that his wife was going into labor in Tacoma, and he needed to fly home immediately to be with her.

So he scrammed out of town, as he should, and the Rainiers were left with one catcher – Mike Zunino – for Sunday’s game.

If there is one thing I have learned during my lifetime working in baseball, it is that no manager anywhere wants to ever be stuck with just one catcher. They are just too concerned about injury, and want to make sure they have someone on the roster who can fill-in if the starter gets hurt.

Enter PJ Jones.

Jones is from Vancouver, WA and played at Washington State. He played for Everett last year, and was in spring training with the Low-A Clinton group in March but got released. The Mariners baseball people liked him, though, and offered him the bullpen job with Tacoma.

PJ Jones has been the Rainiers bullpen catcher all season. He travels with the team, stays in the nice (OK, mostly nice – 15/16, current housing conditions being the lone exception) Pacific Coast League hotels, gets paid something by the Mariners, gets meal money on the road, and is a part of the team.

He’s a part of the team, except he doesn’t get to play. Everybody he hangs out with plays, but he never gets in the game, because he’s not allowed to. He’s not on the roster.

That changed on Sunday. Down to one catcher, Rainiers manager Pat Listach activated his bullpen catcher, and had him fill in for Brantly who was placed on the Paternity Leave List.

That’s a heckuva gesture right there, but we’re not done with this.

Before the game, I asked Pat if he would try to get Jones an at-bat if the game was out of hand. He told me he wasn’t sure – he would have to get permission from the Mariners front office, because if Jones was injured on an HBP there would be medical responsibilities.

Somebody in the Mariners front office decided the kid had earned it, and let Listach use him in a non-emergency situation.

So there we were, Tacoma down 8-4 in the ninth, one out, nobody on, the best closer in the PCL (James Hoyt) available in the Fresno bullpen if Tacoma started to rally, and Listach decided to let the Jones kid hit.

PJ Jones pinch-hit for Stefen Romero, took two pitches from Fresno’s Josh Fields, and grounded out to first base.

He’s in the books as a Triple-A player.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Fresno scored five runs in the second inning and never looked back in an 8-4 win over Tacoma on Sunday evening. The loss ended Tacoma’s win streak at four games, and the Rainiers are 4-2 so far on this eight-game road trip.

Roster Moves: Rob Brantly went on paternity leave, and PJ Jones was activated as discussed above. Today the club expects to add Jesus Sucre to continue his rehabilitation from a broken leg suffered in the Venezuelan Winter League – he’s already played in four games in the Arizona Rookie League, but hasn’t caught nine innings yet.

Today: Tacoma (43-33-1) at Fresno (37-38), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Houston Astros.

Season Series: Tied, 5-5.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Joe Wieland (6-4, 7.18) at RHP Brad Peacock (2-3, 4.59).

Hot Rainiers: Rob Brantly has gone 9-for-24 over his last seven games, but he’s going to be away from the team for a few days…Tyler Smith is 6-for-13 over his last four outings… Zach Shank is always a hot hitter, and right now he’s 6-for-his-last-13.

Look Out For: Outfielder Preston Tucker has hit safely in nine of his last ten games, going 17-for-37… Andrew Aplin has a seven-game hitting streak, and his two-out, two-run double in the second inning last night put Fresno in charge… closer James Hoyt has seven saves in the last 14 days.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 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:

PCL Game Reports:

  • Reno and El Paso split a doubleheader. Austin Hedges homered in his fifth straight game as El Paso won the first game, and Reno had a walk-off homer by former Mariners prospect Gabby Guerrero in the second game. Tacoma leads the division by 2.5 games over Reno. Ex-Rainiers outfielder Jabari Blash told his story to the El Paso Times.
  • An error by the shortstop buried Las Vegas in a 6-4 loss to visiting Sacramento.
  • Poor little Isotopes. Albuquerque lost its tenth game in a row yesterday, a 7-6 decision at home against Salt Lake. The ‘Topes actually had a 6-4 lead going to the eighth when Todd Cunningham hit a three-run homer.
  • Round Rock’s Michael Roth carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning before it got broken up with one out. He finished a two-hit shutout of Colorado Springs and won, 7-0.
  • Nashville hit three homers in a rare high-scoring game at their new ballpark, resulting in a 9-4 win over Omaha.
  • New Orleans rallied in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough to beat the reanimated Jerome Williams and Memphis. The Redbirds won, 6-4.
  • Oklahoma City lost to Iowa, 6-5, in the first game of a doubleheader – and the second game got rained out. They’ll try to play two again today. The Iowa paper has a feature on slugging first baseman Dan Vogelbach. He earned my all-star vote at first base – the dude can hit.

Let’s see if the Rainiers can clinch a winning road trip tonight!


Rainiers Earn Rare 1-0 Win

June 26, 2016

Tacoma had perhaps its best pitching performance of the season last night, as Cody Martin tossed seven innings of two-hit ball to lead the Rainiers to a tense 1-0 win at Fresno.

Martin was in total command, but each of the two hits he allowed was a leadoff double. In a game this tight, he was forced to work out of two jams as a result – and he did so, getting through seven innings on 90 pitches.

Martin has faced Fresno in each of his last two starts, and he has the Grizzlies number. In the two starts he’s gone 14 innings and allowed one run on six hits.

For the season, Martin is 6-5 with a 4.33 ERA. He’s really been bringing down the earned run average lately.

Kraig Sitton pitched a perfect eighth inning, retiring three straight left-handed batters.

Casey Coleman was summoned for the ninth inning to protect a 1-0 lead – usual closer Blake Parker had a four-out save the night before so he was unavailable.

Things got a little troublesome in the ninth, due to a one-out single followed by a walk. A groundout for the second out moved the tying and winning runners into scoring position, and Tacoma elected to intentionally walk left-hand hitting Preston Tucker to face right-handed Matt Duffy with the bases loaded.

This put pressure on Coleman to throw strikes, and he was up to the task: he K’d Duffy on a 1-2 pitch to end the game, and the Rainiers had their first 1-0 win of the season.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma won its fourth straight game – all on the road – 1-0 at Fresno. Cody Martin delivered two-hit ball for seven innings, and Rainiers relievers Kraig Sitton and Casey Coleman finished the job.

Today: Tacoma (43-32-1) at Fresno (36-38), 5:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Houston Astros.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 5-4.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Brad Mills (3-2, 4.24) at LHP Tommy Shirley (5-4, 4.97).

Hot Rainiers: Rob Brantly has gone 9-for-24 over his last seven games… Tyler Smith is 5-for-10 over his last three outings.

Look Out For: Outfielder Preston Tucker carried an eight-game hitting streak into the series, going 15-for-30, but Tacoma held him to an 0-for-3 last night… closer James Hoyt has seven saves in the last 14 days.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 4:50 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:

PCL Game Reports:

  • Thank you, El Paso! The Chihuahuas won the opener of a four-game series at Reno, 7-4, and Tacoma now has a three game lead in the division. The teams are playing a make-up doubleheader today.
  • Albuquerque is… not very good right now. The ‘Topes lost to Salt Lake last night, 5-2, and have dropped nine in a row. For the first time I can recall, Albuquerque has really good pitching and simply no offense. For statheads, this season might screw up Albuquerque’s Park Factor for the next three years.
  • Roger “The Shark” Bernadina ate two River Cats hit two home runs and had four hits in Las Vegas’s 16-8 rout of Sacramento.
  • Brand new Memphis pitcher Corey Baker blanked New Orleans, 4-0.
  • Colorado Springs scored freely in a series-opening 8-5 win at Round Rock.
  • Ex-Rainiers pitcher Logan Bawcom has been throwing well; he earned the win in Oklahoma City’s 5-5 victory over Iowa.
  • Irving Falu drove in three runs to help Omaha to a 4-2 win at Nashville.

I’m very happy we got this post done with the spotty internet here at the Fresno motor lodge. I was concerned we might have nothing for you today!


Rainiers Win Series, Move On To Fresno

June 25, 2016

Tacoma finished the deal in Sacramento, waiting out River Cats starter Joan Gregorio before carving up the Sacramento bullpen for six runs in the final two innings of a 7-3 win.

The victory gave Tacoma its first series win on the road this season, and kept the Rainiers two games ahead of second-place Reno in the standings.

After the game the team took a charter bus to Fresno and checked into the motor lodge at about two AM. A four-game series starts here tonight.

Fresno is a hot ballclub right now. The Grizzlies have won 11 of their last 13 games, pulling within one game of the .500 mark – they were 25-35 on the season when this hot streak began.

They have been winning entirely because of fantastic pitching. Fresno has held its opponent to three runs or less in 12 of the last 13 games.

The Grizzlies just swept Albuquerque, and look at the scores: 3-1, 2-1, 5-2, 2-1.

The key to this series will be if the Rainiers can score against the Fresno staff.

And it should be noted: while Fresno is 11-2 over the last 13 games, both losses came against Tacoma. These teams just split a four-game series at Cheney Stadium last week.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma rallied in the late innings again, scoring six runs over the final two frames to defeat Sacramento, 7-3. The River Cats helped out by making two critical errors in the eighth inning, setting the stage for the Tacoma rally. The Rainiers won the series, three games to one.

Roster Move: Here’s the full list of roster moves which occurred prior to yesterday’s game: pitchers Donn Roach and David Rollins went to Seattle, pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen and outfielder Nori Aoki came down to Tacoma from Seattle, outfielder Guillermo Heredia joined the Rainiers from Jackson (and went 2-for-5 in his Triple-A debut), and pitcher Kraig Sitton returned from Double-A (he actually flew to Tennessee and flew right back, in one 24-hour period). Aoki has not reported yet – he may arrive today.

Today: Tacoma (42-32-1) at Fresno (36-37), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Houston Astros.

Season Series: Tied, 4-4.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Cody Martin (5-5, 4.82) at RHP Mike Hauschild (5-6, 3.18).

Hot Rainiers: Rob Brantly has gone 7-for-21 over his last six games, and he had the go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning last night… Stefen Romero has had three straight multiple-hit games… Patrick Kivlehan has hit safely in 15 of 17 games since rejoining the Rainiers, including four straight.

Look Out For: Outfielder Preston Tucker carries an eight-game hitting streak into tonight’s game. He’s 15-for-30 during the streak… closer James Hoyt has seven saves in the last 13 days.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 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:

PCL Game Reports:

The internet in the Fresno motor lodge is infuriatingly slow. Kind of surprising they have it at all, considering nothing else in this place has been updated since the 1960s.


Rocky Day Ends With Win

June 24, 2016

We had all kinds of news – not all good – prior to Thursday’s game in Sacramento, and then the Rainiers went out and beat the River Cats to open up a two-game lead in the Pacific-North division.

The Mariners had to scratch scheduled starting pitcher Adrian Sampson due to elbow discomfort prior to yesterday’s game, and they were forced into an unexpected bullpen day.

This meant that several Tacoma pitchers were ‘on hold’ for a possible call-up by the Mariners. The M’s have not announced their roster moves today, but I anticipate two Rainiers pitchers will be recalled.

Then at 4:00, right when the team was getting ready to stretch and begin batting practice, Major League Baseball announced that it had suspended Boog Powell for 80 games, for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. It’s the second suspension for Powell, who failed an amphetamines test and served 50 games in 2014.

Today Tacoma is adding outfielder Guillermo Heredia from Double-A Jackson to take Powell’s spot. Heredia hit leadoff for Jackson and batted .293 with a .405 on-base percentage, though he was not an effective base stealer going 2-for-7.

There will be many more roster moves before game time, involving the pitching staff. I expect one of them to be rather humorous – we’ll get to that tomorrow, if it comes to fruition.

Meanwhile, Tacoma is once again positioned to win a series on the road if they can take the final game. The Rainiers are 0-5 in the fourth game of road series in which the team has a 2-1 lead. Time for that skid to end!

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Trailing 5-3 after six innings, Tacoma scored seven unanswered runs over the final three frames and beat Sacramento, 10-5. Daniel Robertson‘s two-run single tied it in the seventh, Patrick Kivlehan had the go-ahead RBI single in the eighth, and Stefen Romero iced the game with a three-run homer in the ninth.

Roster Move: Guillermo Heredia is up from Double-A Jackson, replacing Boog Powell who is on the suspended list. There will be more moves before tonight’s game.

Today: Tacoma (41-32-1) at Sacramento (30-45), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: San Francisco Giants.

Season Series: Sacramento leads, 4-3.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Jarrett Grube (0-0, 3.52) at RHP Joan Gregorio (1-4, 6.54).

Sadly, it’s pronounced “Yo-awn.”

Hot Rainiers: Rob Brantly has gone 6-for-17 over his last five games, and he homered on Tuesday night… Daniel Robertson has hit three triples in his last ten games… Patrick Kivlehan has hit safely in 14 of 16 games since rejoining the Rainiers.

Look Out For: Veteran outfielder Gorkys Hernandez is 9-for-19 over his last six games, and he hit a leadoff homer in the first inning on Tuesday…Juan Ciriaco is 4-for-11 with a homer in this series.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 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:

PCL Game Reports:

That’s it for today – we have a PCL oddity: the team is travelling by bus after tonight’s game to Fresno, and we have to check out of the hotel rooms at 1:00 (i.e. right now), so the guys (including me) are just going to be wandering aimlessly around Sacramento for a few hours before going to the ballpark.


Rainiers Alone In First Again

June 23, 2016

Tacoma ended its team-wide hitting slump last night, knocking 12 hits in a 5-2 win at Sacramento.

The victory – coupled with Reno’s home loss to Las Vegas – moved the Rainiers back into sole possession of first place in the Pacific-North division standings.

Tacoma has been alone or tied in first place every day this season. Now the Rainiers have a one-game lead over the Aces.

A single pitch by Joe Wieland helped preserve yesterday’s win.

Tacoma held a 5-0 lead going to the bottom of the fifth, but Wieland started to struggle. Sacramento scored twice to make it 5-2, and had the bases loaded with one out.

It looked like Wieland was on the ropes, and it seemed certain that Sacramento was going to get at least one more run – and quite possibly a lot more.

But Wieland made a quality pitch to Miguel Olivo, getting him to ground into an inning-ending (and rally killing) double play.

The lead was still comfortable at three runs, and Tacoma’s bullpen handled the final four innings without allowing the game to get any closer.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma’s bats broke out for 12 hits and a 5-2 win over Sacramento on Wednesday night. Tyler Smith hit two doubles, Mike Zunino homered, and Daniel Robertson tripled home a run to support starting pitcher Joe Wieland.

Roster Move: To make room on the roster for Jonathan Aro, yesterday the Rainiers transferred Kraig Sitton to Double-A Jackson. After the game, Kyle Hunter was also transferred to Jackson.

Today: Tacoma (40-32-1) at Sacramento (30-44), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: San Francisco Giants.

Season Series: Sacramento leads, 4-2.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Zach Lee (-) at LHP Adalberto Mejia (1-0, 0.00).

This is Lee’s first game as a member of the Mariners organization. He’s 7-5 with a 4.89 ERA in the PCL this year, having made 13 starts for Oklahoma City.

Hot Rainiers: Rob Brantly has gone 6-for-17 over his last five games, and he homered on Tuesday night… Daniel Robertson has hit three triples in his last nine games… Patrick Kivlehan has hit safely in 13 of 15 games since rejoining the Rainiers.

Look Out For: Veteran outfielder Gorkys Hernandez is 6-for-15 over his last five games, and he hit a leadoff homer in the first inning on Tuesday… Travis Ishikawa is 3-for-6 with two doubles in this series.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 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:

  • We’re back online! Here’s the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • The Sacramento paper has a story on Federal Way’s Travis Ishikawa, who is playing first base for the River Cats.
  • The Mariners had just three hits in a 5-1 loss at Detroit on Wednesday.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook is on the changes to the pitching staff – and this was before Adrian Sampson was scratched from today’s start with elbow discomfort.
  • Larry Stone has a column on the recent passing of Bob Harrison, the scout who signed Ken Griffey Jr.
  • Tacoma Jackson pitcher Kyle Hunter had a write-up in his hometown newspaper. He pitched at Cheney Stadium when he was 14 years old.
  • It turns out that when Eric Byrnes ended his baseball career by bicycling out of the Safeco Field locker room, he was simply foreshadowing his future athletic endevours.
  • Was definitely surprised this morning to read that the Miami Marlins and New Orleans Zephyrs TBAs extended their Player Development Contract four years, through the 2020 season.
  • Speaking of the New Orleans club, they announced the seven finalists for their new franchise name. Tailgators, anyone? Vote here. As for the newspaper presentation, this is a rare instance in which it is entertaining to read the comments.

PCL Game Reports:


Rainiers, Mariners Stuck In Same Rut

June 22, 2016

The top two baseball teams in the Pacific Northwest are going through nearly identical struggles right now, as both the Seattle Mariners and the Tacoma Rainiers are in losing skids.

Both are still playing above-.500 baseball, and both are still in the playoff picture. But Seattle has lost 13 of its last 18 games, and the Rainiers have dropped 11 of the last 17 games.

It all starts with the injuries in the Mariners starting rotation. Felix Hernandez, Wade Miley, and now Taijuan Walker are on the shelf, and this has caused overworked bullpens and a flurry of transactions effecting both teams.

The Mariners made more moves today, which are going to have an impact in Tacoma.

Seattle brought back Tom Wilhelmsen, who was released by the Texas Rangers a few days ago. He’s initially joining the big league club, with Jonathan Aro being sent back to the Rainiers. Charlie Furbush was moved to the 60-day disabled list to clear a 40-man roster spot for Wilhelmsen.

The Mariners needed a starting pitcher for Friday’s game, so they acquired veteran lefty Wade LeBlanc from the Blue Jays, and he’ll start that game rather than logical candidate Donn Roach of the Rainiers. Leblanc was 7-2 with a 1.71 ERA for Triple-A Buffalo, and apparently the Mariners wanted a left-hander to start against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Seattle will have to clear another 40-man roster spot for LeBlanc, and open a spot on the 25-man roster as well. That will all happen on Friday, I suppose – don’t be surprised if Wilhelmsen gets optioned to Tacoma, so he can work with Rainiers coach Lance Painter on getting back into form.

These moves strengthen the pitching outlook in Tacoma. Now if we can just find some offense again – four runs total in three games? We’re lucky to have won one of them!

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Too many walks issued by Tacoma pitchers, and too few hits by Tacoma batters led to a 4-2 loss in Sacramento on Tuesday night. The good news is that Reno also lost, so Tacoma remains tied in first place.

Roster Move: Recently acquired pitcher Zach Lee reported yesterday, and he’s going to start Thursday. There will be roster moves today – the Mariners optioned Jonathan Aro to Tacoma, and there currently isn’t room for him on the roster.

Today: Tacoma (39-32-1) at Sacramento (30-43), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: San Francisco Giants.

Season Series: Sacramento leads, 4-1.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Joe Wieland (5-4, 7.52) at LHP Ty Blach (6-4, 4.41).

Hot Rainiers: The Rainiers are up to four runs over the last 29 innings. Rob Brantly has gone 6-for-17 over his last five games, and he homered last night… Dario Pizzano has hit safely in seven of his last eight games, batting .375 (9-for-24).

Look Out For: Veteran outfielder Gorkys Hernandez is 6-for-13 over his last four games, and he hit a leadoff homer in the first inning yesterday.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 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:

PCL Game Reports:


Road To Glory Or Ruin?

June 21, 2016

The Rainiers lost at home to Fresno on Monday night, 2-1 (their third straight one-run game), and now the team hits the road.

Tacoma plays 15 of the next 19 games away from Cheney Stadium, and it’s time for some honesty: it’s going to be tough for Tacoma to maintain first place when this stretch of away games ends at the all-star break.

Reno is red-hot and has moved into a tie with Tacoma for first place in the division – both teams are 39-31. Tacoma has been in first place since winning on opening day, and once had a 7.5 game lead over Reno.

But Tacoma has had a lot of roster turmoil over the past three weeks, which has led to uneven play. Meanwhile, Reno has gone on a 15-5 surge over its last 20 games.

Now the Rainiers have to hit the road – and the road has been unfriendly this season. Tacoma is 15-20 away from Cheney Stadium.

So Tacoma might fall out of first here in the next three weeks – or maybe not. We’ll see how they hold up during this long stretch away from home.

There is good news coming: the schedule turns in Tacoma’s favor after the all-star break.

Sixteen of the first 20 games after the break are at home. And after a couple of August road trips, the team closes the season with eight straight home games against division rivals Fresno and Reno.

If this upcoming stretch of road games goes poorly, it’s not the end of the season – as long as it doesn’t go too poorly.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: In another pitcher’s duel, Fresno edged Tacoma 2-1 to steal a split of the four-game series at Cheney Stadium. Cody Martin was terrific, allowing one run in seven innings, but he took the loss. Stefen Romero‘s homer in the bottom of the ninth was Tacoma’s only run.

Roster Move: The Rainiers placed outfielder Mike Baxter on the disabled list prior to yesterday’s game with a fracture in his left wrist. The injury occurred when he was hit by a pitch in the 11th inning of Sunday’s game. At this time we don’t know how long he’ll be out for, but we can assume at least a month.

Today: Tacoma (39-31-1) at Sacramento (29-43), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: San Francisco Giants.

Season Series: Sacramento leads, 3-1.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Brad Mills (3-1, 3.93) at RHP Chris Heston (1-8, 3.96).

Hot Rainiers: All of the hot Tacoma hitters cooled off during the last two games, in which the Rainiers scored a total of two runs over 21 innings. But the pitching staff has been solid!

Look Out For: Mac Williamson is back in Triple-A Whoops! He just got called up by the Giants. He’s a power hitter and he went deep yesterday in a win over El Paso… veteran outfielder Gorkys Hernandez is 5-for-10 over his last three games.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 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:

  • For some reason there is no Rainiers game story on The News Tribune’s website today.
  • The Mariners lost again, this time in Detroit in the 12th inning. They’re having a rough time right now, and injuries are a key factor (which has effected the Rainiers, too).
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook gives us an update on Taijuan Walker, and it is concerning.
  • Mariners prospect Kyle Petty won the California-Carolina League All-Star Home Run Derby, which was held on the deck of an aircraft carrier, with players launching home runs into the sea. Everything in that last sentence is true.
  • Larry Stone has an interesting column comparing the 2001 Mariners to the 2015-2016 Golden State Warriors.

PCL Game Reports:

This is going to be a hot road trip – it’s supposed to be 95+ all eight days in Sacramento and Fresno.


Chris Taylor Traded

June 20, 2016

Tacoma manager Pat Listach pulled starting shortstop Chris Taylor from the game early yesterday, and we knew something was up.

It turns out that the Mariners were trading Taylor to the Los Angeles Dodgers for starting pitcher Zach Lee. The move addresses the Mariners pitching depth.

With Shawn O’Malley as the current Mariners utility man, and Luis Sardinas currently with Tacoma, Taylor was lower on the depth chart. On top of that, Taylor’s brief stint with Seattle this year did not endear him to the Mariners new management – it was one bad inning on defense, but it had a lasting impact.

Taylor always hit well in Tacoma, and this year is no exception. He’s been an on-base machine for the Rainiers, posting a .387 on-base percentage . Taylor also has been a great run producer, batting .414 with runners in scoring position this season.

No question, the Rainiers are going to miss his bat.

Lee should jump right into the Tacoma starting rotation later this week.

A big-time quarterback recruit out of high school, the Dodgers drafted Lee and paid him a huge signing bonus to pry him away from becoming the QB for Louisiana State University.

Lee has been pretty good in Triple-A – heck, last year he was great, going 11-6, 2.70 in 19 starts for Oklahoma City.

This year Lee’s numbers have tailed off. He’s 7-5, 4.89 in 13 starts for Oklahoma City. In 73.2 innings, he has struck out 57 and walked 15, but allowed 95 hits.

He’s made one major league start for the Dodgers, and it was a rough 15-2 loss to the Mets last July.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: One day after issuing ten walks in an ugly 4-3 loss, Tacoma pitchers delivered a dozen shutout innings while walking only one batter in a 1-0 win against Fresno on Sunday. Donn Roach started and went eight scoreless innings, with Blake Parker, David Rollins, and Casey Coleman finishing up the combined seven-hitter.

Roster Move: Chris Taylor was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for starting pitcher Zach Lee. Lee is expected to join the team this week in Sacramento. Zach Shank has been promoted from Double-A Jackson; he hit very well during his last stint with Tacoma. Yesterday Tacoma added David Rollins and Steve Johnson to the bullpen.

Today: Fresno (31-37-1) at Tacoma (39-30-1), 6:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Houston Astros.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 4-3.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Tommy Shirley (4-4, 5.46) at RHP Cody Martin (5-4, 5.27).

Hot Rainiers: Chris Taylor reached base with a hit or a walk in 19 straight games, and in 58 of his 63 games this season… Mike Zunino is warming up again: he’s 6-for-15 during his last four games… Daniel Robertson went 4-for-5 yesterday and is 8-for-14 over his last three games.

Look Out For: Top prospect A.J. Reed is 5-for-15 with a homer during this series… catcher Tyler Heineman is 9-for-20 during a six-game hitting streak… the Astros optioned first baseman Tyler White to Fresno.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:50 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:

PCL Game Recaps:

This is our last home game for a while – Tacoma starts an eight-game road trip on Tuesday.