The Rainiers clinched the Pacific-North Division championship last night, and will go to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
The clinching occurred while Tacoma’s David Rollins was pitching to Fresno hitters in the top of the seventh inning of a 0-0 game. Tacoma needed a win or a Reno loss to clinch – and we got the latter first, while the Rainiers were in the field at Cheney Stadium.
Reno lost in Sacramento, 3-1, as Clayton Blackburn pitched eight shutout innings and Vin Mazzaro recorded a tough save entering the game with the bases loaded in the ninth.
The celebration was on hold, however. Tacoma had to finish its game against Fresno before the party could start.
The wait was wet – it rained through the first nine innings. The wait turned into a slog, as the game, which was slow-paced to begin with, went into extras.
Tacoma left the bases loaded in the tenth. They left the bases loaded in the 11th. They left two runners stranded in the 12th. They left two on again in the 13th.
Finally, the Rainiers broke through in the 14th, with Ryan Strausborger singling in the winning run (after fouling off two sacrifice bunt attempts) to end it.
Tacoma won, 2-1, in the longest game of the year: 14 innings, and 4 hours, 59 minutes.
At 12:19 AM, the celebration began. Champagne was uncorked in the clubhouse, and everyone got sprayed down. Beer showers were next. I went down there after my postgame show was over – a good 20 minutes later – and was doused in booze.
The Rainiers front office had rented out a local nightspot for the post-clinching celebration, but the length of the game kind of spoiled that party: the players didn’t even start showing up until about 1:30, and the place had to close at 2. We’ll try that again.
Last night Rainiers catcher Jesus Sucre left the game in the fifth inning after he had been struck in the left wrist by a foul tip. Of course, I was concerned he left the game due to injury.
I’m pleased to report that Sucre left the game because his wife was going into labor. He ran off to the hospital.
Reports are they had a baby girl, although these reports came in the middle of the postgame celebration/champagne shower, so accuracy may be in question.
Today the Mariners called up Sucre. So, his last 24 hours:
- Catch first four innings of Rainiers clinching game
- Run to hospital, have baby
- Get called up to big leagues
Not bad, Sucre. Not bad at all.
Yesterday: Ryan Strausborger had the game winning hit to end the Rainiers longest game of the year, a 14-inning 2-1 win over Fresno. Tacoma had outstanding pitching all night, with Paul Fry pitching the final four scoreless innings and earning the win.
‘Magic Number’: Zero! Zip! Nada! Nothing! See ya next season, “magic” number.
Roster Moves: Catcher Jesus Sucre got called up. The Rainiers are going to add some pitching help, possibly as soon as today. Look for reliever Mayckol Guaipe to come off the disabled list soon.
Today: Reno (74-66) at Tacoma (79-60-1), 7:05.
Opponent Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks.
Season Series: Reno leads, 9-3.
Starting Pitchers: LHP Anthony Banda (4-4, 3.92) at RHP Cody Martin (10-7, 3.82)
Hot Rainiers: Dan Vogelbach has reached base via hit or walk in 28 straight games, and he has drawn a walk in 23 of the 28 games… Mike Freeman has reached base 17 times in his last eight games… Paul Fry has allowed one earned run in his last 19 innings pitched… Emilio Pagan has not allowed a run in his last ten innings…
Look Out For: Who cares? It doesn’t matter!
(Dan Rohlfing has an 11-game hitting streak)
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.
- The Rainiers game story includes video reaction from manager Pat Listach. The best part of the video is the celebration sounds in the background.
- The Mariners were off yesterday. Ryan Divish wrote about how their season could be defined by the just-completed 1-6 road trip.
- Larry Stone’s column basically says – to paraphrase one of the great moments in sports broadcasting history* – “only a miracle can save the Mariners now.”
PCL Game Reports:
- Reno got aced out of the playoffs by Sacramento’s Clayton Blackburn, who tossed eight scoreless innings in a 3-1 River Cats win. Thank you, River Cats!
- The Rainiers will face El Paso in the playoffs. The Chihuahuas lost at home to Las Vegas last night, 5-2, but outfielder Hunter Renfroe was named PCL Most Valuable Player.
- Alex Meyer and Salt Lake shut out Albuquerque, 3-0.
- Rehabilitating ex-Rainiers lefty Jason Vargas struck out ten in Omaha’s 3-2 win over Round Rock.
- Top prospect Franklin Barreto hit a walk-off triple to give Nashville a 6-5 win over Iowa.
- Colorado Springs shut out New Orleans 4-0 in the Sky Sox final home game of the season.
- Logan Bawcom pitched six shutout innings and drove in two runs to help Oklahoma City to a 5-3 win over Memphis. The Dodgers will not have Yasiel Puig in the PCL playoffs – he got called up by the other Dodgers.
Tonight is our final Friday Night Fireworks of the season. See you at the park!
* That’s what the great Joe Starkey said shortly before kickoff on his amazing call of The Play.