Rainiers Needs Wins In A Tough Place To Get Them

June 23, 2017

The Rainiers dropped the opening game of the Reno series on Thursday night, 4-3, and fell eight games behind the division leading Aces.

It was the first of seven games that the Rainiers will play at Greater Nevada Field this season – all within a two-week span. It’s an opportunity for the Rainiers to pick up some ground head-to-head against the first place team. Alternately, it’s an opportunity for Reno to bury the Rainiers in the standings.

Tacoma has not played well historically in Reno, although it’s not as bad as it once was. Reno joined the league in 2009, and over the first four years of the Tacoma-Reno rivalry the Aces went 26-6 against the Rainiers in Reno.

The Rainiers finally started picking up a few wins in Reno in 2013, and even went 4-4 at (then-called) Aces Ballpark in 2014. Tacoma won its first series at Reno in 2015 (the seventh year of the rivalry!), taking two-out-of-three.

Still, Tacoma has never won a four-game series on the road in Reno. The team has an all-time record of 18-47 at Greater Nevada Field/Aces Ballpark.

It’s gotta change eventually, right?

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: True to the Rainiers history when playing Reno on the road, Tacoma took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, only to see Reno score twice off Jean Machi and win it, 4-3. The game ended on an error by – of all people – Leonys Martin, who dropped a fly ball allowing the winning run to score from second base.

Roster Moves: Prior to yesterday’s game, the Mariners released Tacoma shortstop Ryan Jackson, and promoted pitcher Rob Whalen to Tacoma from Double-A Arkansas.

Today: Tacoma (37-34) at Reno (46-27), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks.

Season Series: Reno leads, 4-1.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Casey Lawrence (0-0, 4.09) at LHP Aaron Laffey (4-0, 3.35).

Hot Rainiers: Andrew Aplin is 8-for-24 with seven RBI over his last nine games… Boog Powell has back-to-back three-hit games, and he homered yesterday… Zach Shank has reached base in ten straight games.

Look Out For: Jack Reinheimer has a seven-game hitting streak, going 12-for-29 during the streak… Ildemaro Vargas is 13-for-24 with two homers and nine RBI against Tacoma pitching this season… Christian Walker has a five-game hitting streak, going 10-for-19.

Ex-Rainiers and Local Guys: Reno has former Rainiers infielder Ketel Marte. Catcher Hank Conger spent much of his youth growing up in Federal Way.

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.

Triple-A All-Star Game: We’re hosting it at Cheney Stadium on July 12, and fan balloting is live now – go here and vote for who you want to see.

Links:

  • Here’s the blow-by-blow of the Aces 4-3 win over Tacoma from the team’s PR department.
  • Andrew Moore won his MLB debut, and the Mariners beat Detroit 9-6 for their fifth straight victory. Seattle is over .500 for the first time this season. Three takeaways from the game – one of which is the immediate future of Moore, since the M’s don’t need a fifth starter for a couple of weeks.
  • The Mariners welcome back Felix Hernandez tonight. It’s not exactly a ‘soft landing’ – he’s facing Houston.
  • John McGrath has a column on Felix, Justin Verlander, and aging aces.
  • Lookout Landing has a solid State Of The Farm post looking at the M’s system.
  • Baseball America’s weekly Prospect Hot Sheet is Marinerless, but here it is anyway.

PCL Game Reports:

  • Kaleb Cowart went 6-for-6 and hit for the cycle in Salt Lake’s 16-2 win at Las Vegas. Three of his hits were doubles, and he got the triple in the eighth inning.
  • Albuquerque starter Barry Enright tossed seven innings of two-hit ball in an 8-1 win over El Paso. The Isotopes and Colorado Rockies are set to extend their Player Development Contract, even though the current one doesn’t expire until the end of the 2018 season. This could be a sign that there is going to be something of a ‘race’ among MLB teams to not get stuck in the ancient San Antonio ballpark when that city joins the PCL in 2019.
  • Sacramento turned a franchise record six double plays in a 9-3 win at Fresno, but don’t go looking for that small piece of news in the online story. You’ll just have to trust me.
  • Colorado Springs jumped all over Adam Conley and the New Orleans Baby Cakes, 8-5.
  • Will Middlebrooks homered twice in a 4-1 win over Iowa.
  • Oklahoma City picked up a pair of wins over Nashville, including a 19-hit attack in a 14-5 game two victory.
  • Three Omaha players had three-hit games in an 11-3 win over Memphis.

Rainiers Visit Reno, San Antonio Plans To Move Up

June 22, 2017

After splitting a four-game home series with Pacific-South division leaders Salt Lake, the Rainiers now head to Reno to face the best team in the PCL.

Reno leads Tacoma by seven games in the Pacific-North, and the two teams have 11 head-to-head games remaining to be played. That starts with the four in Reno this weekend.

Oddly, the Rainiers next two road trips are to Reno: after the four game series which begins tonight, Tacoma comes home for an eight-game homestand, and then flies right back to Reno for a three-game series. So we’ll play all of the Reno road games over the course of the next two weeks.

It’s a big opportunity for the Rainiers to make up some ground in the standings.

There was a major announcement in the Pacific Coast League on Wednesday.

Starting in 2019, San Antonio is joining the league and will play at its existing Double-A stadium while the team and city work on a new ballpark plan.

The San Antonio franchise will replace Colorado Springs, which will drop down to short-season rookie ball level in 2019 as a member of the Pioneer League. The Double-A Texas League will add Amarillo as a new city to replace San Antonio.

This has been discussed for a few years, but with no progress on the ballpark in San Antonio I thought it had stalled out. Apparently the leagues decided to make the move now, and worry about the ballpark later.

San Antonio is a huge market which has been discussed for years as a possible Major League Baseball expansion possibility. However, the current stadium there is known to be subpar by Double-A standards. Hopefully the announcement of this move means that the new ballpark process is making progress.

On the other side of the coin, it appears that Tacoma’s trip to Colorado Springs at the end of July will be the last in franchise history. The Rainiers are not scheduled to visit the Springs in 2018.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers were off yesterday. On Tuesday, Tacoma hit 13 singles and edged Salt Lake, 7-6, to earn a split of the four-game series. Boog Powell had three hits and D.J. Peterson drove in three runs.

Roster Moves: The Mariners called up Andrew Moore, who will make his MLB debut tonight, and they also activated Jean Segura from the disabled list. Tyler Smith and Christian Bergman were optioned to Tacoma, and Tyler Cloyd was designated for assignment.

Today: Tacoma (37-33) at Reno (45-27), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks.

Season Series: Reno leads, 3-1.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Tyler Cloyd (1-0, 1.40) at RHP Braden Shipley (5-3, 4.78).

Cloyd is going to start if he clears waivers before game time. If not, it will be a “bullpen day” likely led by Cody Martin.

Hot Rainiers: Andrew Aplin has six RBI over his last eight games… Tuffy Gosewisch is 10-for-27 with five doubles over his last nine games… Zach Shank has reached base in ten straight games.

Look Out For: Oswaldo Arcia went 0-for-3 on Tuesday, ending a 16-game hitting streak… Jack Reinheimer has a six-game hitting streak, going 11-for-25 during the streak… Ildemaro Vargas is 11-for-20 with two homers and nine RBI against Tacoma pitching this season.

Ex-Rainiers and Local Guys: Reno has former Rainiers infielders Ketel Marte and Carlos Rivero. Catcher Hank Conger spent much of his youth growing up in Federal Way.

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.

Triple-A All-Star Game: We’re hosting it at Cheney Stadium on July 12, and fan balloting is live now – go here and vote for who you want to see.

Links:

The entire PCL was off yesterday.


Rainiers Need Offense To Get Going

June 20, 2017

The Rainiers close out the four-game home series against Salt Lake tonight, and the team needs to find some offense.

Sure, Hisashi Iwakuma wasn’t very sharp in his rehab start last night – though he wasn’t very lucky, either. He allowed a solo homer in the first inning, but the real trouble started in the second.

Iwakuma walked the leadoff man, allowed an infield single on a weak ground ball, and then walked another batter to load the bases. A bloop single to left brought in two runs, a bunt single re-loaded the bases, then an error on a grounder to third scored another run. All told, three runs scored in the second inning without any hard-hit balls.

Because he threw 32 pitches in the inning, Iwakuma was pulled short of his expected allotment of 70 pitches. As of right now, we’re not sure what the next step is for him. Tacoma will be on the road in Reno this weekend when his next start would come around.

Offensively, things continue to look grim for the Rainiers.

Tacoma has not scored more than three runs in any of the last five games, and have a total of just 12 runs during that time. They were recently held to three runs or fewer in three out of four games in the hitter’s haven of El Paso. That 9-0 win over Las Vegas on June 9 feels like it was a long time ago.

Tacoma needs a win tonight to salvage a split of the series. Hopefully the bats will come alive.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Hisashi Iwakuma‘s control briefly deserted him in the second inning, and then he got nickle-and-dimed for three cheap hits and three runs in his first rehabilitation start for Tacoma. The Rainiers went on to lose, 6-3.

Today: Salt Lake (39-32) at Tacoma (36-33), 6:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Season Series: Salt Lake leads, 4-3.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Daniel Wright (2-2, 7.43) at RHP Chase De Jong (2-3, 4.32).

Hot Rainiers: Andrew Aplin has six RBI over his last seven games… Tuffy Gosewisch is 9-for-24 with five doubles over his last eight games… Zach Shank has reached base in ten straight games.

Look Out For: Cesar Puello has hit safely in 11 of his last 13 games… Michael Bourn is a two-time major league all-star and Gold Glove award winner… Jefry Marte snapped a 3-for-34 slump by hitting two solo homers last night.

Ex-Rainiers and Local Guys: Ex-Rainiers and Mariners infielder/outfielder Dustin Ackley is playing for Salt Lake this year. Bees outfielder Ramon Flores was with Tacoma in August of 2015. And the Bees have added ex-Rainiers and Mariners starting pitcher Doug Fister, but he is not scheduled to pitch in this series.

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.

Triple-A All-Star Game: We’re hosting it at Cheney Stadium on July 12, and fan balloting is live now – go here and vote for who you want to see.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

The Rainiers are off on Wednesday – and so is the blog. We’ll have a new post for you on Thursday afternoon, from Reno.


Iwakuma Pitches For Tacoma Tonight

June 19, 2017

Injured Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma is set to make a rehabilitation start for the Tacoma Rainiers tonight at 6:05.

Iwakuma was placed on the Mariners disabled list on May 7 with a strained lat. He was 0-2, 4.35 in six starts for the Mariners to start the season.

This is Iwakuma’s second rehab outing. He pitched four scoreless innings for Class-A Modesto on Wednesday, throwing 43 pitches.

He’ll likely be bumped up to 60-65 pitches tonight.

Tacoma’s last two wins both came with a major leaguer (Felix Hernandez) on the mound, so maybe Iwakuma can bring home a victory tonight.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Boog Powell hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to put Tacoma ahead 3-1, but Salt Lake rallied late and beat the Rainiers, 4-3. Tacoma starter Casey Lawrence pitched six no-hit innings, but Cesar Puello broke up a combined no-hit bid with a homer off Cody Martin in the seventh.

Roster Move: The San Diego Padres claimed Dillon Overton off waivers, and optioned him to El Paso.

Today: Salt Lake (38-32) at Tacoma (36-32), 6:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Season Series: Tied, 3-3.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Parker Bridwell (2-3, 4.28) at RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (-).

Hot Rainiers: Andrew Aplin has six RBI over his last seven games… Tuffy Gosewisch is 7-for-21 with four doubles over his last seven games… Zach Shank has reached base in nine straight games.

Look Out For: Cesar Puello had two hits and a homer yesterday; he’s hit safely in 11 of his last 13 games… Michael Bourn, a two-time major league all-star and Gold Glove award winner, has a three-game hitting streak.

Ex-Rainiers and Local Guys: Ex-Rainiers and Mariners infielder/outfielder Dustin Ackley is playing for Salt Lake this year. Bees outfielder Ramon Flores was with Tacoma in August of 2015. And the Bees have added ex-Rainiers and Mariners starting pitcher Doug Fister, but he is not scheduled to pitch in this series.

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.

Triple-A All-Star Game: We’re hosting it at Cheney Stadium on July 12, and fan balloting is live now – go here and vote for who you want to see.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

  • Hmmm. Reno moved Ketel Marte to center field, and he homered and reached base four times in the Aces 7-3 win over Las Vegas.
  • Joan Gregorio and Michael Roth combined to pitch a shutout in Sacramento’s 1-0 win over Albuquerque.
  • El Paso hammered Fresno, 11-5, as both Ryan Schimpf and Jabari Blash had four hits and a homer.
  • Everyone got in on the offense as Iowa blasted Omaha, 16-3.
  • Memphis won at Round Rock, 7-3, and the Statesman has a feature on Express outfielder Drew Stubbs.
  • Michael Blazek pitched into the eighth inning as Colorado Springs took down Oklahoma City, 5-2. The series between American-North division contenders is tied, 1-1.
  • A doubleheader between New Orleans and Nashville was rained out. Nashville is now set to play three consecutive doubleheaders, with a day off in between on Wednesday.

Felix Serves As Rainiers Stopper

June 18, 2017

Consider all of those times over the years that the Seattle Mariners have had been struggling, stringing together losses, and they have turned to Felix Hernandez to stop the losing skid.

The Rainiers found themselves in the same position on Saturday, taking a four-game losing streak into last night’s game.

Felix delivered in his third and likely final rehabilitation start for Tacoma, pitching six scoreless innings in a 2-0 Rainiers win.

Hernandez allowed just four hits – all singles – and didn’t walk anybody. He struck out eight, and threw 57 of his 87 pitches for strikes.

It’s nice to be able to turn to a six-time all-star and former Cy Young Award winner when you need to stop a losing streak.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Felix Hernandez and four relievers combined on a four-hit shutout and the Rainiers beat Salt Lake, 2-0. It was the 11th shutout pitched by Tacoma this year. Zach Shank paced the offense with two doubles and an RBI.

Roster Moves: Yesterday pitchers Kyle Hunter was transferred to Double-A Arkansas, and the Mariners claimed right-handed reliever Pat Light off waivers from Pittsburgh. Light and Chase De Jong are expected to report on Monday. The Mariners called up pitcher Rob Whalen prior to Saturday’s game, he pitched two scoreless innings, and today they optioned him to Double-A. Seattle has designated Dillon Overton for assignment and called up pitcher Max Povse from Arkansas.

Today: Salt Lake (37-32) at Tacoma (36-31), 1:35.

Opponent Affiliation: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 3-2.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Troy Scribner (7-2, 5.12) at RHP Casey Lawrence (0-0, 9.00).

Troy Scribner leads the PCL in wins, and he is the younger brother of injured Mariners reliever Evan Scribner. This is his first time facing Tacoma.

Hot Rainiers: Leonys Martin has a seven-game hitting streak, going 11-for-28 during it… Tuffy Gosewisch is 7-for-21 with four doubles over his last seven games… Jean Machi hasn’t allowed a run in is last ten appearances, spanning 12.1 innings pitched.

Look Out For: Salt Lake just went 6-5 on an 11-game homestand against Las Vegas (3-1), Albuquerque (1-2), and Reno (2-2)… the Bees signed former major league star Michael Bourn to fill the outfield gap when Eric Young Jr was called up to replace Mike Trout.

Ex-Rainiers and Local Guys: Ex-Rainiers and Mariners infielder/outfielder Dustin Ackley is playing for Salt Lake this year. Bees outfielder Ramon Flores was with Tacoma in August of 2015. And the Bees have added ex-Rainiers and Mariners starting pitcher Doug Fister, but he is not scheduled to pitch in this series.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 1:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here. It’s a Sunday home game, so Bob Robertson joins me in the booth and he’ll call the middle innings.

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

Triple-A All-Star Game: We’re hosting it at Cheney Stadium on July 12, and fan balloting is live now – go here and vote for who you want to see.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:


Felix Welcomes Rainiers Home

June 16, 2017

The Rainiers return to Cheney Stadium for a 7:05 game on Saturday night against Salt Lake, with Felix Hernandez making what is hoped to be his final rehabilitation start for Tacoma. He is set to throw 85 pitches tonight.

While Felix has been hanging out in Seattle and working with Mariners training staff, the Rainiers are flying in from El Paso today and arriving shortly before game time.

It’s a long travel day. Quick blog and few links. Blame the PCL schedule makers. Sorry!

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: El Paso completed the four-game sweep with a 9-3 win over the Rainiers. The Chihuahuas scored five runs after there were two outs in the first, and two more in the second to take a 7-2 lead. Leonys Martin was a bright spot for Tacoma, going 3-for-5 with a homer.

Roster Moves: There will be a bunch today, as Tacoma adds three recently-optioned pitchers to the active roster. Emilio Pagan, Casey Lawrence, and Chase De Jong all report on Saturday – so roster space will have to be created. One spot will be created by placing right-handed reliever Ryan Kelly on the disabled list, with a left shoulder injury.

Today: Salt Lake (37-31) at Tacoma (35-31), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Season Series: Tied, 2-2.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Luis Diaz (1-3, 7.31) at RHP Felix Hernandez (1-0, 7.71).

Hot Rainiers: D.J. Peterson is 16-for-34 over his last ten games, with three homers, and he has reached base safely in 21 of his last 23 games… Leonys Martin has a six-game hitting streak, and he went 8-for-16 in the El Paso series.

Look Out For: Salt Lake just went 6-5 on an 11-game homestand against Las Vegas (3-1), Albuquerque (1-2), and Reno (2-2)… Kaleb Cowart, Cesar Puello, and Shane Robinson each have five-game hitting streaks… the Bees signed former major league star Michael Bourn to fill the outfield gap when Eric Young Jr was called up to replace Mike Trout.

Ex-Rainiers and Local Guys: Ex-Rainiers and Mariners infielder/outfielder Dustin Ackley is playing for Salt Lake this year. Bees outfielder Ramon Flores was with Tacoma in August of 2015. And the Bees have added ex-Rainiers and Mariners starting pitcher Doug Fister, but he is not scheduled to pitch 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.

Triple-A All-Star Game: We’re hosting it at Cheney Stadium on July 12, and fan balloting is live now – go here and vote for who you want to see.

Links:


Rainiers Easing Beckham Back

June 16, 2017

Infielder Gordon Beckham was activated from the disabled list by Tacoma on Wednesday, but it’s going to be a little while before he is able to play full games.

The established major leaguer has been out since April 23 with a hamstring problem. He was sent to the Mariners complex in Peoria, Arizona to rest and rehabilitate the injury.

Now he’s back with Tacoma, but he is not yet in game shape. The Mariners medical staff has outlined a strict progression for how much he can play in games as he regains his strength.

For Beckham’s first game on Wednesday, Rainiers manager Pat Listach was instructed to start him at designated hitter and give him two at-bats.

Yesterday, Beckham was scheduled to play three innings at second base. Listach hit him in the No. 2 spot in the batting order, so he would (probably) get two plate appearances.

His playing time will be regimented like this for the next several days.

Normally this type of progression is done at the Arizona complex, in extended spring training games or Arizona Rookie League contests. But at this particular moment of the summer (between the draft and the start of the Arizona Rookie League on June 24) there are no games at the Peoria complex for Beckham to play limited innings in. As a result, he’ll ease into playing shape with Tacoma.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers couldn’t get the bats going, managing just five hits against Zach Lee and three El Paso relievers in a 5-1 loss.

Today: Tacoma (35-30) at El Paso (33-34), 6:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.

Season Series: El Paso leads, 6-5.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Dillon Overton (1-1, 8.22) at RHP Matt Magill (3-4, 4.11).

Hot Rainiers: D.J. Peterson is 15-for-31 over his last nine games, with three homers, and he has reached base safely in 20 of his last 22 games… Leonys Martin has a five-game hitting streak, and he is 5-for-11 in the El Paso series.

Look Out For: Former Rainiers outfielder Jabari Blash has hit six homers in his last eight games… Rafael Ortega has a 12-game hitting streak, and he belted a leadoff homer in the first inning Tuesday… Nick Buss has an eight-game hitting streak.

Ex-Rainiers and Local Guys: El Paso outfielder Jabari Blash and pitchers Logan Bawcom, Carter Capps, and Zach Lee are all former Rainiers… El Paso pitcher Adam Cimber graduated from Puyallup High School in 2009, and attended UW for three years before transferring to the University of San Francisco for his senior year.

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.

Triple-A All-Star Game: We’re hosting it at Cheney Stadium on July 12, and fan balloting is live now – go here and vote for who you want to see.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

Tomorrow’s blog situation is… tenuous. We’re travelling all day – starting with a 3:00 AM wakeup call – and arriving just in time for the Felix Hernandez start at Cheney Stadium. I’ll at least try to get the Rainiers Round-Up posted, but that might be it.