We’re two months into the 2017 PCL season, and two teams have clearly been the best in the Pacific-North division.
Tacoma and Reno have been jockeying for position, going back-and-forth between the top spot in the standings. Currently Reno (35-22) has a two-game lead over second place Tacoma (32-23), but just ten days ago it was the other way around.
These two teams play each other 15 times this season, yet somehow have avoided one another until today. Reno visits Tacoma for a four-game series starting tonight at 6:05.
Now let’s not beat around the bush: the Rainiers are limping into this series. Even with Sunday’s win at Fresno, Tacoma has lost seven of the last ten games to fall out of first place, and the Rainiers roster is in a constantly weakened state due to never-ending roster moves.
But we’ve got big league reinforcements coming Tuesday. Felix Hernandez makes his rehabilitation start on Tuesday, and he’s scheduled for 55-60 pitches. And latest word says that early season Mariners star Mitch Haniger – a former Reno Aces outfielder – is set to rehab with the Rainiers starting Tuesday as well.
The Aces lead the PCL in pretty much every single hitting category – most importantly runs scored. Reno has scored 373 runs this year, a whopping 49 more than second-best Salt Lake. Their pitchers rank eighth out of 16 teams in team ERA, which is enough to result in a league-best +78 run differential.
But these guys play in the best hitter’s park in the PCL. Little known fact: Greater Nevada Field is actually located on the moon.
- Aces at home: .327 batting average, 7.9 runs scored per game.
- Aces on road: .273 batting average, 4.8 runs scored per game.
About half of those road games are played in other great hitter’s parks, like Albuquerque and El Paso. We’ll see if they can hit at sea level this week.
Yesterday: The Rainiers ruined Fresno starter Dean Deetz‘s Triple-A debut, scoring seven runs and knocking him out in the third inning on the way to a 9-5 win. The Rainiers had a season-high 18 hits. Dan Vogelbach went 4-for-5 with a homer, Zach Shank drove in three runs, and Ryan Jackson was 3-for-5 with two RBI.
Roster Move: Shortstop Eugene Helder was transferred back to extended spring training prior to Sunday’s game. He handled himself well in his two starts.
Today: Reno (35-22) at Tacoma (32-23), 6:05.
Opponent Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks.
Season Series: 0-0.
Starting Pitchers: RHP Zack Godley (2-1, 2.25) at LHP Dillon Overton (1-0, 5.65).
Hot Rainiers: Leonys Martin went 3-for-6 with a triple yesterday, and he has hit safely in 18 of his last 21 games… Zach Shank is 17-for-48 with 11 RBI over his last 12 games.
Look Out For: Jack Reinheimer has a seven-game hitting streak… ex-Rainiers infielder Ketel Marte has been one of the top hitters in the PCL all season, batting .377 with a .969 OPS. Suddenly he’s hitting for power: he’s homered in two straight games, and three of the last four… Oswaldo Arcia has a five-game hitting streak with three homers during it, and he’s batting .364-13-55 on the year… Christian Walker is tied for the PCL lead with 15 home runs, but so far he has been a Reno-only hitter: he’s batting .325 with 12 homers in Reno, and .209 with three homers on the road.
Local Guys and Ex-Rainiers: Ketel Marte was traded with Taijuan Walker to the Diamondbacks for Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger. Still a riveting trade, eh? Let’s not even bother trying to decide who won the deal until at least 2022.
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.
- MILB.com has a story on the Rainiers win yesterday, focusing on Dan Vogelbach‘s four-hit game.
- Ariel Miranda pitched a complete game and the Mariners completed a three-game sweep of Tampa with a 7-1 win on Sunday. The M’s are off today and host the Twins on Tuesday. Three takeaways from the game.
- John McGrath has a column on Miranda’s performance, and how he has stepped up in the wake of the Mariners pitching injuries.
- Everybody knows each other when the Mariners play the Tampa Bay Rays.
- Danny Valencia tied a Mariners franchise record by collecting nine straight hits.
- A crazy man scaled El Capitan without a rope and made it. Totally bonkers.
PCL Game Reports:
- Frank Duncan pitched Reno to a 4-1 win over visiting Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon.
- Sacramento’s John Polonius wasn’t wrong when he tripled and scored the winning run in the top of the tenth inning to beat Albuquerque last night, 5-4.
- El Paso topped Salt Lake, 5-2, avoiding a four-game sweep, and we are all treated to a folksy Bill Knight gamer in the El Paso Times.
- Jeimer Candelario hit, but the rest of the Iowa Cubs didn’t in a 6-0 home loss to Nashville.
- Oklahoma City starter Justin Masterson pitched well, but his Dodgers lost to Colorado Springs 3-1.
- New Orleans picked up a 7-1 road win at Round Rock, and the Austin Statesman has a story on the status of Express infielder and former top prospect Jurickson Profar.
- Omaha at Memphis got rained out.
After playing 16 of the last 20 games on the road – the Rainiers went 9-11 during that stretch – it’s going to be great to settle in at Cheney Stadium for a week. Hope to see you there!