The Rainiers had about as brutal of a Saturday as could be in Sacramento.
Facing the worst team in the Pacific Conference, Tacoma got swept in a doubleheader by the River Cats, 6-3 and 3-0.
Adding injury to insult, Tacoma lost outfielder Tyler O’Neill to hamstring tightness. He left the first game in the eighth inning, and was scratched from the starting lineup in the second game.
The team is hoping it is a minor injury for O’Neill, who is not expected to play Sunday, and then will get three days off for the all-star break.
After a rough first two-and-a-half months of Triple-A baseball, O’Neill has spent the last three weeks hitting like the Double-A Southern League MVP he was in 2016. In his last 18 games, O’Neill is batting .333 (22-for-66) with eight homers and 19 RBI – plus he has drawn 14 walks, and has a 1.199 OPS.
Losing him right now is costly, as witnessed by the Rainiers getting just three hits against Sacramento in the Game Two shutout. O’Neill went 0-for-2 with two walks before leaving the opener. It’s important to get him healthy after the all-star break, and see what he can do in the final seven weeks of the season.
He’s out, and there are other Rainiers position players who are nursing aches and pains but playing through them right now. This extended stretch of the season with a roster of just 10 or 11 available position players appears to be catching up with the team.
Hopefully the club can sneak out a win today, get a split in Sacramento, and then rest for a few days. These guys need the three day all-star break.
Yesterday: Tacoma lost both games of the doubleheader to Sacramento, which improved its season record to 35-53. The River Cats used homers by Justin Ruggiano and Chris Shaw to take the opener, 6-3. Tacoma was shut down on three hits in the second game, 3-0, as Sacramento spot starter Dusten Knight pitched 5.2 scoreless innings.
Roster Moves: Yesterday the Rainiers activated reliever Pat Light from the disabled list, and there was room on the roster for him. Today the team is expected to activate pitcher Tyler Cloyd – but there isn’t room for him, so something else will happen.
Today: Tacoma (45-43) at Sacramento (35-53), 1:05.
Opponent Affiliation: San Francisco Giants.
Season Series: Tied, 6-6.
Starting Pitchers: RHP Christian Bergman (6-0, 3.28) at RHP Jose Flores (0-0, 0.00).
Flores made his first Triple-A start five days ago and pitched seven innings of one-hit ball with ten strikeouts… in Albuquerque. He pitched for Sacramento in 2014 as a reliever when they were an A’s affiliate, and now he’s back on a Giants contract.
Hot Rainiers: Leonys Martin has been successful in his last 20 stolen base attempts… he’s gone 12-for-26 in his last six games, boosting his batting average over the .300 mark… Tyler O’Neill has hit eight homers in the last 15 games, and he has a six-game hitting streak.
Look Out For: Chris Shaw has gone 19-for-43 over his last 12 games… Juan Ciriaco is 11-for-21 during a six game hitting streak… don’t load the bases for Orlando Calixte. He’s 7-for-8 this season when batting with the bases packed.
Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 12:50 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.
- John McGrath wrote a letter to the Triple-A All-Stars visiting Tacoma. He’s the best.
- Durham Bulls manager Jared Sandberg is an Olympia native returning home as a coach for the International League All-Stars. He’s doing the Futures Game on Sunday in Miami, too.
- D.J. Peterson is one of four members of the 2012 New Mexico Lobos college baseball team who is knocking on the door of the big leagues.
- The Mariners lost in the ninth to Oakland, and have lost nine of the last ten home games. Three takeaways from the game.
- Interesting column from Larry Stone, who suggests that the King’s Court needs to change its focus to outs, and not strikeouts, because of Felix Hernandez‘s new pitching style.
- Ryan Divish hands out his midseason awards.
- If you are like me, you miss the old Sunday baseball columns in major newspapers. News and notes from around the majors leagues, written by experienced ballwriters who have been covering the game for decades. So sad they are gone – a victim of a dying industry. But we have good news: the venerable John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle somehow got clearance to write one today.
PCL Game Reports:
- Fresno swept a doubleheader from visiting Reno and took two-of-three in the series, keeping things interesting in the Pac-North. Fresno pulled within five games of first.
- El Paso is picking up ground on Pac-South leading Salt Lake. The Chihuahuas won their second game in a row against the Bees, 5-4, behind the pitching of Matt Magill.
- Barry Enright pitched Albuquerque to a 4-1 win over visiting Las Vegas. In addition to the game story, the Albuquerque Journal has a feature on PCL All-Star outfielder Noel Cuevas, who says that the Triple-A All-Star Game isn’t just another game, and that the PCL squad is a very hard team to make.
- Holy. Smokes. Omaha’s 21-year-old All-Star shortstop Raul Mondesi hit a grand slam for the second day in a row, giving the Storm Chasers a 5-1 win at Iowa. The kid has grand slammed in back-to-back games. See you on Wednesday, Raul.
- Round Rock topped Colorado Springs, 10-9, on Doug Bernier‘s sac fly in the bottom of the ninth.
- Memphis infielder Breyvic Valera hit a two-run double in the top of the ninth inning to give the Redbirds a 3-2 win at Nashville.
- Oklahoma City went into New Orleans and cut a doubleheader against the Baby Cakes into two even pieces.
We’re hosting the Triple-A All-Star Game, as you know, so we’ll have blog updates each day – but I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to spend on them. This game is a ton of work! I have to learn 55 or 60 new players for the radio broadcast, and work the Home Run Derby (don’t get me wrong – all of this will be fun). So check back each day early afternoon, I’ll have something for you. At least a brief Home Run Derby preview tomorrow!