The Rainiers suffered another extreme bullpen meltdown on Wednesday afternoon, which obscured the big picture news of the day: top prospect Justus Sheffield had his best outing of the season.
The 22-year-old lefty made it through 6.2 innings, allowing just three hits and three runs (two earned). He issued three walks and struck out six, throwing 88 pitches (that’s according to the Rainiers – the pitch count in the box score was off, for those who really care about these things).
The big thing here is that his fastball command was better. Still not really good, but substantially better than what we saw in his first two starts.
His other two pitches – his slider and change-up – were terrific. In particular, he was able to dominate El Paso’s left-handed batters with the slider.
After Jose Pirela lined a two-run homer to right-center in the second inning, Sheffield coasted through the next three innings before allowing an unearned run in the sixth.
He was also able to generate two ground ball double plays to help him along. That was nice to see, and something we’ll keep an eye on to see if he’s able to do this in the future.
This pitching performance occurred in one of the PCL’s launching pads on a day in which eight home runs were hit and the final score was 11-10. Overall, it was an impressive outing and a nice turnaround for Sheffield.
YESTERDAY: Justus Sheffield had his best start of the season, and the Rainiers offense did some amazing things, but the bullpen really struggled in an 11-10 loss the El Paso on Wednesday. The Chihuahuas scored six runs in the eighth inning to take a 9-7 lead, but the Rainiers scored three runs with two outs in the op of the ninth. Austin Nola tied the game with a two-run homer, and Ian Miller singled in the go-ahead run. But with two outs in the bottom of the ninth El Paso’s Josh Naylor walked on four pitches, and Ty France followed with a game-ending home run. Nola finished the day 4-for-5 with two doubles, two homers, three runs scored, and four RBI.
TODAY: Tacoma (5-9) at El Paso (7-6), 6:05 (Pacific).
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: San Diego Padres.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Edwin Rodriguez.
SEASONS SERIES: El Paso leads, 3-2.
PITCHERS: RHP Nabil Crismatt (0-1, 8.68) at RHP Chris Rowley (0-0, 10.57)
HOT HITTERS: J.P. Crawford has a 12-game hitting streak, going 17-for-49 during the stretch… Austin Nola has hit safely in nine of his last ten games, and he leads the team with 15 RBI… Ian Miller has five hits and eight RBI in his last three games.
OPPONENT NEWS: El Paso has won six in a row… Jose Pirela has been red-hot, collecting 18 hits and 17 RBI during a nine-game hitting streak… former Rainier Seth Mejias-Brean has a ten-game hitting streak… Ty France has back-to-back two-homer games.
FAMILIAR FACES: Seth Mejias-Brean – the Rainiers third baseman for the last season-and-a-half – is now with El Paso after signing with the Padres as a free agent during the offseason. They also have former Rainiers outfielder Boog Powell on the injured list.
BROADCAST: The pregame show starts at 5:50 on South Sound Talk 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.
- You may have noticed that Rainiers games have been higher scoring. So have all the other Triple-A games. Baseball America has a story on how the switch to the MLB baseball is causing a home run boom in Triple-A. (You might need to clear your cookies to read this one).
- MiLB.com has a story on yesterday’s Rainiers game, which focuses on Austin Nola‘s huge game at the plate.
- The Mariners got shut out by Carlos Carrasco, 1-0, and were swept by the Cleveland Indians. The home run streak ended at 20 while the losing streak grew to six. On the plus side, Erik Swanson‘s first major league start went very well.
- Lookout Landing has a State of the Farm report. These are quite thorough.
In the PCL:
- Slugger Seth Brown‘s second homer of the game tied it 3-3 in the top of the ninth, and Las Vegas scored twice in the top of the tenth to defeat Sacramento, 5-4.
- Fresno blasted Salt Lake, 17-5, as Washington Nationals prospects continue to enjoy hitting in the PCL. Jacob Wilson went 4-for-6 with two doubles, his 7th homer of the year, and five RBI. Carter Kieboom reached base five times and is batting.422.
- Reno at Albuquerque was postponed due to rain and hail.
- Nicky Lopez singled, doubled, and tripled as Omaha picked up an 8-5 win at Oklahoma City.
- Jack Mayfield had three hits, including two doubles and two RBI, to help Round Rock to an 8-2 win over Nashville.
- Memphis edged San Antonio, 7-6, as Tommy Edman and Edmundo Sosa each had three hits.
- New Orleans starter Zac Gallen redacted the Iowa Cubs in the opening game of a doubleheader, 5-0. Iowa earned the split by taking the nightcap, 7-4, when catcher Ian Rice hit a three-run homer in his Triple-A debut.