Don’t tell anyone, we don’t want to jinx it, but the Tacoma Rainiers might be… heating up?
Tacoma beat Albuquerque on Monday night, 12-8, to win its first four-game series of the season. The Rainiers have won four of the last five games, and are now just four games under .500. The team is only three games out of first place in the Pacific-North, a division that features no team playing significantly above-.500 ball.
It is still early in the season – just 32 games in – but this last stretch is definitely the best that Tacoma has played so far.
Half of the pitching staff has been turned over since opening day, and the improvement has been visible over the last ten days. It has become quite evident that Tacoma has a major leaguer playing shortstop; let’s appreciate that for as long as it lasts. It seems that one of these days we are going to show up at the park and Kyle Seager will be here to start an extended rehabilitation run. Things are looking up.
Now we will get our first look at division rival Reno, a team that has traditionally given Tacoma a lot of trouble (especially at their place – more on that next week). Let’s see how the Rainiers stack up against them.
Big, huge, enormous thank you to Everett AquaSox radio broadcaster Pat Dillon for stepping in for me on very short notice, driving from Everett to Tacoma on a weekday afternoon (yikes!), and doing a great job filling in last night.
Today I’ll be doing the game with lots of assistance from our Director of Media Relations AJ Garcia, who served as the No. 2 broadcaster for the Class-A Charleston RiverDogs last year. I feel good, but my voice is so scratchy I should be singing in a Deer Tick cover band.
YESTERDAY: J.P. Crawford drove in six runs with four hits, and Justus Sheffield allowed one run over 5.1 innings to earn his first win as a Tacoma Rainier in a 12-8 victory over Albuquerque. The game wasn’t nearly as close as the final score, as Tacoma took a 12-1 lead into the eighth inning. Tacoma won the series, three games to one, and pulled within four games of the .500 mark.
ROSTER MOVES: Yesterday the Rainiers officially added reliever Austin Adams to the roster, and transferred outfielder Johnny Slater back to extended spring training. Today the team is expected to add infielder Ryan Court, who was playing for Sugar Land in the independent Atlantic League. He was with Iowa last year, hitting .262-11-65 with a .362 OBP. He’s here to fill the Joey Curletta spot at first base.
TODAY: Reno (13-18) at Tacoma (14-18), 6:05.
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: Arizona Diamondbacks.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Chris Cron.
SEASONS SERIES: 0-0.
PITCHERS: RHP Justin Donatella (1-2, 9.58) at RHP Tyler Cloyd (0-0, 0.00)
HOT HITTERS: J.P. Crawford has reached base via hit or walk in 30 straight games, and his six RBI last night was a new career high… Austin Nola has hits in 19 of his 24 games this season… Shed Long has a four-game streak.
OPPONENT NEWS: Reno just split a high-scoring four-game series at Sacramento… Triple-A rookie Domingo Leyba brings a six-game hitting streak into his first trip to Tacoma… Kevin Cron ranks second in the league with 36 RBI; his father is the Reno manager…
FAMILIAR FACES: Lots of ’em on this club. Reno has former Rainiers outfielder Abraham Almonte, pitchers Anthony Vasquez and Marc Rzepczynski, and Mill Creek native Travis Snider.
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.
- Tommy Milone won the PCL Pitcher of the Week award for his 13.2 scoreless innings last week. Nice!
- Felix Hernandez had a rough start and the Mariners lost in New York City, 7-3.
In the PCL:
- In the new world of juiced MLB baseballs being used in the PCL, even Sacramento’s Raley Field is a launching pad. The River Cats hit seven home runs – three by Mac Williamson – and and beat Reno last night, 12-6.
- El Paso also hit seven home runs, but Salt Lake didn’t hit much of anything as the Chihuahuas downed the Bees, 15-0. Esteban Quiroz went 4-for-5 with two homers for El Paso, but it seems the greater achievement was the six scoreless innings pitched by Logan Allen.
- Fresno had 22 hits and downed the Aviators, 14-3. Corner infielder Chris Dominguez – now 32 years old – returned to his Fresno roots and went 5-for-6 with a grand slam in his second game with the team. UW product Austin Voth pitched seven innings to earn the win for Fresno.
- Yordan Alvarez hit his PCL-leading 13th homer to help Round Rock to a 6-5 win at San Antonio.
- The Iowa Cubs rode the smooth jazz sounds of Wynton Bernard to a 6-3 win at Omaha. Bernard was 3-for-3 with three runs scored and two RBI.
- Marlins pitching prospect Elieser Hernandez struck out ten and allowed just one hit over 6.1 scoreless innings in a 4-0 New Orleans shutout of Oklahoma City.
- Matt Davidson‘s three-run homer gave Nashville a 6-5 win over Memphis.