The Tacoma Rainiers play their final game at New Orleans tonight, as the Zephyrs/Baby Cakes 27-year run in Triple-A comes to an end.
The New Orleans franchise is moving to Wichita, Kansas at the completion of this season. A new ballpark is under construction there – in fact, they just had the ‘topping out’ ceremony – and the PCL has approved the move. The Wichita TBAs (they will have a new name) will make their first visit to Tacoma in August, 2020.
A few of the current New Orleans front office staffers are going to move with the team to Wichita, but others are going to leave baseball and find new work in town. The Cakes staff is down to a skeleton crew at the moment, just finishing out the final season.
The Baby Cakes nickname will be one of the more short-lived team names in recent PCL history. They controversially changed the name from Zephyrs to Baby Cakes prior to the 2017 season, and played just three years with it (it seems appropriate that they matched the Omaha Golden Spikes in team name longevity). We’ll have to wait and see if the Wichita franchise decides to choose a classy or a ridiculous name.
One memory of Tacoma visiting New Orleans stands above them all: Tacoma vs. New Orleans in the PCL Championship Series, two outstanding teams about to battle for the league title, Game One at New Orleans on September 11, 2001. That series was never played, and the teams were named co-champions. The Rainiers travel party was stranded for six days in New Orleans while our nation recovered and returned to normal day-to-day living.
On a better note, New Orleans is also the place in which I broadcast the only tie game of my career in baseball. I’m glad I saw one, and I never want to see another.
You feel bad for the baseball fans of New Orleans, who lose their only professional team. Plans to bring in a Double-A Southern League team have failed, and they will not have Minor League Baseball in the Crescent City next year.
YESTERDAY: Tacoma couldn’t get much offense going in a 7-1 loss at New Orleans on Monday night. Chris Mariscal and Eric Filia each had two hits, but the team had just seven hits total. Andrew Moore pitched five scoreless innings in relief of starter Nabil Crismatt, who allowed all seven runs during the first two innings. The Rainiers can escape with a split of the series if they win tonight.
ROSTER MOVES: Yesterday Jake Fraley was activated from the injured list, and Ryan Court reported. To make room on the roster, infielders Kevin Santa and Connor Hoover were reassigned.
TODAY: Tacoma (53-67) at New Orleans (64-54), 4:30 (Pacific).
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: Miami Marlins.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Keith Johnson.
SEASON SERIES: New Orleans leads, 2-1.
PITCHERS: RHP Mike Wright (1-2, 4.02) at RHP Joe Gunkel (5-1, 3.84)
HOT HITTERS: John Andreoli has reached base in 11 straight games, with hits in eight of them, going 12-for-37 with 11 walks during this stretch… Chris Mariscal has hit safely in six of his last seven games, with four home runs. Six of his last ten hits have been homers… Eric Filia has a six-game hitting streak.
OPPONENT NEWS: New Orleans just lost two-of-three to Reno, but they won five in a row prior to that… catcher Wilkin Castillo has an eight-game hitting streak; earlier this season he was called up for the first time since 2009 and had a game-winning hit in his first game… Austin Dean has a nine-game hitting streak and is batting .400 with seven homers in 17 PCL games since the all-star break.
FAMILIAR FACES: Two former Rainiers left-handed pitchers are now Baby Cakes: Brian Moran and Mike Kickham.
BROADCAST: The pregame show starts at 4:15 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.
- Here’s the Rainiers game story from the New Orleans newspaper.
- The Rainiers website has a cool story on reliever Aaron Northcraft.
- Braden Bishop is overcoming the mental hurdle as he rehabs his spleen injury. He should play for Tacoma during the upcoming homestand.
- The majors are going to start next season on March 26, and the minors are going to start on April 9. That is going to be one extremely long spring training for the Triple-A players.
In the PCL:
- Nick Solak hit a tiebreaking homer in the top of the ninth inning as Nashville took down Sacramento, 3-2.
- Second place Reno was unable to capitalize on the Sacramento loss, getting drilled in Oklahoma City 12-2. It was 0-0 until the Dodgers scored nine runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Reno remains seven games out with 20 to go.
- Memphis used a five-run sixth inning to upend Fresno, 6-4. That’s seven straight losses for Fresno, and defeats in 15 of the last 16 games.
- El Paso outfielder Michael Gettys homered twice and drove in three runs during a 9-5 win over visiting San Antonio.
- Seth Brown willed the Las Vegas Aviators to victory, hitting a double and two homers with five RBI in a 7-6 win at Omaha. Vegas remains tied in first with El Paso in the Pac-South.
- Round Rock’s Kyle Tucker wants to be included in the home run race conversation. He hit two, giving him 32 on the year, in an 11-6 win at Albuquerque. Starter Framber Valdez notched 13 strikeouts over 6.2 innings for the Express.
- Iowa ace Colin Rea made a push for PCL Pitcher of the Year honors, tossing seven shutout innings in a 6-0 win over Salt Lake to earn his league-leading 12th win. Rea is 12-3 with a 3.50 ERA in the Year of the Many Homers.
The Rainiers are off on Wednesday, flying home all day from New Orleans, and resume action at Cheney Stadium on Thursday in the opener of our last homestand of the season (an 11-gamer). No blog update Wednesday, look for a fresh post on Thursday afternoon.