Sunday A Fun Day For Rainiers

June 29, 2015

Tacoma beat El Paso on Sunday afternoon, 2-0, in a clean, crisp, and entertaining game.

Justin Germano started and went the distance, tossing a seven-hitter for his sixth career complete game shutout. It was his first shutout since 2011, when he pitched a perfect game for Columbus of the International League.

Germano had to sweat it out, though. After escaping a jam in the top of the ninth, he knew he was done for the day but the game was still undecided: it was 0-0, because Jason Lane tossed a gem for El Paso.

Against reliever Jerry Sullivan, Leon Landry hit a one-out single to center. John Hicks followed with a potential inning-ending double play grounder to third, but El Paso was playing catcher Rocky Gale at second base. It was Gale’s first career game at the position, and let’s be kind and just say he’s no Robinson Cano on the double-play pivot. Hicks beat the relay to first and the inning continued.

That brought Patrick Kivlehan to the plate, and he lifted an opposite-field two-run homer to right to win the ballgame, walk-off style.

It was the second walk-off win of the homestand for the Rainiers, who had a 1-0 ten-inning win on Thursday against Reno.

There are a few things on the line tonight: Tacoma has a chance to win the four-game series against El Paso, and the team can reach .500 for the first time since the club was 2-2 just four games into the season.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Justin Germano pitched a complete game shutout, although he didn’t have the finishing stroke – that went to Patrick Kivlehan, who hit an opposite-field two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to give the Rainiers a 2-0 win over El Paso.

Today: El Paso (38-38) at Tacoma (38-39), 6:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.

Season Series: El Paso leads, 6-5.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Daniel McCutchen (1-5, 5.37) at RHP Sam Gaviglio (7-5, 4.39)

Hot Rainiers: Shawn O’Malley had three more hits – he has hit safely in seven straight games and is batting .369 in the month of June. Reliever David Rollins has not allowed a run in five outings; the Mariners have to make a decision on the Rule 5 Draft pick around July 4th.

Look Out For: Cody Decker has three homers in his last seven games – he’s always been a streaky hitter in the PCL, so look out.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:50 (Pacific) 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.

Links:


Big Day For Ruggiano

June 28, 2015

Playing in just his fourth game as a member of the Tacoma Rainiers, Justin Ruggiano launched three home runs during a 14-4 victory over El Paso on Saturday night at Cheney Stadium.

Ruggiano’s first two homers were opposite-field three-run shots against Chihuahuas starting pitcher Robbie Erlin. Erlin is a lefty who has made 20 career major league starts, and Ruggiano specializes in hitting left-handed pitchers.

His third homer was a solo blast pulled to left field against reliever Justin Hershiser. Orel’s kid was making his second career appearance above A-ball.

Ruggiano had an opportunity to hit a fourth homer, but he never got to swing the bat when he walked on five pitches in the eighth inning.

He’s the first Tacoma player to hit three home runs in a game since Jabari Blash did it last June – coincidentally, that also happened against El Paso, but it occurred on the road.

Ruggiano is strictly serving as the designated hitter for Tacoma right now. He’s dealing with a sore elbow which prevents him from making throws from the outfield.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Just two Tacoma Rainiers combined to hit five home runs in a 14-4 blasting of El Paso. In addition to Ruggiano’s three dingers, Jesus Montero hit a pair. Tacoma is now second in the PCL with 75 home runs (Las Vegas leads with 77).

Today: El Paso (38-37) at Tacoma (37-39), 1:35 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.

Season Series: El Paso leads, 6-4.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Jason Lane (6-4, 4.59) at RHP Justin Germano (6-3, 3.15)

Hot Rainiers: Um, Ruggiano. Shawn O’Malley has hit safely in six straight games and is batting .354 in the month of June. Reliever David Rollins has not allowed a run in five outings; the Mariners have to make a decision on the Rule 5 Draft pick around July 4th.

Look Out For: Jedd Gyorko went 0-for-4 yesterday, ending his nine-game hitting streak. Cody Decker has three homers in his last six games – he’s always been a streaky hitter in the PCL, so look out.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 1:20 (Pacific) on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here. It’s a Sunday home game so Bob Robertson joins me in the booth.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. For lots of additional comments from Justin Ruggiano and video of the third homer (that pitch was a ‘cookie’), check the MiLB.com story.
  • My weekly Minor League Notebook for the paper is about Patrick Kivlehan leaving the Rainiers for two weeks to play for Team USA in the Pan American Games, and a recent wave of call-ups from the PCL.
  • The Mariners lost to the Angels and Robinson Cano suffered a freak injury on Saturday – although Cano is apparently OK.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook gets to the bottom of the team’s closer situation.
  • Ryan Divish reviews the Mariners preseason Top 10 prospects list to see how they are doing. It includes comments from Director of Player Development Chris Gwynn regarding D.J. Peterson‘s disappointing first half.
  • John McGrath has his MLB power rankings, and a column about Pete Rose and gambling.
  • In the PCL, Tacoma received some big help from the Reno Aces, who swept a day/night doubleheader from first place Fresno. Gabriel Arias and Justin Marks both tossed gems, and Tacoma is now seven games out of first. Former No. 1 pick Mark Appel got creamed in his Triple-A debut.
  • Salt Lake’s C.J. Cron had a big game in an 8-6 win over Albuquerque.
  • Las Vegas catcher Anthony Recker went 4-for-4 in a 7-1 win over visiting Sacramento.
  • Top prospect Kyle Schwarber needed a triple to ride out of Principal Park on a cycle after Iowa’s 6-1 win over New Orleans.
  • Round Rock picked up a 5-1 win at Omaha, Good news for the Texas Rangers: Martin Perez pitched four innings in his continued comeback from elbow surgery.
  • Nashville scored early and beat Oklahoma City, 7-2.
  • Hiram Burgos tossed a gem and Colorado Springs shut out Memphis, 2-0.

Rainiers Drop Tight Game

June 27, 2015

Tacoma lost a close one to El Paso on Friday night in front of a sellout crowd, 4-2. The Rainiers took a 2-1 lead into the eighth inning but ended up falling late.

It was another real close game on this homestand. Tacoma is just 1-3 after four games on the homestand, but the games have been close and exciting: a 4-3 loss, a 6-4 loss decided in the ninth, a 1-0 ten inning win, and a 4-2 loss decided in the ninth.

We’ll see if the trend of close games continues this evening.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: El Paso rallied to score two runs in the top of the ninth and hung on for a 4-2 win. Tacoma loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but Cory Mazzoni struck out Jesus Montero to end the game.

Today: El Paso (38-36) at Tacoma (36-39), 5:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.

Season Series: El Paso leads, 6-3.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Robbie Erlin (5-4, 5.40) at RHP Stephen Landazuri (0-3, 8.74)

Hot Rainiers: Jack-of-all-trades Shawn O’Malley has hit safely in five straight games and is batting .351 in the month of June. Reliever David Rollins has not allowed a run in five outings; the Mariners have to make a decision on the Rule 5 Draft pick around July 4th.

Look Out For: Jedd Gyorko has a nine-game hitting streak, with three homers during that span. El Paso is playing well – they’ve won seven of the last nine games, and are 11-5 over the last 16.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 4:50 (Pacific) 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.

Links:

See you at the park!


Rainiers Take Unusually Long 1-0 Game

June 26, 2015

Tacoma picked up a 1-0 victory over Reno last night in a ten-inning game, ending a brief two-game losing streak.

Hisashi Iwakuma started and went four innings (he’s the focus of the Rainiers game story – always the first link down below). Then David Rollins, Edgar Olmos, and Forrest Snow went the rest of the way, with the quartet combining on a five-hit shutout.

After the game, the talk of the press box was how long the game took.

Pace of play has been an emphasis of the Commissioner’s Office and of course you can see the experimental pitch clocks at Cheney Stadium. And there is no doubt about it: the rule changes are working in Triple-A, and games have been significantly shorter.

So why on earth did a 1-0 game last three hours, 27 minutes? Sure, it was ten innings, but even a ten-inning 1-0 game should be done in well under three hours with the new rules in place.

A few things made this game super-long:

  1. Foul balls. Iwakuma struggled to put away hitters after getting two strikes on them, and Reno batters hit a ton of foul balls against him. Even though he didn’t allow any runs, he reached his pitch count (75 max) after four innings because of the foul balls.
  2. Mid-inning pitching changes. Reno manager Phil Nevin made four mid-inning pitching changes, including three during the seventh inning when he was playing match-up games like he was Tony LaRussa managing the Cardinals. With two minutes, 30 seconds on the countdown clock for a pitching change, this adds up to ten extra minutes of game time.
  3. Strategy meetings. As the game reached the late innings and it became clear that one run would likely decide the outcome, there were additional meetings on the mound to discuss strategy.
  4. Batters being granted time out. Reno hitters constantly called time out to reset the pitch clock, and home plate umpire Jordan Ferrell allowed this. Many of the time outs were called as Tacoma’s pitcher was about to begin his delivery.

None of these things can be changed to speed up the game, except for the last one. Even with the pitch clocks, the entirety of the game of baseball still operates without time limits. Games like this can still happen.

It all added up to the Rainiers longest game of the season (in terms of time). The previous longest game was a 3:14.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Shawn O’Malley‘s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the tenth inning brought home pinch-runner John Hicks with the game’s only run, and Tacoma beat Fresno 1-0. It was Tacoma’s first 1-0 win since April of 2014.

Today: El Paso (37-36) at Tacoma (35-38), 7:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.

Season Series: El Paso leads, 5-3.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Chris Smith (1-2, 3.48) at RHP Jordan Pries (3-1, 5.06)

Hot Rainiers: All of the Rainiers hitting streaks died last night. How about the Rainiers bullpen, as a unit? Over the last four games, Tacoma relievers have allowed three runs over 18.2 innings for a 1.45 ERA.

Look Out For: Alex Dickerson has an eight-game hitting streak, and he’s hit safely in 19 of his last 20 games (29×82, .354). Jedd Gyorko also has an eight-game streak, with three homers during that span. El Paso is playing well – they’ve won six of the last eight games, and are 10-5 over the last 15. However, they made four errors and dropped a 9-1 clunker to Albuquerque last night.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 (Pacific) 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.

Links:

Tonight is the Friday Night Fireworks night before the July 3rd Fireworks Extravaganza. It’s like an opening act.


Ketel Marte Selected For Futures Game

June 25, 2015

This morning the rosters for the annual Major League Baseball All-Star Futures Game were released, and two Mariners prospects got the nod: Double-A Jackson starting pitcher Edwin Diaz, and Tacoma shortstop Ketel Marte.

Reading between the lines, this seems to indicate that Marte is going to be ready to play real soon. If he wasn’t physically able to play in the Futures Game – which is on Sunday, July 12 – I don’t believe the Mariners would have agreed to make him available.

Marte has been on the disabled list since straining ligaments and suffering a mild fracture in his left thumb sliding into second base on May 31. He’s been down in Arizona at the Peoria complex rehabilitating it, so we haven’t been able to keep tabs on his progress up here. At the time of the injury, they said he’ll be out four-to-six weeks, so we’re in the early portion of that window right now.

The Futures Game selection is a big honor for Marte. The 21-year-old shortstop was hitting .343 after 51 games this season, and was leading the league in hits at the time of his injury.

Hopefully he’ll return to Tacoma and get some games under his belt before the all-star break.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: While it was a close and tense game, the Rainiers had missed opportunities and mistakes in a 6-4 loss to Reno last night. Twice Tacoma had a runner at third with one out and couldn’t bring him home. Then in a tie game with two outs in the ninth, Tacoma issued two straight bases loaded walks to force in runs. Yuck. Today is a new day.

Today: Reno (33-39) at Tacoma (35-38), 7:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks.

Season Series: Reno leads, 3-2.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Caleb Clay (4-5, 5.23) at RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (—)

Kuma is slated to make a rehabilitation start for the Rainiers. He’s been on the Mariners disabled list since April 25 with a strained right lat. In three starts for Seattle, he went 0-1, 6.61. Iwakuma had a rehab start for Everett on Saturday and lasted 3.2 innings; we’ll see if he can go a bit longer tonight. Regularly scheduled starter Forrest Snow will follow him from the bullpen.

Roster Move: Yesterday afternoon the Mariners called up Franklin Gutierrez and optioned James Jones to Tacoma. Gutierrez’s comeback is a great story – he went 1-for-3 with a sac fly and RBI for the Mariners last night.

Hot Rainiers: Chris Taylor has a 12-game hitting streak, going 19-for-54 (.351) during the streak. Carlos Rivero has homered in three straight games, he has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games, has reached base safely in 15 straight, and is batting .358 in June.

Look Out ForNick Evans has a ten-game hitting streak. Jamie Romak is 10-for-17 with two homers and 10 RBI in five games against Tacoma this season.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 (Pacific) 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.

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story has quotes from a not-exactly-happy manager Pat Listach.
  • For more on the Futures Game, Baseball America is the place to go. They have capsules with links to stats on all of the players for the US Team and the World Team.
  • The Mariners lost an odd one last night when starter Roenis Elias was perfect for three innings before allowing seven runs in the fourth.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook caught up with Franklin Gutierrez, and also has results from Mariners prospects in various minor league all-star games that were played on Tuesday.
  • There were some exciting finishes in the PCL last night. Salt Lake’s C.J. Cron hit a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to give the Bees a 5-4 win over Las Vegas.
  • Sacramento’s bullpen polished off a two-hit shutout of hard-hitting Fresno for a 2-0 win. The Fresno paper has a story on the Grizzlies latest top prospect, Mark Appel, who makes his Triple-A debut Saturday at Reno.
  • El Paso scored some needed insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth and withstood a ninth inning rally to hold on for a 7-6 win over Albuquerque.
  • The real thriller was in Oklahoma City, where Dodgers top prospect Corey Seager homered twice to help his team take a 6-3 lead into the ninth inning. But the shortstop made an error to extend the ninth, and Colorado Springs capitalized with a four-run rally capped off by a three-run homer from Yadiel Rivera (his first in 129 at-bats this season). The Sky Sox won, 7-6. The game showed why there is a debate about what position Seager should play.
  • Round Rock ace Anthony Ranaudo returned to his roots in Louisiana and proceeded to get lit up by New Orleans in a 6-3 loss. Adam Conley tossed six shutout innings for the Zephyrs.
  • Memphis hit well and coasted to a 9-4 win over visiting Nashville.
  • Omaha and Iowa were rained out – they’re playing two today.

Hey, it’s Thirsty Thursday!


Youth Prevails For Reno

June 24, 2015

The Reno Aces aren’t the youngest team in the PCL – they have a 39-year-old starting shortstop to prove otherwise – but their young players led the charge in a 4-3 win at Tacoma on Tuesday.

Making just his second Triple-A start, 23-year-old Aaron Blair bounced back from a rough Triple-A debut and held the hot-hitting Rainiers in check. He lasted 6.2 innings, giving up just two hits and one run while striking out six.

Tacoma starter Justin Germano was actually out-pitching Blair until there were two outs in the sixth inning. Two hits and a walk loaded the bases for 24-year-old Peter O’Brien, who deposited a 2-2 fastball into the R-Yard for a grand slam. It was O’Brien’s 15th home run of the season, which puts him in a three-way tie for the PCL lead.

The game was the 72nd of the year for the Rainiers – meaning we have reached the exact midpoint of the season. A win would have put Tacoma at .500 but instead the Rainiers hit the fulcrum at 35-37.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Reno’s Peter O’Brien hit a two-out grand slam in the top of the sixth inning and it held up as the Aces defeated Tacoma, 4-3. After eight straight games with 10+ hits, and a .354 team batting average on the just-completed road trip, Tacoma returned home and had just five hits in the loss.

Today: Reno (32-39) at Tacoma (35-37), 7:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks.

Season Series: Tied, 2-2.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Archie Bradley (—) at RHP Sam Gaviglio (7-5, 4.29)

Bradley is making a rehabilitation start; he’s 2-3, 5.80 as a rookie in the Arizona starting rotation. He’s already been on the DL twice – on April 28 he was struck in the face by a line drive, suffering a sinus fracture. He came back from that, made four starts, and then landed on the DL on June 4 with right shoulder tendonitis.

Hot Rainiers: Chris Taylor has a 11-game hitting streak, going 18-for-50 (.360) during the streak. Carlos Rivero has hit safely in ten of his last 11 games, has reached base safely in 14 straight, and is batting .365 in June.

Look Out ForNick Evans has a nine-game hitting streak, and he has homered in two of the last four games. Jamie Romak is 9-for-15 with two homers and eight RBI in four games against Tacoma this season.

I Know You: Found out last night that the Diamondbacks released Reno outfielder Trayvon Robinson on Sunday night, so the former Rainiers and Mariners player is not in Tacoma and instead is looking for work. Pitcher Blake Beavan is on the Reno disabled list; he is rehabbing in extended spring training and not with the team.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 (Pacific) 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.

Links:


Rainiers Settle In For Long Homestand

June 23, 2015

Rested and ready, the Tacoma Rainiers open an eleven-game homestand tonight at 6:05, with the opening game of a three-game series against the Reno Aces.

Tacoma is hot: the Rainiers went 5-2 on the week-long road trip, improving their season record to 35-36.

Just three weeks ago the Rainiers were ten games under .500. But the team has gone 16-7 over the last 23 games, and now just needs a win tonight to reach .500 for the first time since the club was 2-2 on the fourth day of the season.

Reno comes in having changed its outlook. The Rainiers just faced them in Reno, taking two-of-three last week to win a series at Aces Ballpark for the first time in franchise history. At that point, the Aces had lost 12 of their last 14 games – but then they went to Sacramento and pulled off the rare road sweep, going 4-0 against the River Cats.

It’s a long homestand and the weather is supposed to be terrific, so come out to the park if you can!

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers were off on Monday. On Sunday, Carlos Rivero hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning as the Rainiers had their first comeback win of the season, 6-5 in Albuquerque. Tacoma used five relievers to toss five scoreless innings from the bullpen, enabling the comeback.

Today: Reno (31-39) at Tacoma (35-36), 6:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 2-1.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Aaron Blair (0-1, 18.00) at RHP Justin Germano (6-2, 2.92)

Blair is a touted pitching prospect who made his Triple-A debut last Wednesday against Tacoma in Reno – and the Rainiers put a whuppin’ on him. Today is his second start.

Hot Rainiers: Chris Taylor has a ten-game hitting streak, going 17-for-46 (.370) during the streak. Stefen Romero has hit 11 doubles in his last 13 games. Shawn O’Malley is batting .367 in June, and Carlos Rivero is hitting .361 this month.

Look Out ForNick Evans has an eight-game hitting streak, and he has homered in two of the last three games. Jamie Romak torched the Rainiers in Reno last week, going 8-for-12 with two homers and eight RBI in the three-game series – he slowed down over the weekend in Sacramento.

I Know You: Reno has two ex-Rainiers on the roster, but only one is likely to be in town: outfielder Trayvon Robinson, who had a pinch-hit home run on Sunday in Sacramento.  Pitcher Blake Beavan is on the Reno disabled list; last I heard he was rehabbing in extended spring training and not with the team.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:50 (Pacific) 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.

Links:

  • Read the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune to learn how Sunday’s comeback win in Albuquerque went down.
  • The Mariners offense did not report to Safeco Field for a 4-1 loss to the Royals last night.
  • The results haven’t improved yet, but new hitting coach Edgar Martinez is getting to work.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook includes an all-star update.
  • In the PCL, the Fresno-Sacramento rivalry heats up this week (interesting story from a business perspective). Fresno is having a Grumpy Cat Night tonight – I love it.
  • The Rainiers ended up gaining a game in the standings on Sunday night – rather dramatically. Fresno led Las Vegas, 2-0, with two outs in the ninth inning when Brooks Conrad cracked a pinch-hit grand slam. Vegas hung on for a 4-2 win and the Rainiers are now 7.5 games back.

See you at the park!


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