Tacoma Takes Series, On To Vegas

July 31, 2015

One day after being held to one run on five hits, Tacoma banged out 15 hits in a 7-3 win at El Paso and won the series on the road, three games to one.

Six different Rainiers had two hits, including new outfielder Ramon Flores. Flores was a key cog in the offense – his exploits are detailed in the Rainiers game story link down below.

Today the Rainiers traveled to Las Vegas for the first time this season, with the opener of the four-game series set for 7:05. Vegas has been in first place in the Pacific-South all year, but the team is struggling right now: the 51s just went 2-6 on an eight-game road trip, dropping three out of four at both Reno and Sacramento.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Six players had two hits as Tacoma downed El Paso, 7-3. Jordan Pries pitched into the seventh inning and earned the win.

Roster Moves: Today the Rainiers add new pitcher Adrian Sampson to the active roster – he starts Sunday. Infielder Shawn O’Malley is activated from the disabled list, and outfielder Leon Landry was transferred to Double-A Jackson.

Today: Tacoma (52-55) at Las Vegas (59-48), 7:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: New York Mets.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 5-3.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Roenis Elias (3-0, 6.75) at RHP Tim Stauffer (–).

The Mets just signed the veteran Stauffer, who opened the season in the majors as a reliever for the Twins. This is his first PCL appearance of the year – he’ll probably have a short outing, as he has not started this season.

Hot Rainiers: John Hicks has hit safely in seven straight games, going 12-for-23 during that time. Justin Ruggiano has reached base via hit or walk in 18 straight games. Also, reliever Mayckol Guaipe has not allowed a run in his last six appearances, covering ten innings pitched.

Look Out For: The Vegas bats just went cold during a four-game series at pitcher-friendly Raley Field, but outfielder Darrell Ceciliani has a six-game hitting streak during which he has gone 11-for-23.

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:

That’s all of the links I could get to today – posted this from a very busy Sky Harbor Airport, where the internet is spotty.


Rainiers Killed By Deadline

July 30, 2015

OK, I’ll be the first to admit that headline might be a little extreme but Tacoma took a loss last night which may have been directly a result of the trade deadline.

The Rainiers went into last night’s game on a five-game win streak, and they were facing left-hander Robbie Erlin who they had pounded twice previously this season. Things looked good.

But prior to the game, due to Mariners trade deadline moves and injuries on the big league club, both Jesus Montero and Ketel Marte were ordered out of the lineup by Seattle.

Additionally, slugger Jabari Blash – a guy who really wanted to face Erlin, who leads the PCL in home runs allowed – was on a mandated rest day after leaving Wednesday’s game with a head injury.

So Tacoma went into the game without three of its best hitters, and no available players on the bench.

Then it got worse. Scheduled starting pitcher Forrest Snow was scratched due to back spasms. It was going to be a bullpen day, with reliever Edgar Olmos getting the start.

The bullpen ended up pitching quite well – especially Olmos, who exceeded all expectations by pitching four shutout innings in his first start since 2012. But the offense managed just five hits and Tacoma took the loss, 5-1.

All throughout, I couldn’t help but wonder what may have been different if Montero, Marte, and Blash got to face Erlin.

But, that’s life in Triple-A. Sometimes your team’s lineup is amazing for a week, and one or two major league moves later you are struggling to get hits. It changes quickly, and the peaks and valleys take some time to get used to.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Missing three of its best hitters, Tacoma managed just five hits in a 5-1 loss to El Paso. The five-game win streak came to an end.

Roster Moves: The Mariners optioned Chris Taylor to Tacoma, and I’ve heard that newly acquired outfielder Ramon Flores is showing some hustle and is going to report to the Rainiers today. The Mariners have at least two major league roster spots to fill, pending trade activity – I expect them to announce all of the moves after the trade deadline expires at 1:00 (Pacific).

Today: Tacoma (51-55) at El Paso (55-50), 6:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.

Season Series: El Paso leads, 8-7.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Jordan Pries (5-3, 5.48) at RHP Bryan Rodriguez (1-1, 9.39).

Hot Rainiers: John Hicks is heating up. He’s hit safely in six straight games, going 11-for-20 during that time. Also, reliever Mayckol Guaipe has not allowed a run in his last six appearances, covering ten innings pitched.

Look Out For: Outfielder Travis Jankowski is 15-for-28 since being promoted from Double-A San Antonio – he hit .316 there in 73 games. Jason Hagerty has a nine-game hitting streak, and Tommy Medica is batting .325 in July after a rough first three months of the season, but neither has appeared in this series yet.

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:

Two hours to the trade deadline – I hope I don’t get moved!


Rainiers Outlast Rain And Chihuahuas

July 30, 2015

Forced into an unexpected bullpen day due to an hour-and-a-half rain delay in the middle of the third inning, four Tacoma relievers combined to toss seven scoreless innings in a 5-1 win at El Paso on Wednesday night.

Logan Kensing, Mayckol Guaipe, J.C. Ramirez, and Tyler Olson: take a bow.

Offensively, Jesus Montero went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBI (note: there was a scoring change after the game, which cost Montero a hit and an RBI – we originally had him at 4-for-5, 3 RBI). Justin Ruggiano hit another home run, and D.J. Peterson went 2-for-4 in his Triple-A debut.

The win didn’t come without a cost: Jabari Blash left the game with a head injury, and he is day-to-day for now.

Blash made a diving attempt at a pop fly flare down the right field line, while second baseman Leury Bonilla attempted a running catch. Bonilla’s right knee hit Blash’s head, and both players went down. Bonilla was able to remain in the game, but Blash did not. Blash walked off the field under his own power but appeared somewhat dazed.

Blash was 0-for-3 in the game, ending his streak of four straight games with a home run. Hopefully he’s feeling a lot better today.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The bullpen was brilliant as four Tacoma relievers tossed seven scoreless innings in a 5-1 win at El Paso.

Today: Tacoma (51-54) at El Paso (54-50), 6:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.

Season Series: Tied, 7-7.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Forrest Snow (7-7, 3.61) at LHP Robbie Erlin (5-5, 6.19).

Former Rainiers and Mariners (and Cal Bears) pitcher Brandon Morrow was supposed to make a rehab start for El Paso, but he was scratched with shoulder soreness. Get healthy, Brandon!

Hot Rainiers: Jesus Montero is 17-for-36 with six walks since returning from Seattle, and he has a six-game hitting streak. Justin Ruggiano has hit three homers over the last two games. Six of his eight PCL home runs have come against El Paso, and one of his two big league home runs came against El Paso’s parent club, the Padres.

Look Out For: Will Middlebrooks is 5-for-9 in the first two games of the series, and he has a first-inning RBI in five of the last six games. Outfielder Travis Jankowski is 13-for-24 since being promoted from Double-A San Antonio. Jason Hagerty has a nine-game hitting streak, and Tommy Medica is batting .325 in July after a rough first three months of the season, but neither has appeared in this series yet.

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:

Let’s go for six!


Rainiers Blash-Out Another Win, Change Lineup

July 29, 2015

Tacoma hit four home runs – all two-run shots – and coasted to a 9-4 series-opening win at El Paso on Tuesday night.

Jabari Blash hit a towering two-run homer in the third inning, giving him four straight games with a homer. I’m sure he’ll be in the lineup tonight.

Justin Ruggiano hit two two-run homers: one to dead center, and another opposite-field shot down the right field line.

Stefen Romero also hit a homer, and his also went to the opposite field.

Tacoma has won four straight games, scoring 40 runs on 50 hits during the streak. So, time to change the lineup, right?

Early this morning D.J. Peterson tweeted that he is on his way to joining the Rainiers today. Zach Shank has been transferred back to Jackson to make room on the Rainiers roster.

Peterson was considered a top prospect in the Mariners system prior to the season, but he struggled mightily in both spring training and at Double-A Jackson. He hit .223 with seven home runs and 44 RBI in 358 at-bats in the Southern League, with 31 walks and 90 strikeouts. He had 19 doubles and two triples; his OPS was .636.

Peterson had been hitting a little better recently, batting .259 with three homers in 29 games since the Southern League all-star break.

It appears that Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik is hoping a change of scenery will cause Peterson’s bat to awaken, and the thought isn’t unprecedented.

Two players in the PCL are surging right now despite putting up pedestrian numbers in the lower levels. Both at one time had pedigree as top prospects, and a bump to Triple-A has triggered success.

Reno’s Brandon Drury hit .278 but with just three homers and 11 walks for a .306 on-base percentage during the first half at Double-A Mobile. The Diamondbacks promoted him to Reno in mid-June and the light turned on: he’s hit .325 with a .378 OBP and has 13 doubles in his first 32 Triple-A games.

Another, more extreme example is Salt Lake’s Kaleb Cowart. Cowart played two full seasons in the Double-A Texas League, batting .221-6-42 in 2013 and .223-6-54 in 2014 for Arkansas. This year the Angels sent him down to Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, and even in the high-scoring California League he batted just .242 with two homers in 51 games. Apparently the Angels shrugged their shoulders and said “what the heck,” and pushed their former first round draft pick to Triple-A. All Cowart has done in his first 43 games for Salt Lake is hit .329 with four homers and 35 RBI, with a .922 OPS.

The Mariners are hoping for a similar improvement from Peterson. I’m sure it is no coincidence that Peterson was moved up while the Rainiers are starting a road trip through great hitter’s ballparks in El Paso and Las Vegas.

Peterson plays first and third base, so look for Tacoma manager Pat Listach to move him from corner to corner.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers continued their physical assault on baseballs, hitting four home runs in a 9-4 win at El Paso. That ended El Paso’s seven-game winning streak.

Roster Move: Tacoma adds 3B/1B D.J. Peterson from Double-A Jackson, and infielder Zach Shank was transferred back to Jackson.

Today: Tacoma (50-54) at El Paso (54-49), 6:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.

Season Series: El Paso leads, 7-6.

Starting Pitchers: LHP James Gillheeney (1-2, 9.64) at RHP Colin Rea (2-0, 4.86).

Hot Rainiers: Jabari Blash has homered in four straight games; he’s hitting .280-6-15 in 13 games since being promoted from Jackson. Jesus Montero is 14-for-31 with six walks since returning from Seattle, he hit his sixth triple of the season to tie James Jones for the team lead last night.

Look Out For: Outfielder Rymer Liriano had three hits yesterday. Infielder Will Middlebrooks went 2-for-4 yesterday, he’s trying to get back on track after hitting .212 in 83 games for the Padres. Jason Hagerty has a nine-game hitting streak, and Tommy Medica is batting .325 in July after a rough first three months of the season.  

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:

Should be interesting tonight!


Rainiers Hit Road After Wild & Weird Win

July 27, 2015

The Rainiers won what surely will go down as the weirdest game of the year on Monday, and sadly due to a brutal PCL travel day today I do not have time to do a proper post on it.

Here’s the short version:

Tacoma ripped the ball early and had an 8-3 lead after two innings. Then the pitching sharpened up and Tacoma took a 9-3 lead into the seventh inning.

Fresno stunned the Rainiers with a seven-run seventh inning. The inning opened with five straight hits in rapid succession, and later Tony Kemp‘s two-run triple past a diving Jabari Blash gave Fresno a 10-9 lead.

That was the score in the bottom of the eighth when Tacoma put runners at second and third with two outs and Justin Ruggiano at the plate. Fresno reliever James Hoyt uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Zach Shank with the tying run and moving Ketel Marte to third base.

Since the count was 3-0 on Ruggiano, Fresno decided to intentionally throw ball four and go after the next hitter instead. Except… Hoyt threw a wild intentional ball over the head of the catcher and to the backstop, allowing Marte to score the go-ahead run.

Things got even weirder in the ninth inning, when Tacoma brought in Tony Zych to close it out. Turns out he wasn’t listed on the lineup card exchanged at home plate before the game, and Fresno wanted him disallowed. The umpires huddled up, and eventually crew chief Adam Schwarz called the league president to get a ruling.

So we had a five minute break while Schwarz was on the phone, and eventually the league ruled that since Zych was on the official roster for the game, he could play. Fresno manager Tony DeFrancesco announced he was playing the game under protest.

Zych pitched a scoreless ninth, the Rainiers won 11-10, and after the game the Fresno Grizzlies announced that they dropped the protest and it was all over.

So Tacoma took 3-of-4 from Fresno and carries a three-game winning streak into the road trip.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: John Hicks hit a three run homer, Jabari Blash went deep for the third straight game, and the Rainiers survived when things got weird in an 11-10 win over Fresno at Cheney Stadium.

Roster Move: Tacoma made a change in the bullpen, signing reliever J.C. Ramirez who had been with Reno, and sending Andrew Kittredge to Double-A Jackson. Ramirez was 0-1 with a 2.88 ERA in 23 games for Reno; he also pitched in 12 games for Arizona in May and early June, going 1-1, 4.11. Ramirez was originally signed by the Mariners out of Nicaragua and then traded when he was in A-ball as part of the package to acquire Cliff Lee.

Today: Tacoma (48-54) at El Paso (54-48), 6:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.

Season Series: El Paso leads, 7-5.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (0-2, 7.20) at RHP Daniel McCutchen (6-5, 4.01).

Hot Rainiers: Jabari Blash has homered in three straight games; he’s hitting .289-5-13 in 12 games since being promoted from Jackson. Jesus Montero is 11-for-27 with five walks since returning from Seattle. Ketel Marte went 4-for-5 with two doubles and a triple on Monday.

Look Out For: The Chihuahuas as a whole. El Paso has won seven straight games and is 9-3 since the all-star break, and get this: they did that on a 12-game road trip. Tonight is their first home game since before the break.

As for hot hitters, Alex Dickerson went 4-for-5 yesterday and is 11-for-21 in his last five games, Jason Hagerty has a nine-game hitting streak, and Tommy Medica is batting .325 in July after a rough first three months of the season.  

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:

It was a long travel day today, and I don’t have time for the PCL links. But, want to note quickly that Sacramento swept a doubleheader at Albuquerque 10-0 and 10-1 yesterday, with PCL home run leader Adam Duvall going deep in both contests to raise his total to 25 on the year.


Early Game Today!

July 26, 2015

The Rainiers close out their longest homestand of the season this morning, and they hope to finish it off with some momentum.

After a rough stretch which saw 11 losses in 13 games, the Rainiers have notched back-to-back wins against division leading Fresno. A three-game win streak to finish the homestand would be very beneficial going into the eight-game road trip which starts on Tuesday in El Paso.

The key to these two wins is simple: the bats have come alive. The lineup is back in place, with Jesus Montero, Stefen Romero, Justin Ruggiano, and the apparently much-improved Jabari Blash anchoring the middle of the order.

Along with the shaking-off-the-rust Ketel Marte, the group seems to be gelling now. The team has scored 20 runs on 24 hits the last two days. I am curious to see if they can keep up the ferocious offensive attack on Monday.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Jabari Blash snapped a 5-5 tie with a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning, Tacoma scored five more runs and beat Fresno on Sunday afternoon, 12-5.

Today: Fresno (58-44) at Tacoma (48-54), 11:35 AM.

Opponent Affiliation: Houston Astros.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 9-6.

The Rainiers have clinched the 16-game season series against Fresno, which is not unusual. Tacoma has won or tied the season series against Fresno in all but two years since the Grizzlies joined the league in 1998, and Tacoma is 142-112 all-time against Fresno.

The weird thing is that this year Fresno is actually really good (they usually aren’t), and Tacoma has still beat them in the season series.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Brady Rodgers (8-5, 4.26) at LHP Roenis Elias (3-0, 6.14).

Hot Rainiers: Jabari Blash has hit the go-ahead homer in back-to-back games. He has four homers and 11 RBI in 11 games since being promoted from Jackson. Jesus Montero is 10-for-25 (.400) since returning from Seattle.

Look Out For: Tyler White has a 13-game hitting streak. Joe Sclafani has hit safely in ten straight games. Matt Duffy has reached base safely in 23 straight games; he’s also homered twice during a eight-game hitting streak.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 11:20 (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:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • Franklin Gutierrez hit a walk-off homer and the Mariners beat Toronto on Sunday, 6-5. Click on this one for Elaine Thompson’s terrific photo of Guti getting “doused” by a bucket of… individually wrapped Double-Bubbles?
  • The Mariners turned a triple play yesterday. We have a video and series of photos from SB Nation, and a story from MLB.com detailing the play with quotes from players involved. This seems like a good time to mention that Tacoma hasn’t turned a triple play since 1995 and we are overdue.
  • The News Tribune’s Mariners Notebook details the triple play and has some additional items.
  • University of Washington baseball product Jake Lamb comes to Seattle with his Arizona Diamondbacks this week, and Larry Stone caught up with him.
  • Much of the Hall Of Fame ceremony coverage in our area has deservedly focused on former Mariners pitcher Randy Johnson. For another view, check out Jeff Passan’s article on Pedro Martinez‘s speech.
  • In the PCL, El Paso keeps pressuring first place Las Vegas in the Pacific-South. The Chihuahuas won their sixth in a row – this time on a tenth inning three-run homer by Tim Federowicz to beat Salt Lake, 6-3.
  • Las Vegas, however, remained 4.5 games ahead of El Paso. The 51s throttled Reno, 15-9. A nine-run inning pretty much settled things.
  • Sacramento at Albuquerque was thunderstormed out – they are playing two today.
  • Aaron Brooks pitched Omaha to its seventh straight win, a 3-1 decision over visiting Colorado Springs. Two of Omaha’s top pitchers were traded to the Reds – but they see opportunity in the change of scenery.
  • Oklahoma City held on for a 4-2 win at Round Rock, and remained five games ahead of Omaha in the American-North.
  • Iowa lost at Memphis on Greg Garcia‘s walk-off two-run double, as Brian Schlitter blew the save.
  • New Orleans won its fourth in a row, a 9-6 road victory at Nashville. I’m more impressed that the Zephyrs stole a base for the second time in their last 32 games.

I will update the round-up, but we may not have much in the way of links for you on Tuesday. The wake-up call is at 2:45 AM for the team’s travel to El Paso, and we don’t even arrive there until afternoon. El Paso has a great ballpark and vibrant fanbase, but it is by far the toughest city for Tacoma to get to in the entire PCL.


Blash Blast Gives Rainiers Win In Thriller

July 26, 2015

We had some late-game dramatics last night, as Tacoma beat Fresno 8-7.

First, we got to see highly regarded pitching prospect Mark Appel work for Fresno, and he was very solid. Sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball, Appel limited Tacoma to one run in  over six innings.

Tacoma trailed 5-2 going to the bottom of the eighth inning, when the bats came to life and Tacoma scored five runs. Leury Bonilla had an RBI single, Ketel Marte a two-run single to tie the game, and Jesus Montero a go-ahead two-run double.

The lead was short-lived. Fresno rallied to score two runs in the top of the ninth inning, making it 7-7. A sac fly by Nolan Fontana evened the score.

Jabari Blash led off the bottom of the ninth inning against Fresno’s all-star reliever Tyson Perez.

Blash had a really good at-bat, laying off breaking balls down low and working a full count.

On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Blash lifted a deep fly to left field just did have enough to carry over the wall for a game-ending home run.

It was a dramatic finish to a thrilling game, and the Rainiers got a needed win.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Jabari Blash led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a homer to left, capping a wild finish that gave Tacoma an 8-7 win over visiting Fresno.

Today: Fresno (58-43) at Tacoma (47-54), 1:35.

Opponent Affiliation: Houston Astros.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 8-6.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Brett Oberholtzer (3-2, 4.56) at RHP Jordan Pries (4-3, 5.43).

Hot Rainiers: Jesus Montero had three hits and four RBI last night – he’s 8-for-20 since returning from Seattle. Jabari Blash has three homers and nine RBI in ten games since being promoted from Jackson.

Look Out For: Tyler White has a 12-game hitting streak. Joe Sclafani has hit safely in nine straight games for Fresno, with a pair of three-hit games during the streak. Matt Duffy has reached base safely in 22 straight games; he’s also homered twice during a seven-game hitting streak.

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, which means that Bob Robertson will join me in the broadcast booth.

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

Links:

The 12-game homestand is winding down – it ends with an early 11:35 AM game on Monday.


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