Inter-Conference Play Starts In Iowa

May 20, 2015

The Rainiers open an eight-game road trip in Des Moines, Iowa today, facing the Iowa Cubs at 4:35 (Pacific). It will be a four-game series at Iowa, followed by four games in Omaha.

This road trip is the start of a 16-game portion of the schedule in which the Rainiers play teams from the American Conference. Each series will mark the only time Tacoma faces that opponent this season.

The Iowa series is a return for Tacoma manager Pat Listach, who served as a hitting coach and manager for the I-Cubs for six years.

The Rainiers had a roster shake-up on the off-day: the trade for major league catcher Welington Castillo meant that Jesus Sucre was optioned to Tacoma… and that meant that Rainiers back-up catcher John Baker was released. I’ll miss Baker, who is an interesting and outgoing personality.

Also, the Mariners are taking a flier on veteran reliever Kevin Gregg, who they signed to a minor league contract. He was recently let go by the Reds – here are his career stats.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The entire PCL was off on Wednesday. In the Rainiers last game on Tuesday, they were shut out by Duane Below and Las Vegas, 2-0. It was Below’s first career complete game and shutout.

Roster Moves: The Mariners optioned catcher Jesus Sucre to Tacoma, and released catcher John Baker. Reliever Rafael Pineda was sent back to Class-A Bakersfield, and Tacoma is adding major league veteran Kevin Gregg to the bullpen. Gregg was recently released by Cincinnati after going 0-2, 10.13 in 11 major league games. Also the Mariners announced they activated LHP Edgar Olmos from the disabled list and optioned him to Tacoma, but it is unclear when he will report (the Rainiers will need to open a roster spot for him).

Today: Tacoma (17-23) at Iowa (19-19), 4:35 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Iowa is the Chicago Cubs affiliate.

Season Series: Today is the first game.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Mike Montgomery (3-3, 3.73) at RHP Felipe Paulino (—)

Montgomery is looking to bounce back from his first rough outing caused by control issues: he walked a total of seven batters over his first six starts, and then issued five walks in 4.1 innings last time out. Still, he’s turned in a Quality Start in five of his seven games.

Paulino is a 31-year-old major league veteran who is making his first appearance of the season. The Red Sox released him in spring training and the Cubs decided to give him a look.

Hot Rainiers: Ketel Marte is tied for the PCL lead with a .346 batting average and his 55 hits tops the circuit. Reliever Mayckol Guaipe earned the save yesterday; he has allowed one run in his last 13 innings.

Look Out For: Power-hitting infielder Javier Baez is warming up at the plate, going 13-for-32 (.406) over his last nine games. Taylor Davis has gone doubles-crazy, hitting five of them in his last two games.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 4:20 (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’ll start with the game story on the Rainiers 2-0 loss to Las Vegas on Tuesday.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook is packed full of items of interest to Tacoma fans today, including Austin Jackson‘s timetable.
  • Roenis Elias tossed a gem as the Mariners topped Baltimore on Wednesday night.
  • The Mariners have pulled struggling top prospect Alex Jackson off the field due to a shoulder problem. Ryan Divish has the full report.
  • Albuquerque catcher Ryan Casteel is the subject of much joking among his teammates.
  • On Tuesday Round Rock’s doubleheader at Colorado Springs was rained out. They only meet for one more series, so it will be six games in four days at Round Rock in August – and Colorado Springs loses two scheduled home games.
  • Late Show host David Letterman retired. Here are his Top Ten Baseball moments. Now he’ll have time to see his favorite minor league team play.

Long travel day today – will be interesting to see how the team responds. Iowa, by the way, hasn’t played since Monday.


Tacoma Tops Vegas for 4,000th Win

May 19, 2015

The Rainiers had excellent relief pitching from Logan Bawcom and Mayckol Guaipe, who protected a one-run lead over the final three innings in a 5-4 win over Las Vegas on Monday evening.

It was the 4,000th win in Tacoma franchise history, dating back to the construction of Cheney Stadium and the arrival of Triple-A baseball in 1960.

And while we’re bragging, let’s note that Tacoma reached 4,000 wins before it reached 4,000 losses. The loss counter has been stuck at 3,981 for the last two days.

This is the 56th season of Triple-A baseball in Tacoma. We’ll probably get to 5,000 wins in 2028 or 2029. See you there?

Medina Traded

Early this morning the Mariners traded Tacoma relief Pitcher Yoervis Medina to the Chicago Cubs for catcher Welington Castillo.

Medina had been pitching well for Tacoma since being optioned to Triple-A in early May. He allowed just one hit and one run in 5.2 innings, earning a win and a save in four games.

Castillo has had a disappointing start to his season in Chicago. Relegated to a back-up role after the Cubs added Miguel Montero during the winter, Castillo has just 43 at-bats so far. He’s hitting .163 with two homers.

Last year Castillo hit .237 with 13 home runs in 380 at-bats, and in 2013 he batted .274 with eight homers in the same number of ABs. Castillo, 28, is a lifetime 256/324/400 hitter in the majors.

Early reports indicate that Castillo will join the Mariners and someone will be sent to Tacoma in order to open a spot for him.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma scored five runs with two outs in the bottom of the third inning, and that was enough for a 5-4 win over Las Vegas. Ketel Marte hit a three-run homer and Jesus Montero had a two-run blast.

Today: Las Vegas (25-14) at Tacoma (17-22) 11:35 AM.

Opponent Affiliation: Las Vegas is the New York Mets affiliate.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 2-1.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Duane Below (2-2, 3.47) at RHP Forrest Snow (1-3, 3.29)

It’s pronounced BEE-low, which is kind of a bummer.

Hot Rainiers: Ketel Marte hit another home run yesterday, making it two straight games (and he has hit a homer from each side of the plate). Marte leads the PCL with a .348 batting average and his 54 hits tops the circuit. Reliever Mayckol Guaipe earned the save yesterday; he has allowed one run in his last 13 innings.

Look Out For: Las Vegas. The 51s have not lost a series yet this season, but the Rainiers have ’em on the ropes.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 11:20 AM (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.
  • Bob Dutton has more on the trade the Mariners made this morning.
  • Here’s a nice feature on Double-A Jackson’s Dario Pizzano, who had his 25-game hitting streak snapped on Sunday.
  • Brad Miller has been on a roll and won the AL Player of the Week award.
  • Larry Stone writes that Dustin Ackley needs a change of scenery.
  • John McGrath writes James Paxton appears to have turned a corner, and that perhaps Brad Miller should hit leadoff.
  • Former Rainiers outfielder Adam Jones is cutting down his strikeouts.
  • In the PCL, Albuquerque had one of those days: the starting pitcher got scratched, his replacement injured his leg after eight pitches and had to leave the game, and Sacramento battered the rest of the pitching staff for a 12-5 win.
  • Reno scored eight runs in the fourth inning to take a 9-2 lead at El Paso – and then saw the Chihuahuas score six in the bottom of the inning, and then seven more in the sixth inning. The Chee-Wahs won it, 15-9.
  • Salt Lake slowed down Reno, claiming two victories yesterday.
  • New Orleans starter Jose Urena improved to 4-0, 1.21 after downing Nashville, 4-1.
  • Ty Kelly homered for Memphis in a 5-1 win against Omaha. Omaha is struggling to score runs.
  • Funny stuff from Oklahoma City Dodgers manager Damon Berryhill in this story about a 3-2 loss to Iowa. Apparently Iowa’s Taylor Davis is red-hot – the Rainiers play Iowa next, on Thursday.
  • Colorado Springs would play baseball against Round Rock, if only it would stop raining.

Hey, our monthly day off is Wednesday – and I ain’t blogging. The next blog post will come on Thursday from the heart of America: Des Moines, Iowa.


Rainiers Take Down Vegas, 4-0.

May 18, 2015

The Rainiers evened the series with Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon, playing a well-rounded, clean game in a 4-0 win.

Austin Jackson continued his rehabilitation, playing seven innings in centerfield as scheduled. He’s supposed to DH today, then go back out to center in the day game on Tuesday (which is the last game of the homestand).

On another subject, make sure to read the Rainiers game story today if you want to learn more about the Rainiers impressive young infielder Ketel Marte.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Justin Germano, Lucas Luetge, and Mayckol Guaipe combined on a six-hit shutout as the Rainiers beat Las Vegas, 4-0. It was the fourth shutout of the season for the Tacoma pitching staff.

Today: Las Vegas (25-13) at Tacoma (16-22) 6:05 PM.

Opponent Affiliation: Las Vegas is the New York Mets affiliate.

Season Series: Tied, 1-1.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Darin Gorski (3-2, 5.63) at RHP Sam Gaviglio (2-3, 5.09)

Hot Rainiers: Ketel Marte hit his first home run of the season yesterday, part of a 1-for-3, two RBI game. Marte leads the PCL with a .349 batting average and his 53 hits tops the circuit. Reliever Mayckol Guaipe has allowed one run in his last 12 innings.

Look Out For: Las Vegas outfielder Kyle Johnson – a product of Washington State University – has gone 5-for-his-last-10 with a homer during that stretch, which includes a couple of pinch-hits.

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:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune includes lots of good stuff on Ketel Marte‘s development and what he needs to do to get to the big leagues.
  • James Paxton and the Mariners shut out the Red Sox yesterday, 5-0. The Mariners went 6-3 on the homestand and now go on a nine-game trip through the AL East.
  • Similar to Manny Mota, Christian Caple pinch-hit for Bob Dutton and put out today’s Mariners Notebook.
  • In the PCL, we finally found something that can stop red-hot Reno. Salt Lake and the Aces had their game suspended by rain with a 0-0 tie in the seventh inning.
  • Fresno topped El Paso in 11 innings, 2-1. After a terrific April, the C-Dogs have been struggling and are now just one game over .500.
  • David Hale pitched well but his Isotopes lost to Sacramento, 5-2.
  • Andy Wilkins played well and Ferguson Jenkins wore a cool shirt as the Oklahoma City Dodgers defeated Iowa, 7-5.
  • Omaha split a doubleheader at Memphis.
  • Round Rock split a doubleheader at Colorado Springs (we have a new record: 21 ‘woulds’).
  • Kendall Graveman laid the Zephyrs to rest in Nashville’s 6-2 win over New Orleans.

Debuts Go Well, Late Innings Go Bad

May 17, 2015

Tacoma lost the opening game of the series against Las Vegas on Saturday night at Cheney Stadium, 6-3 in ten innings.

The Rainiers took a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning, but Vegas scored once to tie it up. The 51s then rallied for three runs in the top of the tenth, showing us why they have a conference-best 25-12 record.

The good news for Tacoma was a couple of impressive Triple-A debuts by pitchers.

Starter Stephen Landazuri lasted six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and leaving the game with a one-run lead. He was an efficient strike-thrower in his first game at this level.

Reliever Tony Zych followed him and reached the upper 90s on the radar gun while delivering two scoreless innings. Acquired from the Cubs at the end of spring training for “cash considerations,” Zych has been impressive during his seven weeks in the Mariners system.

Both pitchers will be fun to follow over the course of the summer.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma let one slip away, blowing a 3-2 lead in the ninth before losing to Las Vegas in the tenth inning, 6-3.

Roster Moves: Yesterday the Rainiers placed Cam Hobson on the disabled list with tightness in his pitching arm. Relievers Tony Zych (from AA-Jackson) and Rafael Pineda (from Hi-A Bakersfield) were added to the roster. Austin Jackson started a rehab assignment and went 2-for-4.

Today: Las Vegas (25-12) at Tacoma (15-22) 1:35 PM.

Opponent Affiliation: Las Vegas is the New York Mets affiliate.

Season Series: Las Vegas leads, 1-0.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Matthew Bowman (2-3, 8.13) at RHP Justin Germano (2-1, 1.74)

Hot Rainiers: Stefen Romero was involved in all of the Tacoma offense yesterday, hitting a two-run homer in the first inning before doubling and scoring in the fourth. Romero had four homers in his last eight games. Reliever Mayckol Guaipe has allowed one run in his last 11 innings.

Look Out For: Las Vegas infielder Eric Campbell, who we highlighted here yesterday, was indeed called up by the Mets. Danny Muno has a five-game hitting streak; he doubled home the tying run in the ninth inning yesterday.

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. Bob Robertson joins me on the air today (as he does for every Sunday home game).

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

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune focuses on Austin Jackson‘s rehabilitation and Pat Listach‘s removal from the game.
  • My weekly Minor League Notebook for the paper looks at Double-A Jackson left fielder Dario Pizzano‘s 24-game hitting streak and Jon Singleton‘s slammin’ week in the PCL.
  • Felix Hernandez had a rare loss of control against the Red Sox last night. The King and the Panda are neighbors in Valencia, Venezuela.
  • Brad Miller‘s move to a super-sub role reminds John McGrath of a player from the past. also, McGrath submitted his MLB Power Rankings.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook indicates the team is uncertain how long Austin Jackson’s rehab is going to last.
  • Ryan Divish analyzed the MLB teams which are off to surprisingly good starts.
  • In the PCL, Reno blasted Salt Lake 11-1 in front of a sellout crowd. The Aces have won six in a row and nine of ten.
  • El Paso kept Jon Singleton out of the grand slam column, but Carlos Correa went 3-for-5 and Fresno beat the CheeWahs, 5-3.
  • John Lannan pitched well as Albuquerque defeated Sacramento, 6-4 (no online report available).
  • New Orleans outlasted Nashville in 18 innings, 7-5. Miguel Rojas hit a two-run triple in the top of the 18th for the Zephyrs.
  • Memphis starter Tim Cooney lost a no-hitter with two outs in the seventh when Omaha’s Casey Kotchman singled. Memphis settled for a one-hitter and a 5-0 win.
  • Round Rock shredded Colorado Springs, 10-4.
  • Oklahoma City pulled off a 1-0 win over Iowa on Austin Barnes‘ game-winning RBI in the bottom of the ninth. I couldn’t find a story on the game, but I did find one on the OKC Dodgers groundskeeper.
  • Lots of information about how the pace-of-play improvements are working so far can be found in this story from the Omaha paper. It includes details and opinion from the PCL league office.

Bonilla Pitches Well In Rainiers Loss

May 16, 2015

The Rainiers lost the game to Salt Lake on Friday night, but Tacoma may have had more fun.

With the game out of hand going to the eighth inning, Tacoma moved Leury Bonilla from third base to the mound, and the utility infielder proceeded to pitch two scoreless, no-hit innings.

It was the tenth career pitching performance for Bonilla, who has been used as a blowout pitcher throughout his career. He even got a win for the Rainiers once, pitching the top of the 14th inning against Colorado Springs in August of 2013, earning the ‘W’ when Tacoma scored in the bottom of the inning.

Now Tacoma welcomes the Las Vegas 51s to town for a four-game series which lasts through Tuesday.

Las Vegas is 24-12 and recently had a 14-game win streak, but they lost the last two games of their home series to Sacramento. Also, the Rainiers are fortunate to miss Vegas ace Steven Matz, who pitched last night so will be the one starter who does not go in this series.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Salt Lake’s Alfredo Marte lined a grand slam during a six-run fifth inning, helping the Bees to a 10-6 win over Tacoma. Salt Lake won the series, three games to one.

Today: Las Vegas (24-12) at Tacoma (15-21) 5:05 PM.

Opponent Affiliation: Las Vegas is the New York Mets affiliate.

Season Series: Today is the first meeting between the teams.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Tyler Pill (1-0, 6.43) at RHP Stephen Landazuri (–)

This is the Triple-A debut for Landazuri, who was promoted from Double-A Jackson when Jordan Pries was placed on the disabled list. Landazuri went 0-2 with a 4.61 ERA in six starts for Jackson.

Hot Rainiers: You do not want to mess with Leury Bonilla right now. He is 7-for-13 with two homers over his last four games, and he pitched two scoreless innings yesterday despite drilling two batters.

Look Out For: Las Vegas infielder Eric Campbell is one of those guys who falls into the category of “too good for Triple-A but hasn’t carved out a big league role yet, and still has options left so he gets sent down whenever the big league team needs to adjust its roster.” I know, that’s a long category name, but Campbell isn’t the only PCL player like this. He’s hitting .440 in 50 at-bats for Vegas.

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:

It’s our annual Salute To Armed Forces Night at Cheney Stadium tonight. See you there!


Rainiers Adjust Rotation, Split DH

May 15, 2015

Tacoma shook up the pitching plans and then split a doubleheader with the Salt Lake Bees on Thursday night.

The Rainiers started Forrest Snow in the first game, as planned, but decided to turn game two into a bullpen game instead of using starting rotation member Mike Montgomery.

Andrew Kittredge made the spot start in the second game, and he delivered four shutout innings to help the Rainiers get a 4-0 win.

Montgomery – and the rest of the starting rotation – was pushed back one day. He’ll pitch tonight.

There could be further rotation adjustments this week: Snow left yesterday’s game after four innings with back trouble. He didn’t look like his usual self during the four innings he did pitch, but he gutted through it and allowed just two runs on solo homers. At this point we don’t know if Snow will make his next start, which is scheduled for the Tuesday day game.

Tonight we have the final game of the Salt Lake series, and the Rainiers need a win to get a split of the four-gamer. It’s fireworks night so stick around for the postgame show!

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The two teams exchanged shutouts in the doubleheader on Thursday night. Salt Lake took the first game 2-0 behind left-hander Adam Wilk, who had Rainiers hitters mystified. Tacoma extracted its revenge in game two, claiming a 4-0 win. Surprise starter Andrew Kittredge delivered four shutout innings to lead the way.

Today: Salt Lake (14-20) at Tacoma (15-20) 7:05 PM.

Opponent Affiliation: Salt Lake is the LA Angels affiliate.

Season Series: Salt Lake leads, 4-3.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Nick Tropeano (1-1, 4.20) at LHP Mike Montgomery (3-2, 3.19)

At the risk of jinxing this into a 14-12 game, I’m excited by this pitching match-up. Tropeano led the PCL in ERA last year; he has a terrific change-up. Montgomery has been the Rainiers top starter so far. This could be a good duel tonight.

Hot Rainiers: Stefen Romero had a homer and a double in the second game. Romero has three homers in his last six games, and five homers so far this month.

Look Out For: Tacoma held Jett Bandy to an 0-for-3 last night, but still he is 11-for-21 with three HRs and 14 RBIs in his last six games.

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:


Rain Forces Doubleheader – Let’s Play Two

May 14, 2015

Last year we set a Rainiers-era record by having eight rainouts at Cheney Stadium. It was, in a word, gross.

I was hoping that this year we would flip it entirely and have zero home rainouts. When we survived the April homestand without even incurring a rain delay, I thought we might make it.

Nope.

We had out first rainout of the year last night, and it even came with a tease: after raining steadily all day, it trickled down to almost nothing at 5:30, and the grounds crew pulled the tarp and spent an hour preparing the field for the game.

Then at 6:30 another big rain cloud appeared, the radar outlook turned bleak, and the field was covered and it started raining hard. That was that.

So, we’re playing a doubleheader today at 6:05. It will be two seven-inning games, per Minor League Baseball rules. One ticket gets you in to both, and there will be about a 25-minute break between games. And it’s Thirsty Thursday, too.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: We got rained out. On Tuesday, Jett Bandy continued his torrid streak for Salt Lake, homering twice including the go-ahead three-run blast in the eighth inning as the Bees beat Tacoma, 4-3.Sam Gaviglio had a strong start for Tacoma and left with a 2-1 lead, but the bullpen could not hold on.

Today: Doubleheader: Salt Lake (13-19) at Tacoma (14-19) 6:05 PM.

Opponent Affiliation: Salt Lake is the LA Angels affiliate.

Season Series: Salt Lake leads, 3-2.

Starting Pitchers:

  • Game One: LHP Adam Wilk (1-2, 5.40) at RHP Forrest Snow (1-2, 3.09).
  • Game Two: RHP Zach Stewart (1-2, 3.79) at LHP Mike Montgomery (3-2, 3.19)

Hot Rainiers: John Hicks hit another homer on Tuesday night. He has homered in three of the last four games, including back-to-back outings. These are his first three homers of the season.

Look Out For: Catcher Jett Bandy is on a crazy tear over his last five games, going 11-for-18 with three HRs and 14 RBIs.

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:


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