Rainiers Need Offense To Get Going

June 20, 2017

The Rainiers close out the four-game home series against Salt Lake tonight, and the team needs to find some offense.

Sure, Hisashi Iwakuma wasn’t very sharp in his rehab start last night – though he wasn’t very lucky, either. He allowed a solo homer in the first inning, but the real trouble started in the second.

Iwakuma walked the leadoff man, allowed an infield single on a weak ground ball, and then walked another batter to load the bases. A bloop single to left brought in two runs, a bunt single re-loaded the bases, then an error on a grounder to third scored another run. All told, three runs scored in the second inning without any hard-hit balls.

Because he threw 32 pitches in the inning, Iwakuma was pulled short of his expected allotment of 70 pitches. As of right now, we’re not sure what the next step is for him. Tacoma will be on the road in Reno this weekend when his next start would come around.

Offensively, things continue to look grim for the Rainiers.

Tacoma has not scored more than three runs in any of the last five games, and have a total of just 12 runs during that time. They were recently held to three runs or fewer in three out of four games in the hitter’s haven of El Paso. That 9-0 win over Las Vegas on June 9 feels like it was a long time ago.

Tacoma needs a win tonight to salvage a split of the series. Hopefully the bats will come alive.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Hisashi Iwakuma‘s control briefly deserted him in the second inning, and then he got nickle-and-dimed for three cheap hits and three runs in his first rehabilitation start for Tacoma. The Rainiers went on to lose, 6-3.

Today: Salt Lake (39-32) at Tacoma (36-33), 6:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Season Series: Salt Lake leads, 4-3.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Daniel Wright (2-2, 7.43) at RHP Chase De Jong (2-3, 4.32).

Hot Rainiers: Andrew Aplin has six RBI over his last seven games… Tuffy Gosewisch is 9-for-24 with five doubles over his last eight games… Zach Shank has reached base in ten straight games.

Look Out For: Cesar Puello has hit safely in 11 of his last 13 games… Michael Bourn is a two-time major league all-star and Gold Glove award winner… Jefry Marte snapped a 3-for-34 slump by hitting two solo homers last night.

Ex-Rainiers and Local Guys: Ex-Rainiers and Mariners infielder/outfielder Dustin Ackley is playing for Salt Lake this year. Bees outfielder Ramon Flores was with Tacoma in August of 2015. And the Bees have added ex-Rainiers and Mariners starting pitcher Doug Fister, but he is not scheduled to pitch in this series.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:50 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.

Triple-A All-Star Game: We’re hosting it at Cheney Stadium on July 12, and fan balloting is live now – go here and vote for who you want to see.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

The Rainiers are off on Wednesday – and so is the blog. We’ll have a new post for you on Thursday afternoon, from Reno.


Iwakuma Pitches For Tacoma Tonight

June 19, 2017

Injured Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma is set to make a rehabilitation start for the Tacoma Rainiers tonight at 6:05.

Iwakuma was placed on the Mariners disabled list on May 7 with a strained lat. He was 0-2, 4.35 in six starts for the Mariners to start the season.

This is Iwakuma’s second rehab outing. He pitched four scoreless innings for Class-A Modesto on Wednesday, throwing 43 pitches.

He’ll likely be bumped up to 60-65 pitches tonight.

Tacoma’s last two wins both came with a major leaguer (Felix Hernandez) on the mound, so maybe Iwakuma can bring home a victory tonight.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Boog Powell hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to put Tacoma ahead 3-1, but Salt Lake rallied late and beat the Rainiers, 4-3. Tacoma starter Casey Lawrence pitched six no-hit innings, but Cesar Puello broke up a combined no-hit bid with a homer off Cody Martin in the seventh.

Roster Move: The San Diego Padres claimed Dillon Overton off waivers, and optioned him to El Paso.

Today: Salt Lake (38-32) at Tacoma (36-32), 6:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Season Series: Tied, 3-3.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Parker Bridwell (2-3, 4.28) at RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (-).

Hot Rainiers: Andrew Aplin has six RBI over his last seven games… Tuffy Gosewisch is 7-for-21 with four doubles over his last seven games… Zach Shank has reached base in nine straight games.

Look Out For: Cesar Puello had two hits and a homer yesterday; he’s hit safely in 11 of his last 13 games… Michael Bourn, a two-time major league all-star and Gold Glove award winner, has a three-game hitting streak.

Ex-Rainiers and Local Guys: Ex-Rainiers and Mariners infielder/outfielder Dustin Ackley is playing for Salt Lake this year. Bees outfielder Ramon Flores was with Tacoma in August of 2015. And the Bees have added ex-Rainiers and Mariners starting pitcher Doug Fister, but he is not scheduled to pitch in this series.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:50 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.

Triple-A All-Star Game: We’re hosting it at Cheney Stadium on July 12, and fan balloting is live now – go here and vote for who you want to see.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

  • Hmmm. Reno moved Ketel Marte to center field, and he homered and reached base four times in the Aces 7-3 win over Las Vegas.
  • Joan Gregorio and Michael Roth combined to pitch a shutout in Sacramento’s 1-0 win over Albuquerque.
  • El Paso hammered Fresno, 11-5, as both Ryan Schimpf and Jabari Blash had four hits and a homer.
  • Everyone got in on the offense as Iowa blasted Omaha, 16-3.
  • Memphis won at Round Rock, 7-3, and the Statesman has a feature on Express outfielder Drew Stubbs.
  • Michael Blazek pitched into the eighth inning as Colorado Springs took down Oklahoma City, 5-2. The series between American-North division contenders is tied, 1-1.
  • A doubleheader between New Orleans and Nashville was rained out. Nashville is now set to play three consecutive doubleheaders, with a day off in between on Wednesday.

Felix Serves As Rainiers Stopper

June 18, 2017

Consider all of those times over the years that the Seattle Mariners have had been struggling, stringing together losses, and they have turned to Felix Hernandez to stop the losing skid.

The Rainiers found themselves in the same position on Saturday, taking a four-game losing streak into last night’s game.

Felix delivered in his third and likely final rehabilitation start for Tacoma, pitching six scoreless innings in a 2-0 Rainiers win.

Hernandez allowed just four hits – all singles – and didn’t walk anybody. He struck out eight, and threw 57 of his 87 pitches for strikes.

It’s nice to be able to turn to a six-time all-star and former Cy Young Award winner when you need to stop a losing streak.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Felix Hernandez and four relievers combined on a four-hit shutout and the Rainiers beat Salt Lake, 2-0. It was the 11th shutout pitched by Tacoma this year. Zach Shank paced the offense with two doubles and an RBI.

Roster Moves: Yesterday pitchers Kyle Hunter was transferred to Double-A Arkansas, and the Mariners claimed right-handed reliever Pat Light off waivers from Pittsburgh. Light and Chase De Jong are expected to report on Monday. The Mariners called up pitcher Rob Whalen prior to Saturday’s game, he pitched two scoreless innings, and today they optioned him to Double-A. Seattle has designated Dillon Overton for assignment and called up pitcher Max Povse from Arkansas.

Today: Salt Lake (37-32) at Tacoma (36-31), 1:35.

Opponent Affiliation: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 3-2.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Troy Scribner (7-2, 5.12) at RHP Casey Lawrence (0-0, 9.00).

Troy Scribner leads the PCL in wins, and he is the younger brother of injured Mariners reliever Evan Scribner. This is his first time facing Tacoma.

Hot Rainiers: Leonys Martin has a seven-game hitting streak, going 11-for-28 during it… Tuffy Gosewisch is 7-for-21 with four doubles over his last seven games… Jean Machi hasn’t allowed a run in is last ten appearances, spanning 12.1 innings pitched.

Look Out For: Salt Lake just went 6-5 on an 11-game homestand against Las Vegas (3-1), Albuquerque (1-2), and Reno (2-2)… the Bees signed former major league star Michael Bourn to fill the outfield gap when Eric Young Jr was called up to replace Mike Trout.

Ex-Rainiers and Local Guys: Ex-Rainiers and Mariners infielder/outfielder Dustin Ackley is playing for Salt Lake this year. Bees outfielder Ramon Flores was with Tacoma in August of 2015. And the Bees have added ex-Rainiers and Mariners starting pitcher Doug Fister, but he is not scheduled to pitch in this series.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 1:20 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 and he’ll call the middle innings.

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

Triple-A All-Star Game: We’re hosting it at Cheney Stadium on July 12, and fan balloting is live now – go here and vote for who you want to see.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:


Felix Welcomes Rainiers Home

June 16, 2017

The Rainiers return to Cheney Stadium for a 7:05 game on Saturday night against Salt Lake, with Felix Hernandez making what is hoped to be his final rehabilitation start for Tacoma. He is set to throw 85 pitches tonight.

While Felix has been hanging out in Seattle and working with Mariners training staff, the Rainiers are flying in from El Paso today and arriving shortly before game time.

It’s a long travel day. Quick blog and few links. Blame the PCL schedule makers. Sorry!

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: El Paso completed the four-game sweep with a 9-3 win over the Rainiers. The Chihuahuas scored five runs after there were two outs in the first, and two more in the second to take a 7-2 lead. Leonys Martin was a bright spot for Tacoma, going 3-for-5 with a homer.

Roster Moves: There will be a bunch today, as Tacoma adds three recently-optioned pitchers to the active roster. Emilio Pagan, Casey Lawrence, and Chase De Jong all report on Saturday – so roster space will have to be created. One spot will be created by placing right-handed reliever Ryan Kelly on the disabled list, with a left shoulder injury.

Today: Salt Lake (37-31) at Tacoma (35-31), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Season Series: Tied, 2-2.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Luis Diaz (1-3, 7.31) at RHP Felix Hernandez (1-0, 7.71).

Hot Rainiers: D.J. Peterson is 16-for-34 over his last ten games, with three homers, and he has reached base safely in 21 of his last 23 games… Leonys Martin has a six-game hitting streak, and he went 8-for-16 in the El Paso series.

Look Out For: Salt Lake just went 6-5 on an 11-game homestand against Las Vegas (3-1), Albuquerque (1-2), and Reno (2-2)… Kaleb Cowart, Cesar Puello, and Shane Robinson each have five-game hitting streaks… the Bees signed former major league star Michael Bourn to fill the outfield gap when Eric Young Jr was called up to replace Mike Trout.

Ex-Rainiers and Local Guys: Ex-Rainiers and Mariners infielder/outfielder Dustin Ackley is playing for Salt Lake this year. Bees outfielder Ramon Flores was with Tacoma in August of 2015. And the Bees have added ex-Rainiers and Mariners starting pitcher Doug Fister, but he is not scheduled to pitch in this series.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 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.

Triple-A All-Star Game: We’re hosting it at Cheney Stadium on July 12, and fan balloting is live now – go here and vote for who you want to see.

Links:


Rainiers Easing Beckham Back

June 16, 2017

Infielder Gordon Beckham was activated from the disabled list by Tacoma on Wednesday, but it’s going to be a little while before he is able to play full games.

The established major leaguer has been out since April 23 with a hamstring problem. He was sent to the Mariners complex in Peoria, Arizona to rest and rehabilitate the injury.

Now he’s back with Tacoma, but he is not yet in game shape. The Mariners medical staff has outlined a strict progression for how much he can play in games as he regains his strength.

For Beckham’s first game on Wednesday, Rainiers manager Pat Listach was instructed to start him at designated hitter and give him two at-bats.

Yesterday, Beckham was scheduled to play three innings at second base. Listach hit him in the No. 2 spot in the batting order, so he would (probably) get two plate appearances.

His playing time will be regimented like this for the next several days.

Normally this type of progression is done at the Arizona complex, in extended spring training games or Arizona Rookie League contests. But at this particular moment of the summer (between the draft and the start of the Arizona Rookie League on June 24) there are no games at the Peoria complex for Beckham to play limited innings in. As a result, he’ll ease into playing shape with Tacoma.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers couldn’t get the bats going, managing just five hits against Zach Lee and three El Paso relievers in a 5-1 loss.

Today: Tacoma (35-30) at El Paso (33-34), 6:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.

Season Series: El Paso leads, 6-5.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Dillon Overton (1-1, 8.22) at RHP Matt Magill (3-4, 4.11).

Hot Rainiers: D.J. Peterson is 15-for-31 over his last nine games, with three homers, and he has reached base safely in 20 of his last 22 games… Leonys Martin has a five-game hitting streak, and he is 5-for-11 in the El Paso series.

Look Out For: Former Rainiers outfielder Jabari Blash has hit six homers in his last eight games… Rafael Ortega has a 12-game hitting streak, and he belted a leadoff homer in the first inning Tuesday… Nick Buss has an eight-game hitting streak.

Ex-Rainiers and Local Guys: El Paso outfielder Jabari Blash and pitchers Logan Bawcom, Carter Capps, and Zach Lee are all former Rainiers… El Paso pitcher Adam Cimber graduated from Puyallup High School in 2009, and attended UW for three years before transferring to the University of San Francisco for his senior year.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:50 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.

Triple-A All-Star Game: We’re hosting it at Cheney Stadium on July 12, and fan balloting is live now – go here and vote for who you want to see.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

Tomorrow’s blog situation is… tenuous. We’re travelling all day – starting with a 3:00 AM wakeup call – and arriving just in time for the Felix Hernandez start at Cheney Stadium. I’ll at least try to get the Rainiers Round-Up posted, but that might be it.


All-Star Staffs Announced

June 15, 2017

The on-field personnel for the Triple-A All-Star Game was announced today, by the respective league offices. We’re hosting the game at Cheney Stadium on Wednesday, July 12.

Pacific Coast League:

  • Manager: Tony DeFrancesco, Fresno
  • Pitching Coach: Rick Rodriguez, Nashville
  • Hitting Coach: Jack Voigt, Las Vegas
  • Trainers: Tom Newberg and Ben Clawson, Tacoma

International League:

  • Manager: Al Pedrique, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
  • Pitching Coach: Jeff Fassero, Louisville
  • Hitting Coach: Jared Sandberg, Durham
  • Trainer: Larry Bennese, Rochester

We’ve got the winningest manager in modern PCL history leading the team, with a nod to the Sacramento dynasty of the 2000s by pairing DeFrancesco with Rich Rodriguez. That duo won six division titles and three PCL championships together while with Sacramento.

The IL staff has local connections. Pedrique, a former infielder, played for the Tacoma Tigers for the entire 1990 season. Fassero is a former Mariners pitcher (1997-1999). Sandberg is from Olympia and is a 1996 graduate of Capital High School.

And congratulations to the Tacoma athletic trainers, who will work the game. It’s Newberg’s second PCL All-Star nod.

Yesterday my guest on the radio pregame show was El Paso broadcaster Tim Hagerty, who doubles as a historian of wacky occurrences in minor league baseball.

After we recorded the interview, he told me about his most recent published story: a piece for the Hardball Times about a fly ball that never landed in a Double-A game in 1978.

Batter hits a fly ball, and it didn’t land. It just disappeared.

The players in the game never forgot it – including two Hall of Famers. The umpires met up and decided to call it a double. The ball was never found.

Read this bizarre tale right here.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers lost a tumultuous game in El Paso, scoring three runs in the top of the eighth inning to tie it 6-6, only to lose on Carlos Asuaje‘s two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth.

Roster Moves: Yesterday the Mariners called up Chase De Jong, and optioned Casey Lawrence to Tacoma (Lawrence will report Saturday). The Rainiers activated Gordon Beckham (hamstring) from the disabled list, and will be easing him back to full strength.

Today: Tacoma (35-29) at El Paso (32-34), 6:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.

Season Series: Tied, 5-5.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Andrew Moore (3-0, 2.79) at RHP Zach Lee (1-1, 6.05).

Hot Rainiers: D.J. Peterson is 15-for-29 over his last eight games, with three homers, and he has reached base safely in 19 of his last 21 games… Dan Vogelbach has reached base via hit or walk in 13 straight games… Leonys Martin has a four-game hitting streak.

Look Out For: Former Rainiers outfielder Jabari Blash has homered in four straight games for El Paso, driving in ten runs… Rafael Ortega has an 11-game hitting streak, and he belted a leadoff homer in the first inning Tuesday… Nick Buss has a seven-game hitting streak.

Ex-Rainiers and Local Guys: El Paso outfielder Jabari Blash and pitchers Logan Bawcom, Carter Capps, and Zach Lee are all former Rainiers… El Paso pitcher Adam Cimber graduated from Puyallup High School in 2009, and attended UW for three years before transferring to the University of San Francisco for his senior year.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:50 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.

Triple-A All-Star Game: We’re hosting it at Cheney Stadium on July 12, and fan balloting is live now – go here and vote for who you want to see.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

  • Reno scored four early runs and won in Salt Lake City, 5-3. The Aces have built a five-game lead over Tacoma in the Pac-North.
  • Fresh off a team meeting, Albuquerque took down Fresno, 7-3. In the story we learn that Fresno star Derek Fisher was dining at the Albuquerque Waffle House when he received news of his promotion. I think everyone in the PCL has eaten at that Waffle House. In fact, I wish I could go there right now.
  • Justin Ruggiano‘s three-run homer helped Sacramento win in Las Vegas, 5-4.
  • Oklahoma City’s Wilmer Font continues to pile up the strikeouts. The PCL leader had seven more K’s in a 10-3 win over Omaha on Wednesday.
  • Memphis – the “homer happy Redbirds” – hit six home runs in a 10-4 win over Colorado Springs at Autozone Park.
  • New Orleans scored five runs in the fifth inning and that was all the Baby Cakes needed to beat Round Rock, 5-3.
  • Nashville had homers from Matt Olson and Mark Canha in a 6-1 win over Iowa.

Rainiers Look To Even Score With Chihuahuas

June 14, 2017

Tacoma came out kind of flat in the series opener at El Paso, dropping a 3-1 decision on Tuesday night.

The pitching was very good, but the offense couldn’t get it going in one of the best hitting environments in the PCL.

Red-hot Rainiers infielder D.J. Peterson left the game after striking out in the top of the fourth inning, his second at-bat of the day. He felt a muscle tighten up and was removed from the game. It’s not thought to be serious and there is a chance he may be back in the lineup today.

Tacoma starts Tyler Cloyd in the second game of the series tonight. Cloyd has been terrific in four starts for Tacoma, posting a 1.10 ERA, but he hasn’t pitched much lately. He’s worked just one inning since May 28, in relief for Seattle on June 9. He should be raring to go tonight.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: We had a rare low-scoring game at El Paso’s Southwest University Park, with the Chihuahuas winning 3-1. Tacoma starter Rob Whalen pitched six innings and allowed three runs – and in El Paso, that’s a really good start and usually nets a win. But not yesterday. The Rainiers offense was shut down by El Paso’s Andre Rienzo.

Roster Moves: The Mariners will surely make a roster move to add pitching after yesterday’s 20-7 loss, so stay tuned.

Today: Tacoma (35-28) at El Paso (31-34), 6:05 (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: San Diego Padres.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 5-4.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Tyler Cloyd (1-0, 1.10) at RHP Bryan Rodriguez (1-4, 4.94).

Hot Rainiers: Tyler O’Neill saw his eight-game hitting streak end last night… D.J. Peterson is 13-for-26 over his last seven games, with three homers, and he has reached base safely in 18 of his last 20 games… Dan Vogelbach has reached base via hit or walk in 12 straight games.

Look Out For: Former Rainiers outfielder Jabari Blash has homered in three straight games for El Paso, driving in eight runs… Rafael Ortega has a ten-game hitting streak, and he belted a leadoff homer in the first inning yesterday… Rocky Gale and Nick Buss each have six-game hitting streaks.

Ex-Rainiers and Local Guys: El Paso outfielder Jabari Blash and pitchers Logan Bawcom, Carter Capps, and Zach Lee are all former Rainiers… El Paso pitcher Adam Cimber graduated from Puyallup High School in 2009, and attended UW for three years before transferring to the University of San Francisco for his senior year.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:50 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.

Triple-A All-Star Game: We’re hosting it at Cheney Stadium on July 12, and fan balloting is live now – go here and vote for who you want to see.

Links:

PCL Game Reports: