Felix Ready For Return

July 16, 2016

Felix Hernandez dominated like it was 2005 last night, delivering a strong rehabilitation start for the Tacoma Rainiers in a 4-1 victory over Colorado Springs.

In his first Tacoma appearance in 11 years, Felix tossed 5.2 innings and allowed just one run – a solo home run to the Sky Sox all-star catcher Manny Pina. Hernandez struck out seven and walked one, throwing 76 pitches (53 strikes).

It wasn’t exactly like 2005. Hernandez doesn’t throw 98 mph anymore – he was sitting mostly at 91-92 with his fastball. His change-up was tremendous, and was his go-to pitch to get a swinging strike. He also used his curveball both inside and outside of the zone.

Today Felix told the Seattle media that he feels great and is ready to go on Wednesday against the White Sox at Safeco Field.

All around, it was a great day at Cheney Stadium. The crowd gave Felix a lot of support, with the red “We R Felix” shirts and K-cards. It was a total sellout, with the attendance announced as 7,294.

Friday was also a great day for the Rainiers in the standings: both second-place Fresno and third-place Reno lost, and the Rainiers now lead the division over those two teams by 3.5- and 4.5-games, respectively.

For more details on Felix’s game, hit the first link down below.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tyler Smith‘s two-run homer in the fifth inning was all Felix Hernandez and Donn Roach needed as the Rainiers beat Colorado Springs, 4-1. D.J. Peterson hit a two-run single in the eighth to provide some breathing room.

Today: Colorado Springs (44-45-1) at Tacoma (51-40-1), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Milwaukee Brewers.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 2-0.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Aaron Wilkerson (0-0, 0.00) at RHP Jarrett Grube (0-1, 4.87).

Hot Rainiers: Stefen Romero has an 11-game hitting streak, and he has gone 24-for-64 over his last 15 games… Luis Sardinas has an eight-game hitting streak, going 11-for-32… Guillermo Heredia has hit safely in 14 of 17 games since joining the Rainiers.

Look Out For: Orlando Arcia is a 21-year-old shortstop who is considered a top prospect in the Brewers organization. He’s known for his defense, but he had two hits off Felix and he brings a seven-game hitting streak into tonight’s game.

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.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

  • Robert Andino homered twice and his New Orleans Zephyrs beat Fresno, 9-5.
  • Top prospect Jose De Leon struck out ten in Oklahoma City’s 9-3 win at Reno. De Leon is currently slated to start Wednesday at Cheney Stadium.
  • Round Rock got lapped by Sacramento, 11-4. The River Cats went 5-for-5 stealing bases.
  • Iowa coasted to a 7-2 win over Las Vegas, while catcher Tim Federowicz considered his future.
  • It was an eventful day in Omaha: Irving Falu broke the franchise career hits record (664!), and Omaha scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth to stun Salt Lake, 6-5.
  • Nashville scored a bunch of runs late in the game to beat El Paso, 11-4.
  • David Dahl‘s grand slam helped Albuquerque double-up Memphis, 10-5. Dahl has put up some great stats in his first eight games for Albuquerque, but let’s wait until he plays some games less than a mile above sea level before we get too excited. All 16 PCL broadcasters will enjoy this photo of the Isotopes Park elevator operator.

The Rainiers have won four in a row. Let’s keep it going tonight!


It’s Felix Friday

July 15, 2016

Felix Hernandez makes his rehabilitation start for the Rainiers tonight at Cheney Stadium. He has been on the disabled list with a strained right calf muscle since his last start for Seattle, on May 27 against the Twins.

Hernandez is supposed to throw roughly five innings today, and somewhere around 75 or 80 pitches. In his first rehab start for Everett, he went 3.2 innings and 69 pitches.

This will be Felix’s first appearance at Cheney Stadium since July 30, 2005 – his last Triple-A game, when he was just 19 years old and the top pitching prospect in the minor leagues. So let’s turn back the clock for some Felix Fun Facts, Rainiers-style.

  • Felix was 18 years old when he made the Rainiers opening day roster in 2005. His Triple-A debut came on his 19th birthday – April 8th, at Fresno, six innings without allowing an earned run.
  • He earned his first Triple-A win five days later with five scoreless innings at Sacramento.
  • Felix lost his Cheney Stadium debut, on April 19 when he faced Sacramento again.
  • Then he won four straight starts.
  • Felix made 19 appearances for Tacoma – 14 starts – and went 9-4 with a 2.25 ERA. In 88 innings he had 100 strikeouts with 48 walks, and he gave up 62 hits with only three home runs.
  • In his final Triple-A game, Felix pitched four no-hit, shutout innings against the Omaha Royals on July 30. He struck out the side in his last inning. He got the news he was going to the big leagues two days later.
  • The Rainiers lineup in Felix’s last game: Shin-Soo Choo, Chris Snelling, Abraham Nunez, Greg Dobbs, Justin Leone, Aaron Rifkin, Jose Lopez, Ryan Christianson, and Ramon Santiago.
  • That was a really good Tacoma team, which reached the PCL Championship Series but lost to Nelson Cruz and the Nashville Sounds. Felix was in the big leagues when that happened.
  • He faced tonight’s opponent Colorado Springs one time in 2005 – and I’m guessing he may remember that game. It was in Colorado Springs on April 25. Felix warmed up in the bullpen, walked into the dugout, and watched the Rainiers score nine runs in the top of the first inning before he threw his first pitch. He pitched five innings and left with a 19-1 lead – the Rainiers won the game, 21-7.

Eleven years later, Felix returns to Tacoma. A lot has changed, with the stadium renovation and the Rainiers use a different logo now. Hopefully he has a fun – and healthy! – night at Cheney Stadium.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers looked fresh coming out of the all-star break, as Cody Martin delivered six strong innings in a 3-1 win over Colorado Springs. Martin tied his season high by recording nine strikeouts. Both Ryan Strausborger and Guillermo Heredia hit their first home runs as a member of the Rainiers.

Today: Colorado Springs (44-44-1) at Tacoma (50-40-1), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Milwaukee Brewers.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 1-0.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Wily Peralta (0-2, 9.17) at RHP Felix Hernandez (-).

Peralta was the Brewers opening day starter this year, and now he’s in Triple-A.

Hot Rainiers: Stefen Romero has a ten-game hitting streak, and he has gone 23-for-60 over his last 14 games (he should return to the lineup tonight)… Luis Sardinas has a seven-game hitting streak, going 10-for-28… Guillermo Heredia has hit safely in 13 of 16 games since joining the Rainiers.

Look Out For: Orlando Arcia is a 21-year-old shortstop who is considered a top prospect in the Brewers organization. He’s known for his defense… catcher/first baseman Josmil Pinto went 0-for-3 last night, ending his 14-game hitting streak. It was just the second hitless game he has had in his last 26 outings.

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.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

  • Fresno’s Alex Bregman returned to Louisiana and helped the Grizzlies to a 6-2 win over New Orleans.
  • Reno rode a strong start by Zack Godley to a 4-2 victory over Oklahoma City.
  • Round Rock outlasted Sacramento in 12 innings, 6-5. They won it on a walk-off walk.
  • Iowa lost to Las Vegas, 3-2, but Joe Nathan pitched a perfect inning of relief in his bid to return to the major leagues.
  • Nashville pillaged the Chihuahuas, 13-3. Nashville is 16-1 against Pacific Conference opponents this season.
  • David Dahl hit two of Albuquerque’s five homers, and Tom Murphy hit for the cycle in a 12-8 win over Memphis.
  • Salt Lake’s Tyler Skaggs struck out 14 Omaha Storm Chasers in a 2-0 win last night, and he appears to be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery.

This is going to be a fun one tonight!


‘Second Half’ Starts Today

July 14, 2016

The Rainiers are back in action tonight, opening up the so-called “second half” with a four-game home series against Colorado Springs.

It’s not really the second half, though. We passed the halfway point long ago. Tacoma has played 90 of its 144 games already, and now finishes the regular season with 54 games in 54 days.

Tacoma leads the division by 2.5 games over Fresno, and 3.5 games over Reno.

The club has a good opportunity to open up the lead starting today, as 17 of the next 21 games will be played at Cheney Stadium. The Rainiers have the best home record in the PCL: 26-13.

We are still looking at a likely Felix Hernandez rehabilitation start on Friday night. More on that coming tomorrow…

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The PCL lost the Triple-A All-Star Game for the fourth year in a row, dropping a 4-2 decision to the International League in Charlotte, NC. Stefen Romero started in left field and batted third in the lineup; he went 0-for-3. Blake Parker faced just one batter and got him to ground out. The PCL had only three hits.

Today: Colorado Springs (44-43-1) at Tacoma (49-40-1), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Milwaukee Brewers.

Season Series: 0-0.

A former division rival of the Rainiers, Colorado Springs was moved to the American Conference prior to the 2014 season. The teams play one four-game series each season now.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Hiram Burgos (5-5, 4.65) at RHP Cody Martin (7-5, 3.79).

Hot Rainiers: Stefen Romero has a ten-game hitting streak, and he has gone 23-for-60 over his last 14 games… Luis Sardinas has a six-game hitting streak, going 9-for-24… Guillermo Heredia has hit safely in 12 of 15 games since joining the Rainiers.

Look Out For: Orlando Arcia is a 21-year-old shortstop who is considered a top prospect in the Brewers organization. He’s known for his defense… catcher/first baseman Josmil Pinto is on an extended run: he’s hit safely in 14 straight games, and 24 of his last 25. He’d have a 25-game hitting streak if he didn’t go 0-for-3 in the second game of a doubleheader on June 22.

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.

Links:

We’re back at it. See you at the park!


Triple-A All-Star Game Today

July 13, 2016

Look for Tacoma’s Stefen Romero and Blake Parker in the Triple-A All-Star Game today at 4:00.

The game is televised nationally on the MLB Network, and there is a national radio broadcast which we will be airing on 850 AM (and it will stream live as well – try our usual link from a previous post, or if that doesn’t work head to the MiLB.com main page and start looking around).

Romero is in the starting lineup, so he’ll probably play the first five innings. As a reliever, Parker could come in at any time – although I suspect PCL manager Wally Backman will save him for the eighth inning, and Fresno’s James Hoyt for the ninth.

The game is being played at the new ballpark in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’ve heard that it is an outstanding facility and I look forward to seeing it on TV.

Keep in mind, we are having this game in Tacoma next year. Consider tonight’s broadcast a sneak preview.

Links:

The Rainiers return to action tomorrow!


Zunino Powers Rainiers

July 10, 2016

Mike Zunino had a game to remember as the Rainiers beat Sacramento on Saturday night, 5-3.

In the top of the first inning, Zunino hit Chris Stratton‘s fifth pitch of the game for a long, long three-run homer to left field to give Tacoma a 3-0 lead.

The Rainiers didn’t score again until there were two outs in the ninth.

With the game tied 3-3, Guillermo Heredia hit a two-out double to bring up Zunino. And Zunino did it again, a two-run homer to left field off Jean Machi to give Tacoma a 5-3 lead.

And that was that. Tacoma won the game, 5-3, as Blake Parker earned his 15th save.

The win was crucial for Tacoma. It assured the club it would be alone in first place at the all-star break regardless of what happens today. It ended a three-game losing streak, and earned fill-in manager Andy McKay his first win at the professional level.

Now we’ll see if the Rainiers can salvage a split of the series by winning the final game today.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Mike Zunino was pretty good and Tacoma won, 5-3. Kudos to the Rainiers pitching staff which allowed just one hit over the final six innings.

Today: Tacoma (48-40-1) at Sacramento (38-52), 1:05.

Opponent Affiliation: San Francisco Giants.

Season Series: Sacramento leads, 6-5.

Sacramento has been one of the worst teams in the PCL all season long, except for some reason the Rainiers struggle to beat them.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Jordan Pries (1-1, 4.26) at RHP Joan Gregorio (2-4, 5.07).

Hot Rainiers: Stefen Romero has a ten-game hitting streak, and he has gone 23-for-60 over his last 14 games… Luis Sardinas has a five-game hitting streak, going 7-for-20… Guillermo Heredia has hit safely in 11 of 14 games since joining the Rainiers.

Look Out For: Gorkys Hernandez has been Sacramento’s best position player. He’s reached base in 13 straight games and is coming off a huge June in which he batted .366 with a .440 OBP… infielder Rando Moreno is 18-for-51 over his last 15 games; he’s one of six position players who have been promoted from Double-A Richmond within the last month.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 12:50 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.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

  • Fresno swept a doubleheader from Reno and moved past the Aces into second place in the division. This was predicted by commenter Mark Bushnell a few weeks ago – credit where credit is due, Mark. Never rule out a team managed by Tony D.
  • Albuquerque’s Tom Murphy homered twice in an 8-5 win at Las Vegas.
  • I bet Steve Klauke sure was happy he was calling Major League Baseball instead of Saturday’s game in Salt Lake City, in which his beloved Bees got exterminated by El Paso, 12-1.
  • Memphis won a rain-shortened game against Round Rock, 4-1, and goes for a four-game sweep today.
  • Oklahoma City’s Rob Segedin is one of three PCL players in the All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday, but he may have gotten the date wrong. Segedin hit three homers in the Dodgers doubleheader sweep of Omaha last night. Meanwhile, Julio Urias is back with Oklahoma City but no one seems to know what the plan is for the 19-year-old phenom.
  • A big inning led New Orleans to an 8-6 win at Nashville last night.
  • Iowa scored late to win at Colorado Springs, 8-5. A pinch-hit two-run homer by Tim Federowicz in the eighth inning gave Iowa the lead.

As soon as today’s game ends the all-star break is here. I’m taking Monday and Tuesday off, but I’ll post something prior to the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday. It starts at 4:00 (Pacific) on Wednesday and will air on the MLB Network and on 850 AM in Tacoma – our regular internet radio stream will probably be working, too.


Rainiers Scuffling Towards Break

July 9, 2016

The Rainiers are in a bit of a funk right now, as the team heads towards the all-star break.

Tacoma lost in Sacramento on Friday night, 7-4, and has now dropped five of its last six games.

The team is still in first place, holding a 1.5-game lead over Reno and a 2.5-game lead over Fresno. It helps that those teams are playing each other right now – they have split the first two games of their four-game series.

Tacoma’s offense has been inconsistent lately: they seem to either score nine runs, or have trouble getting more than two.

The bullpen has seen a lot of turnover in recent days, and the roles of the new personnel are being determined.

On the whole, the organization’s pitching should be getting healthier soon. Felix Hernandez has his rehab start in Everett tomorrow, Charlie Furbush started a rehabilitation stint yesterday, and veteran reliever Ryan Cook (who has been out since spring training) is about to begin his rehab.

For now, I’d like to see the Rainiers win one (at least!) of these last two games in Sacramento, and get to the all-star break in first place. Then we’ll reset, and see where things stand on Thursday.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Matt Cain pitched like it was 2005 (the last time he faced the Rainiers), carrying a no-hitter for 5.2 innings in his rehabilitation start. He earned the win as Sacramento beat Tacoma, 7-4. Trailing by five runs, the Rainiers rallied in the ninth and brought the tying run to the plate before falling.

Today: Tacoma (47-40-1) at Sacramento (38-51), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: San Francisco Giants.

Season Series: Sacramento leads, 6-4.

Sacramento has been one of the worst teams in the PCL all season long, except for some reason the Rainiers struggle to beat them.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Zach Lee (0-2, 9.00) at RHP Chris Stratton (5-4, 5.79).

Hot Rainiers: Stefen Romero has a ten-game hitting streak, and he has gone 23-for-60 over his last 14 games… Luis Sardinas has a four-game hitting streak, going 6-for-16.

Look Out For: Gorkys Hernandez has been Sacramento’s best position player. He’s reached base in 12 straight games and is coming off a huge June in which he batted .366 with a .440 OBP… infielder Rando Moreno is 18-for-48 over his last 14 games; he’s one of six position players who have been promoted from Double-A Richmond within the last month.

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.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

Rainiers need a win!


We Was Robbed!

July 8, 2016

The series opener in Sacramento ended under unusual circumstances last night, and it was not a satisfying finish.

Tacoma trailed 2-1 in the top of the ninth, and had runners at first and second with two outs.

Jean Machi was on the mound for Sacramento, trying to close it out. Tyler Smith was at the plate for Tacoma, and he already had two hits in the game and was looking for a third to at least tie the game up.

Smith had a good at-bat, and eventually worked a full count.

Then on the 3-2 pitch, something strange happened: Machi threw a high fastball, Smith took the pitch and started to head to first base… and home plate umpire Travis Eggert called it strike three, game over.

Smith argued the call while Sacramento players shook hands behind the mound, but there was really no point. Eggert had made his call and it was over.

What a time for an ump to miss a pitch.

It happens every game, even in the majors, the umpire misses some ball/strike calls. The so-called human element. But the timing on this one…

It was clearly ball four. The entire press box (mostly Sacramento employees) was stunned by the call. There was a delay before the River Cats players came out of the dugout – they thought the game was still going.

Had the call been correct, Nori Aoki would have been up with the bases loaded and two outs. We’ll never know if he would have been the hero for the Rainiers.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Sacramento’s Ty Blach carried a shutout into the ninth inning as Sacramento was the series opener, 2-1.

Roster Moves: Prior to yesterday’s game, reliever Steve Johnson was placed on the disabled list with tricep soreness. Tacoma now has three reliable relievers on the disabled list: Mayckol Guaipe, Jonathan Aro, and Johnson.

Today: Tacoma (47-39-1) at Sacramento (37-51), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: San Francisco Giants.

Season Series: Sacramento leads, 5-4.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Joe Wieland (6-4, 6.45) at RHP Matt Cain (-).

This is a rehab start for Cain, who last faced Tacoma on August 23, 2005 at Cheney Stadium. He was nasty back then!

Hot Rainiers: Stefen Romero has a nine-game hitting streak, and he has gone 22-for-56 over his last 13 games… D.J. Peterson has hit safely in seven of his first eight games with Tacoma… Tyler Smith has gone 14-for-38 over his last 11 games.

Look Out For: Gorkys Hernandez has been Sacramento’s best position player. He’s reached base in 11 straight games and is coming off a huge June in which he batted .366 with a .440 OBP… infielder Rando Moreno is 16-for-45 over his last 13 games; he’s one of six position players who have been promoted from Double-A Richmond within the last month.

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.

Links:

  • In the Rainiers game story, fill-in manager Andy McKay kind of shrugged off the final pitch call. He noted that if the Rainiers had gotten a bunt down earlier in the inning, the game would have been tied anyway. I think Listach would have felt the same way.
  • D.J. Peterson makes an appearance on Baseball America’s Prospect Hot Sheet.
  • The Mariners let one get away in the ninth inning to Kansas City last night, 4-3. Former Rainiers James Paxton and Daniel Robertson had terrific games.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook leads with Robinson Cano appearing in the Home Run Derby.
  • John McGrath writes that the Home Run Derby needs to be improved.

PCL Game Reports:

  • The Fresno Grizzlies won the opening game (did they ever!) of the Showdown for Second Place against Reno, 14-0. Fresno and Reno are now tied in second, 2.5 games behind Tacoma.
  • Tyler Skaggs had a strong rehab start and Salt Lake beat El Paso, 9-7. Skaggs allowed one run in five innings.
  • Las Vegas pounded Albuquerque, 13-6. Roger Bernadina had four hits and Michael Conforto homered.
  • Omaha ended Oklahoma City’s seven-game winning streak with a 13-7 victory on Thursday. Irving Falu homered and drove in four runs.
  • Memphis first baseman David Washington had three hits with a homer to help the Redbirds toss Round Rock, 13-7.
  • Nashville’s offensive struggles continued with a 1-0 loss to New Orleans. Four Zephyrs pitchers combined on a five-hitter.
  • Colorado Springs put eleven runs on the board in a home win against Iowa. Nate Orf went 3-for-3 with four RBIs, but he still hasn’t dropped his first name yet. He should shorten his name to one word like a Brazilian soccer player: Orf.

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