M’s Still In Chase, But Running Low On Time

September 26, 2016

The Mariners won a road series at Minnesota over the weekend, taking two out of three from the Twins, but fell a half-game farther back in the American League wild card chase.

Baltimore was the big winner over the weekend, sweeping an interleague series from the Arizona Diamondbacks and taking command of the No. 2 wild card spot. Toronto holds the top spot.

Seattle is 2.5 games behind Baltimore, and the Mariners also need to pass Detroit which is a game closer to the O’s. The final week of the season is upon us.

A do-or-almost-die three-game series at Houston starts tonight. Like the M’s, the Astros are also running short on time and they need to start reeling off wins to have a chance.

Both Detroit (vs. Cleveland) and Baltimore (at Toronto) start tough series tonight. For the remainder of the schedules, scroll down to Friday’s post.

Baseball woke up to shocking and sad news on Sunday morning: Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez had died in a boating accident.

This was terrible news. Just 24-years-old, Fernandez was one of the best pitchers in baseball. He played with visible joy, and was also one of the most talented players in the game.

The tragedy affects everyone in the game. His family, friends and teammates feel the biggest loss. The Marlins lost their franchise player – a Cuban immigrant who they expected to have at the top of their rotation for years to come.

We never saw Fernandez at Cheney Stadium – or in the PCL, for that matter. He made the incredible jump from Class-A to the majors in the spring of 2013, and proved he belonged right away. When he was recovering from ‘Tommy John’ surgery in 2015, he did all five of his rehabilitation starts at lower levels of the minors.

A pair of Tacoma Rainiers players from 2016 previously played with Fernandez.


Check back later this week for a closer look at a Rainiers player who will go down as one of Tacoma’s all-time greats. Coming Wednesday or Thursday.

Wild Card Weekend

September 23, 2016

The American League wild card chase has been an interesting follow, to say the least. Just when you think the Mariners are out of it, they’re back in it.

After the Mariners lost the first two games to Toronto on Monday and Tuesday, it appeared that all was lost.

But then they won on Wednesday afternoon, and nearly everything that could happen to help Seattle did happen on Wednesday and Thursday nights (with the exception of Detroit sweeping the Twins in a DH yesterday).

Heading into the weekend, here are the AL Wild Card standings:

TOR (83-69) +1

DET (82-70)  —

BAL (82-71)  0.5

HOU (81-71) 1.5

SEA (80-72)    2

NYY (79-73)    3

The schedules for the six teams:

Toronto: vs. NYY (4), vs. BAL (3), @BOS (3)

Detroit: vs. KC (3), vs. CLE (4), @ATL (3)

Baltimore: vs. AZ (3), @TOR (3), @NYY (3)

Houston: vs. LAA (3), vs. SEA (3), @LAA (3)

Seattle: @MIN (3), @HOU (3), vs. OAK (4)

New York: @TOR (4), vs. BOS (3), vs. BAL (3)

It looks like Toronto and New York have the toughest schedules, while the Astros and Mariners have the easiest.

You can pinpoint series in which teams need to clean up against poor opponents. Seattle starts one tonight at Minnesota, the Orioles have to get some wins against Arizona before running the gauntlet to the finish line, and Detroit ends the year with three games against the hapless Braves.

This will be fun to follow the next few days. For starters, let’s see if the M’s can win the series at Minnesota.


It’s going to be a fun weekend to follow the pennant race.

Minor League Season Ends

September 21, 2016

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre knocked off El Paso in the Triple-A National Championship Game last night, 3-1, at AutoZone Park in Memphis. And with that, the 2016 minor league season came to an end.

El Paso starter Walker Lockett‘s bottom of the first inning went like this: base hit, base hit, three-run homer… and then three outs, and neither he nor any El Paso relievers gave up any runs the rest of the way.

But Chris Parmelee‘s three-run tater was enough for the Yankees Triple-A club to win the single-game cross-league title. Yankees prospect Jordan Montgomery made the lead hold up, allowing one run over five inning to earn the win.

After the game, the San Diego Padres called up the El Paso core: Manuel Margot, Carlos Asuaje, Austin Hedges, and Hunter Renfroe are heading to San Diego for the final 12 days of the major league season.

Congratulations to both teams. The Triple-A National Championship Game has the feel of an exhibition, played at a neutral site in front of uncaring fans. But the league championships are an entirely different matter, and both Scranton and El Paso had terrific, memorable seasons.



Mariners Have New Double-A Affiliate

September 20, 2016

The Mariners made some minor league news today, announcing that they have switched their Double-A affiliate from Jackson (TN) of the Southern League over to the Arkansas Travelers of the Texas League.

Arkansas is based out of Little Rock. The Travelers play at a newer ballpark than Jackson: Dickey-Stephens Park was opened in 2007. They draw well by Double-A standards, averaging 4,716 per game this year for a total attendance of 306,570.

The ballpark in Arkansas is an extreme pitcher’s park, which is similar to Jackson. With the affiliation change in the California League (to Modesto), the Mariners will have all of the four full-season affiliates in pitcher-friendly parks.

The change in leagues should ease player movement. Jackson is a 75-minute drive from the nearest airport, while Little Rock has its own airport. On the whole, the Texas League is closer to all of the other Mariners affiliates than the Southern League.

Here’s a post from the Seattle Times on the affiliation change.

The farm system is now finalized:

  • AAA – Tacoma
  • AA – Arkansas
  • Hi-A – Modesto
  • Lo-A – Clinton
  • SS – Everett
  • Rookie – Arizona

The Triple-A National Championship Game is tonight at 5:05 (Pacific), televised on the NBC Sports Network.

El Paso plays International League champion Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

According to El Paso broadcaster Tim Hagerty, this is the first meeting between Triple-A affiliates of the Padres and Yankees since 1978 – the sole year of the Tacoma Yankees.

A reason to watch: there are some interesting prospects in the game.

You also get to see the Memphis ballpark, which is beautiful (other than the absolutely filthy visiting radio booth, but they probably won’t show that on TV).

Here is a preview from the El Paso Times, and another preview from Baseball America.


Chihuahuas Rule The Land

September 19, 2016

Congratulations to the El Paso Chihuahuas, your 2016 Pacific Coast League champions.

El Paso locked up the league title on Saturday night, winning a 4-3 decision in 11 innings at Bricktown Ballpark to take the series, three games to one.

The Chihuahuas won when Patrick Kivlehan singled, went first-to-third on a throwing error, and scored on an odd popped-up safety squeeze bunt by Jose Rondon. The pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla tried to make a diving catch of the bunt, but the ball came flying out of his glove – you can see it in the video with this game story.

It’s the first PCL Championship in the brief history of the El Paso Chihuahuas, who completed their third season of existence. It’s the first time a San Diego Padres affiliate has won the PCL crown since 1988, when the Las Vegas Stars won it all.

El Paso isn’t quite done yet. The Chihuahuas play the Triple-A National Championship Game against the International League champion Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders (Yankees) on Tuesday in Memphis. The game starts at 5:05 (Pacific) and is televised nationally on the NBC Sports Network.

The Mariners Low-A Clinton affiliate lost at Great Lakes in the Midwest League finals on Sunday, ending the minor league season for all M’s affiliates.

The final totals:

  • All seven teams reached the playoffs
  • Two won league titles (AA-Jackson and R-Arizona)
  • Two reached league finals and lost (Low-A Clinton and SS-Everett)
  • The seven teams combined to go 451-314, for a .590 wining percentage which led all 30 MLB organizations.

It was a great year on the Mariners farm!


Oklahoma City Stays Alive

September 17, 2016

Cornered by yipping chihuahuas, Oklahoma City dodged elimination by beating El Paso on Friday night, 4-2.

(I will not apologize for that awful sentence)

The Dodgers stayed alive for a couple of reasons. They got a strong rehabilitation start by lefty Brett Anderson, who allowed one run over five innings. And they were able to do something which has been very difficult to do in the PCL playoffs: they rallied against the El Paso bullpen.

Trailing 2-1 at the seventh inning stretch, Oklahoma City scored three runs against relievers Daniel Moskos and Kyle McGrath. Veteran outfielder Will Venable had the key hit, a go-ahead two-run single.

There will be no sweep. El Paso leads the best-of-five series, two games to one.

Here’s the game story from The Oklahoman, and a notebook which tells us that O’Koyea Dickson is out for the series with an injury – he’s been one of Oklahoma City’s top hitters.

Game Four is tonight at 5:05 (Pacific), with El Paso starting Shea Simmons against Oklahoma City’s Alfredo Figaro. Follow along here.

Scranton-Wilkes/Barre won the Governor’s Cup, which is the trophy presented to the International League champion. The Yankees affiliate will play the PCL Champion in the Triple-A National Championship Game on Tuesday in Memphis.

The Mariners Low-A Clinton affiliate is still playing. They play Game Three of the Midwest League Championship Series against Great Lakes tonight at 4:05 (Pacific), with that series tied 1-1. Kevin Gadea draws the start for the Mariners affiliate. The live scoreboard is here.


  • The Mariners eight-game win streak ended with a “clunker” – a 6-0 loss to natural born Mariners killer Collin McHugh and the Astros.
  • Manager Scott Servais shows faith in his players, Larry Stone writes.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook informs us the Rainiers outfielder Boog Powell is going to return from his suspension and play for Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League. That’s a tough country for a guy coming off a PED suspension to play in.
  • Venerable San Francisco Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins has some good ideas regarding Vin Scully‘s final broadcast in his column today.

Big sports day today – lots of great college football games, a huge Mariners game, PCL Finals… I’ll be watching TV all day.

Double-A Jackson Wins Title

September 16, 2016

The Mariners Double-A Jackson affiliate swept its way to the Southern League championship with an 11-3 win over the Mississippi Braves last night.

The Generals won the series, three games to none, and the celebration was on.

Congratulations to all of the Jackson players and coaches. In particular, it’s nice to see former Rainiers and Mariners manager Daren Brown get a league championship, and lead the celebration.

This is good news for the Mariners organization and the Tacoma Rainiers moving forward. We will see many of this year’s Jackson players in Tacoma next year, whether it be on opening day or later in the season.

Outfield prospect Tyler O’Neill was named Most Valuable Player of the Southern League playoffs. He hit .448 during the postseason, going 13-for-29 with three homers and nine RBI in seven games. That came on the heels of his regular-season MVP award, and a near Triple Crown.

Barring a trade – hey, if there is one thing we’ve learned in ten months of Jerry Dipoto as GM, he really likes to make trades – we can expect to have O’Neill in Tacoma’s outfield on April 6. It will be fun to have a 21-year-old power hitting prospect in the lineup.

The PCL Championship Series resumes tonight after Thursday’s travel day.

El Paso at Oklahoma City, 5:05 (Pacific). El Paso starts Bryan Rodriguez against Oklahoma City’s Alfredo Figaro.

The Chihuahuas lead the series, 2-0, and are going for the sweep and the title tonight.

You can follow along in various ways (gamecast, either team’s radio, etc…) right here.


Check back over the weekend, I’ll have a new post daily until the PCL Championship gets settled.