Pitching Leads Rainiers To Third Straight Win

May 2, 2015

The Rainiers won their third in a row on Saturday evening, downing Fresno 5-1. Tacoma goes for a four-game series sweep today.

The key to the recent success has been pitching. The Tacoma pitching staff has allowed a grand total of 22 runs over the last nine games, for an average of 2.3 runs allowed per game.

A run of pitching like that should turn around a losing streak, and for the Rainiers it has: they were 2-9 in 11 games prior to this streak. The Rainiers are 6-3 during this run of great pitching, and they weren’t scoring much at the start. That seems to have resolved itself now.

They’ll try to keep it going today, and see if the sweep comes to fruition.


Today the Rainiers are throwing it back to the Tacoma Cubs of 1966 to 1971.

Tacoma spent six seasons as the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, and that happened to coincide with a period in which the Chicago club was actually… wait for it… good.

The success tricked down to Triple-A, too. The 1969 Tacoma Cubs won the PCL championship, going 88-60 during the regular season before beating Eugene in the PCL Championship Series, three games to two.

The Tacoma Cubs reached the playoffs again in 1971 but lost the championship series to Salt Lake City.

Two names from this period stand above all.

Whitey Lockman managed the Tacoma Cubs for four seasons, from 1967 to 1970, and he became the winningest manager in Tacoma franchise history until Dave Myers passed him in 2000 (this list has changed a lot in the last 15 years – Daren Brown now tops it, with 433 wins).

Lockman was involved in one of the most famous moments in baseball history: he was on base when Bobby Thomson hit the Shot Heard ‘Round The World on October 3, 1951.

As for Tacoma Cubs players, nobody has left a longer lasting mark on the franchise record book than Adrian “Smokey” Garrett. Garrett hit 43 home runs in 1971, establishing a single-season record which no Tacoma player has even come close to surpassing.

He was a left-handed hitter, and Garrett once told me he pulled most of his homers down the right field line. He hit 19 of them at Cheney Stadium, which also remains the record for “home” home runs by a Tacoma player in a single season.

Garrett said that when he played for Tacoma in 1971, players talked about the giant wall in center field. It was known that nobody had ever cleared it with a home in a game at that time, and Garrett said he never came close to doing it.

The first 1,000 fans in the gate today (gates open at 12:30) get this free Tacoma Cubs replica hat (the one on the left):

The free hat is on the left. If the Tacoma Cubs existed today, the first thing they would do is sue the Texas Rangers.

The free hat is on the left. If the Tacoma Cubs existed today, the first thing they would do is sue the Texas Rangers.


Yesterday: Stefen Romero homered twice, Sam Gaviglio, Joe Beimel, and Mark Lowe combined on a four-hitter, and Tacoma picked up a 5-1 win over Fresno. It was the third straight win for the Rainiers, who go for a series sweep on Sunday.

Today: Fresno (11-11) at Tacoma (10-13) 1:35 PM (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Fresno is the Houston Astros affiliate.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 3-0

Starting Pitchers: RHP Asher Wojciechowski (—) at LHP Mike Kickham (0-2, 7.94).

Asher W. opened the season in the Houston Astros rotation and made four starts, going 0-1, 7.31. This will be his first Triple-A appearance of the season. Kickham has struggled with control but was better last time out, walking just two through the first five innings before issuing two more to start the sixth.

Hot Rainiers: The entire pitching staff. Reliever Logan Bawcom hasn’t allowed a run in his last five appearances, covering 9.1 innings. Infielder Ketel Marte has an eight game hitting streak.

Look Out For: Fresno outfielder Preston Tucker leads the PCL in home runs (9) and RBI (29). He’s homered in four of the last eight Fresno games.

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, so enjoy a blast from the past as 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.


  • Everyone was pretty happy with the win yesterday, which you can read about in the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • My weekly Minor League Notebook for the paper looks at the massive decrease in the length of Rainiers games so far this season, and also peeks at Kyle Seager‘s kid brother Corey.
  • Ryan Divish talked to both Danny Hultzen and Daniel Missaki who had important nights in the Mariners farm system on Friday.
  • I considered not linking to the Mariners game story, but we always do, so here it is if you really want to see it.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook includes video of the amazing Humberto Quintero throw. It’s truly a thing of beauty. I haven’t had a belly laugh like that in a long time.
  • John McGrath has his power rankings.
  • In the PCL, Las Vegas won it’s ninth in a row with a 3-0 shutout of Reno. Noah Syndergaard dominated on the mound, striking out ten over seven innings. The 51s drew 5,040 on Fight Night.
  • The Chihuahuas had no trouble with the River Cats on Saturday night in Sacramento.
  • Albuquerque ended an eight-game losing streak by hanging on to beat Salt Lake, 12-10.
  • Round Rock’s Jared Hoying won the team’s Kentucky Derby pool and then he won the game with a walk-off two-run double in the ninth. Round Rock has won eight of nine.
  • Oklahoma City improved to 18-5 with a 4-1 win at Iowa. The Des Moines newspaper has a story on Corey Seager.
  • New Orleans had 15 hits in a 5-2 win over Memphis.
  • Quality relief from Josh Roenicke would helped Colorado Springs defeat Omaha, 4-2. We’re up to 17 misused “woulds” in the recap.

Today is the last game of the short homestand. The Rainiers hit the road for an eight-game trip through Salt Lake City and Fresno starting Monday.

On Display Friday: Good, Clean Baseball

May 2, 2015

The Rainiers played a beautiful game on Friday night, picking up a 2-0 victory over Fresno.

The pitching was excellent on both sides, strikes were being thrown with consistency, Tacoma played solid defense (Fresno not so much), and the Rainiers cashed in on their scoring opportunity in the sixth inning.

Ketel Marte led off the sixth with a double, and Stefen Romero hit behind the runner to move him up with a groundout. With the infield in, Jesus Montero singled sharply up the middle to score Marte and make it 1-0.

Montero went from first-to-third on Pat Kivlehan‘s single to right, and then with two outs it happened: Montero stole home.

OK, it was a delayed double steal. Kivlehan went first, taking off for second base. When catcher Max Stassi threw to second, Montero took off towards home – and scored with ease when the relay to the plate skipped past Stassi. Montero was credited with a stolen base.

That was all the offense the Rainiers needed, as the pitching was terrific last night. Tacoma has won two in a row and will try to build on that tonight.

Throwback Weekend

Today the Rainiers are throwing it back to the 1979 Tacoma Tugs.

The Tugs marked the first time the Tacoma franchise name was not the same as the major league affiliate. The Tugs were a Cleveland Indians affiliate, and Tacoma didn’t want to use the same name as the Spokane’s minor league team.

After one year of the Tugs, the team switched its name to Tigers which was the historic name for Tacoma pro teams going back to the early 1900s. That lasted until 1995.

I think the Tugs had a pretty cool logo – especially for 1979:

Rob Ellis of the 1979 Tacoma Tugs

Rob Ellis of the 1979 Tacoma Tugs

The first 1,000 fans in the gates today get a free hat with the Tugs other logo, which had a tugboat on it – click here to see the hat.

The Tugs went 74-73 under manager Gene Dusan. They didn’t have much power: they hit just 61 home runs in 147 games, yikes!

What they did have was Tacoma’s single-season strikeout king, Juan Berenguer. He punched out 220 batters in 166 innings (and walked 129 – he must have thrown a billion pitches) while going 8-8, 4.88 in 26 starts.

Berenguer wasn’t even a Cleveland Indians player – he was on loan from the New York Mets organization. He ended up having a long major league career.

Fun fact: Juan Berenguer shared a rookie card with longtime Tacoma Rainiers pitching coach Dwight Bernard.

Nice hair, Dwight.

Nice hair, Dwight.


Yesterday: Justin Germano, Forrest Snow, and Lucas Luetge combined on a two-hit shutout as the Rainiers beat Fresno, 2-0. Offensively the Rainiers relied on the Jesus Montero speed game.

Today: Fresno (11-10) at Tacoma (9-13) 5:05 PM (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Fresno is the Houston Astros affiliate.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 2-0

Starting Pitchers: RHP Brady Rodgers (1-1, 8.22) at RHP Sam Gaviglio (1-2, 4.71).

Roster Moves: Pitcher Joe Saunders exercised an opt-out in his contract and became a free agent. The major league veteran saw that it was going to be tough to crack the Mariners bullpen, so he decided to explore other options – a pretty logical move, from his standpoint.

Hot Rainiers: Infielder Ketel Marte has a seven game hitting streak, while his double play buddy Chris Taylor has multiple hits in seven of his last 11 games.

Look Out For: Fresno outfielder Preston Tucker leads the PCL in home runs (9) and RBI (29). He’s homered in four of the last seven Fresno games.

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.


  • Some good details in the Rainiers game story with reaction from Jesus Montero, Justin Germano, and Pat Listach.
  • You know you want it: video of Montero stealing home.
  • The Sporting News ran a fun snapshot of Bob Robertson, who has called minor league baseball since 1949. He’ll be joining me on the air Sunday (we won’t be having him throw batting practice before the game; it’s 2015 for crying out loud).
  • Danny Hultzen had a successful return to action for Double-A Jackson last night, pitching 3.1 innings without allowing an earned run or a walk. He was pulled after 56 pitches (look for the Mariners to slowly build that up). D.J.Peterson helped him with some offense – here’s the game story from MiLB.com.
  • On top of that, the Mariners Clinton affiliate pitched a combined no-hitter last night at Cedar Rapids (Twins). Starter Daniel Missaki went the first seven innings; he’s only 19-years-old.
  • The Mariners came up one run short in a 4-3 loss to Houston on Friday night. The Mariners are hoping to get some production out of Dustin Ackley.
  • Tidbits! Get your tidbits here! It’s Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook.
  • In the PCL, Salt Lake scored five in the 12th inning to beat Albuquerque, 10-5. Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort made his first visit to his new Triple-A affiliate.
  • Las Vegas edged Reno, 4-3, and the 51s have won eight straight games.
  • In a pace-of-play stats killer, El Paso beat Sacramento 7-6 in 13 innings – and 4 hours, 54 minutes. Guys, we have pitch clocks. We don’t do that anymore.
  • Iowa lost to Oklahoma City with rehabbing Dallas Beeler on the mound. OKC shortstop Corey Seager went 2-for-5 with an RBI single in his Triple-A debut.
  • The Round Rock Express keep hitting home runs and winning baseball games. They hit two more dingers in a 7-2 win over Nashville, and have won seven of the last eight games.
  • Omaha got Colorado sprung in a 16-4 loss to the Sky Sox last night. Colorado Springs had 21 hits, and infielder Luis Sardinas tied a franchise record with four stolen bases.

When Super Charles Stole Home

February 25, 2015

In Monday’s post I linked to a story from John McGrath in which he wrote about the lost art of stealing home.

My plan at that time was to link to a blog post that I was sure I had written before, about the only time I’ve ever seen a straight steal of home plate. But according to the search feature on this page, I have never written about the day Charles Gipson stole home. So let’s do that.

Some of you guys may remember Charles Gipson. He was a utility player in the major leagues: he could run like the wind, he could play excellent defense at many different positions, and he wasn’t much of a hitter.

Gipson played a key reserve role on the 2001 Mariners team which won 116 games: he played in 94 games, mostly as a pinch-runner and defensive specialist. He had just 72 plate appearances in 94 games!

But in 2000, Gipson was riding the shuttle back-and-forth between Tacoma and Seattle. When he was in Seattle, he would sit on the bench. When he was in Tacoma, he would start every game and work on his hitting.

“Super Charles” had a great attitude about riding the shuttle. Usually when a player gets sent down he takes his time reporting to Tacoma, and might mope around for a day or two. Not Gipson – he would burst right into the clubhouse with a big smile on his face – sometimes the same day he was sent down – and jump right into the lineup.

Gipson had superior athleticism and a knack for the spectacular play. I’ve heard tales of a catch he made at Cheney Stadium in 1998, playing third base: foul pop-up, he dived onto a front-row table on the (original version) party deck, sending cups of beer flying all over the place while making the catch.

Which brings us to June 4, 2000.

The Rainiers were on a road trip to one of my most-missed ex-PCL cities, Edmonton. The Edmonton Trappers were the Angels affiliate that year, and one of their top prospects was right-handed pitcher Ramon Ortiz (who would go on to have a nearly ten-year MLB career).

In the top of the sixth inning, Gipson laced two-run triple to give the Rainiers a 4-3 lead. After Joe Oliver lined out, there were two outs and Carlos Guillen was up.

The Rainiers manager was Dave Myers, who was in his fifth and final year at the helm of the club. Like all Tacoma managers he also coached third base.

Myers had managed Gipson for years – not just for the preceding four years in Tacoma, but also in Double-A and Single-A. After the game, Myers said it happened something like this (I am paraphrasing from memory, so this is not an exact quote):

“For years, every time Gipson gets to third base he asks me if he can steal home. It’s always the same thing – ‘Let me go, I can get this guy.'”

Like a father who gets tired of repeatedly telling his young son he cannot stay up past his bedtime and play video games, Myers gave in. To hear Dave tell the story, he sighed and said, “Alright, go ahead.”

Myers knew there were a few factors in Tacoma’s advantage:

  • Ortiz was a right-handed pitcher (not good for a steal of home), but for some reason he was working out of a full wind-up with a runner at third base.
  • Telus Field in Edmonton had an Astroturf infield and real grass outfield. The turf infield had dirt cutouts around the bases and home plate, but the base paths were 1980s-style carpet. It was a “fast track.”
  • Guillen was a switch-hitter and was batting left against Ortiz. I’m not sure if this works for or against an attempted steal of home – the batter is not in the way (and you don’t have to worry about him swinging), but the catcher can see the runner out of the corner of his eye.

Up in the broadcast booth, I was very lucky to see the whole play develop. This is a classic example of a tough play to call, because you never anticipate a straight steal of home – it’s the only one I’ve seen in my career! Due to some stroke of fortune, I actually saw Gipson break to the plate and had a decent call.

Gipson took off as soon as Ortiz started his big, slow wind-up. He raced down the artificial turf baseline, went into an aggressive feet-first slide as soon as he hit the edge of the dirt cutout, a startled Carlos Guillen leaned back and took the pitch, the catcher handled the ball and tried to make a tag, there was a giant cloud of dust, and the umpire spread his arms and yelled “safe!”

It was a classic example of one of the most exciting plays in the game – and one I haven’t seen in 14 seasons since.

(The Seattle Times was not impressed)


Check back Friday for more spring training tidbits.

* so Edgar Olmos was olmos almost on the Rainiers. We were going to play this song every time he came in from the bullpen. Bummer.

M’s Reportedly Sign Nelson Cruz

December 1, 2014

We’re back from the Thanksgiving break and things are immediately rolling.

Early today baseball reporters in the Dominican Republic broke the story that the Seattle Mariners have reached an agreement to sign slugging outfielder Nelson Cruz to a four-year contract.

This is still unconfirmed by the Mariners themselves, who never announce any big-money deals until the player passes a physical examination and signs on the dotted line. Cruz is supposedly on his way to Seattle to meet with team doctors now.

Cruz is 34 years old and it is apparently a four-year contract. He will likely serve as the Mariners designated hitter.

He hit .271 with 40 home runs and 108 RBI for Baltimore last year, slugging .525 in the process. Those numbers will come down with 81 home games at Safeco Field instead of HR-friendly Camden Yards, but he’ll still be a huge upgrade to a Mariners offense that was desperate for right-handed hitters last year.

This is a big move for Seattle – and they aren’t done yet. The Winter Meetings begin this Sunday and the Mariners will continue to be active (the first link down below has more on that).

I suppose we should rehash Nelson Cruz’s Cheney Stadium Moment – even if it was decidedly unpleasant when it actually occurred.

Cruz was with Nashville (then a Milwaukee Brewers affiliate) in 2005 when Tacoma faced the Sounds in the PCL Championship Series.

Tacoma went to Nashville and lost the first two games of the best-of-five series, which moved to Cheney Stadium for Game Three.

Over 5,000 Rainiers fans settled in to watch a tense game that was tied 2-2 after nine innings. Nobody scored in the 10th. Or the 11th. Or the 12th. We went to the 13th still tied.

In the top of the 13th, a walk and an error brought Cruz up to the plate with two on and two outs. Tacoma’s Cha Seung Baek left a pitch up in the strike zone, and Cruz hit one of the longest home runs I’ve ever seen in Tacoma.

The ball was struck to left field, and it appeared to still be on the rise as it passed the light standard. There was no question from the moment of contact that the ball – and the series, as far as Tacoma was concerned – was gone.

Nashville won the game, 5-2, and Cruz was named Most Valuable Player of the PCL Championship Series. Cruz went 6-for-13 with three home runs and eight RBI in the three-game sweep.

Ten years later, we can cheer for him.

The Cruz signing was part of a Thanksgiving weekend that saw big change in the AL West.

Mariners division rival Oakland made a curious move, trading their best player Josh Donaldson to Toronto for four players: Brett Lawrie and three prospects.

This could be a good long-term deal for Oakland if the prospects work out (or are traded for players who help in the big leagues), but it was strange to see a current playoff team make a trade like this.

I’ve linked to some analysis of this deal below.


  • In his story on the Nelson Cruz signing, Bob Dutton also takes a look a what is next for the Mariners.
  • This post from Ryan Divish looks at how Cruz has hit in the ballparks of the AL West.
  • Keith Law thinks that the Cruz deal is good for 2015, but a potential disaster for 2016, 2017, and 2018 (subscription required).
  • Dutton got new Rainiers manager Pat Listach on the phone and filed this story.
  • In this column from Sunday, John McGrath writes that he thinks Jack Z and the Mariners are about to pull off a big move. This pre-dated the Cruz signing by 24 hours, so I guess he was right!
  • Regarding the Josh Donaldson trade, Rob Neyer wrote that the Oakland A’s are not necessarily in rebuilding mode.
  • Dave Cameron wonders what the A’s are doing.
  • Bay Area baseball guru John Shea doesn’t get the trade.
  • Geoff Baker explains the logic behind the Mariners signing Kyle Seager to a long-term extension, and suggests that the size of Seager’s contract may have helped the A’s decide to part ways with Donaldson.
  • Owners of the Mariners new Class-A affiliate in Bakersfield are still trying to get a new ballpark built in Salinas despite a recent setback.
  • Highly entertaining Reno Aces (and briefly Salt Lake Bees) slap-and-dasher Tony Campana jumped to the IL, signing a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox.
  • Jamie Moyer has quit the Philadelphia Phillies TV broadcast team. Ex-players: send in your resumes.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Peguero In Limbo

January 17, 2014

Yesterday the Seattle Mariners signed free agent catcher John Buck, and they had to create room for him on the major league 40-man roster. To do that, they designated Rainiers outfielder Carlos Peguero for assignment.

Peguero is out of minor league options. He was going to have to make the opening day roster out of spring training, or else the Mariners would have been forced to designate him at the end of March. Instead, they are doing it now.

Any team can claim Peguero off waivers right now, as long as they immediately place him on their 40-man roster. I think some team out there will take a chance on the power hitter, and take a long look at him during spring training.

However, Peguero might go unclaimed. Then the Mariners can assign him to Tacoma for the 2014 season.

If Peguero ends up back in Tacoma, he will have a chance to break Tacoma’s all-time career home run record. He needs 19 homers to tie Rick Renick, who hit 72 home runs over four seasons as a member of the Tacoma Twins from 1973 to 1976.

Here is the current all-time Tacoma career home run list:

1) Rick Renick 72
2) Mike Carp 67
3) Tom Kelly 66
T4) Randy Bass 64
Danny Goodwin 64
6) Bryan LaHair 60
7) Dan Rohrmeier 58
8) Kelvin Moore 57
9) Carlos Peguero 53
T10) Jeff Clement 52
Alex Liddi 52

As for Peguero, he’s currently in baseball limbo. It could take as many as ten days before we learn his fate.


  • Here is the Seattle Times story on John Buck‘s signing.
  • Matt Eddy of Baseball America tweeted that the Mariners signed reliever Logan Kensing to a minor league contract. Kensing is a veteran who had a very good season for Colorado Springs last year – he should certainly help the Tacoma bullpen; and last year he was briefly called up by the Rockies. More on him later…
  • On Thursday the News Tribune ran a Mariners notebook that leads off with the Rich Donnelly hiring.
  • The Robinson Cano signing left Nick Franklin without a position, and he told Mariners Radio that he still hasn’t heard from anyone in the Mariners front office.
  • Mariners catching prospect Tyler Marlette was listed as one of the Top-10 Catching Prospects in the minors by MLB.com. Marlette was a part of the best-groomed team in the minors last year: the Clinton LumberKings.
  • Major League Baseball is implementing expanded instant replay this season. Jayson Stark explains how it is going to work.
  • PCL mainstay Tony DeFranceso will return as the manager in Oklahoma City.
  • The El Paso Chihuahuas are selling partial season ticket plans, but they are calling them… I don’t even want to type it… “paw-tial season ticket plans.” My goodness, this is going to be ruff. Err, rough.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the football. Yes, there will be another Cheney Stadium viewing party. Dare we promise that high winds won’t blow the power out this time? Yes, we promise.*

* please please please no wind storms. The forecast says no wind storms.

Ibanez Hits 300

September 23, 2013

Raul Ibanez connected for his 300th career home run on Saturday night, going deep off Ernesto Frieri of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Only 135 other players in baseball history have hit 300 homers in the big leagues.

Ibanez became the eighth former Tacoma player to reach 300 home runs in the major leagues. Or the seventh player, depending upon if you want to count Griffey, who did not come up through Tacoma but did play in one Rainiers game on a rehabilitation assignment in 1995.

Here is the All-Time Major League Home Run list for former Tacoma players, through Sunday’s games:

  1. Alex Rodriguez – 654
  2. Ken Griffey Jr. – 630
  3. Mark McGwire – 583
  4. Willie McCovey – 521
  5. Jose Canseco – 462
  6. Jason Giambi – 437
  7. Jay Buhner – 310
  8. Raul Ibanez – 300
  9. Tony Batista – 221
  10. Mike Sweeney – 215

I can never decide how to include rehabbers on lists like this. Griffey played in one game – it feels like cheating to me when we count him as an ex-Rainiers player. But Buhner also only rehabbed here, yet he was with the team for almost an entire month in 2001, and people all around town remember him as a Rainiers player that season. So, I included both of them.

I wonder if Tacoma can claim more 500 Home Run Club members than any other minor league team? Seems like a strong possibility.


  • The Mariners closed out their final road trip of the season with a 3-2 win at Anaheim yesterday. The season-ending six-game homestand starts tonight.
  • A swarm of bees delayed the game in Anaheim yesterday. This was clearly an attempt by the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees to overpower their parent club, but alas, the coup failed.
  • In case you missed it, the Sunday feature story in The News Tribune remembered President Kennedy‘s speech at Cheney Stadium 50 years ago. The article has some great photos – check out the secret service sniper on the roof of the stadium in the background of the Kennedy-at-the-podium shot.
  • Howard Lincoln stated the Nintendo of America has no plans to sell its majority share of the Seattle Mariners.
  • As you can see from this photo, everybody – and I mean everybody – got involved in the Oakland A’s clinching party.
  • Jonah Keri’s weekly MLB column for Grantland got around to the Mariners today.
  • Former Iowa Cubs manager Ryne Sandberg was named “permanent” manager of the Philadelphia Phillies yesterday. He worked hard to get this job, managing six years in the minors – which is not a common thing for a Hall Of Famer.
  • Cost overruns are becoming an issue with the construction of the new downtown ballpark in El Paso.

This week, I’m looking forward to the Mariners games against Kansas City. The M’s have a chance to play spoiler and knock the Royals out of the wild card race.

Blowout City In Colorado Springs

May 30, 2013

Well, that was something.

Tacoma beat Colorado Springs in a record-setting performance on Wednesday night, 25-6. It was the third straight win for the Rainiers, who now lead the division by 1.5 games over the Sky Sox.

The box score is crazy-time. After the game, manager John Stearns hung it on the wall by his locker, and hitting coach Howard Johnson (@20HoJo) tweeted a picture of it. You can check it out online right here.

There are a lot of great little tidbits on the game. Let’s dive in, bullet-point style.

  • The 25 runs is the most since Tacoma became the Rainiers and affiliated with the Mariners in 1995. It might very well be a Tacoma franchise record – we do not have individual game records going back before then. The previous high was when Tacoma scored 24 runs in a game at Tucson on June 6, 2011.
  • The 30 hits is also a Rainiers-era franchise record. The highest recent hit total was a 25-hit game in Sacramento on June 28, 2004.
  • It was the second-biggest outburst by a Sky Sox opponent ever at Security Service Field (built in 1988). Salt Lake had 28 runs and 33 hits on July 29, 1994. It was also the second-biggest blowout loss in Sky Sox history (they lost that same game to Salt Lake by 25).
  • By going 30-for-58 at the plate, Tacoma raised its team batting average eight points in one day, from .265 to .273. They climbed from 12th to 9th in the league in batting average in one day.
  • Every single Tacoma player in the starting lineup had at least two hits and scored at least one run.
  • Tacoma scored in each of the first six innings, batting around three times (in the first, fifth, and sixth).
  • By the middle of the sixth inning, Tacoma was ahead 25-1.
  • Abraham Almonte went 6-for-6 at the plate, becoming the first Tacoma player to get six hits in a game since Jerry Owens on August 25, 2009 at Fresno. Prior to Owens, Pat Borders had a six-hit game in Colorado Springs on May 8, 2003.
  • All six of Almonte’s hits were singles. That’s one short of the PCL record for most singles in a game, set by Everett McCann of Portland in 1924.
  • Almonte is now batting .515. He’s had only 33 at-bats, with 17 hits, but still… he’s hitting .515. You just don’t see that number very often. He’s hit safely in all nine games in which he has batted for Tacoma.
  • Eric Thames and Brad Miller each had six RBIs. According to Sky Sox historian Chris Moyer, it was only the second time that two players ever had six or more RBI in one game against the Sky Sox. The other time it happened was when Nashville’s Prince Fielder and Corey Hart did it on August 6, 2005.
  • Thames has 10 RBI over his last three games.
  • Miller hit blackjack with his first Triple-A home run, a three-run shot to center field that made it 21-1 in the sixth inning. Miller had his first two Triple-A extra-base hits in the game.
  • Dustin Ackley had eight plate appearances in the leadoff spot. He had four singles, a homer, and two walks to reach base seven times. He scored four runs and drove in three.
  • The Franklin Gutierrez rehabilitation assignment continues to gain steam. He hit a pair of long doubles, and has now hit safely in his last four games going 7-for-21. Look for Gutierrez to play center field tonight.
  • Normally we would get pretty excited about Nate Tenbrink getting four hits with two doubles and a homer, scoring four runs, and driving in four more. But today? Meh.
  • Sky Sox starting pitcher Chris Volstad has been a major league rotation member for the last five years, and he opened this season in the majors with the Rockies. He allowed 11 runs in 2.1 innings.
  • Colorado Springs backup catcher Dallas Tarleton pitched a scoreless top of the ninth inning. This came after the Rainiers scored 25 runs against real pitchers.
  • The Rainiers 25 runs last night is more runs than the parent Seattle Mariners have scored in their last eight games combined (24).
  • Overlooked in all of the offense, Tacoma starter Andrew Carraway delivered another Quality Start – his seventh in his last eight outings. He’s 6-1 with a 2.98 ERA and nobody ever talks about him…

I got a request to post a picture of my scorecard from last night’s game. This is just the Tacoma side; click on the picture to enlarge it.

Note the excessive white-out on top of the inning columns due to batting around three times.

Note the excessive white-out on top of the inning columns due to batting around three times.

There are still two games left on this road trip before the Rainiers return home on Saturday. The question of how the teams will respond tonight is an interesting one.

Both teams are having “bullpen days” today because of scratched starting pitchers. James Paxton is battling a minor knee problem and will not pitch for Tacoma, and Sky Sox scheduled starter Roman Colon has landed on the disabled list.

Tonight’s game is at 6:05 (Pacific) and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jonathan Arias (0-0, 9.45) against Sky Sox RHP Corey Riordan (3-1, 5.60).


  • I wrote the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune, which includes some fun quotes from manager John Stearns.
  • The MiLB.com story on the game has quotes from Brad Miller and Abraham Almonte. One correction to the story: the previous high for runs scored in a game was 24, two years ago in Tucson – here’s my blog post on that game (note that Dustin Ackley factored heavily in that game, as well).
  • Yesterday the Mariners called up Alex Liddi to Seattle, and optioned pitcher Brandon Maurer to Tacoma. Ryan Divish has a report on the roster move and speculation about the Mariners starting rotation.
  • Jason Churchill has a scouting-centric post on Maurer and Jeremy Bonderman.
  • The Mariners lost a heart-breaker in San Diego, 3-2.
  • Former Mariners farm director Pedro Grifol has resurfaced as a major league coach with the Royals.
  • Elsewhere in the PCL, we had a bunch of normal scores. Were these guys even trying to score?
  • Sacramento beat Salt Lake, 7-2. Seven runs – is that all you got, Sacramento?
  • Seven runs was enough in Vegas yesterday, too – by far, as the 51s beat Reno, 7-1.
  • The Tucson paper has a story on the Padres playing “Murphy Ball” and bunting a lot – so they went out and beat Fresno with a walk-off home run by Jonathan Galvez.
  • Nashville topped Iowa, 4-3, as Caleb Gindl and Josh Prince each drove in a pair of runs.

How many runs will score tonight? The other day Sacramento won in Tucson, 20-5, and then got shut out the next day 2-0. Baseball!

Rainiers Move In To First; Sweeney Moves Up

May 29, 2013

The Rainiers won the opening game of the Colorado Springs series on Tuesday night, 5-4.

It was the first of 16 games between the two teams this season, and if it served as a preview of how the season series is going to go, we are in for a lot of exciting games.

Tacoma moved into first place with the win, a half-game ahead of the Sky Sox.

The key yesterday was the relief pitching of Brian Moran and Logan Bawcom, and I wrote about them in the game story (link down below).

Here I want to talk about Brian Sweeney, who earned the win despite not having a real good outing (by his standards). Sweeney allowed three runs over 2.2 innings, but Tacoma took the lead while he was on the hill.

Sweeney improved his season won-loss record to 6-1. The victory was the 34th of his career in a Tacoma uniform, and he is now tied for sixth on the all-time Tacoma win list. Here’s how it looks:

  1. Ron Herbel (1961-1963, 1972) – 43
  2. Mark Wiley (1972-1976) – 40
  3. Steve Luebber (1972-1973, 1975, 1977) – 39
  4. Eddie Bane (1974-1977) – 38
  5. Gerry Thomas (1962-1964) – 36
  6. Mike Pazik (1974-1976), Brian Sweeney (1999-2000, 2002-2003, 2010, 2012-2013) – 34

He needs nine wins to tie Herbel. Seems unlikely for 2013, but you never know!

Tonight’s game is at 6:05, and you can hear it on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (5-1, 2.98) against Colorado Springs RHP Chris Volstad (2-0, 4.02).


  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. The story focused on Tacoma’s pitching yesterday.
  • Mike Zunino spoke to the Colorado Springs paper about the Rainiers pitching approach.
  • The Mariners lost to the Padres, 6-1. They have some injury issues.
  • The Seattle Times has more reaction from Nick Franklin on his call-up.
  • Jackson Generals broadcaster Chris Harris did a fine job handling the skunk delay last night in Tennessee. Video.
  • Speaking of Jackson, Erasmo Ramirez tossed five innings yesterday in his first appearance of the year. He’ll be in Tacoma soon, I think.
  • In the PCL, Reno’s Kila Ka’aihue hit his league-leading 15th home run and the Aces won in Las Vegas, 6-5.
  • Sacramento is heating up – the River Cats topped Salt Lake last night, 9-4.
  • Tucson took down Fresno, 5-1. The story focuses on reliever Colt Hynes.
  • Nashville interim manager Charlie Green is fitting in nicely, but the Sounds still aren’t winning.
  • Aaron Cunningham homered twice in Round Rock’s 3-2 win at New Orleans.
  • My main man from last year – Wil Myershomered twice last night in the International League.

Great start to the series here in the Springs, let’s see if it can continue tonight.

Hall Of 100 – Tacoma Style

December 13, 2012

ESPN has stirred up a debate by releasing a “Hall Of 100” ranking the top 100 players in baseball history.

This type of project is something that can be argued about forever, with no solution in sight. It’s extremely difficult to compare players across eras in a sport that has been played at a professional level since the late 1800s.

I’m not even going to attempt to critique their list – you can check it out for yourself, the whole presentation is right here.

However, I am willing to look at the Tacoma connections on their list:

Played for Tacoma: Mark McGwire (ranked #83) played for the Tacoma Tigers in 1986. Juan Marichal (70) was a member of the original Tacoma Giants in 1960. Gaylord Perry (66) pitched for the Tacoma Giants from 1960 to 1963. Willie McCovey (57) played for Tacoma in 1960. Ken Griffey Jr (34) played in that one rehab game in 1995. Alex Rodriguez (18) was with the Rainiers in 1995 and 1996. Walter Johnson (12) infamously pitched in one exhibition game for the 1906 Tacoma Tigers before manager Mike Lynch told him he would never make it as a pitcher.

Definitely played at Tacoma as a visitor: we saw Manny Ramirez (85) roll into town with Sacramento just last season. Mike Piazza (78) came through town as an Albuquerque Duke in 1992. Tony Gwynn (61) was a visitor with the Hawaii Islanders in 1982, and possibly Las Vegas in 1983. Pedro Martinez (41) came into town with Albuquerque in 1992. Mike Schmidt (16) played in numerous games at Cheney while with Eugene in 1972. Willie Mays (2) made several appearances at Tacoma in Tacoma Giants vs. SF Giants exhibition games in the 1960s.

May have played at Tacoma as a visitor: Jim Thome (94) played portions of two seasons with Colorado Springs, in 1991 and 1992 for a total of 53 games. It’s possible he came through Cheney Stadium back then. Craig Biggio (90) played a half-season with Tucson in 1988 and seems likely to have played at Cheney. Roberto Alomar (73) played in a whopping nine games for Las Vegas in 1988 – the chance that any of those were in Tacoma is slim. Ferguson Jenkins (62) pitched parts of two seasons with Arkansas in 1964-1965. Arkansas, believe it or not, was a PCL team during those seasons and Tacoma played 14 games against the them, so it is likely that Jenkins played at Cheney. Rickey Henderson (14) played a half-season with then-PCL entry Ogden in 1979; he may have played in Tacoma – if any readers know for sure on Rickey, please contact me.

Tacoma-related: Bob Feller (59) did several appearances/autograph signings at Cheney Stadium in his post-playing days. Babe Ruth (1) played exhibition games in Tacoma and Seattle in the early 1920s.

I will leave you with one complaint about ESPN’s list: no Ichiro? Not even in the “honorable mentions?”


  • Josh Hamilton signed a five-year contract with the Angels. This really limits the Mariners chances of acquiring an impact hitter – they might have to go the trade route at this point, as Nick Swisher seems to be the last quality free agent hitter on the market.
  • On The News Tribune’s Mariners blog there is a wrap-up with audio of Jack Z and Eric Wedge visiting the Hot Stove League radio show.
  • Ex-Rainiers third baseman Jack Hannahan signed a two-year major league contract with the Cincinnati Reds.
  • Another former Rainiers player, Shin-Soo Choo, was part of a somewhat controversial three-team trade. Choo is also now on the Reds, and there are reports that Cincinnati is going to try him in center field.
  • In the PCL, the Iowa Cubs have a new manager and it is Marty Pevey.

The Alou Siblings

September 26, 2012

According to the mysterious people who run the @RainiersLand twitter account, today is “National Sibling Day.” This caused them to publish on twitter a great shot of Clay Huntington interviewing all three Alou brothers at Cheney Stadium.

I don’t know what the heck “National Sibling Day” is, but if it spurred the Rainiers to dig out this gem from the photo archives, well, I’m all for it.

It’s an awesome photo, I thought it would be fun to CSI it a little bit.

First off, here is the picture:

Click photo to enlarge

That’s definitely Cheney Stadium – the right field light tower, shipped to Tacoma after they tore down Seals Stadium in San Francisco, has been in place at Cheney since 1960. It even survived the remodel.

You can see the then-undeveloped Foss tennis courts hill in the background.

On the left, we have Felipe and Matty Alou in their San Francisco Giants uniforms. On the right, Jesus Alou is in his Tacoma Giants uniform. In the middle, we have Mr. Huntington in a snappy sports coat adorned with a Tacoma Giants lapel badge.

Felipe Alou – who would become a great manager – never played in a game as a member of the Tacoma Giants. But the San Francisco Giants used to play an annual exhibition game at Cheney Stadium against the Tacoma affiliate, and this picture is clearly from one of those exhibitions.

(These exhibitions are the reason why some older fans remember seeing Willie Mays play in Tacoma. Mays played in several of these exhibitions between 1960 and 1965).

Matty Alou was one of the stars of the inaugural 1960 Tacoma Giants, hitting .306 while playing in 150 games. Matty cracked the San Francisco opening day roster in 1961 as a reserve outfielder – but he couldn’t break into the starting outfield of Mays, Willie McCovey, and his brother Felipe.

Matty was a back-up outfielder in 1961 and 1962, and in 1963 his playing time really deteriorated so he was sent back to Tacoma for a month to get some at-bats. Eventually he was traded to Pittsburgh where he became a starter and won a batting title.

The appearance of Jesus Alou in a Tacoma uniform makes this CSI an easy project: Jesus only played for Tacoma for one season, in 1963.

Jesus had one of the best full-seasons in Tacoma’s long franchise history, batting .324 over 648 at-bats in 1963 – a batting average that still ranks as Tacoma’s 11th-highest single-season mark. He played in 158 games, a Tacoma single-season record that may last forever, since the PCL only plays 144 now.

It appears this photo was taken prior to a San Francisco Giants vs. Tacoma Giants exhibition game in 1963. It must have occurred during a portion of the season when Matty was up with the big club.

Jesus got called up in September of 1963 and three times that September the San Francisco Giants fielded an all-Alou outfield – although, as the New York Times mythbusted, they never did all start the same game.


  • Larry LaRue has a story in The News Tribune about how the Mariners are better than they were last year. I agree with the sentiment: the team is improved from one year ago, even if it doesn’t really show in the won-loss record. They are much more fun to watch.
  • In the Times, Geoff Baker has an excellent article on the remarkable turnaround of Mariners reliever Oliver Perez. Perez signed as a minor league free agent and opened the season in Tacoma.
  • Justin Smoak hit a pair of home runs last night in the Mariners 5-4 loss at Anaheim. Smoak is on yet another September tear… hey, I think I figured out what to do with him! Here’s the plan: we keep him in Tacoma all season, while the Mariners contend for a wild card in the majors, and then when the roster expands they make the call – and here comes September Smoak, ready to blast the Mariners into the post-season! Who’s with me?
  • So you want to operate a Class-A team in the middle of nowhere? The Mariners High Desert affiliate is hiring a general manager.
  • The Wall Street Journal has a study entitled “How Biased Is You Baseball Announcer?”
  • Something good has come from the NFL referees lockout: it reminded Larry Stone to write about the 1979 umpire’s strike. Great stuff here.
  • Congrats to former Rainiers outfielder Michael Saunders, as he and his wife Jessica had a baby.
  • Prospect analyst John Sickels tried to make something of Danny Hultzen‘s season. His conclusion: don’t panic.
  • Yet another step towards El Paso: the ownership group signed an agreement to purchase the Tucson Padres.

Some excellent pennant races going into the final week of the season. Maybe the Mariners can be a factor and help bury the Angels?