Scampering Off To Fresno

May 8, 2015

The Rainiers saw exactly how quickly fortunes can change on Thursday in Salt Lake City.

Tacoma had won five of the last six games, getting great pitching, and had pulled within two games of .500.

On Thursday they were to complete a suspended game which was tied 2-2 in the fifth inning – obviously, a winnable game – and then play the regularly scheduled game. Win just one of the two, and Tacoma had its first road series win of the year.

Instead, the Rainiers were blown out in both games. Final scores were 11-4 and 10-3. They were Tacoma’s worst losses since the opening night 11-4 defeat at El Paso.

Fortunately the team gets to bolt out of town, heading to Fresno tonight while claiming a road split at Salt Lake.

Tacoma took three-of-four from Fresno at Cheney last weekend. Let’s see if they can do that again at Fresno’s home ballpark.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Gosh, must we rehash it? The Rainiers had their worst day of the year, taking two blowout losses in Salt Lake City. Yuck-o.

Roster Moves: The Mariners activated Tom Wilhelmsen from the disabled list (without sending him on a rehab assignment first, which is unusual) and optioned reliever Dominic Leone to Tacoma. The Rainiers now have 24 men on the roster (down one position player).

Today: Tacoma (12-16) at Fresno (14-13) 7:05 PM.

Opponent Affiliation: Fresno is the Houston Astros affiliate.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 3-1.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Forrest Snow (1-1, 3.44) at RHP Brady Rodgers (1-2, 8.02).

Rodgers faced the Rainiers on Saturday at Cheney Stadium and Stefen Romero hit two home runs off him. The Rainiers won that game, 5-1. Snow is filling the departed Mike Kickham‘s spot in the rotation.

Hot Rainiers: Infielder Ketel Marte went 5-for-8 over the two games yesterday, extending his hitting streak to 13 games. James Jones has hit safely in all 12 games he has batted in this season. Franklin Gutierrez has reached base via hit or walk in 16 consecutive games; he homered twice on Tuesday night.

Look Out For: Fresno no longer has PCL home run leader Preston Tucker – he was called up by the Astros yesterday. However, first baseman Jon Singleton homered Tuesday and then went deep twice on Wednesday.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 (Pacific) on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

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

Links:

When we checked in to the Fresno motel today, the keys were laid out with everybody’s name written on them – and mine just said “Radio Guy.” That’s a first.


Rainiers Open Trip In Salt Lake City

May 4, 2015

Quick one today, as we had a ridiculously early flight to Salt Lake City. The good part of that is that everyone was in their hotel rooms by 10:30 AM and had time for a long nap before heading to the ballpark.

It’s an eight-game road trip, with four here in SLC and then four in Fresno.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Fresno’s Domingo Santana homered twice, including a crucial three-run shot in the eighth inning as the Grizzlies avoided a sweep by beating Tacoma, 6-5. Lots of roster moves were made after the game.

Roster Moves: OK, here we go: The Mariners optioned relievers Tyler Olson and Yoervis Medina to Tacoma. They called up reliever Joe Beimel and infielder Chris Taylor. Leury Bonilla is returning to Tacoma from Double-A Jackson. Pitcher Mike Kickham was designated for assignment and is currently on waivers (not available for games). Julio Morban has been placed on the restricted list. One more Rainiers player was called up by Seattle and that will be announced by the Mariners later tonight.

Today: Tacoma (10-14) at Salt Lake (9-14) 5:35 PM (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Salt Lake is the Los Angeles Angels affiliate.

Season Series: 0-0

Starting Pitchers: LHP Mike Montgomery (1-2, 3.32) at RHP Nick Tropeano (0-0, 4.41).

Hot Rainiers: Infielder Ketel Marte has a nine game hitting streak, going 14-for-38 during the stretch. James Jones has hit safely in all eight games he has batted in this season.

Look Out For: Catcher Carlos Perez has a five-game hitting streak, and he is hitting a whopping .563 (9-for-16) with runners in scoring position. Other catcher Jett Bandy deserves to be included here because has a really cool name (hopefully he’s slower than Benji Molina).

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:20 (Pacific) on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

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

Links:

  • We’ll start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • Rainiers mascot Rhubarb The Reindeer did a Q&A. Everybody knows he can’t talk, so he must have conducted the interview via email.
  • The good news for the Mariners is that the series in Houston is over. They took a tough 7-6 loss yesterday and were swept in the four-gamer.
  • John McGrath thinks the Mariners need to go back to spring training.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook has lots of… notes. It’s like a book full of notes.
  • In the PCL, Las Vegas won its tenth straight game and manager Wally Backman was reminded of his 1986 Mets.
  • Albuquerque catcher Dustin Garneau settled an offseason bet with Salt Lake outfielder Gary Brown the old-fashioned way: by throwing him out. Good game story on the Isotopes 5-4 win.
  • Ty Blach pitched well in Sacramento’s 4-1 win over El Paso. The Chihuahuas need a new catcher because Austin Hedges got called up.
  • Round Rock finished off a four-game sweep of Nashville with a 5-4 win on Sunday. The Express have won nine of the last ten.
  • Javier Baez is back and he helped the Iowa Cubs hand Oklahoma City a rare loss, 7-3.
  • Washington State product Adam Conley pitched New Orleans to a 4-3 win over Memphis, and the Zephyrs reached .500 for the first time since they were 1-1.
  • Omaha topped Colorado Springs, 4-2, but the Sky Sox are making progress: their recap is down to nine misused “woulds.”

I gotta tell you, it’s nice to be calling games in which the Rainiers are playing a team that did *not* have an affiliation change over the winter. It’s like my brain can relax.


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.

THROWBACK WEEKEND PART TWO

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.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

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.

Links:

  • 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.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

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.

Links:

  • 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.

Three Straight Wins For Tacoma

April 26, 2015

The Rainiers opened up this quick four-game road trip with a victory in Sacramento on Saturday night. For details on how it happened, check the first link down below.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers had terrific pitching from Forrest Snow, Joe Beimel, and Logan Bawcom in a 6-1 series-opening win at Sacramento on Saturday night. The Rainiers went 4-for-4 stealing bases, including a delayed double steal of home plate with Carlos Rivero and Pat Kivlehan.

Today: Tacoma (7-10) at Sacramento (8-9) 1:05 PM (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Sacramento is the San Francisco Giants affiliate.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 1-0.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Sam Gaviglio (1-1, 3.60) at LHP Ty Blach (0-2, 5.60).

Roster Move: Yesterday the Rainiers added Joe Beimel from extended spring training, filling Lucas Luetge‘s spot on the roster. Today the Rainiers are losing Roenis Elias to Seattle, and adding pitcher Andrew Kittredge from extended spring training.

Hot Rainiers: The bullpen, as a unit. Tacoma relievers have pitched a total of ten scoreless innings during this three-game win streak. Jesus Montero had another hit last night; he has hit safely in 15 of 16 games this season. Chris Taylor has three straight two-hit games.

Look Out For: Sacramento’s Adam Duvall has been one of the top hitters in the league so far, batting .400 with four homers and 16 RBI. He hit for the cycle on Sunday in Salt Lake City.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 12:50 (Pacific) on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

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

Links:

Daytime baseball in Sacramento. Let’s see if the Rainiers can make it four in a row.


Rainiers Top ‘Topes With Pitching, Defense

April 25, 2015

We had a spectacular finish to Tacoma’s 3-2 win over Albuquerque on Friday night.

Nursing a one-run lead in the ninth, reliever Mayckol Guaipe allowed a leadoff triple to Albuquerque’s Ben Paulsen. Obviously this was big trouble.

With the infield drawn in, Guaipe struck out Ryan Casteel for the first out.

Next up, the dangerous Tim Wheeler pulled a hard chopper to the right side. First baseman Jesus Skinny Montero – now featuring cat-like reflexes –  made a lunging backhand stab of the ball, froze the runner at third, and then raced to first and slid in to beat Wheeler to the bag. His feet-first slide allowed him to pop back up onto his feet and make sure Paulsen hadn’t budged from third.

Guaipe then retired the next hitter on a flyout to end the game.

Montero’s defensive play serves as a snapshot of how his physical transformation has changed him as a player. There was no way he could have made this play last year. No chance.

There is more on Montero in the game story below.

Tacoma has had great starting pitching for two days in a row, with Mike Montgomery and Jordan Pries turning in consecutive terrific starts. Both days the bullpen has followed with shutout relief.

Friday’s win earned a series split with Albuquerque. Tacoma has won back-to-back games for the second time this season, and looks to make it three straight for the first time tonight.

The Rainiers open a four-game series in Sacramento tonight. Then the team returns home to host Fresno starting on Thursday and lasting through the weekend.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma pitchers Jordan Pries and Mayckol Guaipe shut down Albuquerque, with Guaipe nailing down a tough save. Jesus Montero drove in a pair of runs and made a game-saving web gem at first base in the ninth inning.

Today: Tacoma (6-10) at Sacramento (8-8) 7:05 PM (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Sacramento is the San Francisco Giants affiliate.

Season Series: 0-0.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Forrest Snow (0-1, 5.40) at LHP Braulio Lara (0-2, 8.78)

Snow is filling in for scheduled starter Roenis Elias, who is “not available” for reasons which should be clear tomorrow.

Roster Move: yesterday the Mariners placed Hisashi Iwakuma on the disabled list and recalled reliever Lucas Luetge from Tacoma. Tacoma now has an open roster spot which could be filled before today’s game.

Hot Rainiers: Jesus Montero had two more hits and two RBIs last night. He has hit safely in 14 of 15 games this season.

Look Out For: Sacramento’s Adam Duvall has been one of the top hitters in the league so far, batting .424 with four homers and 16 RBI. He hit for the cycle on Sunday in Salt Lake City.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 (Pacific) on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

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

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story has quotes from Jordan Pries and Jesus Montero.
  • Felix Hernandez pitched a shutout and the Mariners beat the Twins on Friday night, 2-0. Seattle has won four of the last six games and is now 7-9 on the season.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook has the low-down on the Hisashi Iwakuma situation and a note on a record Felix is closing in on.
  • Ex-Rainiers outfielder Michael Saunders is about to be activated by the Toronto Blue Jays.
  • In the PCL, the El Paso Chihuahuas broke out their brooms and swept away the Sacramento River Cats with a 6-1 victory on Friday. Jason Lane tossed a gem.
  • Las Vegas starter Steven Matz had a no-hitter broken up with two outs in the seventh inning of a 12-0 defrocking of Reno.
  • Fresno at Salt Lake was suspended due to rain in the tenth inning with the score tied 3-3. The teams don’t see each other again until June, so this game is going to be in limbo for a long time.
  • Jerad Eickhoff had a Triple-A debut to remember: the newest pitcher on the Round Rock Express had a no-hit bid spoiled with one out in the ninth inning against Colorado Springs. He had to settle for an 11-strikeout, 7-2 victory.
  • Triple-A rookie Max Muncy had a big game at the plate and Nashville put away Oklahoma City early. The A’s called up Muncy today.
  • Memphis closer Sam Tuivailala survived a wild ninth to slam the door on an 8-7 win at Omaha.
  • Iowa turned four double plays in a 2-1 win over New Orleans, but may have lost pitcher Barret Loux in the process.

The Rainiers Could Use A Win

April 20, 2015

Well, we’re 11 games into the season and I suppose it’s time to address this: the Rainiers aren’t winning very often.

Tacoma blew two leads and lost to El Paso on Sunday afternoon, 9-7. The team is 0-3 on this homestand and needs a win today to avoid being swept.

On top of that, the Rainiers have lost seven of the last eight games and are now sitting in last place in the Pac-North with a 3-8 record. The Rainiers are already five games behind first place Sacramento.

Tacoma’s offense ranks 3rd in the league (16 teams) in runs scored, but they have allowed the fourth-most runs in the league.

It’s early, yes. The Rainiers got unlucky on the road trip with four straight one-run losses, yes. Heck, the team even has a positive run differential (they have outscored their opponents, 66-62). But a win sure would feel good.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma’s rough start to the season continued with a 9-7 loss to El Paso. The Rainiers were ahead 5-0 after three innings and took a 6-5 lead into the eighth, only to see the game get away.

Today: El Paso (7-4) at Tacoma (3-8) 6:05 PM (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: El Paso is the San Diego Padres farm club.

Season Series: El Paso leads, 5-2.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Aaron Northcraft (1-1, 12.15) at LHP Roenis Elias (1-0, 8.44)

Keep an eye on the first inning tonight: Elias has been rocked in the first inning in each of his two starts so far. Each time he then settled down and pitched nicely into the middle of the game.

Hot Rainiers: Chris Taylor has hit safely in six straight games (7-for-22). It was just one game, but Ketel Marte was locked in yesterday reaching base four times with two hits and two walks.

Look Out For: El Paso’s veteran corner infielder Brett Wallace has a ten-game hitting streak, which is the longest active streak in the PCL right now.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:50 (Pacific) on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

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

Links:

Let’s see if the Rainiers can get a win today.


Rainiers Fall In Electric Opener

April 18, 2015

Fans seemed to be having fun at the Tacoma Rainiers home opener on Friday night, but unfortunately most of the excitement came in the pregame ceremonies.

Edgar Martinez arrived via helicopter to throw out the first pitch, and he received his PCL Hall of Fame plaque (now we’ve got to get him into that other Hall).

With the teams lined up along the baselines, Rhubarb The Raindeer made his flag-waving entrance running between on-field fireworks. He managed to do this without igniting his Rainiers flag, so we’re calling it a win.

We had an A-grade color guard and a performance of the Star Spangled Banner.

A crowd of over 6,500 packed the house and provided good energy throughout the game.

Then the Rainiers struck out 14 times and lost to El Paso, 4-2.

There were some good moments. The svelte Jesus Montero had two hits including a long double, and he showed his improved mobility by tagging up from second and taking third base on a fly out. James Jones and Ketel Marte stole bases, and the Rainiers brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth.

But there was a lot of concern for Jones, who was helped off the field after a play at third base in the third inning.

Running on the pitch, Jones went into third with a head-first dive. The third baseman Brett Wallace was covering the bag, and Jones banged his head against Wallace’s knee. Jones was taken to the hospital to be checked for a concussion. We should learn more about his status today.

We’ll do it again this afternoon/evening – hopefully with a better result for the hometown nine.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers lost to El Paso, 4-2, in the home opener at Cheney Stadium. Tacoma batters struck out 14 times, and starting pitcher Mike Kickham allowed just two runs in five innings but both scored on bases-loaded walks.

Today: El Paso (5-4) at Tacoma (3-6) 5:05 PM (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: El Paso is the San Diego Padres farm club.

Season Series: El Paso leads, 3-2.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Mike Montgomery (1-0, 1.50) vs. RHP Bryce Morrow (0-1, 1.80)

Montgomery was terrific in his Tacoma Rainiers debut on Monday in Albuquerque, allowing just one run over six innings while generating lots of ground ball outs. Tacoma has never faced Morrow before.

Rehabber: Chris Taylor continued his rehabilitation assignment on Friday, playing the entire game at shortstop and going 1-for-4 at the plate. He made his first error when a grounder kicked off his glove.

Injury Update: James Jones left the game in the third inning with a possible concussion; we should learn more about his status today. Stefen Romero missed his fourth straight game with back tightness.

Hot Rainiers: Jesus Montero singled in Tacoma’s first run and later added a double. He has hit safely in all nine games this season.

Look Out For: Veteran corner infielder Brett Wallace has a eight-game hitting streak. Catcher Austin Hedges has an RBI in five straight games (nine total RBIs in that span).

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 4:50 (Pacific) on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

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

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune sets the scene and includes a couple of nice photos.
  • Jack Zduriencik reveals that the Mariners hope to assign Danny Hultzen to minor league affiliate in May.
  • The Mariners dropped their fourth straight game yesterday. On the bright side, at least they pitched well.
  • Good quote from Fernando Rodney which reveals the mindset that a closer must have.
  • Todd Milles caught up with Mariners rookie reliever Tyler Olson.
  • The big story in the PCL last night was the grand opening of First Tennessee Park in Nashville. The new ballpark has a major league feel, fans say. The Sounds beat Colorado Springs on Max Muncy‘s walk-off. The Tennessean has a photo gallery.
  • Las Vegas nearly overcame a 9-1 deficit but ended up losing to Fresno 11-10 in the Cashman Field opener. Fresno is 7-2 on the year.
  • The Salt Lake Bees lost their home opener to Sacramento and are now 1-8 on the year. Now that’s a rough start.
  • Hall of Famer Randy Johnson‘s pregame talk to the Reno Aces didn’t work – they got creamed in their home opener by Albuquerque, 11-2.
  • The Iowa Cubs played a Kris Bryantless home opener and lost to Oklahoma City, 3-2. The Register has a photo gallery.
  • I love this headline, about a triple play hurting the momentum for Omaha. Indeed, triple plays tend to do that. New Orleans beat the Storm Chasers, 5-3.
  • The Round Rock Express are experiencing more weather issues that they would like. Their home opener against Memphis was suspended in the second inning due to rain.

Rainiers Snare Win Before Home Opener

April 17, 2015

Facing the prospect of being swept in a four-game series right before the home opener, the Tacoma Rainiers responded with their best-pitched game of the season in an 11-inning, 3-1 victory over Albuquerque on Thursday afternoon.

Sam Gaviglio, Logan Bawcom, Mark Lowe, and Justin Germano combined to limit the Isotopes to five hits over 11 innings.

The stellar joint effort by the four pitchers enabled the Rainiers to get a win by taking advantage of two Albuquerque fielding mistakes in the top of the 11th.

This team needed the win.

Tacoma had lost four straight games, and amazingly all four of them were one-run defeats. In each game, the Rainiers opponent won in its final at-bat – and two of them came on walk-off homers.

Thursday’s game was the first close win the Rainiers have secured this season. The other two victories came by scores of 10-2 and 17-5.

So now it’s time for the home opener, tonight. Listed start time is 7:05, but that’s when the opening ceremonies will begin. I’ve been told that we should expect a good show before the game even starts – so make sure you’re in your seats at the top of the hour.

For radio and webstream listeners/viewers, we’ll be starting the Rainiers pregame show at 7:15.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers snapped a four-game losing streak by beating Albuquerque in the 11th inning, 3-1. Sam Gaviglio carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and left at the end of the frame with the score tied, 1-1. Leury Bonilla doubled to open the 11th and scored when Albuquerque pitcher Simon Castro threw the ball away after fielding a James Jones bunt.

Today: El Paso (4-4) at Tacoma (3-5) 7:30 PM (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: El Paso is the San Diego Padres farm club.

Season Series: 2-2. The two teams split a four-gamer in El Paso to open the season.

Starting Pitchers: LHP Mike Kickham (0-0, 10.38) vs. RHP James Needy (0-0, 12.27)

This is a rematch of Sunday’s game, which was the final game of the season-opening four-game series in El Paso. The Chihuahuas won, 7-6, but neither starting pitcher was around when El Paso scored the winning run in the eighth. Kickham had trouble with walks, while the Rainiers were able to hit Needy around a bit.

Rehabber: Chris Taylor played the entire game at shortstop on Wednesday, and then took Thursday off (it was the first off-day of his rehabilitation assignment). He’s supposed to play today.

Injury Update: Stefen Romero missed his third straight game with back tightness.

Hot Rainiers: Jesus Montero hit safely in all eight games on the road trip, including a 3-for-5 performance yesterday. Shawn O’Malley and James Jones carry five-game streaks into tonight’s home opener.

Look Out For: Veteran corner infielder Brett Wallace has a seven-game hitting streak and is batting .500 (12-for-24) on the season. Catcher Austin Hedges is also on a roll, going 8-for-15 with 8 RBI in his last four games.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 7:15 (Pacific) on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here. Pacific Northwest sportscasting legend Bob Robertson will join me on the air tonight, and for all Sunday home games this season.

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

Links:

The weather is perfect today for a Home Opener. Let’s all have a great time at the park tonight!


Gutierrez Thriving

April 15, 2015

The Rainiers dropped their fourth straight one-run game on Wednesday night – and this one was unlucky; check the game story down below – but they do have some positives right now.

One of the positive notes is the play of outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who has looked really solid at the plate despite taking the entire 2014 season off.

Gutierrez had two more hits last night. The second one was an opposite-field line drive double over the right fielder’s head which hit the base of the wall on the fly. This two-run double tied the game in the eighth inning.

He’s started six of the seven games so far and is batting .409, with nine hits in 22 at-bats. Five of his nine hits have gone for extra bases (four doubles, one homer). He’s driving the ball to all fields – he also hit a very long double to right in El Paso earlier on the trip.

Mariners fans know Gutierrez as a center fielder, but he has played left field in five of the six games. He has one game in center, but James Jones has seen the majority of the starts there.

It’s good to have a healthy Gutierrez in the lineup and producing. Maybe the SABR Biography* on his major league career can’t be written just yet.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Albuquerque beat the Rainiers for the third straight day, 7-6. All three wins have been by one run.

Rehabber: Chris Taylor went 1-for-3 with a walk and scored a run. He played the entire game at shortstop for the first time on his rehabilitation assignment.

Injury Update: James Jones returned to the lineup last night, but Stefen Romero missed his second straight game with back tightness.

Today: Tacoma (2-5) at Albuquerque (5-2), 11:05 AM (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Albuquerque is now the Colorado Rockies farm club.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Sam Gaviglio (1-0, 0.00) vs. LHP John Lannan (0-0, 0.00)

This is an interesting match-up as each pitcher tossed shutout ball in his season debut. Gaviglio went five scoreless at El Paso and Lannan delivered six shutout against Reno. Gaviglio is a Triple-A rookie and Lannan has lots of Major League experience.

Hot Rainiers: Jesus Montero is the last man standing in the “get a hit in every game” club. He went 1-for-4 with 2 RBI yesterday and has hit safely in all seven games.

Look Out For: A sweep. Yuck. The Rainiers made it through the entire 2014 season without being swept. The last time they were swept was July 30 to August 2 of 2013, when Omaha wiped ’em out in a four-gamer at Cheney Stadium.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 10:50 AM (Pacific) on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

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

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story from The News Tribune explains how the team got unlucky on Wednesday.
  • Tacoma catcher John Baker told the Albuquerque Journal about how Mixed Martial Arts training helps him with the mental aspects of baseball.
  • The Mariners were swept by the Dodgers and get a needed off-day to regroup today. They start a nine-game homestand on Friday.
  • Lloyd McClendon is committed to Fernando Rodney as his closer, Bob Dutton writes in his Mariners Notebook.
  • Just nine games into the season, this ESPN writer says all of the Mariners biggest preseason concerns have been the team’s biggest problems so far.
  • In the PCL, Fresno scored seven runs in the first inning didn’t actually beat Salt Lake until the 11th inning, 9-8. Matt Duffy went 5-for-6 and started the winning rally. Salt Lake starter Andrew Heaney – a highly regarded prospect – didn’t make it out of the first inning.
  • El Paso’s bullpen stepped up in a 4-2 win over Reno.
  • Sacramento topped Las Vegas, 4-3. The River Cats have the best record in the Pac-North at 5-2.
  • Memphis first baseman Xavier Scruggs homered twice in a 4-2 win over Omaha.
  • Round Rock infielders Ed Lucas and Tommy Field had big games to help the Express win at Colorado Springs, 9-4. The story focuses on Sky Sox closer David Goforth.
  • It was 2001 all over again in Oklahoma City, when Barry Zito and Freddy Garcia squared off last night. Both pitchers were long gone when the Dodgers Kike’ Hernandez won it with an RBI single in the 10th.
  • Vinny Rottino had the game-winning hit in a 3-2 New Orleans victory over Iowa.

The team flies home after this day game, and we’ll be all set for the home opener at Cheney Stadium on Friday night. It’s going to be a great one!

* none of the Rainiers coaches have SABR Biographies yet, but Jaime Navarro‘s father (and former Tacoma Giants pitcher) Julio Navarro does.