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!


Rainiers Play Tonight

April 9, 2015

Happy Opening Day! For real this time – it’s opening day in the Pacific Coast League.

The Rainiers start the 2015 season with an eight-game road trip, and the first game is tonight in El Paso. First pitch is set for 6:20 (Pacific).

I know many of you are anxious for the home opener. We’ve got to wait another week – the Rainiers play their first game at Cheney Stadium on Friday, April 17. Yesterday the front office put out word that tickets for the home opener are moving briskly, so get yours at the stadium box office or online here.

Now, let’s get to tonight.

BROADCAST DETAILS

Tonight’s broadcast will begin with a pregame show starting at 6:00 (Pacific), and first pitch is set for 6:20. Schedules say 6:05 start but I’ve been informed that the pregame opening day ceremonies will push the start back 15 minutes, so 6:20 it is.

All Rainiers games can be heard in the Tacoma area on our longtime radio flagship South Sound Sports 850 AM.

We also have an online audio stream for internet and smart phones: the TuneIn Radio stream will be active at game time, and you can access it right here.

Finally, all 144 Rainiers games will be shown via streaming internet on MiLB.TV. This is a subscription service. Fifty bucks gets you the whole season, or you can try a month for $12.99. This subscription gets you every single Triple-A and Double-A game, plus select Class-A games.

A word about MiLB.TV: the home team is entirely responsible for the feed that you watch. Production quality varies greatly from stadium to stadium. Teams use their in-house cameras to shoot the game, and then place the home team’s radio broadcast on top of it.

PITCHING MATCH-UPS

Tacoma manager Pat Listach and El Paso skipper Pat Murphy have submitted their starting rotations. Here’s how they line up:

  • Today: RHP Jordan Pries vs. LHP Jason Lane
  • Friday: LHP Roenis Elias vs. RHP Aaron Northcraft
  • Saturday: RHP Sam Gaviglio vs. LHP Robbie Erlin
  • Sunday: LHP Mike Kickham vs. RHP James Needy

Tacoma’s fifth starter will be LHP Mike Montgomery, and he’ll pitch Monday night at Albuquerque.

If there are no rainouts or rotation changes, Mike Kickham is in line to start the home opener next Friday.

LINEUPS

TACOMA

  1. Ketel Marte – SS
  2. James Jones – CF
  3. Stefen Romero – RF
  4. Jesus Montero – 1B
  5. Franklin Gutierrez – LF
  6. John Hicks – C
  7. Jabari Blash – DH
  8. Carlos Rivero – 3B
  9. Shawn O’Malley – 2B

EL PASO

  1. Abraham Almonte – CF
  2. Jake Goebbert – LF
  3. Tommy Medica – 1B
  4. Brett Wallace – 3B
  5. Rymer Liriano – RF
  6. Cody Decker – DH
  7. Ramiro Pena – SS
  8. Mike McCoy – 2B
  9. Rocky Gale – C

WEATHER

It’s warm here in El Paso, Texas, and it should be around 70 degrees tonight during the game. When I arrived yesterday it was extremely windy, but apparently that has died down for now.

The Rainiers expect to be dealing with some very cold temperatures on the second leg of this road trip, in high-elevation Albuquerque.

Let’s play a baseball game!

Links:

Finally, it’s game day. Let’s have a fantastic season.


Rainiers Release Tentative Roster

April 1, 2014

We have a roster, but it is being labeled “tentative” because changes are still possible prior to opening day on Thursday.

For example, there were several injuries around the majors last night, and teams are already recalling players from Triple-A as reinforcements. We almost had that happen in the Mariners game last night – Charlie Furbush was smoked in the knee by a line drive, but luckily it sounds like he’s going to be OK.

Here are the players who flew into Tacoma and were issued uniforms today:

PITCHERS

  • Bawcom, Logan
  • Beavan, Blake
  • Fernandez, Anthony
  • Gillheeney, James
  • Hill, Nick
  • Kensing, Logan
  • Leone, Dominic
  • Luetge, Lucas
  • Maurer, Brandon
  • Miner, Zach
  • Ramirez, Ramon
  • Ruffin, Chance
  • Smith, Carson

At this time I do not have a starting rotation – manager Roy Howell said he should have one ready to announce on Wednesday.

CATCHERS

  • Quintero, Humberto
  • Sucre, Jesus

I heard today from a reliable source that Brandon Bantz was released at the end of spring training. An unfortunate situation for a likable guy, but I’m sure he’ll hook on with another team soon.

INFIELDERS

  • Choi, Ji-Man
  • Franklin, Nick
  • Kelly, Ty
  • Montero, Jesus
  • Noriega, Gabriel
  • Taylor, Chris
  • Tenbrink, Nate

That’s a lot of middle infielders. Taylor was the Mariners Minor League Player of the Year last year, and he’s going to play every day. Obviously, Franklin is playing every day – we’ll see if he gets any reps in the outfield. Kelly and Tenbrink were two of Tacoma’s best hitters last year. It could be tough for Howell to keep everybody happy with enough playing time.

OUTFIELDERS

  • Chavez, Endy
  • Gillespie, Cole
  • Jones, James

Right now the fourth outfielder appears to be Tenbrink, Kelly, or possibly Franklin.

DISABLED LIST

  • Bonilla, Leury
  • Carraway, Andrew
  • Rogers, Mark

Carraway and Rogers are staying in extended spring training as each had injuries in Arizona (Carraway apparently very recently since he was fine when I talked to him last week). I heard Matt Palmer is still in extended, too.

Keep in mind there are three players currently on waivers, and if they don’t get claimed by other teams they are Triple-A players who would probably be assigned to Tacoma. Those three are Carlos Triunfel, Xavier Avery, and Bobby LaFromboise.

Here is the roster press release, and a one-page roster PDF with lots of player data is right here.


Opening Day Warm-Up

March 31, 2014

Happy Major League Opening Day – a holiday to many, but for us PCL folks it’s just a warm up. The Rainiers season starts on Thursday.

There is a tremendous slate of televised games today, and many are shown nationally on ESPN or ESPN2. The action starts at 10:05 AM, and the final game is the Mariners season opener in Anaheim at 7:05.

Some television providers are doing a free preview of the MLB package for the first week of the season, so check and see if you are getting it.

Word came down on Saturday that the Mariners released Rainiers first baseman Rich Poythress.

I had high hopes for Poythress to be a factor in the PCL this year (and he still might, but with some other team). However, with first basemen Jesus Montero and Ji-Man Choi both on the Mariners 40-man roster, and thus with playing time priority over Poythress, I’m sure the Mariners simply figured he wasn’t going to play much this year.

These types of situations often work out better for the player, and hopefully that will be the case with Poythress. Ideally, he’ll get picked up by another team that has an opening for a Triple-A first baseman, and he’ll get a chance to play regularly.

Another player the Mariners let go was former Rainiers pitcher Anthony Vasquez. Vasquez had a nice run with Tacoma in 2011 and reached the major leagues before he was waylaid by injuries: shoulder problems and of all things, brain surgery. Vasquez was pitching this spring, so hopefully he’ll get picked up by another team.

I’m not sure if/when we will have a blog update on Tuesday – I need to spend some time getting the broadcast booth ready at Cheney, that’s the priority. However, there is a chance the Rainiers roster will be announced tomorrow afternoon. When it is announced, I’ll post it as quickly as possible (if we don’t get it tomorrow, we’ll certainly have the roster on Wednesday).

In the meantime, we have One Million links:

That’s it – let’s watch some baseball!


Suspension Bails Out Rainiers (For Now)

April 13, 2013

Tacoma and Salt Lake tried to get an official game in amid miserable conditions on Friday night, but they couldn’t make it through five innings before the umpires halted the proceedings. That result was just fine with the Rainiers, who were four outs away from suffering a 5-0 rain-shortened loss at the time of the suspension.

Instead, the two teams will resume the game today, picking up play in the top of the fifth inning with Sale Lake leading, 5-0. That game will be played through a full nine innings, and then a second game (the regularly scheduled game) will be played. The second game will be shortened to seven innings, per Minor League Baseball rules.

Rainiers lefty James Paxton was real strong for four innings, but he walked the bases loaded before allowing three straight two-out hits in the fifth, leading to five runs. Sloppy infield conditions did not help the Rainiers fielders during Salt Lake’s rally.

The Rainiers are into the bullpen in the suspended game – Lucas Luetge relieved Paxton right before the game was called.

Tacoma could be in a spot of trouble for game two. The Rainiers were hoping that pitcher D.J. Mitchell would clear waivers and be available to start today. Mitchell – who was designated for assignment by the Mariners on Thursday – did, in fact, clear waivers. However, he executed his right to become a free agent, and suddenly we don’t have him anymore.

I anticipate that the Mariners to fly in a pitcher from somewhere else in the organization in time for the games tonight. The Tacoma staff is really short right now.

Big shout-out to the loyal Rainiers fans who withstood the cold and rain last night – you guys were great. Thanks for coming out!

Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we’ll have baseball tonight. It all starts at 5:05, and you can hear the action on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here.

Links:

Hopefully we can play ball tonight!


Opening Day Is Here

April 4, 2013

The Tacoma Rainiers open the 2013 season today here in Fresno. The game is at 7:15 PM, and we will carry it live with the broadcast on South Sound Sports 850 AM, and the broadcast will stream live on the internet via this link. Tacoma starts LHP Danny Hultzen against Fresno RHP Yusmeiro Petit.

The Fresno telecast will be streaming live if you subscribe to MiLB TV – a worthy investment for out-of-Tacoma fans and player’s families, because we’ll have every Rainiers home game on there. The quality of the MiLB TV broadcast varies from stadium-to-stadium, but our 72 home games should be pretty good. The subscription information is right here.

As for radio, we’ll have every single game live on 850 AM. The broadcast takes off 15 minutes early for the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show, which will feature an interview (almost) every day.

This year we’ll hear from manager Daren Brown prior the first game of each series, and also every Sunday. For the rest of the games I’ll interview Rainiers players and coaches, and other interesting people from around the PCL.

The Miller Lite Post-Game Show airs following the final out. We’ll have a recap of the game, some highlights, and scoreboards for the majors and PCL.

This will be my 15th Pacific Coast League opening day. In a related story, I am getting old.

I remember my first one in 1999 pretty clearly: it was in Albuquerque, at the old ballpark (the ridiculously-but-accurately named Sports Stadium). Ken Cloude was the Rainiers opening day starter, and he tossed six one-hit innings. The Rainiers went on to sweep the Dukes in a four-game series, and then came home to face Salt Lake. The Buzz beat the Rainiers in the home opener on a David Ortiz homer that landed on the Foss hill.

Last year, the Rainiers opened at home against the Salt Lake Bees. Mike Trout was the first batter of the season, and he singled up the middle to start what became a pretty interesting campaign for him.

What does the 2013 PCL season have in store for us? It all starts tonight.

Links:

  • The News Tribune ran a Rainiers opening day preview today – check it out.
  • Edgar Martinez has made the Hall of Fame. The Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame.
  • After being released by the Mets in spring training, long-time Rainiers outfielder Mike Wilson has signed with the independent Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League. Hit up a storm and get picked up quickly, Mike!
  • Geoff Baker was kind enough to give us all of the Mariners minor league rosters in one easy-to-find place.
  • The prolific Conor Glassey of Baseball America gives us a brief analysis of the Mariners minor league assignments.
  • For a much longer look at the Mariners minor league teams, marc w at USS Mariner delivers the goods.
  • The Mariners aren’t going 162-0 this year. Maybe next year?
  • Brandon Maurer – the starting pitching prospect who skipped Triple-A like Gil Meche back in the day – makes his MLB debut in an afternoon game today.
  • In the PCL, the St. Louis Cardinals are considering purchasing the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds.
  • Las Vegas has two of the top prospects in all of minor league baseball: pitcher Zack Wheeler and catcher Travis d’Arnaud.
  • The Tommy Layne story is remarkable: the Tucson left-hander got roughed up all of the time as a starting pitcher, moved to the bullpen and became a very tough pitcher.
  • The “salty” New Orleans Zephyrs have 16 players with major league experience.
  • Round Rock features top prospects Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt. Of note in this preview story: hard-throwing reliever Josh Lindblom is down in Triple-A learning to be a starter.
  • Oklahoma City is going with the eight-man tandem starting rotation, which is something the whole Astros organization is doing. Teams have tried this in the lower minors and they usually stop and go back to a five-man rotation after a year or two. It’s definitely unusual to see at Triple-A, and it could put them in a bind when they need to call up a starter.
  • Slugger Manny Ramirez is now playing in Taiwan, and he hit his first home run yesterday. Watch the video because the play-by-play call of the homer is truly wonderful. This is the best thing on the internet today (including the live stream of the Rainiers game – I’ve got nothing on these guys). I love it when the announcer sneaks in a “see you later” in English on the replay.

As I press “publish,” it is raining here in Fresno. Hopefully it will clear up and we won’t have any issues – and opening day rainout must be avoided at all costs!


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