The Local Angle

October 17, 2014

The Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants advanced to the World Series, and each team was spurred by a player with local ties.

Kansas City completed a four-game sweep of Baltimore on Wednesday, with former Rainiers and Mariners pitcher Jason Vargas earning the win in the deciding game. Vargas pitched 5.1 innings and allowed just two hits and one run in the Royals 2-1 victory.

Later on Wednesday, San Francisco reliever and 2010 Rainiers pitcher Yusmeiro Petit tossed three scoreless innings and earned the win in a Game Four victory over St. Louis.

The Giants polished off the Cardinals on Thursday night, 6-3. Former Rainiers and Mariners infielder/outfielder Mike Morse hit a pinch-hit, game-tying home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to make it 3-3.

Then in the bottom of the ninth inning, Federal Way High School (Class of 2002) product Travis Ishikawa hit a walk-off three-run homer to give the Giants a 6-3 victory.

Ishikawa played at Cheney Stadium this year, as a visitor for the Fresno Grizzlies in a series July 11-13. A longtime off-the-bench player in the majors, he opened the season with the Pirates, was released in late April, signed by the Giants to a Triple-A deal, and then promoted to San Francisco in August. He’s played all or parts of seven years in the majors, and 11 years in the minors.

Today Ishikawa’s name is on an impressive list (source: Lee Sinins ATM Reports):


Bill Mazeroski      World Series  1960  Pirates
Chris Chambliss     ALCS          1976  Yankees
Joe Carter          World Series  1993  Blue Jays
Todd Pratt            NLDS          1999  Mets
Aaron Boone        ALCS          2003  Yankees
David Ortiz           ALDS          2004  Red Sox
Chris Burke          NLDS          2005  Astros
Magglio Ordonez   ALCS         2006  Tigers
Travis Ishikawa     NLCS          2014  Giants

I must admit, I forgot about Todd Pratt.

Now we have a long wait for the World Series. Game One is on Tuesday in Kansas City. We’ll have some sort of preview for you on Monday.


  • The folks at have their Mariners minor league all-stars, with lots of commentary from Director of Player Development Chris Gwynn. There is some good stuff in here.
  • Bob Dutton has an overview of where Mariners landed on the various Baseball America league top prospect lists.
  • Here’s how Mike Morse prepared for the biggest hit of his career.
  • Former Rainiers pitcher Yusmeiro Petit is gaining a lot of respect in San Francisco.
  • 2005 Pacific Coast League MVP Andy Green (who was with the Tucson Sidewinders) was named third base coach of the Arizona Diamondbacks. New Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale was the Tucson manager when Green won the MVP.
  • John McGrath recalls his experience covering the 1989 Earthquake Series.
  • The Rainiers Team Store received a brand new shipment of those retro hats you guys love so much – including a new Tacoma Cubs model. Here’s the direct link.

MLB Down To Four

October 8, 2014

The Major League Baseball playoffs are moving right along, with both National League Division Series coming to an end last night. The San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals advanced, and will face each other in the NL Championship Series starting on Saturday.

So far the postseason has had terrific games but has not had a great series yet. The four best-of-five division series resulted in two 3-0 sweeps and a pair of 3-1 decisions. However, there were a ton of one-run games, extra inning affairs, and games decided late.

Now we have no baseball for two full days. Once we survive this dry spell, the ALCS between Baltimore and Kansas City opens on Friday night.


  • The Arizona Fall League opened yesterday, and Taijuan Walker pitched four strong innings. Likely 2015 Rainiers player Patrick Kivlehan hit a homer. Ryan Divish has the details.
  • Baseball America has all of the Arizona Fall League rosters with some notes on the teams.
  • Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager has a chance to win a Gold Glove Award, according to Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook.
  • John Sickels took a look at Roenis Elias.
  • Fun story from Grantland: the media has been reporting that baseball is dying since 1868.

A brief post today, I know. I’m working on something solid for Friday.

Former Rainiers Factoring In MLB Playoffs

October 6, 2014

The playoffs have been great so far, haven’t they? So many close games, and we already have two fun-to-root-for teams moving ahead into the American League Championship Series.

Kansas City and Baltimore each swept their division series, and they will play in the ALCS starting on Friday night. It has been a long time since either team advanced this far in the playoffs.

Both National League Division Series are still going, and that’s where the ex-Rainiers were in the spotlight this weekend.

San Francisco has a 2-0 lead on Washington and will go for a sweep today at 2:05 (Pacific). Washington will start former Rainiers pitcher Doug Fister in a must-win game.

The Giants took the 2-0 lead by prevailing in an 18-inning marathon on Saturday, 2-1. Former Rainiers pitcher Yusmeiro Petit was an unexpected star for the Giants, delivering six shutout innings of one-hit relief. Normally the Giants No. 5 starting pitcher, Petit was summoned from the bullpen in the 12th inning and pitched scoreless ball through the 17th. Brandon Belt homered in the top of the 18th, and Petit was credited with the win.

Washington Nationals infielder Asdrubal Cabrera has had an eventful series against the Giants. He homered in the first game on Friday, and then was ejected on a controversial call in the 18-inning game on Saturday. Cabrera was ahead in the count 3-1, and the umpire called two straight high strikes which Cabrera thought were balls. Very frustrated, Cabrera tossed his helmet and was ejected (as was Nationals manager Matt Williams). It’ll be interesting to see how Cabrera responds today.

The other NL Division Series is Dodgers-Cardinals, and that one is tied 1-1 with Game Three tonight at 6. This is the series with no Tacoma ties and this blog has no opinion on it. However, both games have been thrillers.


  • On Sunday The News Tribune published a large Mariners off-season primer. The main article looks at the Mariners needs and possible free agent acquisitions. There is an analysis of the Mariners current 40-man roster. Also, John McGrath has a column in which he suggest the Mariners need to make a daring trade.
  • Ryan Divish has some notes on the Mariners 2014 payroll, which will increase in 2015.
  • The Mariners biggest problem attracting free agents is travel, Shannon Drayer writes.
  • The Arizona Fall League begins on Tuesday and Taijuan Walker will be the opening day starter for Surprise. More here from Bob Dutton.
  • Was Clayton Kershaw tipping his pitches in Game One of the NLDS against St. Louis? What does that even mean? This article by a former MLB pitcher is the best I have read on the subject.
  • He never played in the PCL or for the Mariners, but I must link to this outstanding “goodbye” column Hal McCoy wrote about the newly retired Adam Dunn.
  • Billy Butler of the Royals is having a nice postseason, and he’s (probably) a free agent the Mariners will look at in the off-season. The stats say he once pitched in the minor leagues but that never actually happened. It was a clerical error, Tim Hagerty writes.
  • This has nothing to do with baseball, but the Seattle Times ran a surprising sports business story regarding Key Arena.
  • Lookout Landing posted a selective history of the Tacoma Rainiers.

We’ll be back with a blog update on Wednesday.

Former Rainiers Dot Playoff Rosters

October 2, 2014

Now that the one-game Wild Cards are over, we are ready for the real Major League Baseball playoffs to begin. And as always, there are several former Tacoma Rainiers players who hope to factor into a World Series run for their teams. Let’s take a look:


Detroit vs. Baltimore (Game One starts at 2:30 Pacific on Thursday)

Detroit Tigers: when the Tigers traded Austin Jackson to Seattle at the deadline, they needed a center fielder. At that point they called up former Rainiers outfielder Ezequiel Carrera from Triple-A Toledo, and he has gone on to make the Tigers postseason roster. Carrera opened the 2010 season with Tacoma before being traded to the Cleveland Indians in late June for Russell Branyan.

Baltimore Orioles: the Orioles have one former Tacoma player, but he is arguably the most popular ex-Rainiers star who is not a current Mariner. That would be center fielder Adam Jones, who has found a real home in Baltimore and has been a key cog in the turnaround of the organization. Jones played for the Rainiers in 2006 and 2007, and he represented Tacoma in the Triple-A All-Star Game in 2007.

Kansas City vs. Los Angeles Angels (Game One at 6:00 Thursday)

Kansas City Royals: the Royals will not be represented by a former Rainiers player in the division series. In a move made earlier today, they announced that ex-Rainiers star Raul Ibanez will not be active for the opening series against the Angels. Ibanez will be with the team and they could activate him for the next series if they advance. Kansas City also has starting pitcher Jason Vargas, who opened the 2009 season with the Rainiers.

Los Angeles Angels: the Angels have no former Rainiers on their roster. This makes it really easy for us to root against them.


San Francisco vs. Washington (Game One at noon Friday)

San Francisco Giants: the NLDS final 25-man rosters aren’t set yet, but the Giants are likely to carry two former Rainiers: pitcher Yusmeiro Petit won a PCL title with Tacoma in 2010, and catcher Guillermo Quiroz played parts of four seasons with Tacoma (2006, 2009-2010, 2012). While not former Rainiers, the Giants also have Washingtonians Tim Lincecum and Travis Ishikawa.

Washington Nationals: the Nats are loaded with former Tacoma Rainiers. Doug Fister (2009-2010) is a key cog in their rotation, and Rafael Soriano (2003-2005) is an important component in the bullpen (although he was removed from the closer role mid-season). They added Matt Thornton (2003-2004) on a waiver claim in August and he’ll be used against left-handed hitters. Another mid-season acquisition was infielder Asdrubal Cabrera (2005-2006), who has been playing second base.

St. Louis vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (Game One at 3:30 Friday)

This series doesn’t exist, as far as Tacoma is concerned. Both teams are completely void of ex-Rainiers.

OK, so who are we rooting for here?

I’m pulling for Adam Jones and the Orioles, Kansas City and the spirit of Raul Ibanez, the Nationals Tacoma quartet, and who cares. One thing we definitely don’t want is a Freeway World Series – that is the only possible zero-Rainiers outcome.


  • Bob Dutton goes over several off-season issues facing the Mariners in today’s installment of the Mariners notebook.
  • Ryan Divish listed the contract status of every Mariners player.
  • Larry Stone writes that the Mariners could solve a big problem by signing the No. 1 free agent of the winter, Detroit’s Victor Martinez. I agree, but there is going to be a lot of competition for him. Martinez turns 36 this winter so it will be a short but expensive contract.
  • Baseball America actually had a reporter at a Mariners-Indians instructional league game the other day, and it makes for an interesting read.
  • Maybe the M’s will take a shot on the latest Cuban defector, outfielder Yasmany Tomas. The video makes him look like a Cuban Kirby Puckett.
  • Lookout Landing suggests that Justin Smoak‘s time with the Mariners is over. I must reluctantly agree – if you know Justin a little bit, you can’t help but root for him.
  • Fangraphs has an extraordinarily detailed look at the American League Cy Young Award competition.
  • John McGrath has a column on the criticism of Royals manager Ned Yost after their wild 9-8 victory over Oakland.
  • If you are interested in how an affiliation change affects a Triple-A broadcaster, or how Triple-A broadcasters have little connection to their major league affiliate, read this story by Albuquerque Isotopes broadcaster Josh Suchon.
  • Must watch: the Library of Congress has released a four-minute newsreel of Game Seven of the 1924 World Series between the Washington Senators and New York Giants. It includes footage of Walter Johnson, a home run by Bucky Harris, Goose Goslin diving into first base, and of course the walk-off hit.

Two games today, and then Friday… uh, you might want to call in sick. We have playoff baseball on TV from 9:00 AM until 10:00 PM on Friday. It’s like March Madness in October.

Royals Win Literally Wild Card Playoff

October 1, 2014

The major league playoffs got off to a rousing start last night, when Kansas City scored a dramatic 9-8 victory on 12 innings.

The Royals had two comebacks: they were trailing 7-3 going to the bottom of the eighth inning, and 8-7 going to the bottom of the 12th.

As I sat there watching this wild back-and-forth game, I kept thinking about how excruciating it would be if I was a fan of one of the two teams. What a wild ride.

Now the Royals will now face the LA Angels in the best-of-five American League Division Series (Detroit and Baltimore square off in the other one).

Tonight we have the National League wild card game, with San Francisco at Pittsburgh starting at 5:07 (Pacific).

Once that game is settled, we’ll be down to eight playoff teams and the series format takes over. On this blog tomorrow, we’ll look at all of the former Tacoma players on the eight remaining teams.


  • Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik met with the media yesterday, and he said the team’s payroll will go up in 2015 – among other things. Also, the story has positive news on Danny Hultzen.
  • Jack Z’s tenure is defined by a lack of offense, Jerry Brewer writes.
  • Nice year, John McGrath writes, but the Mariners honeymoon period is over.
  • The Mariners made a roster move on Monday afternoon, activating Jesus Montero from the suspended list and releasing Corey Hart. Hart was going to be a free agent, anyway.
  • We have some interesting news regarding pace of play from MLB. They are going to try some ideas out in the Arizona Fall League, including the no-stepping-out-of-the-box rule I wrote about a while back. They also basically eliminated mound conferences – just three per game, including catcher-and-pitcher.

Omaha Wins Triple-A Title; PCL Affiliations Changing

September 17, 2014

The Omaha Storm Chasers won their second straight Triple-A National Championship Game, defeating Pawtucket on Tuesday night 4-2.

The annual meeting between the PCL and International League champs is played at a revolving neutral site. This year’s game was held at the new ballpark in Charlotte, NC.

The game was tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh inning when Omaha catcher Brett Hayes launched a two-run homer. That proved to be the game-winner, as the Omaha bullpen nailed it down.

Kansas City Royals pitching prospects Christian Binford and Kyle Zimmer both shined in the contest, which was marred by a 1 hour, 46 minute rain delay in the fifth inning.

Congratulations to the Omaha Storm Chasers on winning the whole ball of wax. They had a tremendous season.

The affiliation shuffle in the PCL is underway.

  • The Sacramento River Cats have officially given the Oakland A’s the boot, and it seems likely that they will sign on with the San Francisco Giants. This decision by Sacramento is driven by ticket sales: the River Cats feel that the Giants have a larger fan base in Sacramento. However, the River Cats are getting a lot of backlash.
  • The long rumored Dodgers-to-Oklahoma City move is done. The Dodgers left Albuquerque for a more pitcher-friendly ballpark and conference. This makes sense from a player development standpoint, since the Dodgers play in one of the best pitcher’s parks in the majors and Albuquerque plays in a launching pad. The Dodgers also switched their Double-A affiliation to Tulsa – apparently LA is trying to annex Oklahoma.
  • Albuquerque quickly hooked up with the Colorado Rockies, which seems like a perfect match. The Rockies still get the developmental advantage of having their pitching prospects work at high elevation while taking a huge step up in quality of ballpark.
  • The Rockies leaving Colorado Springs is a big issue going forward for the Sky Sox. It appears they are likely to land either the Brewers, Astros, or A’s. None of those seem like good marketing/geographical matches. However, we do have eight fun facts about the Sky Sox.
  • Nashville is moving into a new downtown ballpark and their affiliation is up for grabs.
  • The Chicago Cubs and Iowa Cubs extended their affiliation through 2018.


  • The Omaha newspaper has reaction from Charlotte on the Storm Chasers winning the Triple-A title.
  • The Mariners got back on the horse and raced to a 13-2 win at Los Angeles Of Anaheim. It was a big day in the race for the wild card(s), as the Mariners closed the gap on all three teams they are chasing.
  • You can find some details about playoff tickets in Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook.
  • Jim Caple has a story on the impact Robinson Cano has had on the Mariners.
  • John Sickels reviewed his preseason Mariners prospect list.
  • Former PCL slugger & Rainiers killer Chris Carter is having a breakout season with the Houston Astros, and Jonah Keri tried to figure out how.

Lots of stuff going on with the affiliations right now, as several PCL teams are still possible changing. Stay tuned for more…

Storm Chasers Repeat As PCL Champions

September 15, 2014

There is a new dynasty in the Pacific Coast League.

Omaha won its second straight PCL title on Sunday afternoon, when starter Aaron Brooks pitched a complete game two-hit shutout in a 4-0 victory over Reno. Omaha won the best-of-five series, three games to two.

It’s not just two straight for Omaha. The Storm Chasers also won the PCL championship in 2011, giving them three PCL titles in the last four years.

I think we can safely say that Omaha has surpassed Sacramento as the top dynasty in the league right now. Sacramento won the Pacific-North 11 times in 13 seasons from 2000 to 2012, taking four PCL titles during that time. But Sacramento hasn’t made the playoffs in two straight seasons.

Omaha won its first two championships under longtime manager Mike Jirschele, who he was bumped up to the big league coaching staff this season. New manager Brian Poldberg didn’t skip a beat, winning a league championship in his first season as a Triple-A manager.

Brooks was named Most Valuable Player of the series, winning a pair of starts while allowing just two runs in 16 innings. He retired 20 straight batters during his championship-clinching shutout.

Omaha is not done yet. They have one game remaining, the Triple-A National Championship Game on Tuesday night in Charlotte, NC.

It will pit Omaha against the International League champion Pawtucket Red Sox in the one-game cross-league battle.

The game feels kind of like an exhibition after the intensity of the league finals, although of course the players are trying to win it. Omaha will be trying to win it for the second year in a row.

Tuesday’s game will be nationally televised on the NBC Sports Network, with George Grande and Jim Kaat on the call. First pitch is set for 4:00 (Pacific).

The Mariners had a disappointing weekend, dropping games on Saturday and Sunday to Oakland after winning the series opener on Friday night.

The series loss to Oakland – the current leader for AL Wild Card #1 – at least provides some clarity in terms of who the Mariners are chasing. While it is still possible for Seattle to pass Oakland, it is much more reasonable for Seattle to surpass Kansas City and take the AL Wild Card #2 spot.

So it looks like we are anti-Royals for the final two weeks of the season.


Tuesday’s Triple-A National Championship Game is the final minor league game of 2014. We’ll start looking toward 2015 soon!

We Have A Game Five

September 14, 2014

The Pacific Coast League Championship Series comes down to a fifth and final game today, at noon in Omaha.

Omaha stayed alive and forced the final game by crushing Reno on Saturday afternoon, 11-2. Infielder Brian Bocock – not known for his power – hit two homers, had three hits, and drove in three runs.

Reno starter Charles Brewer lasted just three innings, three other Omaha players homered, it was 8-1 after four innings and the rout was on.

The series is tied 2-2, and it all comes down to Game Five today at 12:05 (Pacific). Both teams have good starters ready to go: Reno starts RHP Mike Bolsinger (8-3, 3.93) against Omaha RHP Aaron Brooks (12-3, 3.88).

You can listen to the game online by clicking here. For a gameday screen, go here.


  • The Omaha newspaper has a thorough story on last night’s game.
  • The winner of today’s game win the PCL Championship, but will still have one game left: the Triple-A National Championship Game against Pawtucket on Tuesday in Charlotte. The PawSox won the International League title (“the Governor’s Cup”) by downing Durham on Saturday.
  • The Mariners lost a toughie last night to Oakland, and now the series finale today looms as the latest Most Important Game Of The Year.
  • John McGrath’s MLB rankings give you a nice snapshot of what’s going on in the majors right now.
  • Larry Stone writes that Lloyd McClendon would be a good choice to win AL Manager of the Year.

Reno Grabs The Lead

September 13, 2014

The Reno Aces took pivotal Game Three of the PCL Championship Series on Friday night, coming away with a 2-1 victory at Omaha on Friday night.

Reno now leads the best-of-five series, two games to one. The Aces get two shots to win one game and their second PCL title.

Last night’s star was Reno left-hander Andrew Chafin, who delivered six scoreless innings of four-hit ball. Chafin has pitched 15 scoreless innings during the playoffs.

Reno scored its runs when Roger Kieschnick connected for a two-run homer in the sixth inning.

Game Four is today at 12:05 (Pacific).


If there is a Game Five, it will be at 12:05 Pacific on Sunday.

Series Tied

September 11, 2014

Reno evened-up the Pacific Coast League Championship Series with a 4-2 home victory on Wednesday night, but Omaha still has the advantage.

By getting a split of the two games in Reno, Omaha is the favorite as the series moves to Nebraska for the final three games.

Reno could have been in deep trouble, but last night the Aces had a tremendous pitching performance by newcomer Bradin Hagens. Hagens allowed just one run on five hits (with no walks) over six innings to earn the win.

Even the most attentive Rainiers fan has probably never heard of Hagens: he was with Double-A Mobile until late in the season, and made just four August starts for Reno. He was not with the Aces at any time that they played Tacoma.

That was a big outing for the Triple-A newbie. Hagens had some early run support: Reno scored all four of its runs in the second inning, as Mike Freeman hit a two-run single and Nick Ahmed had a two-run double.

The series takes a day off for travel today, and resumes with the pivotal Game Three on Friday night at 5:05 (Pacific).


With both the PCL Finals and the Mariners getting a day off tonight, we will not have a post on Friday. This blog will next be updated on Saturday.