Rise And Shine!

May 13, 2014

On Tuesday morning for the first time ever the Rainiers are the opponent for the Las Vegas 51s 11th Annual School Day Game.

That means morning baseball.

First pitch is set for 10:35 AM, so this will be a short post and there will be no links today.

On Monday night the Rainiers played their worst defensive game of the season, making four errors on the way to a 9-4 loss.

That loss means Tacoma needs a win today in order to get back to even on this trip. Tacoma is 3-4 so far on this season-long 12-game road trip.

Tuesday’s game starts at 10:35 AM – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 10:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Matt Palmer (first appearance of season) against Las Vegas RHP Logan Verret (2-2, 4.58).

Palmer suffered a sore shoulder in spring training and has been rehabilitating in Arizona. The Rainiers will need to make a roster move this morning in order to activate him. Palmer will be on a pitch count, and the Rainiers have Chance Ruffin prepared to follow him.

The team has its May off-day on Wednesday, and this blog is taking the day off, too. Next update comes Thursday from Sacramento.


Anything Else Happen?

May 12, 2014

Tacoma picked up a win and a loss on Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas. They won the suspended game 6-5 on Jesus Montero‘s game-winning hit with two outs in the ninth, and then dropped the regularly scheduled game 8-3 in one of the weirdest ballgames I’ve ever seen.

These things happened in the 8-3 game:

  • Jordan Pries carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning but was lifted after reaching 102 pitches.
  • It was a 0-0 game in the 6th inning at hitter’s paradise Cashman Field.
  • Vegas broke the scoreless tie by scoring eight runs in the sixth inning against the Tacoma bullpen.
  • Endy Chavez – who we can all agree is an excellent defensive outfielder – lost two routine fly balls in the sun during the eight-run rally.
  • The Rainiers were called for batting out-of-order, making a mess of the box score (not to mention my scoresheet).
  • When it was all over, Las Vegas’s least-effective pitcher (Ryan Reid) earned the win, and Tacoma’s most-effective pitcher (Pries) was charged with the loss.

Just another Sunday afternoon in Vegas, eh?

The batting out-of-order was a result of a discrepancy between the lineup card exchanged at home plate, and the one hanging on the Rainiers dugout wall.

The dugout had Leury Bonilla hitting eighth and Abraham Almonte ninth, and the plate umpire’s card had them flip-flopped.

Vegas manager Wally Backman waited until the seventh inning to point it out. When Almonte walked to lead off the inning, he notified the umpires. The umpires sent Almonte back to the dugout for batting out-of-order, and called out the batter who should have followed Bonilla (leadoff man Xavier Avery).

This was the first time Tacoma has batted out-of-order in my time with the club (16 seasons ugh I’m old). We saw an opponent do it once: Daren Brown called out Tony DeFrancesco‘s Oklahoma City club for batting out-of-order a few years ago – something Daren enjoyed immensely.

Sometimes it is best to have simple goals, so for today let’s see if the Rainiers can bat in order.

Monday’s game starts at 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Erasmo Ramirez (0-0, 1.59) against Las Vegas RHP Jacob deGrom  (4-0, 2.58).


On Tuesday we have a 10:30 AM game – it is Las Vegas’s 11th Annual School Day Game. Due to the early start, Tuesday’s blog will be very brief. Fellow PCL radio guys, please plan accordingly.

Reno Salvages Split

May 10, 2014

The Reno Aces managed to avoid their first-ever home series loss to Tacoma by winning the final two games, including an 11-7 decision on Friday night.

Tacoma had some untimely errors which led to runs, and while the offense did produce it wasn’t enough to claim a victory.

So the Rainiers went 2-2 in Reno – certainly not a bad result, but a little disappointing after Tacoma won the first two games of the series.

Now we move on to Stage 2 of the Rainiers longest road trip of the season: yet another series with Las Vegas.

By the time this series in Vegas ends, Tacoma will have played Las Vegas 11 times in the last 19 games. It was supposed to be 12 out of 20, but one game in Tacoma was rained out and rescheduled for later in the season.

Las Vegas just swept a road series at Salt Lake, and their record of 25-10 is the best in all of Triple-A baseball. The Rainiers have played them tough, though: Tacoma is 3-4 against Las Vegas so far this season.

Saturday’s game starts at 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (2-1, 3.38) against Las Vegas RHP Noah Syndergaard (4-2, 3.58).


That’s it for today – it’s a travel day, gotta shut down the computer and keep moving.

Rainiers Need Win – Iwakuma Pitches Today

April 27, 2014

Tacoma is one loss away from being swept in Las Vegas, so why not turn to a rehabilitating major leaguer who took third place in the American League Cy Young Award voting to try to get a win.

Hisashi Iwakuma makes a rehabilitation start for Tacoma today in Las Vegas. Iwakuma went 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA for the Mariners in 2014 and placed third in the Cy Young voting behind Yu Darvish and winner Max Scherzer.

Iwakuma has been out of action since early spring training with a tendon strain in the middle finger of his throwing hand. He pitched a simulated game at Safeco Field on Tuesday and should be ready to throw somewhere between 70 and 80 pitches today.

The Rainiers need him. Tacoma lost its third in a row on Saturday night, dropping an 11-3 decision to the best team in the PCL (Las Vegas is now 18-5 on the year). The Rainiers fell to 10-10.

Walks were the big issue on Saturday. Rainiers pitchers issued eight walks, and four of them came around to score runs. Another one occurred with the bases loaded, forcing in a run.

The Rainiers three hot hitters kept it going: Jesus Montero was 2-for-4, extending his hitting streak to ten games. Chris Taylor had another multiple-hit game, going 3-for-5. He’s 15-for-31 during a seven-game stretch. Gabriel Noriega hit a pair of doubles, and he now has a seven-game hitting streak.

Sunday’s game starts at 12:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 11:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (Triple-A debut) against Las Vegas RHP Logan Verrett (1-1, 4.67).


  • We’ll start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. Apparently manager Roy Howell was not pleased by the microscopic strike zone of rookie PCL umpire Brendon Henson.
  • My minor league notebook for the TNT has items on Chris Taylor and Carlos Peguero.
  • The Mariners lost to Texas on Saturday evening, 6-3.
  • Bob Dutton has a lot of good stuff in his Mariners notebook.
  • Ryan Divish’s Sunday baseball pieces for the Seattle Times include a column about the end of the month-long transfer rule problem in MLB, plus some power rankings.
  • Adam Jude wrote an interesting story on the sites of Seattle’s old sports stadiums.
  • In the PCL, Albuquerque tossed a rare double-shutout in a doubleheader sweep at Fresno. They won 2-0 and 1-0. Matt Magill and Stephen Fife made the starts. Fresno had five hits – total, in the two games. Yikes!
  • Reno prospect Archie Bradley had a rough night and the Aces lost to Salt Lake, 8-5. I’m going to try one of Reno’s local sausages when we go there this year.
  • Marcus Walden and the Sacramento bullpen shut down El Paso in front of a sellout crowd, 2-1. Former Japanese league star Leon Lee is having a ball with Johnny Doskow on River Cats radio broadcasts.
  • Washington State Cougars product Adam Conley tossed seven shutout innings in a 3-0 New Orleans win over Omaha.
  • Round Rock’s Nick Tepesch tossed a complete game five-hit shutout against Nashville. It was the first nine-inning shutout of the season in the PCL.
  • Iowa Cubs second baseman Arismendy Alcantara had five hits in a 13-inning, 9-6 win at Colorado Springs. The Sky Sox, by the way, are amused by the Michael Pineda pine tar incident.
  • Nashville hit three homers and beat Oklahoma City, 6-3. No link because The Daily Oklahoman‘s website seems to be down.

Vegas Squeaks Out Win

April 26, 2014

The Las Vegas 51s made it two straight wins against Tacoma, hanging on for a 7-6 victory on Friday night.

The game was notable for the wind: it was gusting up to 50 miles per hour to straight-away center field.

This made every ball hit in the air an adventure. Many of the hits and runs came as a result of fly balls that would normally be outs. I actually expected the game to be much higher-scoring, considering the conditions.

Supposedly the wind will die down tonight (in fact, the “strong wind advisory” was expected to be called off at 11:00 last night). On the other hand, the temperature is expected to drop into the 50s tonight – you should see these Las Vegans freak out about the “cold,” it’s hilarious!

Jesus Montero continues to swing a hot bat. He went 2-for-4 with an opposite field (and wind-aided; everything was wind-aided last night) home run off top prospect Noah Syndergaard. Montero has a nine-game hitting streak, and he has homered in his last three games.

Montero is also starting to look a little more fluid at first base. Still a long way to go, definitely, but you can see some progress.

Saturday’s game starts at 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Chance Ruffin (0-1, 6.08) against Las Vegas RHP Jacob deGrom (2-0, 1.57).


  • Manager Roy Howell talked about the conditions in the Rainiers game story.
  • Justin Smoak saved the day with a clutch hit and a game-saving defensive play in the Mariners win over Texas on Friday night.
  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook includes an item on Cole Gillespie‘s call-up.
  • In the PCL, rain hit the Pacific Conference. Salt Lake picked up a 7-1 win at Reno in a game rain-shortened to six innings.
  • Fresno’s home game against Albuquerque was rained out. The Grizzlies signed Federal Way’s Travis Ishikawa.
  • Sacramento waited out the rain before putting a 14-5 beating on El Paso. Outfielder Jeff Francouer pitched another scoreless inning for the Chihuahuas – he’s pitched three times this week!
  • Mike Fiers tossed another gem and Nashville beat Oklahoma City, 5-3. Fiers is 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 26.2 innings.
  • Good news from Oklahoma City, where they think manager Tony DeFrancesco may be able to return to the team in a month or so. He’s been battling cancer.
  • Memphis shut out Round Rock, 8-0. The Austin paper has a story on the loaded Memphis outfield.
  • New Orleans has been scoring a lot of runs this week, and they trounced Omaha 10-5 on Friday. Carlos Peguero hit two dingers for Omaha.
  • Chris Rusin had his best start of the season and Iowa picked up a 9-2 win at Colorado Springs.

Tacoma has dropped two in a row, and Las Vegas has won five in a row. Let’s see if both streaks can end tonight.

Rough Start To Vegas Trip

April 25, 2014

The Rainiers lost the first game of the eight-game road trip on Thursday night, dropping an 11-4 decision to the Las Vegas 51s.

It was just the third loss in the last 11 games for Tacoma – the Rainiers record is now 10-8. Meanwhile, Las Vegas improved its record to a PCL-best 16-5. That’s the best 21-game start in Las Vegas franchise history.

The game got away from the Rainiers in the bottom of the fifth inning. Already trailing 2-0, Tacoma allowed four unearned runs due to two infield errors, making it 6-0.

Jesus Montero pulled a long three-run homer in the sixth to make it 6-3, but Vegas kept tacking on runs and the Rainiers did not threaten again.

Tacoma looks to get even tonight in what should be an entertaining pitching match-up: Jordan Pries tossed six shutout innings and allowed one hit in his Triple-A debut on Sunday, and Noah Syndergaard is ranked by pretty much every outlet as the top pitching prospect in the PCL right now.

Friday’s game starts at 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jordan Pries (0-0, 0.00) against Las Vegas RHP Noah Syndergaard (2-2, 4.95).


It Won’t Rain In Vegas, Right?

April 24, 2014

Right? It can’t possibly rain here, can it?

The team has arrived in Las Vegas and we are ready to begin the Tacoma Rainiers first multiple-city road trip of 2014. Four games in Vegas, followed by four games in Sacramento, and hopefully not a single rain drop in either place.

The Rainiers are coming in hot, having won eight of the last ten games. It’s a good thing, too, because Vegas has been the best team in the PCL over the first three weeks of the season.

Las Vegas is 15-5, and they are doing it with the perfect combination: good pitching and good hitting. The 51s lead the league in runs scored, and they rank seventh in team ERA (which is really good considering that their home ballpark is a launching pad).

The Rainiers are set to face the two top prospects in the Las Vegas rotation right away: Rafael Montero tonight, and Noah Syndergaard tomorrow.

Wally Backman remains at the helm of the New York Mets Triple-A affiliate. He’s had big offensive production from Triple-A rookie Allan Dykstra (no relation to Lenny, batting .419-3-18 in 16 games) and returning super-utility guy Eric Campbell (.346-3-18 in 19 games).

Las Vegas scored 21 runs on Tuesday against El Paso. They were off Wednesday like everyone else in the league, so hopefully that massive outburst followed by the 24-hour break will serve to cool off their bats somewhat.

We had some roster moves today: The Mariners optioned Nick Franklin to Tacoma, and called up Cole Gillespie. It sounds like the organization wants Franklin to play every day, and an older player like Gillespie may be better suited for a part-time role with the big league club.

Also, starting pitcher James Gillheeney was transferred to Double-A Jackson, and reliever Nick Hill was activated from the disabled list. With Hisashi Iwakuma scheduled to start Sunday, and Erasmo Ramirez figuring to make a start next week, the team sent Gillheeney to AA so he could make his starts.

Thursday’s game starts at 7:05 – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Andrew Carraway (1-0, 5.91) against Las Vegas RHP Rafael Montero (2-0, 3.80).


That’s all the links I have time for today – we didn’t get into the hotel until 2:00, and I need to make my way to the ballpark.