The Tacoma Rainiers won their first-ever game officiated by the robot umpire, beating Sacramento 8-3 on Tuesday night.
The Automated Ball/Strike System was in use for the first time this season, and it was a pretty smooth transition. There were a couple of pitch calls that surprised, but as manager Tim Federowicz rhetorically asked on the pregame show last night, “who are you going to argue with?”
If an experienced fan who had no idea the ABS system was being used walked into the park and watched the game, he/she would simply think that they were watching one of those umpires who has a slightly delayed ball-strike call. There’s always a one or two of those umps in the majors and in Triple-A. Our experienced fan might have even yelled at the umpire a little bit on close calls, having no idea the computer determined what the pitch was.
My initial reaction is that the system is fine, but this was just one game. There were a couple of surprising calls. Also, I have yet to talk to any players or coaches about it – we’ll get to that later this week, after a few games are played with the new system.
Meanwhile… day game today! Wake up!
YESTERDAY: Rehabilitating Kyle Lewis led the Rainiers to an 8-3 win over Sacramento in the series opener on Tuesday. Lewis hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the top of the fifth inning, then added a long two-run double in the sixth to finish 2-for-4 with five RBI. Erick Mejia added a long two-run homer of his own, going 2-for-4 with three RBI. Tacoma pitchers allowed just four hits, with starter Justus Sheffield working four innings and allowing little hard contact. Nick Ramirez provided some tidy relief, inheriting a bases loaded one-out jam in the bottom of the seventh inning and getting Kevin Padlo to ground into a double play.
TODAY: Tacoma Rainiers (12-25) at Sacramento River Cats (18-19), 12:05
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: San Francisco Giants.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Dave Brundage.
SEASON SERIES: Tacoma leads, 1-0.
PITCHERS: RHP Darren McCaughan (1-3, 6.86) at RHP Raynel Espinal (2-0, 3.38)
The Rainiers have never faced Espinal before, who was in the Red Sox system last year. He has 38 strikeouts in 24 innings this year, so he’s definitely got something going on.
ROSTER MOVES: Today we expect Evan White to appear on a rehabilitation assignment. The Gold Glove award winning first baseman is returning from a late March sports hernia surgery.
HOT HITTERS: Sam Haggerty has reached base safely in 11 straight games… Marcus Wilson has homered three times during his last five games, and he has reached base in six straight games… Forrest Wall has a four-game hitting streak.
OPPONENT NEWS: Sacramento just split a six-game series at El Paso, 3-3… Austin Dean hit three solo homers on Sunday, tying a River Cats record… Isan Diaz hit four homers during the six games at El Paso… David Villar also homered four times at El Paso; he leads the league with 12 home runs, but only two have come in home games… former Rainiers from this season Donovan Walton, Kevin Padlo, and Stuart Fairchild are all expected to play for Sacramento in this series.
BROADCAST: All games will be broadcast free on a live audio stream which is available right here.
Unfortunately, there is no traditional terrestrial radio station carrying the games at this time.
PCL SCOREBOARD: Follow all league games in real-time with links to broadcasts and Gameday screens right here.