Daniel Ponce de Leon is set to take the mound as starting pitcher for the Tacoma Rainiers tonight, and the team could really use a solid outing.
Tacoma starting pitchers have had trouble getting into the middle innings, often getting knocked out in the first three frames. That puts the team in a hole, as the hitters are constantly playing from behind and pressure mounts to put together a big inning. The bullpen gets taxed, too, covering six innings every game, and forcing fill-in pitchers to be flown in from Low-A Modesto or extended spring training to cover a few innings, which has a domino effect impacting other teams in the organization. Through the first 13 games of the season, Tacoma starting pitchers are 0-9 with a 12.54 ERA, averaging 3.1 innings per start.
So, yeah, it’s been a problem.
Ponce de Leon had a terrific first outing for Tacoma, going five innings and allowing just one hit at Cheney Stadium on April 9 in what is pretty clearly Tacoma’s best starting pitching performance of the season – only Darren McCaughan’s opening day effort is close. In his second and most recent outing, Ponce de Leon couldn’t get out of the second inning. That was his first game ever at Albuquerque; perhaps the high elevation got to him. Now he’s back at sea level in Tacoma, and hopefully we’ll see a return to form for the former St. Louis Cardinal.
Friendly reminder that the Rainiers annual Throwback Weekend is this coming weekend, with giveaways to the early arrivers on Saturday and Sunday. Check it out here.
YESTERDAY: Sugar Land scored seven runs in the top of the second inning and coasted to an 11-5 win on Tuesday night. Tacoma had nine hits, with Marcus Wilson and Sam Haggerty collecting three each. Wilson was 3-for-3 with a double and a long home run.
TODAY: Sugar Land Space Cowboys (4-9) at Tacoma Rainiers (4-9), 6:05.
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: Houston Astros.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Mickey Storey.
SEASON SERIES: Sugar Land leads, 1-0.
PITCHERS: RHP Hunter Brown (0-0, 1.04) at RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon (0-1, 9.95)
Brown is considered the Houston Astros top starting pitching prospect.
ROSTER MOVES: Yesterday the Mariners called up Mike Ford when Luis Torrens landed on the Covid-related injured list. Tacoma added newly acquired pitcher Riley O’Brien to the active roster and he will pitch from the bullpen. Outfielder Trent Tingelstad joins the team from Double-A Arkansas to fill Ford’s spot.
HOT HITTERS: Joe Odom saw his home run streak end at three straight games, but he still had two hits and is working on a four-game hitting streak… Sam Haggerty is 5-for-9 over his last two games… Marcus Wilson has homered in each of his last two games, going 4-for-7.
OPPONENT NEWS: Sugar Land enters play on a four-game losing streak. The Space Cowboys opened the season at Sacramento and went 2-4, then they lost five-of-six at home to Round Rock… JJ Matijevic is a second-year Triple-A player who can swing it… catcher Korey Lee is considered one of the Houston Astros top prospects… infielder Pedro Leon received a big signing bonus coming out of Cuba and is considered a solid prospect… Sugar Land has no former Rainiers on its roster or coaching staff, and no Washington natives.
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.