Tacoma lost it’s fifth straight game last night, and 8-1 decision against Oklahoma City that saw the Rainiers get buried in the third inning and never really recover. This is now the team’s longest losing streak of the season – and it has come immediately following the team’s longest winning streak of the season which was also a five-gamer.
That means the team is 5-5 over the last ten games, but instead of getting there the normal way by mixing in a win or two here and a loss or two there, we’ve gone from the highest of highs – a five game winning streak! – to the lowest of lows.
The team is definitely up against a strong opponent this week. Oklahoma City has the second-best record in all of Triple-A baseball, and they have certainly looked the part these first two games. It’s been particularly fun to watch 22-year-old Miguel Vargas hit. The son of Cuban baseball star Lazaro Vargas, Miguel has been controlling plate appearances these first two games like a player who has been in the big leagues for a decade. He’s going to leave town early because he’s playing in the MLB All-Star Futures Game on Saturday at Dodgers Stadium, so tonight might be his last game here.
I went down an internet rabbit hole this morning trying to see if the senior Vargas played at Cheney Stadium when the Cuban National Team, at the peak of its powers, toured the west coast in the 1990 Goodwill Games. Lazaro Vargas is not listed on the 1990 Cuban National Team roster, although he played on the squad in many other summers during that time. Perhaps he was injured or something.
Anyway, if we are able to laugh at ourselves, this article on Cuba’s 16-2 mercy rule drubbing of Team USA at Cheney Stadium in which legendary slugger Omar Linares insults our nation’s pitching is some classic Cold War era enemy stuff.
Witnesses have told me that Linares was driving balls over the giant wall in center field during batting practice – with an aluminum bat, which is what was used in international play back then. Then he went 5-for-5 in a six-inning game, announced to the media that American pitching stinks, and left town. You have to respect that.
Back to today, it’s both Thirsty Thursday and Pride Night at Cheney Stadium, first pitch is at 7:05, and the Rainiers are due for a win.
YESTERDAY: Oklahoma City’s James Outman launched a third inning grand slam and the Dodgers rolled to an 8-1 victory on Wednesday night, as the Rainiers lost their fifth in a row. Tacoma had just four hits, with a Drew Ellis solo homer in the eighth inning netting the team’s only run.
TODAY: Oklahoma City Dodgers (51-35) at Tacoma Rainiers (35-50), 7:05.
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: Los Angeles Dodgers.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Travis Barbary.
SEASON SERIES: Oklahoma City leads, 2-0.
PITCHERS: RHP Michael Grove (0-1, 5.91) at RHP Darren McCaughan (5-5, 5.11)
Grove, who made his major league debut in May, is being activated from the inured list to make this start. He last pitched June 29 at El Paso.
ROSTER MOVES: Yesterday the Rainiers activated Drew Steckenrider from the injured list, and he pitched a scoreless inning from the bullpen.
HOT HITTERS: It’s getting pretty sparse in this section as the Rainiers offense has struggled during a five-game losing streak… Jarred Kelenic was 0-for-4 last night. Prior to that he had hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games, including the last seven in a row… Drew Ellis has hit safely in seven of his last eight games.
OPPONENT NEWS: Oklahoma City has the best record in the PCL, and they lead the East by two games over El Paso… two of the Los Angeles organization’s best infield prospects are with Oklahoma City, in third baseman Miguel Vargas and second baseman Michael Busch… Vargas has a seven-game hitting streak, and Bush has a six-game hitting streak… Drew Avans has reached base safely in 25 straight games… Eddy Alvarez is one of the most interesting players in the league, a two-sport Olympic medalist in baseball and speed skating… Oklahoma City has former Rainiers Ty Kelly, Daniel Zamora, and Sam Gaviglio on the active roster, with Stefen Romero on the injured list.
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.