The Tacoma Rainiers begin their second-ever series at Sugar Land, Texas tonight at 5:05 (Pacific) in the opening game of a six-game series.
When the Rainiers played here last season, the host team was called the Sugar Land Skeeters and they were in their first year as a Triple-A club. The Skeeters name was left over from the city’s previous minor league entity, which was an independent club playing in the Atlantic League. They have since changed their name to the Sugar Land Space Cowboys in order to align with their parent club the Houston Astros.
(Last season I spotted in-stadium advertising encouraging senior citizen fans to join the “Silver Skeeters Club.” I wonder what happened to all of the Silver Skeeters. Are they Silver Space Cowboys now? Will update if I learn anything)
Sugar Land plays in the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in the Pacific Coast League. We’re at sea level down here on the outskirts of Houston, and there is a general dampness in the air from the nearby gulf. This is also hurricane territory, but fortunately it’s not hurricane season yet.
It is, however, hotter than heck. It’s going to be 100 every day all week while the Rainiers are here, according to the forecast. That’s why all of the games are night games – even Sunday.
The whole situation should be really good for the pitchers on both teams. I almost didn’t type that sentence, due to the basic principals of jinxing, and we are now doomed to a week’s worth of 12-10 scores. My bad.
Darren McCaughan takes the mound tonight in the follow-up to his no-hit bid last time out. He went 7.1 no-hit innings before allowing a double on Wednesday against Sacramento on his 116th and final pitch of the game. He’ll pitch tonight on five days rest, or one extra day from a standard five-man rotation – although the way the Rainiers rotation is shaking out this year it is common for pitchers to have five days between starts (other than Justus Sheffield, who seems to pitch every fifth day no matter what due to orders from Seattle).
Let’s see what McCaughan can do tonight in a follow-up performance. My prediction: he gives up a hit to one of the first couple of batters in the first inning, then settles into a groove and turns in a nice start.
YESTERDAY: The whole league was off yesterday. On Sunday the Rainiers got walloped by Sacramento, 12-1, settling for a split of the six-game series. Sam Haggerty homered in the ninth inning for Tacoma’s lone run.
TODAY: Tacoma Rainiers (26-39) at Sugar Land Space Cowboys (28-38), 5:05 (Pacific).
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: Houston Astros.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Mickey Storey.
SEASON SERIES: Sugar Land leads, 5-1.
PITCHERS: RHP Darren McCaughan (5-4, 5.54) at RHP Shawn Dubin (1-4, 6.97)
McCaughan had a no-hit bid broken up with one out in the eighth inning of his last start, and was named the PCL Pitcher of the Week.
ROSTER MOVES: On Sunday, pitcher Justus Sheffield was returned to the Rainiers and will rejoin the starting rotation. Reliever Drew Steckenrider was placed in the injured list. On the off day yesterday the Mariners called up infielder Kevin Padlo, activated Ken Giles from the injured list, and designated for assignment veteran relievers Roenis Elias and Sergio Romo.
HOT HITTERS: Forrest Wall has reached base safely in 11 straight games, and he has a .409 on-base percentage so far this month… Brian O’Keefe has reached base safely in 28 of the 30 games he has played in, and he has a four-game hitting streak… Marcus Wilson has reached base safely in 11 straight games. He’s homered in four of his last seven games, and he leads the team with 12.
OPPONENT NEWS: Sugar Land had a seven-game winning streak end on Saturday in Round Rock, and then they lost on Sunday too… Corey Julks has a ten-game hitting streak, getting exactly one hit in each game. Does that qualify as a hot hitter? He’s 10-for-40 (.250 average) during the streak… the Space Cowboys have received a big lift from infielder Enmanuel Valdez, who was called up from Double-A (where he was batting .357) on June 7. He homered twice in his Triple-A debut and has a seven-game hitting streak entering today… Sugar Land just acquired former Rainiers outfielder Dillon Thomas on a waiver claim from the Angels… Kent native Taylor Jones is currently rehabilitating a back injury with Sugar Land.
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.
- The News Tribune’s weekly Rainiers notebook focuses on Darren McCaughan‘s recent run of success.
- The Mariners made roster moves to scale back to the maximum of 13 pitchers.
- Larry Stone has a well-reasoned column debating who is responsible for the Mariners collapse.
- Matt Calkins writes about how two Mariners offseason acquisitions aren’t hitting like they are expected to.
- Jim Moore’s column about the Mariners broadcasters made me laugh.
- Baseball America’s weekly Prospect Hot Sheet includes one Mariner and a couple of PCL guys.
- In the PCL, major league star Kris Bryant is rehabbing with Albuquerque while the team is on the road in his hometown of Las Vegas.