We had a terrific season opener last night at Cheney Stadium, and those in attendance were rewarded by getting to see a couple of rare plays.
In the bottom of the first inning, Rainiers clean-up hitter Taylor Trammell drove a ball that hit halfway up the giant wall in center field. The pitch was absolutely crushed, smacking the newly rebuilt wall that has been in place since 1960, 425 feet from home plate and 30 feet tall. We only see one or two balls hit that wall in a typical season, and Trammell drilled it in the first inning on opening day. It went for a double, driving in Forrest Wall with the first run of the season.
Fast forward to the top of the seventh inning, with the Rainiers leading 3-2. Veteran reliever Matt Koch was summoned from the bullpen to make his Tacoma debut, and he made it memorable: Koch struck out the side on nine pitches, for what’s called an “immaculate inning.” And in this case, all three strikeouts came on a called strike three. Matt Thaiss, Kean Wong, and Brendon Davis each went down looking on three pitches.
That’s two things you might see just one time all season: a ball hit off the giant wall in center, and an immaculate inning.
The Rainiers won the game, 4-2, in the debut of first-time manager Tim Federowicz. The defending league champions play game two tonight at 6:05.
YESTERDAY: The Rainiers beat Salt Lake in the season opener, 4-2. Darren McCaughan allowed nothing but soft contact over 5.2 innings, permitting two runs. Zach Green had two hits and two RBI in his Rainiers debut, including the go-ahead RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning. Josh Morgan homered in his Triple-A debut. Tacoma’s bullpen of Kyle Bird, Matt Koch, and Penn Murfee combined to record nine of the final ten outs via the strikeout, with Murfee nailing down the save.
TODAY: Salt Lake Bees (0-1) at Tacoma Rainiers (1-0), 6:05 PT.
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Lou Marson.
SEASON SERIES: Tacoma leads, 1-0.
PITCHERS: LHP Ryan Smith (0-0, 0.00) at LHP Ian McKinney (0-0, 0.00)
McKinney got his first taste of Triple-A last year, making ten starts for the Rainiers.
ROSTER MOVES: First baseman Mike Ford and infielder Donovan Walton are expected to be added to the active roster today, and reliever Wyatt Mills may report today as well. All were among the Mariners finals cuts from big league camp in Arizona.
HOT HITTERS: Taylor Trammell and Zach Green each had two hits on opening night for Tacoma.
OPPONENT NEWS: Salt Lake has two members of the 2021 league champion Tacoma Rainiers on its roster: outfielder Dillon Thomas, and reliever Zack Weiss. Also, former Rainiers reliever Jonathan Aro is with the Bees. Salt Lake opening night starter Janson Junk attended Decatur High School in Federal Way, and Seattle U.
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 has a full report on the opening night game, with a tacked-on item on local product Janson Junk of Salt Lake.
- Jon Heyman tweeted that the Mariners have signed former Rockies reliever Jairo Diaz to a minor league deal. Diaz is a hard thrower who has had some elbow issues the last few seasons – if he’s healthy, he can help.
- Seattle’s 28-man opening day roster appears set, Ryan Divish writes. In the story: veteran outfielder Steven Souza Jr. is expected to report to Tacoma on Thursday.
- The Mariners season opener at Minnesota has been pushed back to Friday, due to snow.
- In the PCL, Oklahoma City gave the fans a thrill by beating Albuquerque on Jason Martin‘s walk-off home run. Las Vegas columnist Ron Kantowski weighed in on the Aviators opener (and got off a good line on the return of the PCL name), and despite a Sacramento River Cats walk-off victory the lede of the story in the Bee features the radio guy (as it should). I couldn’t find a report from Round Rock, but seeing how the home squad lost on opening day 13-1 that’s probably for the best.