The Rainiers continued their first extended stretch of hot play in the homestand-opening day game yesterday, beating Las Vegas 7-2. The Rainiers took an early lead and held on to it the rest of the way.
Tacoma has won four of its last five games – or if you prefer, five of the last seven. The stretch has been anchored by strong starting pitching, as Darren McCaughan continued the run with a respectable five innings, two runs allowed start yesterday. That brings the starters total over the last five games to just three runs allowed over 26 innings pitched.
Earlier this year we were talking about the team’s speed, and the need to steal bases to help score runs. Tacoma still leads all of Triple-A baseball in stolen bases (68), but the team isn’t running as much as it was a week ago – and losing Sam Haggerty to a MLB call-up isn’t going to help the steal totals.
However, the Rainiers are now scoring in a different way: homers. Tacoma scored all seven runs on HRs yesterday and now leads the PCL with 64 home runs as a team. Only one Triple-A team has hit more: Memphis, now in the International League, has hit 70 homers (led by 15 from top prospect Nolan Gorman who was recently called up by St. Louis).
Starting pitching and dingers, maybe mix in a few stolen bases. A recipe for success.
Yesterday was our first home game with the robot umpires. Did you even notice? These robot umpires are completely invisible. Creepy, huh?
Seriously though, I’ll have a post on initial reaction to the Automated Ball-Strike System later this week.
YESTERDAY: The Rainiers used the longball to win the homestand opener on Tuesday against Las Vegas, 7-2. All seven runs scored on dingers: Brian O’Keefe hit a three-run shot in the third inning, and Erick Mejia made it back-to-back jacks with a solo bomb. Then in the eighth, Mejia went deep again, this time a three-run shot. The switch-hitting Mejia homered from both sides of the plate. The Rainiers had solid pitching with Darren McCaughan lasting five innings to earn his second win, and the bullpen providing four scoreless frames.
TODAY: Las Vegas Aviators (22-21) at Tacoma Rainiers (16-27), 6:05.
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: Oakland A’s.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Fran Riordan.
SEASON SERIES: Las Vegas leads, 4-3.
PITCHERS: LHP Jared Koenig (4-2, 2.70) at LHP Tommy Milone (1-0, 0.90)
Koenig (pronounced kay-nig) has been one of the top pitchers in the league this year. He has an interesting background story, having fought through independent leagues and a global “baseball odyssey” to get here.
ROSTER MOVES: Yesterday the Mariners announced several roster moves that impact the Rainiers. Designated hitter Kyle Lewis was activated from the injured list, and reliever Danny Young was optioned to Tacoma. Pitcher Adrian Sampson declined his outright to Tacoma and is now a free agent. They also announced that Steven Souza Jr. was “released from roster,” which means that he cleared waivers but is no longer in the organization. Yesterday the Rainiers activated Asher Wojciechowski from the injured list, and outfielder Miguel Perez returned to the team from extended spring training.
HOT HITTERS: Marcus Wilson has homered three times during his last seven games, and he has reached base in eight straight games… Joe Odom has a five-game hitting streak… Brian O’Keefe has reached base with a hit or a walk in 13 of the 14 games he has played in this season… Erick Mejia switch-hit home runs yesterday. He has four home runs in his last six games, and he is batting .300 with six HRs and 19 RBI during the month of May.
OPPONENT NEWS: The Aviators beat the Rainiers four out of six games when the two teams played in Las Vegas at the end of April… Las Vegas has many different position players now, most notably adding MLB veterans Matt Davidson and Billy McKinney, and releasing Eric Thames… catcher Shea Langeliers is a highly rated prospect; he homered four times against Tacoma in April… Las Vegas has former Tacoma reliever Parker Markel in the bullpen… infielder Nate Mondou is from Lake Tapps, and he attended high school in Tacoma at Charles Wright Academy, although he is currently out with a hamstring injury.
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.