The Tacoma Rainiers entered the Triple-A All-Star break nipping at the heels of the Fresno Grizzlies in the division standings. Following the break, it would appear that someone must have put the car in reverse for Tacoma, as the Tyler Street boys have found themselves in a bit of a tailspin. With a seven-game home stand beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 1, it’s time for the Tacoma fans to show up at Cheney Stadium with their rally caps ready to go by the first pitch.
With just 32 games remaining in the regular season, the Rainiers have slipped into third place in the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific Northern Division standings. After dropping 12 of their last 17 ball games, Tacoma now sits at 53-54 on the season and now trail the Grizzlies by 9.5 games.
Luckily for the Rainiers, there are 18 games remaining at Cheney Stadium this summer. It’s not necessarily too late for Tacoma to catch Fresno in the standings, but it could take a minor miracle. A combination of losses by Fresno and Reno, coupled with an incredible run of victories by the Rainiers, could pave the way for what could be a finish for the ages.
Now all we’re going to need from the Rainiers is a whole bunch of wins, and they’re going to need to start making it happen immediately.
Tacoma will be welcoming back slugger Daniel Vogelbach to the roster, after the first baseman and designated hitter was sent back down again from the Seattle Mariners. Perhaps Vogelbach will be the spark that ignites the Tacoma offense and ushers in one of the most memorable months of August that Cheney Stadium has ever beheld. We can always hope, and if need be, we can wear those rally caps every minute of the day for the Rainiers.
Let’s take a look back at the last week of action for Tacoma.
On Tuesday, July 24, the Rainiers rolled into Round Rock, Texas, to face the Express at Dell Diamond Park. A big crowd of 8,342 came out to see Round Rock hang a 7-2 victory on the Rainiers. Despite putting together 10 hits in the game, Tacoma was unable to turn them into runs. Left fielder John Andreoli offered the only punch at the plate for Tacoma, registering a double. Starting pitcher Christian Bergman (6-8) had another rough outing, giving up seven runs on 11 hits, over just three innings of work. The Tacoma pitching staff would put the brakes on Round Rock’s offense for the remainder of the game, but the damage had been done in the first three innings.
The following night would prove to be another rough one for the Rainiers. The visitors would muster just one extra-base hit (a double by Andreoli) on their way to a 3-2 loss. Starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez tossed three scoreless innings to open the game, but Tacoma would then get stung by three earned runs given up by reliever Ross Detwiler (2-4).
Tacoma’s scoring woes continued on Thursday, July 26, as Round Rock hung a 4-2 loss on the Rainiers. Tacoma first baseman Cameron Perkins and third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean offered up the only fireworks for the Rainiers, with a double each. Starting pitcher Rob Whalen tossed five strong innings, giving up just two earned runs, while striking out five batters and giving up just five hits. Reliever Shawn Armstrong (1-4) was hit with the loss after giving up two Round Rock runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.
A change of scenery would help the Rainiers on Friday, July 26, as Tacoma paid a visit to the New Orleans Baby Cakes. The Tacoma bats caught fire with 11 hits in the 4-2 victory, with doubles by catcher David Freitas and second baseman Adam Law. Perkins also delivered a solo home run in the sixth inning to power the Rainiers. Starting pitcher Bryan Evans (3-1) tossed 6.1 innings, struck out five and gave up just one earned run, four hits and three walks. Armstrong would earn this 10th save of the season.
After a rain delay, New Orleans was able to bounce back the following night and sting the Rainiers for a 5-3 victory. Shortstop Gordon Beckham, right fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mejias-Brean each registered a double, but the Tacoma bats could only muster six hits on the night. Tacoma reliever Darin Gillies (1-1) took the loss after giving up five earned runs in his two innings of work.
Tacoma would find a spark on Sunday, July 29, hanging a 7-5 loss on the Baby Cakes. A double by Andreoli and a solo home run by Nieuwenhuis were the highlights for Tacoma’s work at the plate. Bergman (7-8) put together five strong innings on the mound, giving up six hits and three earned runs. Reliever Nick Rumbelow earned his first save of the season, despite giving up a run in the ninth inning. The fourth game of the series was cancelled due to inclement weather.
The Rainiers will host the Oklahoma City Dodgers for a three-game series beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 1. Tacoma will then host the Colorado Springs Sky Sox for a four-game series beginning on Saturday, Aug. 4, at 7:05 p.m.
Remember to wear those rally caps.