By Steve Mullen – firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming off of a mildly successful home stand against the El Paso Chihuahua’s and the Albuquerque Isotopes at 4 and 3, they ventured out on the road against the same two squads hoping to at least duplicate or improve upon it. Something happened along the way and the hometown nine went in an opposite direction. Winning one in each city to go along with five losses dropped Tacoma to seven and 12 in the Pacific Division, trailing first place Fresno by a game and a half in the division in which no team has wanted to take control of. The Rainiers will return home to face the Sacramento River Cats for a five game set starting April 23 at Cheney Stadium. In looking at both the positives and the pitfalls of the 2019 Rainiers, two things stand out and are as clear as night and day. Both the starting and relief pitching have faltered late in games when big outs were needed.
On the flip side, the Rainier offense has come up big and has kept Tacoma in games with chances to win late and with a little luck, they could be at or above the .500 mark but with the season approaching the end of April, the Rainiers have put themselves in a spot to contend and if they can right the ship fairly soon, things could change atop the Pacific Division. The turning point, (If you can call it that), came in the top of the ninth inning in Albuquerque. With Tacoma trailing 6 to 3, the Rainiers rallied for five runs to pull out a much needed win and come home with a little momentum to go with them.
While the offense has been the one consistent facet of the team to this point, three guys stand out at the forefront. JP Crawford leads the pack at .309, followed by center fielder Braden Bishop at .288 and second baseman Shed Long at.278. Crawford, obtained from the Philadelphia Phillies in the Jean Segura trade, uses his quickness and agility both in the field and on the base paths to create havoc for Tacoma opponents. Plying his trade at the University of Washington, Bishop also has good speed which he uses to his advantage both defensively and offensively. Obtained from the New York Yankees in the off season, Long has a great line drive stroke and plays the game with much grit and determination. With the shaky start of the Rainier staff and the emergence good young arms down on the farm at double Arkansas, the Rainiers could be poised for a run at the Pacific Division title. Good weather, good summer fun, and good baseball. Three things that have gone together for 60 years here in the city of destiny.