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Rainiers 6, 51s 4

Ryan Feierabend earned his first Triple A win tonight, giving up only one run over six innings. After leaving with a 6-1 lead, Feierabend had to sweat out another shaky performance by the Rainier bullpen. Jon Huber pitched 1 1/3 innings and promptly imploded, giving up 4 runs and putting Las Vegas right back into what looked like a blowout win. Sean Green took over, pitched the last 1 2/3 innings and notched his first save.

Backup outfielder Jon Nelson was the hitting star for Tacoma, knocking in four runs including a bases-loaded double. Wladimir Balentien had a walk and a hit the day after his hitting streak came to an end. Same two teams tomorrow night at 7:11. Hard-luck starter Jorge Campillo (1-2, 3.24) takes the mound for Tacoma; lefty Eric Stults (2-0, 2.91) for Las Vegas.

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A Zephyr is defined as a “Gentle Breeze.” Just what then, would the New Orleans Zephyrs do for a mascot?

A giant rat-like creature, what else? No, it wouldn't be the Rodents of Unusual Size. That would actually be cool. No, the Zephyrs mascot is a nutria, a large, semi-aquatic rodent initially native to South America.

Sounds appealing, doesn't it?

A special note must be made of the New Orleans logo, which features a very angry looking nutria. Really closer to a psychotic otter than anything else. While Angry Nutria has buckteeth like a beaver, the actual mascot (Boudreaux and his wife Clotile) has more tusk-like appendages.

Yes, of course the mascot is married. Wouldn't want the four mascot children to be born out of wedlock would we? Methinks that New Orleans takes this just a touch to seriously.

Check out Boudreaux and Clotile. And don't forget the wedding photos.

51s 9, Rainiers 3

At least this was over quick. Jake Woods, making his first start since coming back from Seattle, lasted five innings and gave up seven earned runs. The 51s were up 7-0 after three and Las Vegas never looked back. To make matters worse, Wladimir Balentien's hitting streak was snapped at 17 games.

There just isn't much worth mentioning here for the hometown nine. They try again tomorrow at 7:11. Ryan Feierabend (0-1, 3.26) for Tacoma against Travis Smith (2-1, 4.15)

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A hopefully on-going history of Tacoma, the Rainiers and the PCL in general. Mostly cribbed from Wikipedia, Baseball Reference, and various official sites.

After two seasons, the Tacoma Tigers/Wanderers of the Pacific Coast League were no more. A local saloonkeeper named George Shreeder purchased the Everett Smokestackers of the Class B Northwestern League and moved them to Tacoma. This incarnation of the Tigers would bounce around in the low minors for the next five decades.

It began well, as it should have. The former Smokestackers were the defending NWL champion, and the newborn Tigers won the 1906 pennant. It could have been better though. In 1906, a young, hard-throwing Californian tried out for the team. He pitched – and lost – an exhibition game to the Aberdeen Black Cats. This young man ended up in the Idaho State League until the AL Washington Senators called him up in 1907. His name was Walter Johnson. After picking up the best nickname in baseball history (The Big Train), he would finish with 417 wins, 110 shutouts and be a part of the inagural class of the baseball Hall of Fame.

The Northwestern League would last until 1917, until wartime shortages would weaken the league. Tacoma and Spokane would fold just a month into the 1918 season. The league would return as the Northwest International League for 1919 and 1920. This incarnation was a four-team league consisting of the Tacoma Tigers, Seattle Drydockers, Vancouver Beavers and Victoria Tyees. Again, Tacoma folded mid-season, and the remainder of the league followed just a few days later. Another stillborn league followed in 1922, with the four team Western International League. Oddly enough Tacoma was the “International” of this unit, as the other three teams were all based in Canadian teams. The league lasted only one season, and professional baseball would be gone from Tacoma for the next 15 years.

In 1937, the Western International League was reborn; stretching from Vancouver, BC to Lewiston, Idaho. The reborn Tigers won pennants in '37, '39 and '1940. The Western International League would shut down from 1943 – 1945 due to wartime manpower losses, but return at full strength in 1946. Tacoma was a mainstay of this league until 1951. The WIL would eventually morph into the Northwest League, a low Class A league still going strong. Tacoma though, would have to wait.

This was a bit of slugfest, now wasn't it?

SLUG-FEST.

This kind of win is never pretty, never easy, but almost always tons of fun. Tacoma jumped out to a five-run lead in the second, battering Salt Lake starter Jonathon Rouwenhorst. Jim Parque couldn't hold the lead though, giving up seven runs (four earned) in four innings before being pulled in favor of Sean Green. Green pitched three hitless innings to notch the win. The bullpen didn't really help the matter though. With the Rainiers up 8-7 in the eighth, Brad Thomas gave up a run to tie. Mike Morse hit a homer in the ninth to power the Rainiers to a 12-8 lead. Jon Huber gave up three in the ninth before Byron Embry finally closed it out with the winning run on base.

Like we said, these are never easy.

We have to give a special No Rhubarb shout-out to Wladimir Balentien. He pushed his hitting streak to 17 with a 4-for-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI day. Wlad is now at .380/.430/.648 and making a concerted effort to wrest Our Favorite Rainier status from Mr. Jones. You're on notice AJ.

Tomorrow? Nothing. After 20 straight game days, the Rainiers have a much-deserved day off. A day off in Las Vegas, no less. Thursday at the 51s; Jake Woods (0-0, 9.00) against Greg Miller (1-0 , 1.98).

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Bees 8, Rainiers 6

Damn it.

As close to an offensive explosion as this team comes, and they still can’t win. Tacoma beats up on Salt Lake’s pitching to the tune of 15 hits, six doubles and a Jeremy Reed homer, but it just isn’t enough. Renee Cortez took the loss after a dreadful inning where he gave up four earned runs without notching an out. Wladimir Balentien stretched his hitting streak to a PCL-best 16 games, going 2-5 with an RBI double.

Again: DAMN IT!

The Rainiers attempt to avoid the sweep tomorrow afternoon at 12:05. Jim Parque (1-1, 5.94) continues his comeback against the great unknown. Salt Lake has yet to announce a starter.

Minor League Baseball Box Score

The modern-day Pacific Coast League is a massive enterprise consisting of 16 teams stretching from Tacoma and Portland in the Pacific Northwest to New Orleans of the Deep South. These are the teams our hometown nine will face throughout the long season.




The Team: Colorado Springs Sky Sox

The Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado

The MLB Affiliation: Colorado Rockies

The Website: SkySox.com

The Ballpark: Security Service Field. Built in 1988, this is charmingly-named field has the highest elevation of any stadium in professional baseball. One of the smaller venues in the PCL, this field does not have a view of the Rocky Mountains, instead a housing development is seen over the outfield walls.

The History: A member of the Class-A Western League until it folded in 1958, the Sky Sox are the former Hawaii Islanders, which were one of the 1,237 different teams that once played in Sacramento. Colorado Springs has been the AAA affiliate for the Colorado Rockies since that teams inception in 1993.

The Prospects: Ian Stewart, Ubaldo Jimenez. The Sky Sox feature one of – if not the – most veteran clubs in the PCL.

The Week that Was: The Rainiers finished with another losing week, going 3-4 against Sacramento, Fresno and Salt Lake. After dropping Sunday's series finale against the River Cats, the Rainiers did manage to pick up three in a row against Fresno. Tacoma missed a chance at the sweep though, and have since lost consecutive games against the Bees. The Rainiers now find themselves at 7-11, four games back of the Salt Lake.

On Deck: The Rainiers have two more tough games in Salt Lake, a night game on Monday and an afternoon tilt on Tuesday. After that game it's on to Sin City (yes, we're deeply ashamed at using that nickname) for a four-game series against the Las Vegas 51s. The 51s stand at 10-6, a game back of Sacramento in the PCL Pacific South.

In The Hole:After the series in Las Vegas, the Rainiers have another only-in-the-minors travel situation; after a 12:05 game in Las Vegas, Tacoma heads to Colorado Springs for a series against the Sky Sox. They play on Saturday, travel Saturday night and play a 6:05 game against the Sox on Sunday. Colorado Springs is las in the Pacific North, currently at 5-10.

Bees 6, Rainiers 1

Who needs offense anyway?

Well, the Rainiers do, if they fancy winning any baseball games. Jorge Campillo again pitched just well enough to lose, going 6 innings and giving up 4 runs. A desultory day in Salt Lake; the only highlight was Wladimir Balentien running his hitting streak to 15 games, only to find himself ejected at home in the eighth. Again, Campillo pitched a competent game, but nothing short of Bob Gibson circa 1968 would have won this one for the Rainiers..

Salt Lake again tomorrow night, 6:05 first pitch. Justin Lehr (0-1, 3.71) against Pedro Liriano (0-2, 8.25).

Minor League Baseball Box Score

The modern-day Pacific Coast League is a massive enterprise consisting of 16 teams stretching from Tacoma and Portland in the Pacific Northwest to New Orleans of the Deep South. These are the teams our hometown nine will face throughout the long season.


The Team: Las Vegas 51s

The Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

The Affiliation: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Website: LV51.com

The Ballpark: Cashman Field. Built in 1983 for the then Las Vegas Stars, Cashman Field is actually closer to downtown than the more famous Strip. This is close to old-school, Sinatra-style Vegas: the Golden Nugget, the El Cortez. The park itself is pretty anti-Vegas though. It's rather plain and glitz-free. Looks like Cheney Stadium to us in fact.

The History: Up until 1983, this franchise was the cross-state rival Spokane Indians. Known as the Stars until 2001, the Vegas franchise has always been affiliated with a Southern California team; the Padres from 83-01, then the Dodgers to current.

Just not one of your more interesting PCL franchises.

The Logo: The name references Area 51, the logo the fabled "Grey" aliens. Area 51 is about 80 miles north of Las Vegas; the Greys are rumored to have lived, died, been interrogated and/or autopsied there.

The Prospects: Andy LaRoche, James Loney, Greg Miller

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