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Covered In BEES!

While we were pleasantly surprised to see the Salt Lake Bees launch an official blog, we are far more interested in the Blog of Bees run by a Salt Lake fan. We are constantly on the lookout for fellow PCL fanblogs. Eventually we would like to see a blogroll made up of PCL fans.

We just have to find the damned things.

Finally, every time I think of the Bees, this classic Eddie Izzard bit pops into my head. Enjoy.


Rainiers 6, Bees 3

It isn't every day that a starter can come into a game with an ERA of 7.94 and make it worse, but that is what Pedro Liriano did, giving up six runs in just 4 1/3 innings. Tacoma jumped out to a 1-0 lead, lost it as Justin Lehr gave up a deuce on Matthew Brown's second-inning homer, but took it back with a four-spot in the fourth. Adam Jones hit a two-run double, Lehr settled down and went seven full innings, and the Rainiers take the series opener on Friday Fireworks Night.

The same two teams tomorrow afternoon at 1:35. The Jim Parque Experiment (1-1, 6.41) continues for the Rainiers, against the unspellable Jonathon Rouwenhorst (2-0, 5.60)

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World famous athletes. Animals. Giant inflatable suits.

You have any idea where this could be going?

We are speeding past Rhubarb. We're leaving the bizarre world of giant rodents behind. We're heading down the interstate and the horror that is Rusty is two exits back We are going to ZOOPERSTARS.

What, pray tell, are Zooperstars? One part athlete, one part animal-based pun, one part giant inflatable head, and about a billion parts scary. To wit:

Ken Giraffy Jr.

Cow Ripkin, Jr.

Nomar Garciaparrot.

Monkey Mantle.

Monkey Mantle?!

The absolute nadir of Zooperstars is what they have done with Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro, beloved on two continents, one of the most charismatic athletes in the world today, the only man who could say things like this:

I hope he arouses the fire that's dormant in the innermost recesses of my soul. I plan to face him with the zeal of a challenger
and still be taken seriously. What does the-bad-acid-trip-meets-ESPN Classic crime against nature known as Zooperstars do with this man?

They turn him into a cockroach.


Photo courtesy of Zooperstars

This is Ichiroach Suzuki. Note the vaguely Asian features of the humanoid insect, that may be our very favorite part.

Now, what could possibly top this? What could be the cherry on top of this terror and butterscotch sundae?

The Zooperstars are coming to Tacoma.

We say again : the Zooperstars are coming to Tacoma! The first of June and the fourth of August will see these abominations appearing at Cheney Stadium. A harmless promotion? Or the beginning of an invasion? Can you see it? Rhubarb and his giant unblinking eyes leading a veritable army of mascots against our poor city?

No. The time has come to take up arms and defend our homes, oh Men of Tacoma. The great horde of demon creatures is coming and we must be ready. These things are inflatable, so we are buying all the pitchforks we can find. We suggest you do the same.

The Salt Lake Bees have an official team blog called Bees Wax. How cool is that?

So, remember last week when we lauded Jason Mackintosh for coming up from West Tennessee and making a spot start against Fresno? He basically went directly from the airport to Cheney Stadium, threw five scoreless innings against the Grizzlies in a losing effort. That was nice,wasn't it?

Today, not so much.

Jorge Campillo started this one for Tacoma and he had a fairly normal Jorge Campillo day. He did leave the game down 4-1, but he did go six innings. Mackintosh came in for the last three innings and managed to give up eight runs on eight hits in those three little innings.

Hope the weather is nice in Jackson.

Tomorrow night, a four-game series starts against Salt Lake. First pitch is 6:05. Justin Lehr (2-0, 2.79) against Pedro Lirano (1-3, 7.94). Life against the Bees just got a bit easier, as star infielder Brandon Wood has been called up to the major league Angels.

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Walk. Off. Grand. Slam.

Not a group of words that occur very often in baseball, major, minor or even the pony league. On a slightly rainy afternoon in Tacoma, Wladimir Balentien notched that rare hit. The Rainiers came to bat in the ninth down 3-1. Jon Nelson led off the ninth by striking out. Brent Ust doubled. Oswaldo Navarro lined out to third for the second out. Adam Jones walked to keep the Rainiers alive. Jeremy Reed singled to load the bases.

And then Balentien crushed a 3-1 pitch from Colorado Springs reliever Mike Gallo to win it.

Ryan Rowland-Smith was the winner thanks to his perfect ninth and Balentien's heroics.

You'll not see this the rest o f the year. You will see the Rainiers and the Sox wrap up their four-game series tomorrow evening at 6:05. Jorge Campillo (2-2, 2.70) looks to improve on his already-strong start, while Marc Kasier (1-1, 5.51) takes the hill for Colorado Springs.

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Well, look who's finally up and redone their website? The Rainiers have seriously updated, switching from the old-style to the newer MiLB template. It looks and feels much better. Not all of the bugs are out though, there are dead links everywhere. I'm betting that gets taken care of overnight.

Weirdly enough, at just after midnight on Wednesday, if you go to www.TacomaRainiers.com you get the old version. If you go through www.minorleaguebaseball.com, you get the new.

Still no mention of a certain PCL Player of the Week though.

Sometimes the Baseball Gods smile upon you. Sometimes they smite you. Other times they merely mock.

Yesterday I said this regarding tonight's game “Two guys with double-digit ERAs and the possibility of rain. Could be a long night”. Well, it was a long night, a very long night. Fourteen taut, exciting innings, where both pitchers went six-plus innings. We are most definitely not baseball prognosticators.

After a disastrous first start for Tacoma, Jake Woods threw six scoreless frames, leaving with a 1-0 lead. Colorado Springs starter Ubaldo Jimenez nearly matched him, going seven innings, striking out 7 and giving up one run. Sean Green took over for Woods and after two scoreless innings, gave up the tying run in the ninth, and it off to the races. Colorado won in the 14th inning, scoring two runs off of Byron Embry.

Hard luck night. Tomorrow we have a day game with the very early and very odd starting time of 11:35. Nice pitching match-up, Ryan Feierabend (1-1, 2.84) against former major leaguer BK Kim (0-1, 4.70) for the Sky Sox.3

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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. You must know the enemy!

The Team: Round Rock Express

The Location: Round Rock, Texas

Wait... Yeah, we're heading into the not-quite Pacific Coast teams. Round Rock is a suburb of Austin.

The MLB Affiliation: Houston Astros

The Website: RoundRockExpress.com

The Ballpark: Dell Diamond. Initially built in 2000 to house the Double-A version of the Express, expanded when the Edmonton Trappers moved south. Sitting in what used to be a cow pasture, Dell Diamond has all the bells and whistles, including a game room and climbing rock.

The History: At one point, the PCL had three teams in Canada. This one used to be based in Edmonton, before the Ryan-Sanders group (that would be Nolan Ryan and son Reid) moved the team to Texas. That replaced the Texas League version of the Express, which itself used to be the Jackson Generals as recently as 1999.The Double-A club moved to Corpus Christi, and is home to the unspeakable Rusty the Hook.

The Name: Nolan Ryan's fastball was called the Express. Pretty cool actually.

The Prospects: Hunter Pence, Juan Gutierez and not much else.

For those uninitiated in the Mariner blogosphere, USSMariner.com is the unquestioned King of M's blogs. Formed by veterans of the pioneering Baseball Prospectus, the USSM is often informative, always entertaining and on occasion bewilderingly technical for those – like yours truly- who ran away in terror at the thought of a college-level statistics class. One of their more frequent features is the Future Forty (frequent feature future forty? Am I Ring Lardner all the sudden?), a look at the Mariners best prospects. Unlike the basic Top 10 list, the Future Forty is broken down into a series of categories, and includes some best-case and most-likely scenarios. As you might expect, several Rainiers make the cut, including Our Favorite Rainier (the best prospect in Tacoma, as previously established), Wladimir Balentien (still not sold on him) and Bryan LaHair (“sucks”).

Check it out here.

Thirdbaseman Mike Morse became the first Rainier named PCL Player of the week, after a smoking .560/.600/.920 week. Morse, who has played short and the outfield for Tacoma, has settled in as the Rainier everyday option at third. Let's hear it for Mike Morse!

Also, this is something that should be front-page news on the official site. C'mon fellas, get to it.

What a wild, weird ballgame this was. The Rainiers get a quick run in the first on Wladimir Balentien's sixth homer, then give up five in the second after starter Jim Parque had a nightmarish inning that saw the Sox bat around. Give Parque credit though, he held on and went four more scoreless innings. The Rainiers scratched out runs in the fifth and and seventh before taking the lead with a three-spot in the eighth. The Rainiers scored without the benefit of a hit, combining back to back walks by LaHair and Morse with Jeff Clement being hit by a pitch. Rob Johnson was safe on a botched force attempt at first, thanks to a throwing error by Colorado Springs' third baseman Ian Stewart. Gookie Dawkins hit into a run-scoring double play, and Oswaldo Navarro hit into another run-scoring error. A sloppy end to a sloppy, rainy game

But the Rainiers will certainly take it. This is a nice comeback win for Tacoma, as they push their win streak to four. Hope for slightly better weather tomorrow, as Jake Woods (0-1, 12.00) takes on Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2, 10.90). Two guys with double-digit ERAs and the possibility of rain. Could be a long night

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The Week That Was: The Rainiers saw their first off-day of the season and – more importantly – their first series win on the road. The week started ugly as Tacoma dropped back to back games in Salt Lake in ugly fashion, then salvaged the finale. Tacoma then moved on to Las Vegas, and took three out of four from the 51s. Tacoma stands at 11-13, all alone in second place of the Pacific North division, three games behind the Bees.

On Deck: The Rainiers head home for an eight game home stand, kicking off with a visit from the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. The Sky Sox – great name, ain't it? - find themselves at the bottom of the division with a 7-13 mark. Colorado Springs is one of the more veteran teams in the PCL.

In The Hole: Division-leading Salt Lake comes to Tacoma for the first time this season for a four-game series starting on Friday. The Bees star is a bit dimmed now, as star thirdbaseman Brandon Wood has been called up to the parent Angels. We have to admit a certain fondness for the Bees, partly because they are the Los Angeles – California – Anaheim – Los Angeles Angel farm club. We lived behind the Orange Curtain for some time and took in many games at Angel Stadium. Also – and the depth of our obsession with uniforms will come out soon – we love the Bees throwback look.

Rainiers 3, 51s 1

Justin Lehr pitched six-plus innings, giving up only an unearned run in the first, Mike Morse went 3-4 with a two-run homer and the Rainiers notched their third straight win. Taking two of the last three against Las Vegas also gives Tacoma their first road series win of the year, and a .500 road trip. With the game tied at 1-1 in the sixth, Morse hit a screaming line drive that would have been a gap double in most parks, but cleared the Cashman Field wall. Lehr overcame a shaky start – he would have runners in scoring position in the first three innings – and get his second win of the year.

The Rainiers return home tomorrow, for a 6:05 start with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Official starters haven't been announced, but it should be Jim Parque (1-1, 6.53) on the mound for Tacoma.

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Okay, nobody demanded anything. I'm just switching to a domain name of my very own. If I set this up correctly tomorrow, this here blog should be found at RainiersBlog.com

I will almost undoubtly screw it up at least once.

Update@8:15PM Uhhh.... okay. I am up and running at www.rainiersblog.com, which is cool. I don't seem to be working at rainiersblog.com, sans www. While I do own that version of the URL, blogger seems to populate only one version.

Huh? Does that make any sense?

Rainiers 15, 51s 1

This would be Massive Offensive Explosion Day for Tacoma. Jeff Clement hit his second Triple A Grand Slam, Wlad Balentien, Jeremy Reed and Jon Nelson had a pair of double each and the Rainiers just pulverized Las Vegas. Jorge Campillo went five, gave up 1 run on five hits, and didn't have to worry about this one. He evens his record at 2-2. Afternoon tilt Sunday at 12:05, Justin Lehr (1-0, 3.63) against the 51s starter DJ Houlton (2-0, 1.99).

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