Was yesterday National Catcher’s Day? It sure seemed like it.
Tacoma manager John Russell – a former catcher – put both of his catchers in the starting lineup on Wednesday against El Paso. He had Jacob Nottingham do the actual catching, and let his other catcher Brian O’Keefe serve as the designated hitter.
The plan worked.
Nottingham hit two home runs, including the go-ahead two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth inning that snapped a 4-4 tie, and O’Keefe launched a solo bomb as the Rainiers beat El Paso, 7-4.
It was the second straight win for the Rainiers to begin the six-game series against El Paso. Game three is tonight at 7:05.
Nottingham’s homers were both two-run blasts, and they were his first two dingers of the season. He connected with a line drive to left in the second inning off El Paso lefty Jay Groome to give the Rainiers a 2-0 lead. After some back-and-forth between the two teams, the game was tied 4-4 going to the bottom of the fifth when Nottingham faced Groome again with a runner on base. This time, Nottingham lofted a high, deep fly that banged off the ancient steel of Cheney Stadium’s historic left field light tower, giving Tacoma a 6-4 lead.
O’Keefe’s home in the following inning made the lead 7-4 and completed the scoring. O’Keefe is now tied with Jake Scheiner for the team lead with six homers, two behind Pacific Coast League leader Jo Adell of Salt Lake.
Tacoma pitching limited El Paso to just six hits – two by their catcher, Pedro Severino. It really was a catcher’s day.
The game included 16 walks between the two teams, a very high number but nowhere near our beyond-ridiculous total of 25 walks in the series opener on Tuesday.
Before last night’s game I asked Russell about the cold impacting the walks and he said it was definitely a factor, noting that when he went to make a pitching change and took the ball from a reliever “it felt like a frozen rock in my hand.”
And as Dan Wilson pointed out during the Mariners telecast on Wednesday afternoon, playing baseball in the extreme cold is tough because “the first parts of your body to freeze are your fingers and your toes, and you need those to play.”
The forecast calls for one more game with temperatures in the 40s tonight before things start to warm up into the 50s tomorrow.
YESTERDAY: Tacoma catchers hit three home runs, Konner Wade had a successful return to the rotation, and the Rainiers beat El Paso 7-4 on Wednesday night. Jacob Nottingham homered twice and drove in four runs, with Brian O’Keefe adding a solo homer. Wade went four innings in his first appearance of the season, allowing two earned run on three hits. Relievers Taylor Williams and Matt Festa each pitched two shutout innings to seal the win.
TODAY: El Paso Chihuahuas (6-11) at Tacoma Rainiers (9-7), 7:05.
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: San Diego Padres.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Phillip Wellman.
SEASON SERIES: Tacoma leads, 2-0.
PITCHERS: RHP Angel Sanchez (0-1, 6.75) at LHP Eric Stout (0-0, 0.00)
It’s the Rainiers third bullpen game of the season, and this time Stout gets the call. He’s tossed three scoreless innings from the pen since signing with the team a week ago.
ROSTER MOVES: After nine roster moves on Tuesday, the Rainiers had none yesterday and are shooting for two straight days with no moves. Since the Mariners are off today, I like our chances.
HOT HITTERS: Zach DeLoach has a six-game hitting streak, and he has hit safely in ten of his last 11 games… Mason McCoy reached base safely in 15 of the 16 games he has played in, and he has a four-game hitting streak… Cesar Hernandez has reached base safely in 12 of his 13 games… Jake Scheiner homered in back-to-back games, with three homers total, Sunday-Tuesday.
OPPONENT NEWS: Despite having Fernando Tatis Jr. in the lineup, the Chihuahuas just lost four of six home games to Albuquerque… Pedro Severino has a four-game hitting streak… infielder Taylor Kohlwey had his seven-game hitting streak end last night… Rangel Ravelo had his streak of games reaching base safely end at ten last night… the Chee-Wahs are loaded with ex-Rainiers. Domingo Tapia, Tim Lopes, Jantzen Witte, and Luis Liberato have all played for Tacoma, and their trainer Josh Diloreto was also once with Tacoma.
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.
- The Mariners lost to the Brewers yesterday despite a strong start from Marco Gonzales.
- Seattle’s offense has been a disappointment so far.
- The owner of the Oakland A’s announced he has agreed to buy land to build a stadium in Las Vegas, and the City of Oakland says they are no longer negotiating with the team to build a new stadium, so it appears A’s-to-Vegas is happening. It will take a few years, and we’ll wait and see how it impacts the PCL.