The Rainiers were the latest team to fall victim to Salt Lake Bees starter Cesar Valdez and his “dead fish change-up” last night in an 8-1 loss. The 37-year-old rubber-armed change-up artist pitched his second nine-inning complete game of the season, scattering eight hits without walking anyone.
Complete games are extremely rare in minor league baseball these days. Valdez is the first Salt Lake pitcher to have two nine-inning complete games in a season since Trevor Bell in 2009.
Tacoma has not pitched a complete game since 2019, when they had two – and both of those came in rain-shortened games.
Tacoma’s last nine-inning complete game was pitched by Casey Lawrence in 2018. Currently a member of the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen, Lawrence tossed a three-hit shutout at Memphis on June 5 of that year.
Looking further back to find the last Rainiers pitcher to hurl two nine-inning complete games in a single season took a while, and was kind of fun. We got to Remember Some Guys who tossed single complete games in a season: hello Ross Detwiler, Sam Gaviglio, Justin Germano, and Chien-Ming Wang.
Turns out you have to go all the way back to 2013 to find the last Tacoma pitcher to deliver two nine-inning complete games in a single season: James Paxton.
Impressively, Paxton pitched both of his complete games that year on the road in great hitter’s parks. He pitched a five-hit shutout at Tucson on July 8, and then lost a grueling 1-0 complete game at Reno on July 27.
(Technically, Paxton only pitched eight innings in the 1-0 CG loss at Reno since the home team did not bat in the bottom of the ninth, but this game counts for our purposes here because it was not a rain-shortened game).
The box score of that 1-0 loss at Reno is a real head-scratcher. What the heck happened that day? The Rainiers had a strong Triple-A lineup with Abraham Almonte, Nate Tenbrink, Michael Morse, the perpetually rehabbing Franklin Gutierrez, Carlos Peguero, Jesus Montero… and got shut out by someone named Zeke Spruill? In Reno?
Baseball. You never know what’s going to happen in this game.
YESTERDAY: Salt Lake’s Cesar Valdez pitched his second complete game of the season, scattering eight hits in an 8-1 win over the Rainiers. Tacoma had a bullpen game, with starter Konner Wade delivering three scoreless innings, and the game was 0-0 going to the bottom of the sixth. Brian O’Keefe had two hits for Tacoma, and Mason McCoy singled home Zach Green with the Rainiers lone run.
TODAY: Tacoma Rainiers (8-19) at Salt Lake Bees (14-13), 5:35 (Pacific).
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Lou Marson.
SEASON SERIES: Salt Lake leads, 6-3.
PITCHERS: LHP Justus Sheffield (0-0, 0.00) at LHP Jhonathan Diaz (2-0, 1.96)
First minor league appearance of the year for Sheffield, who spent the first month of the season in the Mariners bullpen.
ROSTER MOVES: There were two additional roster moves before last night’s game: veteran lefty Tommy Milone was activated from the IL, and reliever Chris Jefferson was transferred back to extended spring training.
HOT HITTERS: Sam Haggerty is 13-for-32 on the road trip… Mason McCoy has reached base in 11 straight games, hitting safely in ten of them with a five-game hitting streak… Zach Green has at least one hit in nine of his last ten games… Michael Wilson has hit safely in five straight games, going 6-for-18 with two homers.
OPPONENT NEWS: Salt Lake just split an unusual home/road series against Round Rock, in which the Bees went 1-2 at Round Rock and then both teams flew to Salt Lake City where the Bees won two of three… former Rainiers outfielder Dillon Thomas has reached base safely in 13 straight games, and he is 8-for-14 in this series… three former Rainiers are in the Salt Lake bullpen: Brian Moran, Jonathan Aro, and Zack Weiss.
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.