Kyle Lewis made his long awaited Triple-A debut last night for the Tacoma Rainiers in Salt Lake City, and he immediately made a big impact.
In the first game of a rehabilitation assignment as he recovers from meniscus surgery on his right knee, Lewis went 3-for-5 with a home run, two runs scored, and three RBI.
The 2020 American League Rookie of the Year wasted no time in his first at-bat, taking two pitches before blasting a Ryan Smith slider 464 feet to left field for a solo homer. Exit velocity was recorded at 109 mph.
Before the game I joked with Rainiers trainer Michael Feliciano about requesting the baseball from his first Triple-A hit and presenting it to Kyle. That became an impossibility, because his home run bounced off the roof of a concession stand that sits atop the berm in left field, and then apparently flew over the stadium perimeter wall and out onto the street. Goodbye baseball, indeed.
Lewis added a pair of RBI singles. The first came in the third inning, when he hit a sharp one-hopper up the middle that was deflected by the second baseman’s backhand attempt. This ball came off the bat with an exit velocity of 91 mph. His third hit was a real rocket in the sixth inning, 106 mph off the bat, again to centerfield.
It will be interesting to see if Lewis is back in the lineup today, after serving as the designated hitter last night. There is a chance he will have today off, and then play a few innings in the outfield on Thursday. Alternately, perhaps his knee feels great today, and he’ll be right back in there. I heard that he played a lot in undocumented extended spring training games to build up prior to this rehabilitation assignment, so he may be further along in his recovery than expected.
Kyle got to experience true PCL baseball last night, as we had a ridiculous game in high-elevation Salt Lake City. Tacoma won it, 13-11, on a two-out, two-run single in the top of the ninth by Billy Hamilton. The go-ahead hit occurred after the inning was extended by a two-out pop fly that landed untouched in front of home plate for a single, and a full-count pitch clock violation resulting in ball four. I suspect the Bees weren’t pleased with the final outcome.
The Rainiers were nearly the bitter guys themselves, building a 7-0 lead in the top of the third inning only to be trailing by the end of the fourth. It became a back-and-forth game, and was tied 11-11 in the sixth inning. Suddenly out of nowhere both team’s bullpens began to dominate and we actually had a string of zeros posted on the linescore before Hamilton’s game winner.
Before his game-winning hit, Hamilton was the only player in either team’s lineup without one. So in the end, every player for each team had at least one hit. Salt Lake’s numbers were rather unusual: the Bees 17 hits were comprised of 15 singles and two doubles. Tacoma, on the other hand, had 16 hits including three homers, two triples, and three doubles.
Prior to last night’s game Salt Lake was leading the PCL in team ERA and fewest home runs allowed – an incredible accomplishment for a staff that pitches at high elevation. We’ll see if the Bees pitching bounces back tonight.
YESTERDAY: The Rainiers won the series opener in a wild slugfest, 13-11. Tacoma took an early 7-0 lead behind home runs from Kyle Lewis, Cal Raleigh, and Steven Souza Jr. By the end of the 4th inning, Tacoma trailed 8-7. It was tied 11-11 in the top of the ninth when Billy Hamilton hit a two-out, two-run single for the lead, and reliever Patrick Weigel closed it out for his first save.
TODAY: Tacoma Rainiers (8-17) at Salt Lake Bees (12-13), 5:35 (Pacific).
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Lou Marson.
SEASON SERIES: Salt Lake leads, 4-3.
PITCHERS: RHP Darren McCaughan (1-2, 7.57) at LHP Jake Kalish (2-1, 2.63)
ROSTER MOVES: We’ll have some today closer to game time.
HOT HITTERS: Sam Haggerty is 10-for-25 on the road trip… Mason McCoy has reached base in ten straight games, hitting safely in nine of them… Zach Green has an eight-game hitting streak… Michael Wilson has hit safely in four straight games, going 5-for-15 with two homers… Billy Hamilton is 7-for-21 with five runs scored on the road trip.
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… the Angels have been carrying a major league taxi squad made up of a couple of Bees players, so sometimes players appear on the Salt Lake roster but aren’t actually with the team. Currently the taxi squad includes Luis Rengifo and Matt Thaiss… former Rainiers outfielder Dillon Thomas has reached base safely in 11 straight games… 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.
- Here’s the Seattle Times report on Kyle Lewis and his rehabilitation program. Reading between the lines, it sounds like everything is fully dependent on how his knee responds on a day-to-day basis.
- The Mariners have been shut out in Houston two days in a row.