The race for the Triple-A West batting title is going down to the wire, and it has several layers.
Tacoma’s Jose Marmolejos is hitting .347, Salt Lake’s Michael Stefanic is second at .342, and the only two contenders are facing each other at Cheney Stadium in the final series of the season.
The big hitch is that Marmolejos needs 16 more plate appearances over the final four games in order to qualify. That adds another level to the chase: Marmolejos needs to get these 16 plate appearances, so he can’t miss a game for any reason.
Last night Marmolejos hit cleanup, and got four plate appearances in a game the Rainiers won – so they batted in just eight innings.
The wet weather is something to worry about. What if a game gets shortened by rain? That would be a problem.
A rainout and a make-up doubleheader would be a real issue. It’s hard to get four plate appearances in a seven inning game – especially if the home team wins, and only bats in six innings. A pure cancellation due to rain would be easier to deal with, since the minimum number of plate appearances is based on total team games played. Tacoma is scheduled to play 130 games, and you need 2.7 plate appearances per game to qualify, so that’s a total of 351 PAs. A cancellation would drop that number to 348. Marmolejos currently has 335.
If plate appearances become a concern this weekend, manager Kristopher Negron could move Marmolejos up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup, to increase the chance that he bats an extra time in a game.
The fact that the Rainiers are playing Salt Lake adds to the intrigue. Tacoma’s pitchers can help Marmolejos by getting Stefanic out. Stefanic is really consistent: his batting averages for the last three months are .374 in July, .352 in August, and .357 in September.
Tacoma has pitched Stefanic really well. He’s hitting just .239 against the Rainiers this year, going 17-for-71 in 19 games against Tacoma. He’s hit .365 against all of the other teams in the league.
Hopefully tonight the Rainiers will score a dozen runs and Marmolejos will get six plate appearances – and some hits, too!
YESTERDAY: Four Tacoma pitchers combined on a three-hit shutout as the Rainiers opened the final series of the season with a 4-0 win over Salt Lake on Wednesday night. Robert Dugger pitched the first six innings, allowing three hits with no walks and six strikeouts. Dugger finished his season with back-to-back outings of six scoreless innings. Andres Munoz, Justin Grimm, and Jimmy Yacabonis finished up the Rainiers sixth shutout of the year. Offensively, Jose Godoy hit a two-run double, and Jantzen Witte added two hits with a homer.
TODAY: Salt Lake (53-72, 4-2) at Tacoma (76-50, 3-3), 7:05.
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Lou Marson.
SEASON SERIES: Tacoma leads, 15-10.
PITCHERS: LHP Thomas Pannone (5-11, 7.45) at RHP Ryan Weber (4-2, 3.64)
Pannone is the first of four straight left-handed pitchers that Salt Lake has listed to start the final four games of the season.
HOT HITTERS: Dillon Thomas is 17-for-53 over his last 16 games… Jose Godoy is 23-for-60 over his last 14 games… Luis Liberato is 17-for-40 over his last 12 games… the Rainiers are 43-24 when Donovan Walton is in the starting lineup, and 33-26 when he is not… Walton has an eight-game hitting streak.
OPPONENT NEWS: Salt Lake just went 4-1 in a five-game series against Sacramento… Mitch Walding is saving his injury-riddled season with a late surge, going 20-for-49 with five homers over his last 12 games… Brendon Davis has two homers and eight RBI over his last five games… Bees home run leader Jake Gatewood has missed the last four games with an undisclosed injury.
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.
TRIPLE-A WEST SCOREBOARD: Follow all league games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.
STORIES YOU MIGHT LIKE:
- The Mariners won another thriller last night, and remain a half-game out of the last wild card spot. The team is off today before hosting the Angels in the final three games of the season starting Friday night.
- Mitch Haniger is looking for the baseball that he hit for his 100th career home run on Tuesday.
- Outfielder Jarred Kelenic has been one of the hottest rookies in the majors recently.
Listen to every home and away Tacoma Rainiers game for free HERE. You can also download the MiLB First Pitch app for a free and easy one-click listening experience at home, work or in your car. Watch an HD video broadcast of every game with an MiLB.TV subscription. Use code: RAINIERS to save $10 on an annual subscription.
About the Tacoma Rainiers
The Tacoma Rainiers are the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. The Rainiers are a member of the Triple-A West. Tacoma has been a Mariners affiliate since establishing the Rainiers moniker in 1995.
The most up-to-date news and notes about the Tacoma Rainiers and Cheney Stadium can be found at WeRTacoma.com, or by following the Rainiers on Twitter (@RainiersLand), Instagram (@tacomarainiers) and liking the team on Facebook.