The Tacoma Rainiers open a six-game homestand tonight at Cheney Stadium, and it’s time for the squad to start getting comfortable here. The team has played to better results on the road so far this season, and are just 15-23 in home games.
The schedule is very home-heavy for Tacoma in the next few weeks. The Rainiers play 24 of the next 33 games at home, before finishing the season with 21 of the last 34 games on the road.
In town tonight are the Oklahoma City Dodgers, who have not appeared at Cheney Stadium since 2018. In fact, the Rainiers haven’t played Oklahoma City anywhere since 2019. Tacoma was scheduled to host Oklahoma City in April last year, but that series got cancelled when MLB decided to push the start of the 2021 Triple-A season back a month due to Covid.
This series is going to feel a little strange for the Rainiers first-year manager, Tim Federowicz, who wrapped up his playing career last season as a member of the Oklahoma City Dodgers. Last year Federowicz played Oklahoma City manager Travis Barbary, and tonight he is going to be managing against him. Federowicz is going to have a handful of former teammates in the opposing dugout.
Tacoma comes into this series as a streaky team. The Rainiers have lost three straight games, right after winning five in a row and seven of eight. Prior to that, Tacoma lost eight of ten. This has been a difficult team to get a handle on lately.
Congratulations are in order to Rainiers outfielder Jarred Kelenic, who was named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Week. Kelenic has shown some steady improvement recently that is worth noting.
Kelenic won the award by going 7-for-18 with two homers, six runs scored, and six RBI last week. He also drew six walks, struck out only three times, and posted a 1.616 OPS.
The walks are the key thing here, in the big picture. He has drawn an unintentional walk in four straight games, after walking just nine times in his first 37 games (171 plate appearances). He was chasing pitches outside of the zone less frequently this past week – and if he can keep it up, that really improves his outlook.
YESTERDAY: The Rainiers were off yesterday. On Sunday the team lost in the 11th inning at Reno, 3-2, and has to settle for a split of the six-game series. Drew Ellis, Erick Mejia, and Marcus Wilson each had two hits for Tacoma, but the Rainiers could not score their automatic runner in the tenth or 11th innings. Konner Wade started and lasted five innings, allowing two runs.
TODAY: Oklahoma City Dodgers (49-35) at Tacoma Rainiers (35-48), 7:05.
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: Los Angeles Dodgers.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Travis Barbary.
SEASON SERIES: 0-0.
PITCHERS: RHP Ryan Pepiot (6-0, 1.94) at RHP Chris Mazza (1-0, 0.00)
Pepiot is one of the Dodgers top pitching prospects, and he is listed to start both the first and last games of this series.
ROSTER MOVES: The Mariners reinstated reliever Erik Swanson from the paternity list, and designated veteran reliever Jacob Barnes for assignment – we’ll have to wait and see if he rejoins the Rainiers. There are reports that Kyle Lewis is going to continue his rehabilitation with Tacoma this week, perhaps as early as today.
HOT HITTERS: Jarred Kelenic has hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games, including the last six in a row. He was just named PCL Player of the Week… Drew Ellis has hit safely in six of his last seven games… Trey Amburgey has hit safely in four straight games… Erick Mejia went 7-for-21 in the Reno series.
OPPONENT NEWS: Oklahoma City has the best record in the PCL, but they come into Tacoma on a cold streak. The Dodgers have lost eight of their last ten games, with pitching being the problem: they have allowed 10+ runs in six of the last ten games… two of the Los Angeles organization’s best infield prospects are with Oklahoma City, in third baseman Miguel Vargas and second baseman Michael Busch… Drew Avans has reached base safely in 23 straight games… Eddy Alvarez is one of the most interesting players in the league, a two-sport Olympic medalist in baseball and speed skating… Oklahoma City has former Rainiers Ty Kelly, Daniel Zamora, and Sam Gaviglio on the active roster, with Stefen Romero on the injured list.
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.
- There is lots of good stuff in this week’s Rainiers report from The News Tribune, including reaction from Zach Green after his three-homer game in Reno.
- Rookie outfielder Julio Rodriguez was named to the AL All-Star team.
- On Sunday the Mariners completed a four-game sweep of Toronto.
- The Times has a Seattle Mariners mailbag in which Ryan Divish spews wisdom.
- After a rough first half of the season, Everett shortstop Noelvi Marte is on a heater and even ranks high on this week’s edition of the Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet.