Minor League Roundup: Tacoma Rainiers

The Rainiers' week was highlighted by two appearances by Kazuhiro Sasaki, who is currently on the disabled list with a fractured rib. In other news, Chris Snelling entered the Triple-A picture for the first time and immediately added some spark to the lineup.

The Triple-A Rainiers had solid week, going 4-3, and got great starting pitching from the new rotation of Rett Johnson, Chris Wright, Craig Anderson, Brian Sweeney and Brian Falkenborg.

Left-hander Matt Thornton is due to be back to full-health soon as well.

Offensively the Rainiers were led by leadoff man Jamal Strong, who despite his average dipping down in the low .200s, had a productive week, doing the brunt of his damage in one game. The 25-year-old centerfielder belted two homeruns on his way to a five RBI night, leading the Rainiers to a victory.

For the week, Strong was just 6-25 with five runs scored and three stolen bases, but he still set the table for the middle of the lineup.

That heart of the batting order got stronger this week with the promotion of sweet-swinging outfielder, Chris Snelling.

Snelling, 21, went 3-4 with a homerun and two RBI in his first game with Tacoma. The Aussie born lefty was hitting well over .300 in AA and clearly was ready to move another step closer to getting back in an Mariners uniform sustaining a knee injury midway through last season.

First baseman Andy Barkett had a solid week, going 8-25 (.320) with a homerun, five RBI and three doubles. Barkett now has 11 round-trippers on the year.

The pitching was led once again by Johnson, who rebounded from a less than Rett-like outing last week to go 8 strong innings and allowed just four hits and one earned run while striking out six and walking two. Johnson's ERA in his time in Tacoma sits at a stifling 1.13.

The bullpen is being held together without the services of closer Aaron Taylor and Julio Mateo while they are 50 miles North at SAFECO FIELD, filling out the pen and covering for those that are injured.

Gio Carrara , Allan Simpson, JJ Putz, and Aaron Looper are holding things together nicely.

The team got a one inning start out of rehabbing Mariners closer Kazuhiro Sasaki that brought the fans to their feet after the M's all-time saves leader struck out the side on 12 pitches.

Sasaki was touched for four runs in only two innings Monday in his second rehab appearance.

The Rainiers remain in the cellar in the PCL's Northern Division.

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