Time To Step Up

The Mariners begin a stretch of 12 games against the AL's biggest names, and have the opportunity to extend the misery of the last-place Tigers. Elsewhere, the suspension of one of the Mariners' top prospects is the leading story on the farm.

While the Mariners have to be considered one of the more disappointing teams in baseball this season, they're not even in the same area code of disappointment that is inhabited by the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers were chosen by many as the team to beat not just in the AL Central, but in the entire league. Entering tonight's game, Detroit has 17 wins, the fewest in the AL. Three of the Tigers' starting pitchers have an ERA over six, including tonight's starter, Justin Verlander, who has a tremendous track record against the current Mariner roster.

The Mariners have an opportunity now to be tested against three of the supposed elite AL teams (although two of these three teams are currently in last place). After three in Detroit, the M's head to New York for their second series at Yankee Stadium this month, then come home to face the Red Sox and Tigers. Seven out of 12 would be a nice (and reasonable) step in the right direction, and would leave the Mariners in shouting distance of .500.

Jeremy Reed has officially been called up from Tacoma, as was widely assumed since Reed made the trip with the M's to Detroit. The M's also claimed 27-year-old righthander Tracy Thorpe off of waivers from Toronto. Thorpe is pitching in AAA for the first time this season and had a 2.63 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings with Syracuse of the International League. Thorpe had his best season in 2006 with AA New Hampshire, where, as the closer, he allowed just 5.34 H/9 and had a strikeout rate of 10.02 K/9. Thorpe will head to Tacoma.

I had noticed that super-prospect Carlos Triunfel has been out of the lineup recently in High Desert, and has been showing up as "suspended" on the Mavericks' roster. Well, some news of his status has come from the Seattle P-I's John Hickey, who says he was told that Triunfel has been suspended for a violation of team rules and has been sent to the minor league complex in Peoria. Hickey gets one minor detail wrong, as Carlos is Dominican, not Venezuelan. But the news from the Mariner organization is that they aren't saying why he's suspended nor are the saying when the suspension will be lifted. My guess is that the super-prospect (who has not been super-great on the field so far this season, by the way) decided that he didn't want to listen to his coaches and is being humbled a bit. But this has been going on for 10 days now, so if the Mariners are just making a point they're really driving it home. With the suspension dragging on and no real info coming from the team, it allows minds to wander (is it a legal issue? Is it drugs? Is Carlos really 29 years old?). For now, I'll choose to assume the best, which is just that a young kid with a big head needed to learn his place in the organization.

And since we already started in that direction, let's continue going around the minors.

Jeff Clement was back with Tacoma last night, but the Rainiers still lost their third straight game, 7-1 to Las Vegas. Prentice Redman was 2-for-4 in his first AAA game this season. Redman was called up from AA West Tenn to fill the center field spot vacated by Jeremy Reed. Clement doubled in his first at-bat, but was otherwise quiet. Robert Rohrbaugh started for Tacoma and allowed five runs in six innings, though he did strike out six batters.

Michael Saunders was 3-for-5 with two runs scored to help lead West Tenn to a 5-4 win over Mobile last night. Saunders is playing center field for the Jaxx now that Redman has moved up to AAA. Jon Nelson had three hits for the Jaxx as well, and is 11-for-24 during his current six-game hitting streak. Justin Thomas threw 6 2/3 innings to pick up the victory, and Mumba Rivera pitched the ninth and struck out the side to earn hs sixth save.

High Desert's road woes continued with another loss, this time 5-3 to Rancho Cucamonga. The Mavs are now just 7-17 on the road this season, and for the second consecutive days collected only three hits, courtesy of Carlos Peguero, Korey Feiner, and Ogui Diaz. The rehabbing Anderson Garcia pitched in his first game since April 23rd and lasted just one inning, giving up three hits and two earned runs. Reliever Anthony Varvaro had his struggles as well, walking six batters in his 3 1/3 innings of work. He did strike out five and limited the damages to two runs. Julio Santiago pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings and picked off two runners. The Victorville Daily Press has the game story.

Wisconsin was shut out for the second-consecutive day as the Ratters kicked off a four-game series in Cedar Rapids with a 2-0 loss. Michael Pineda, much like Phillippe Aumont the day before, was a hard-luck loser for the Rattlers. Pineda allowed only four hits and one run in six innings, but his teammates couldn't hit a beach ball into the ocean off of Cedar Rapids starter Michael Anton, who pitched an exceedingly-rare complete game. The Rattlers had only two baserunners in the game, on singles by Gavin Dickey and Alex Meneses. Pineda's ERA stands at 0.78 after the game, and reliever Travis Mortimore had another great outing, working a perfect eighth inning. Mortimore hasn't allowed a single hit in his last six innings of work, and has given up only one run in 14 1/3 innings on the season.

Tacoma: 22-21, 2nd in PCL Pacific North, 10.0 GB
West Tenn: 28-16, 2nd in SOU North, 1.5 GB
High Desert: 19-26, T-2nd in CAL South, 2.0 GB
Wisconsin: 19-21, 5th in MID Western, 10.0 GB

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