At The Park: Tacoma at Las Vegas

The Rainiers took a six-game winning streak at Cashman Field into Monday's series finale with the 51s, but Las Vegas' bats were as hot as the desert air as they pounded Tacoma 13-3. Publisher Scott Sepich was there. Read on to see what he saw, including the world's nuttiest Padres fan.

The Rainiers were looking to extend a six-game winning against the Las Vegas 51s at Cashman Field when I sat in on the series finale on Monday. Tacoma had been averaging more than eight runs per game during the streak, but it ended on Monday, with Las Vegas winning the final game before the All-Star break, 13-3.


A noon start time on a Monday afternoon made for a sparse crowd, to say the least. By my estimate, there were maybe 300 people in the crowd despite an announced attendance of 2,033. It was an unusually humid day in Vegas, with thunderstorms threatening throughout the game (none materialized).

I wrote down a series of short thoughts, which I'll just post as bullet points here:

- Cashman has a cavernous center field, with the 20-foot wall standing 433 feet away. The lines and alleys are a little more reasonable, at 328 and 364, respectively. Victor Diaz hit a 420-foot fly out in the second inning, and Matt Tuiasosopo's double in the sixth would've been a home run in any other park.

- Joseph Woerman had a rough outing for Tacoma. He was able to make it through four innngs despite allowing 12 hits and eight earned runs. He was registering in the low-to-mid 90s on the gun in the first inning consistently. Not great command, though. Good movement on the fastball, but control is a big issue (he has 61-45 BB/K ratio). He hit 96 on a fastball to Lindsey in the first, but it was high and wide. Woerman threw 40 pitches in the first inning, giving up five singles and a walk, but escaped with only three runs allowed by getting a 4-6-3 DP to end the frame. After a 10-pitch second inning, Woerman had problems again in the third and fourth innings. Another double play kept the game from getting completely out of hand in the third, as the 51s had racked up three more runs on four hits and a walk in that inning.

- Offensively, Matt Tuiasosopo swung a good bat for the Rainiers. He looks very balanced at the plate, and hit a deep drive the opposite way for a double in the sixth inning. Overall, he was 3-for-4 with a run scored.

- Wladimir Balentien and Craig Wilson hit towering, back-to-back homers in the fourth inning to score Tacoma's only runs. Both were high fastballs that they turned around and deposited over the high fence in left field. Wilson's was hit so hard that Las Veags left fielder John-Ford Griffin didn't even move from his spot to try and run it down. It was Craig's second homer in two days. Wilson is trying to resurrect his career in the M's organization. It's an interesting acquisition, but has very little risk.

- Andrew Baldwin, normally a starter, gave the Rainiers a 1-2-3 inning out of the pen. Jon Huber took over in the sixth, and gave up a two-run bomb to John-Ford Griffin. It was only the third homer Huber has given up all season, but he has struggled big time with an ERA of around 7.50.

- Tracy Thorpe came on to pitch the seventh, and Angel Chavez crushed his first pitch just inside the foul pole down the left field line for a deep home run. He then gave up a two-run shot to Mitch Jones in the eighth. Thorpe has now allowed nine home runs in 19 2/3 innings with Tacoma. Thorpe is a power guy who gets it up to 97, and has some nice breaking stuff. Just seems like he's not fooling anyone. He's got good strikeout numbers because of the power, but his strikes get too much of the plate.

- Luis Valbuena is looking very defensive at the plate. Not quite sure that he's ready for this level of pitching. Defensively, he's outstanding, but he's not hitting well enough yet to advance past this level. He's just reacting up there and doesn't seem to have a clear idea of what he wants to do when he steps in the box.

- Charlton Jimerson was released on Saturday, and Rob Johnson was placed on the inactive list. Deybis Benitez was called up from Pulaski and Fleming Baez was recalled from Everett to fill the two roster spots. Jimerson's release slightly clears up the logjam in the outfield for the Rainiers. With Bryan LaHair back to get most of the playing time at first base, and with the recent signing of Craig Wilson, Jimerson became expendable. Wilson played left field on Monday. Shawn Garrett will see reduced playing time, as he's now the fifth outfielder and third on the first-base chart.

The move was most likely the result of a competition between Jimerson and Prentice Redman. Redman has been on fire since his promotion from AA West Tenn, and is now hitting .323 at the AAA level. Jimerson, on the other hand, was hitting .233 with a .250 OBP.

- Jason Repko hit a broken-bat infield single in the second inning. The broken barrel of the bat flew at Woerman and struck him in the left arm. Luckily, it was the flat side of the bat that hit him, and after a trainer's visit he was able to remain in the game. Repko broke another bat in the fifth-inning. The jagged barrel stuck in the grass near third base like a javelin. The broken bat issue is getting a lot of coverage lately, but it's becoming pretty ridiculous that nothing's being done about maple bats, as they just continue to explode on contact.

- I found out that Michael Saunders is out with a strained hamstring, and that he's expected to be back in the lineup this weekend. He never went on the DL and was just being held out as a precaution. The M's don't want to push him at all, and there are certainly enough guys on the roster right now to share the playing time in the outfield.

- There's a guy who apparently comes to every game in Las Vegas wearing a Padres shirt, just to root against the 51s. When Balentien and Wilson hit their back-to-back homers, he ran down to the railing behind home plate, clapping and shouting maniacally and waving his arms in the air before returning to his seat. When the 51s scored a couple of runs in the bottom of the fourth, a group of young 51s fans aped the guy's act, clapping and shouting as they ran down from their seats to the front row behind home plate (which was completely empty, with most of the fans at Cashman sitting under the overhang at the back of the first level, in the shade).

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