Rainiers Win Eighth Straight; Mavs Also Hot

Big-time offensive production and a suddenly intimidating starting rotation has led to an eight-game winning streak in Tacoma. Now, Brandon Morrow joins the rotation to give the Rainiers a trio of tough arms. Read on for today's minor league roundup, which includes news about a new signee from the 2008 draft class and the return of the M's prize pitcher from 2007.


Rob Johnson's two-run homer in the second inning on Tuesday gave Tacoma a lead they would not relinquish on the way to an eighth straight win, 5-3 over Albuquerque. The Rainiers got seven strong innings from Andrew Baldwin, who gave up two runs on nine hits. Oscar Villarreal picked up his first save in the role vacated by Jared Wells. Offensively, Matt Tuiasosopo came through with three more hits, and Jon Nelson was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Nelson is 7-for-14 since joining the Rainiers.

Brandon Morrow is starting today's game in Tacoma, as the M's have decided that Morrow's future in the organization is as a starter. Instead of just throwing him into the fire like the Yankees did with Joba Chamberlain, Morrow will instead get his work in AAA. He has never thrown a pitch at the AAA level. Morrow started five games in Rookie and A ball in 2006, but went no longer than three innings in any of those starts. Brandon has thrown only 23 1/3 career innings in the minors. With Morrow, Ryan Feierabend, and Ryan Rowland-Smith, the Rainiers suddenly have an outstanding trio of starters.

In slightly less notable news, Travis Chick has been promoted to Tacoma. Chick had a 4.28 ERA in 27 appearances with West Tenn. He was moved to the starting rotation in June and posted a 2.70 ERA in five starts in July. Travis has allowed 92 hits in 96 2/3 innings, with 44 walks and 80 strikeouts. Right-handers are hitting just .214 against him on the season.

Greg Halman was 3-for-4 for West Tenn last night, and Brent Johnson and Eddy Dominguez hit homers for the Diamond Jaxx. Montgomery won the game, though, by the score of 9-4. Brodie Downs lost his second consecutive decision after starting out 5-0. He had only allowed eight earned runs in his previous six starts, but was touched up for five in 5 1/3 innings last night. Downs still has a 3.22 ERA in seven starts since joining the rotation in early July.

The High Desert Mavs got three runs in the top of the ninth to break a 3-3 tie and went on to win their fifth straight game, 6-4 in Lake Elsinore. Kevin Reynolds had the go-ahead RBI on a bases-loaded single. Anthony Varvaro had one of his best starts of the year, lasting six innings and giving up only two earned runs on six hits. Varvaro continues to put up solid power numbers (101 K in 106.2 IP), but has walked 74 and allowed opposing hitters to bat .311 against him. He allowed 11 home runs in July and has given up 20 overall. The ball flies in the Cal League, which can help explain the high HR totals, but Varvaro needs to stop giving away baserunners with all of the walks if he hopes to be successful going forward.

Wisconsin rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the ninth inning to tie the game on a two-out single by Daniel Carroll, but Clinton scored a run in the bottom of the inning to pick up the 5-4 win. Denny Almonte was 1-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI for the Rattlers.

Phillippe Aumont is reportedly set to come off the disabled list this weekend. He hasn't pitched in a game since early June, but has apparently been feeling fine for a while. The M's are just being very, very careful with their prized 19-year-old arm.

Everett scored nine unanswered runs after falling behind 3-0 to beat Vancouver 9-3 last night. In his first game since being called up from the Arizona League, Jharmidy De Jesus was 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored. Walter Suriel was solid in six innings of work, allowing two earned runs on six hits with three strikeouts. Doug Salinas picked up the win with two perfect innings of relief. Bennett Billingsley was 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. He's 6-for-14 in his last four games, following an 0-for-18 slump.

The Mariners' third-round draft pick in 2008, Aaron Pribanic, has signed and reported to the AZL Mariners in Peoria. Pribanic's given first name is actually Benjamin, but he goes by his middle name. Pribanic is a 6'4", 200-pound right-handed pitcher out of the University of Nebraska. Pribanic was not dominant in college and was not the staff ace (he was the Sunday pitcher), but the M's reportedly like Pribanic's size and power arm. With limited time remaining this season, he may just stay in Arizona for now and report to one of the organizations A-level teams next season.

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