Ah, the joys of day baseball. A gorgeous day in Tacoma, and I had four seats to myself. Sadly, I had four seats to myself because the people who said they were in backed out at the last minute, and the Rainiers lost a tight one to Oklahoma. But hey, I think the positives still outweighed the negatives. Maybe.
Pro: Jon Nelson continued his hot streak, with a big two run triple in the 9th that brought the R's within one. That said, he was stranded on 3rd after a remarkably ugly K from Rob Johnson and a weak chopper from Osvaldo Navarro.
Rich Dorman pitched quite effectively in long relief of Clint Nageotte, going 4 IP and giving up 1R on 1H, with 2BB and 5Ks. His big breaking ball was working well, though Juaquin Arias nearly hit one out (he got the one hit, an RBI double).
Rob Johnson threw out 2 of 3 runners trying to steal - every throw was pinpoint. The less said about his day at the plate, the better, but hey, he's quite adept at controlling the running game.
TJ Bohn went 2-4 with a double, getting the first hit off Robinson Tejeda, who started brilliantly for the JetHawks.
Clint Nageotte, one of my favorite Rainiers, is just hanging on to his pro career. Nageotte can't get Ks anymore, in large part because his FB simply isn't good enough, and because it's damned difficult to reinvent yourself on the fly. The whole Frank Tanana metamorphasis is a best-case scenario, and it's really, really hard.
Clint's FB was at 88MPH today, and although his slider was quite good at times, if hitters know what's coming, they're going to hit it. Part of the problem may be that there's no longer enough of a gap between his slider and FB. He was throwing the slider at 81 or so... Getting his FB up to 90mph consistently would really help. But beyond velocity, Nageotte still has trouble commanding that FB. In one AB, he threw 5 offspeed pitches to 1 FB. That one FB? A wild pitch. Nags was removed after four innings, having thrown 60 pitches, which isn't great, but isn't all that bad either. I keep telling myself that he's coming off of injury and they're trying to work him back. With a lot of luck, he'll gain back some velocity AND command and be a call-up candidate in September. He's got a lot of work to do before that, of course..
The entire line-up allowed OK starter Robinson Tejeda to coast through the first few innings. This looked eerily similar to the first 5 innings against Adam Loewen and Baltimore - the Rainiers kept swinging at bad pitches, and making lots and lots of quick outs. Tejeda took advantage to go 5 1/3 1R 1HBP 1BB 5Ks for the win. Osvaldo Navarro was guilty of a couple of quick, wasted ABs, but the guy who just won't take many pitches is Jon Nelson. Nelson gets a free pass from me since he hent 2-4 with a 2b and a 3B, although it must be said that both of those XBHs were sun-aided (the SS dropped a pop-up for what was *charitably* scored a 2b, and then the CF lost his deep drive in the 9th for a 3b).
Michael Garciaparra went 0-2 on a grand total of 4 pitches (1k), and then hurt his leg on a ground ball up the middle fielded by...Navarro. Not sure exactly how that happened, but he had to be taken out of the game. I know he's just coming back, so let's all head over to PI and see if JAC knows what's going on...
Finally, and most puzzling, something doesn't look right with Chris Snelling. His average is down in the .230s, and though he picked up a walk today, he also Kd twice, the last time on a steady diet of breaking balls from Kevin Walker. He seemed to have real trouble identifying the pitch, which led to three horrible swings. It's the sort of thing that happens to everyone, but, um, this is Doyle we're talking about here. I'm not used to the *Texas Rangers* org fillers making Chris freakin' Snelling look awkward. Maybe there's something to this impingement thing, and maybe there's not (the fact that he's continually in RF makes me think it's a paper move only), but it's not like this 'injury' has sapped his power: he can't make contact. Snelling has now struck out in 1/4 of his Tacoma ABs this year. Compare this year's stats to his career line. His walks are right where they should be - but his K's are definitely up. His slugging's down, but that might have something to do with injury, and a freakishly low BABIP on the road. But why is he struggling to make contact?