Gaby Hernandez started for the Rainiers, his first work since coming up with one of his best performances of the year in the division-clincher against Colorado Springs. This outing was one of his worst, as he scattered a couple outs over six runs.
Tacoma was down 7-0 before they started to crawl back. Chris Shelton hit a three-run home run in the third inning to open up the Rainiers scoring against River Cats starter Shawn Chacon. Matt Tuiasosopo added a two-run home run in the sixth inning to make it 7-5.
It looked like the Rainiers may have a comeback up their sleeve, as they got the go-ahead run on base in the sixth, and the tying run to the plate with no outs in the seventh. Sacramento's bullpen buckled down when they needed to though.
On the other hand, Tacoma's bullpen did not.
A six-run explosion by Sacramento in the bottom of the seventh put the game out of reach. Tacoma's offense tried to make a late comeback in the ninth inning, when they scored their final three runs. In the end though, the reigning PCL champions proved to be just too much to handle.
It's truly a mixed bag that the Rainiers season is over. Even though it is AAA baseball, it is disappointing to see their miracle run come to end. Whatever the level is, a championship is exciting.
However, with the earlier exit, some Rainiers are going to get a bit more time in the majors. Shannon Drayer tweeted this morning that Adam Moore, Garret Olson, and Matt Tuiasosopo are on their way to Texas right now. Moore will make his major league debut when he gets in a game.
It is weird on some level. Baseball players, like any professional athlete, want to win every time they compete. However, a loss in this case helped three players (particularly Moore) reach the ultimate goal of any minor-leaguer, to make it to the big show.
In the end, this might have been the best case for the whole Mariners organization. I don't care if it's "just AAA," a winning culture is a winning culture. Wins anywhere can only help. However, the Mariners continue to battle through more than their fair share of bumps and bruises. A handful of the roster always seems to be out a couple days here and there for something. The M's can use, and to a certain extend need, September call-ups. Another week would have taxed the team even more.
Thanks to the 2009 Tacoma Rainiers for stirring up a little pennant fever reminiscent of the 1995 Refuse to Lose run. Congratulations to Adam Moore for making it to the major leagues too. I am already looking forward to the 2010 Rainiers. Guys like Nick Hill, and at some point Philippe Aumont and Josh Fields, should shore up the pitching staff. That Dustin Ackley kid is supposed to be a good hitter, and he might be around for next year's pennant chase too. Like everything Jack Zduriencik touches, the Rainiers were better this year, and the future is even brighter.