With last night's Mariners debacle too ugly to even think about right now, let's start with some better news today. Let's go around the minors.
Tacoma (17-14, 8.0 GB in PCL North) got a solid effort last night from starter Chris Jakubauskas, who was making his AAA debut after six dominant starts at AA West Tenn. Jakubauskas threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings as the Rainiers beat Iowa 5-2 in Des Moines. Red-hot Jeremy Reed (starting in right field last night --- more to come on this later) hit his fifth home run of the season in the first inning off Cubs starter Rich Hill. Reed is now hitting .375 on the year, including .450 (18-for-40) over his last 10 games. Mike Kinkade also homered for the Rainiers on his 35th birthday. The News-Tribune's Mike Curto has the full story.
Reed's recent tear puts the Mariners in an interesting situation. With Ichiro and Raul Ibanez entrenched in center and left field, respectively, and the recent commitment to Wladimir Balentien in right field, there doesn't seem to be any room for Reed except as a utility outfielder. Will he be a bargaining chip? I guess it depends on whether the M's are buyers or sellers come summer. Or whether the Cincinnati Reds are looking to dump Ken Griffey as soon as he hits his 600th home run. It could be pure coincidence that Reed started last night in the position that would come open in Cincinnati should the Reds decide to trade Junior, but that wouldn't be any fun, right?
West Tenn (22-10, 0.5 GB in SOU North) continued its run up the standings with a 5-2 win over Mississippi on Tuesday afternoon in front of the largest home crowd of the year. Michael Saunders went deep for the fourth time and added two other hits to pace the offense. Rich Dorman moved to 4-1 on the season with an impressive performance on the mound, allowing two runs over 7 2/3 innings. Mumba Rivera picked up his fourth save of the season. The Jackson Sun's David Thomas has the recap.
High Desert (15-17, 2.0 GB in CAL South) took an early 3-0 lead last night at Lancaster, but couldn't hold on as they went on to drop a 6-4 decision to the host JetHawks. Mavericks starter Ricky Orta was roughed up for the first time this season, getting tagged for six hits and four earned runs in just three innings of work. The loss drops him to 3-1 on the season. 18-year-old shortstop Carlos Triunfel was one of the bright spots for the Mavs, collecting three more hits. He is 7-for-10 in his last two games, raising his average from .202 to .253 in the process.
Former Florida Gators football player Gavin Dickey had a big game for Wisconsin (11-17, 10.0 GB in Mid Western), going 4-for-4 with three runs scored in the Timber Rattlers' 6-0 shutout win over Great Lakes. Dickey has played in 11 games this season and has collected at least one hit in each game. Joseph Dunigan got the Rattlers rolling with a three-run homer in the first inning, his third of the season. Nathan Adcock pitched seven scoreless innings to earn his first victory in seven starts. He struck out nine batters yesterday and has punched out 33 hitters in 33 2/3 innings this season.
I guess I should mention last night's disaster at Safeco field. Perhaps it's best that fewer than 16,000 fans were on hand. Normally, when you see that the opposing pitcher is wearing a "Ponson" jersey, that bodes well for your chances to win the ball game. But Sidney continued to pitch shockingly well for the Rangers. Ponson could've been up to his old tricks and still won this game with ease, however. The rate at which this game got out of hand was alarming, and before I had even really settled in to watch the game the M's were 10 runs down and demoralized. Miguel Batista's excruciating 85-pitches-to-get-seven-outs performance comes at a time when public enthusiasm for the team is fading away. Will the M's really panic and do something crazy like trade Reed for Griffey?
The Times' Geoff Baker mentions that this isn't the first time Batista has been on an underachieving team with high expecations.
In Ryan Divish's News-Tribune article, Batista hints that his struggles may be physical (the M's pitching staff may set a new record for "kinda-sorta" injuries this season).