Rainiers’ Playoff Series v. Sacramento Kicks Off Tonight
If a meaningless late-season game between the M’s and A’s just doesn’t get your pulse racing, how about a minor league playoff series between the M’s and A’s farm clubs? No? Really?
The Tacoma Rainiers start their PCL playoff series against Sacramento tonight at a windy Raley Field. As you’ve probably heard, the Rainiers home games in the playoffs will be played at Safeco Field with game 3 scheduled for Friday at 7pm; demolition at Cheney Stadium is already underway. The Rainiers currently have Andy Baldwin on the mound against Clayton Mortensen in game 1 (tune in on 850am or at www.tacomarainiers.com) – Baldwin was tagged for 3 runs in the first inning. Should they win the series, the Rainiers would face either Oklahoma City or Memphis for the PCL crown.
Both teams have avoided calling up key players from AAA this September – Justin Smoak would certainly be in Seattle if Tacoma’s season was over, and Michael Taylor and Mortensen would be in Oakland. But Oakland’s taken it a step further by demoting SP Vin Mazzaro just before the series started (and after the MLB rosters were expanded). This is a strange move, and it led the A’s beat reporter to ask if the move was for disciplinary reasons (hat tip Mike Curto). The A’s insist it was to allow Mazzaro to work on his ‘consistency’, but it’s still stunning to see a pitcher with a half-decent xFIP in the majors demoted AFTER rosters expand.
As the News Tribune’s preview notes here, this match-up is becoming pretty routine: the R’s and River Cats have met four times in the playoffs recently, including last year when Chris Carter almost single-handedly eliminated Tacoma. The Rainiers eliminated Sacramento in 2005 before losing to Nashville in the PCL championship series.