The spark went out of this game when Danny Hultzen and Jamie Moyer did. The 51s blew it open with six in the fifth, two in the sixth, and two in the seventh. Moyer gets the victory (three runs in five innings), but Hultzen had a much improved second outing for the Rainiers (one run in four innings).
LAS VEGAS SIXTH: Jamie Moyer is out of the game after five, in line for the win after Las Vegas has broken the game openand lead 9-3 heading to bottom of the sixth. Moyer gave up seven hits, three runs, three earned runs, one walk, six strikeouts. He gave up two homers. He threw 82 pitches, 51 strikes. Hultzen needed 90 pitches to get through five, Moyer eight fewer for one more inning.
The attendance is 7,435 — a sellout. And that’s the end of the game thread, for now. Deadline looming.
RAINIERS FIFTH: Moyer now stands to get the win. Nick Franklin ended his streak of eight straight batters retired with a single, his second hit, and Alex Liddi followed with another hit. But Moyer got out of it and leads 7-3 after five.
LAS VEGAS FIFTH: I didn’t see much of it, but the 51s really put it to Hensley, scoring six runs off him, all earned despite two Rainiers errors, without him recording an out. Steve Delabar took over and got out of the inning. Moyer stands to get the win now as he goes back out for the bottom of the fifth, leading 7-3.
As I thought, Hultzen didn’t come out to pitch the fifth. Steven Hensley is taking over. Hultzen’s line: 4 ip, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, four walks, six strikeouts. He threw 90 pitches, 52 for strikes. His command was still not quite where it should be, but it was a major step forward for Hultzen from his shaky Triple-A debut.
I’m going to back off the game thread now to concentrate on my column for tomorrow’s paper.
RAINIERS FOURTH: Moyer has really settled into his groove. Another 1-2-3 inning, capped by a strikeout of Triunfel for the second time. He’s put down seven in a row. 3-1 Rainiers.
LAS VEGAS FOURTH: Hultzen gave up a one-out single to Eric Thames followed by his fourth walk of the game, but got Diaz on a long fly to center, and Hechavarria on a ground out. He’s at 90 pitches (52 strikes) so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hultzen is done for the night. If so, it’s a step forward from last time out. In four innings, he’s given up three hits and those four walks while striking out six. He gave up just one run and toughened with runners on base, stranding six runners. 3-1 Rainiers.
RAINIERS THIRD: Moyer bounces back with a 1-2-3 third, getting two ground outs and a fly from Carlos Peguero, after he swung fiercely at two off-speed pitches. If ever there was a hitter Moyer was born to frustrate, it’s Peguero. 3-1 Rainiers.
LAS VEGAS THIRD: Hultzen rebounded nicely with a scoreless inning, giving up just a one-out single to David Cooper. He struck out two in the inning and has fanned five through three innings. He leads 3-1.
RAINIERS SECOND: Another inning, another long ball, this time by Adam Moore to lead off the inning. It just eluded a leaping Travis Snider and went into Rainiers bullpen. Nick Franklin added a triple into the right-field corner later in the inning but didn’t score. Moyer struck out Triunfel and Liddi (for the second time) in the inning. He’s fanned four, but Rainiers have five hits, including two homers and a triple. 3-1 Rainiers.
LAS VEGAS SECOND: The command issues that hampered Hultzen in his last start returned. After giving up a leadoff single to Mill Creek’s Travis Snider, he gave up three walks (around a strikeout) to walk in a run. But he came back to get a popup and ground out to avoid further damage. He threw 32 pitches in the inning, and has 42 after two innings. Hultzen hit 96 mph on one fastball and 94 on a few others, but mostly is sitting 91-92. 2-1 Rainiers.
RAINIERS FIRST: A rough inning for Moyer, who fooled leadoff man Darren Ford, only to have him beat out a slow dribbler. He struck out an over-eager Nick Franklin by using his time-honored pitching strategy — slow, slower and slowest — and then did the same with Alex Liddi, who watched an 80 mph fastball go by for strike three. But Luis Jimenez jumped on the first pitch he saw — another not so fastball — and walloped it over the wall in left-center, a 400-plus-foot blast, for a 2-0 Mariners lead. Mike Wilson followed with a line single and Carlos Peguero walked before Vinnie Catricala flied out. A 27-pitch inning for Moyer, and 2-0 Rainiers lead.
LAS VEGAS FIRST: Very impressive start for Danny Hultzen. His first pitch was a ball, and then he blew away leadoff hitter Adeiny Hechavarria on three fastball, the last one a called strike three. All were 92 to 93. He then struck out Anthony Gose — a big-time prospect — waving at a curve ball out of the strike zone. David Cooper lined out to center. It all took 10 pitches — exactly what the Mariners hoped to see after his ragged ebut in Colorado Springs.
The stands are nearly full, the weather has cleared up, and it’s a fun atmosphere here in Tacoma, where fans seem to be rooting for both pitchers. Moyer received a standing ovation when he walked in from the bullpen after warming up.
Here are the lineups:
Adeiny Hechavarria SS
Anthony Gose CF
David Cooper 1B
Travis Snider LF
Yan Gomes C
Moises Sierra RF
Eric Thames DH
Mike McCoy 3B
Jonathan Diaz 2B
Jamie Moyer LHP
Darren Ford CF
Nick Franklin 2B
Alex Liddi 1B
Luis Jimenez DH
Mike Wilson RF
Carlos Peguero LF
Vinnie Catricala 3B
Adam Moore C
Carlos Triunfel 22
Danny Hultzen LHP
I’m told it’s going to be a sellout tonight, though as I type this, about 20 minutes before first pitch, the stands aren’t close to full. Of course, it’s drizzling lightly, so maybe fans are waiting under cover until the last minute. I also understand there’s a pretty big traffic jam getting to the ballpark (and getting worse, apparently). Among the people I’ve seen are Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik and scouting director Tom McNamara.
Tacoma PR man Ben Spradling told me he issued 11 new credentials, beyond the normal allotment, for tonight’s game. He says the buzz reminds him of the night Cliff Lee made a rehab start for the Rainiers in April of 2010 — his first local appearance as a member of the Mariners’ organization. Normally, the big night of the year is the Fourth of July fireworks game — it’s July 3 this year — but the crowd tonight might rival it. Tacoma manager Daren Brown says it’s a good test for young players like Hultzen, because they’ll be playing in front of big crowds in the majors, so they need to get used to it. He pointed out that three years ago, a very young Michael Pineda took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in front of a July 4 sellout crowd in Salt Lake, and that made the Mariners take notice.
As the great Tacoma play-by-play man Mike Curto points out, both Hultzen and Moyer are pitching in their second career Pacific Coast League game. Hultzen’s debut came five days ago in Colorado Springs, and it was a rough one: in three innings, he gave up five hits, five walks, and five earned runs. Brown writes it off to jitters.
“I’m as excited as you guys are to see him tonight after watching him for the first time,” Brown said.
Moyer had one rehab start with the Rainiers in 1997 while pitching for the Mariners, and it was a gem: In five shutout innings, he gave up one hit, didn’t walk any, and struck out six.