The Mariners may have seven weeks to get back into the postseason, but for their minor league affiliates, the final stretch of the season is now.
Each game has taken on an added importance, and with most of the affiliates at least 5.0 GB, a long run of winning baseball needs to happen now.
With that in mind, let’s check out how each fared the past seven days on the latest edition of the Mariners’ Minor League Update.
The Northwest League held its All-Star game, this week, which ended in a bizarre 0-0 tie after 10 innings. As a result of the break, the AquaSox only played 4 games, starting with 3 at Spokane before coming back home to host those same Indians.
None of the first three games were close, as after Adam Martin went for 5 RBI, including a 3 run homer, and led the AquaSox to a 7-3 victory, the home team came back to win the last two of the series 10-1 and 8-3.
Everett was done in by 4 errors which cost the team 5 unearned runs on Friday, though Luiz Gohara did himself no favors lasting only 3.1 IP while giving up 7 R (5 ER). To go along with shoddy defense, the offense self-destructed, striking out a dismal 14 times and scoring only on a Chris Marsical homer in the top of the first.
Three more errors in addition to a disappointing outing from Jefferson Medina cost the ‘Sox the rubber match, but the most noteworthy game of the week by far happened last night.
Spokane won an extra-inning affair 3-0 after finally breaking through in the 11th, but the AquaSox were even more deplorable than the shutout suggests. Everett was no-hit for all 11 innings, which marked the first extra-inning no-hitter in Nortwest League history.
Lost in the shuffle were solid performances from Ryan Yarbrough, Brett Ash, and Kody Kersi. Each had a scoreless spell of 3.0, 4.0, and 2.0 innings, respectively. Cruz Pereira took the loss, only getting out of his second inning of work when the game’s result was no longer in doubt.
High Desert Mavericks
The rainout last Sunday against Inland Empire did the club a world of good, as they pulled a rare feat this year by winning a series at home versus Rancho Cucamonga at home before returning to home lethargy, only managing a 2-2 split against Lake Elsinore after having won the first two games.
Of particular note was Dylan Unsworth posting a surprisingly good start on Thursday. Though he only lasted five innings, he limited Storm hitters to a lone run on five hits and a walk, setting up Oliver Garcia and Andrew Kittredge to shut the door with two scoreless frames apiece.
Gabby Guerrero had a rough week, hitting 4 for 30 (.133 BA). But even in a slump, he added to his home run total, increasing hope that eventually he can be a power bat in the middle of the M’s lineup.
At 23-26, the Mavs are only 3.5 GB of Lancaster, but they are still in fourth place in the division. Their next series, at the division-leading JetHawks will be paramount to mounting any charge at the Second Half division crown.
This week was a great chance for the LumberKings to get back into contention, as they took the field at home for seven straight against last-place Beloit and third-worst Burlington.
If they could figure out the home struggles, this homestand could get them back to within 5.0 games or so of Kane County and the division lead.
The week started on a high note, as the offense clubbed 24 runs in three games against Beloit to take the series 2-1, and Eddie Campbell picked up his eighth win of the year with 6.2 innings of two-run ball to extend the winning streak to three.
But the ‘Kings gave it all back, losing on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday while mustering a much less fearsome 2 runs per game.
This leaves the team at 21-28, still in seventh place and now 8.0 GB in the West.
BJ Boyd paced the Clinton offense for much of the week, hitting safely all six of his starts and going 10 for 21 (.476 BA) with a pair of long balls and six RBI. Ryan Matthews was also a force to be reckoned with, batting 8 for 25 (.320 BA) with a homer and two batted in.
The aforementioned Campbell was by far the pitcher of the week, as he won both his starts, giving up only 2 ER in 13.1 IP and shedding more than half a run from his season ERA.
The Generals split six games this week, winning the last of their series against Birmingham before falling in three of five at Pensacola.
Yesterday’s game was an especially wild one. Tyler Pike didn’t make it out of the first, giving up 5 ER in 0.2 innings and giving away a 2-0 lead.
But in the top of the third, a bases-clearing double from Patrick Kivlehan tied the game and Jordy Lara drove him in later in the inning. The game was decided in the 6th inning, though, when Moises Hernandez gave up a 7-6 lead and the Blue Wahoos never looked back, holding on for a 9-8 series-clinching win.
Jackson (22-27) now finds itself in last place in the Southern League’s North Division, but at only 2.5 games back of Tennessee there is no reason to panic yet. Three weeks is plenty of time to make up that ground, even as the Generals chase four teams.
Kivlehan was 8-24 this week (.333 BA), though five of his hits came in the last two games. Meanwhile, DJ Peterson was a disappointing 3-15 (.200 BA), though five walks for the week are a testament to his patience.
Mayckol Gauipe was only called on twice during the week, but he picked up a save on both Monday and Saturday.
He gave up only a walk in 2.1 innings, and while Trevor Miller got the call to finish Wednesday’s win, Guaipe (2.25 ERA, 10 SV) has been the better pitcher this year.
The pitching did its best to let the team down this week, as the Rainiers gave up at least 10 runs in half of their six games this week.
However, the offense picked them up on Saturday for a 13-10 victory, and a 4-2 week saw the Rainiers reach four games above .500 (63-59).
They are still 5.5 games behind Sacremento, though, and with only 21 games remaining the PCL playoffs would be a major surprise.
Taijuan Walker got shelled on Monday, giving up eight earned runs in just 2.1 innings and inflating his AAA ERA to 5.44.
At this point, we have to wonder what if anything he will contribute to the big-league club this year. Erasmo Ramirez took a loss as well, but his short start (2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) was due to it being just a quick tune-up before he was called up to start yesterday against the White Sox.
Still on his rehab stint, Michael Saunders has looked comfortable. In four games, he is 5 for 12 (.417 BA) and has walked seven times, all good signs that his return is not far away.
Stefen Romero started the week going 0-8, but he picked up seven hits in his final three starts including two homers. James Jones has also begun to produce again, going 7 for 20 (.350 BA).
He posted two triples on Tuesday, and the second drove in the game-winning run in a 7-5 triumph over Albequerque. Meanwhile, Jesus Montero is an icy 2 for 15 (.133 BA), and his last extra base hit was July 29.