And so it ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper.
The end of the MiLB regular season is upon us, and to no one’s surprise, none of the Mariners’ minor league affiliates found their way to September baseball. So, in what will be the last Minor League Update of 2014, we look at the denouements of five disappointing year-long narratives.
Everett needed a Vancouver collapse to retain Second Half dreams, but the Canadians cruised to the North Division title, winning eight of their last ten and thus trivializing the AquaSox’s last two series.
Nevertheless, the games had to be played, and the team ended a mediocre 2014 with a rather fitting 4-4 mark by winning three of five at Boise, who found themselves with a surprise postseason berth when Hillsboro won both the First and Second Half in the South, and losing two of three to end the year at Tri City.
In that last meaningless contest on Monday, Everett scored twice in the top of the seventh to take a 3-2 lead, only to watch Kody Kerski pick up both a blown save in the eighth and the loss on an error by his backstop, Adam Martin, attempting to throw out a base-stealer at third the next inning.
No Everett starter picked up a win over the during this final stretch, though Dan Altavilla ended 2014 on a high note with six strong innings (1 ER) on Friday.
Clinton went into the week already out of the Midwest League playoffs, but a couple rainouts made an otherwise mundane finish to the year a little more interesting.
The first doubleheader was a Tuesday split to end the Peoria series, and then after an opening loss at Quad Cities, the ‘Kings got a second unexpected day off on Thursday. Friday was another split to end the series, as the team finished their road season with a 6-4 loss in the nightcap.
The final three games came at home against playoff-bound Cedar Rapids, but Clinton responded well, putting seven runs on the Kernels’ staff on Saturday and shutting out their potent lineup on Saturday, 1-0. But Monday’s finale saw the bats go quiet again, and Carlos Misell could not keep the opposition off the board.
That last defeat gave the LumberKings a 31-39 Second Half, leaving them in sixth place, far behind Kane County, Cedar Rapids, and Wisconsin.
In addition to taking the loss (3.0 IP, 3 ER) on Monday the 1st, Misell was roughed up on Wednesday, surrendering seven runs (5 ER) in five innings.
Justin Ringo paced the offense on multiple occasions, putting together five multi-hit games over the last eight (1 HR) while driving in six.
High Desert Mavericks
The Mavericks were in the South Division race until the bitter end, though they have no one to blame but themselves for not actually beating out a 35-35 Lake Elsinore team for the Wild Card.
High Desert’s home struggles came back to bite them one last, painful time. Losing two of three to Lancaster, a divisional opponent with whom the Mavs were competing for the postseason, put them behind the eight ball, and a four-game split against San Jose was nowhere near enough.
The 3-4 homestand left the team not only on the outside of the California League playoffs but also in last place in the division at 32-38.
Gabby Guerrero ended the year on a seven-game hitting streak (which began on the 24th), including a homer in his last start on Sunday.
In a week of deplorable pitching, the Mavs only gave up less than five runs once, holding Lancaster to four on Wednesday despite getting just a single scoreless inning out of starter Dylan Unsworth.
The Generals were much too far behind Chattanooga to threaten for the Second Half title, especially after having dropped the first two of a crucial three at the end of last week against the eventual North Division champions.
After splitting the last two of five against the Lookouts, Jackson traveled to down-and-out Montgomery, needing an improbable sweep along with some help. However, they proceeded to extend their slide to three games, by which point the remainder of their quest for September officially became futile.
To the team’s credit, they took the Biscuits to task in from Saturday until Monday, putting up 24 runs on the way to a three-game winning streak to culminate the year.
The Generals finished with a 32-38 Second Half mark, in third place but only four games back in a weak division.
Daniel Paolini took advantage of his last two starts, clubbing four hits on both Sunday and Monday. For the week, he was 11 for 29 (.379 AVG) with a homer.
Meanwhile, D.J. Peterson could have ended his first full year in professional baseball with a long hitting streak if not for a for an 0-4 performance on Friday. He had at least one knock in the rest of his final ten games.
Losses on Monday and Wednesday against Iowa were enough to mathematically extinguish the Rainiers’ Pacific Coast League life, and with all the speculation about who would be called up to the big leagues once September rolled around, a 2-3 trip to Fresno went largely unnoticed.
Tacoma can claim a record over .500 for the year at 74-70, something exceedingly rare among the other affiliates. They ended in third place in the Pacific Northern Division, seven games back of Reno.
Stefen Romero went back to Seattle riding a 10 for 32 (.313 AVG) hot streak that included a pair of long balls in his last three games.
Meanwhile, Ketel Marte took full advantage of his remaining AAA at-bats, picking up 10 hits in 31 opportunities (.323 AVG). There can be little doubt now that we will see him again in Peoria come March 2015.
Before his bizarre six-inning relief appearance with the big league club on September 1, Taijuan Walker worked another six, less effective innings on Monday the 25th against Iowa, giving up 5 ER and taking the loss.
Though the minor league season may be over for the Mariners’ organization, make sure to check out SoDo Mojo’s weekly Minor League Season Recap for each of the five aforementioned clubs, starting on Monday with Everett.