Sunday, June 8, 2014

Albuquerque 3, Tacoma 2

"Strike the traitor out! Strike the traitor out!"

The youthful hecklers at Cheney Stadium on this gorgeous Sunday afternoon had frequent opportunity to use this chant, as the lineups for today's game between Tacoma and Albuquerque were littered with former Rainiers and former Mariners. The highest volume of razzing was reserved for one Carlos Triunfel, once a consensus top prospect with the M's who spent the bulk of the last two seasons playing at AAA Tacoma before being waived by Seattle this spring.

"Strike the traitor out!" Carlos Triunfel bats for Albuquerque
in the ninth inning against Tacoma June 8.  The former M's
prospect went 1-for-4 for the Isotopes, who beat the Rainiers
3-2 on Armed Forces Appreciation Day at Cheney Stadium.
The rancor toward Triunfel is understandable, even (or especially) from nine-year-olds; my Sweetie, the official scorer, and I saw him in a game last year in which he made three actual errors, a handful of additional mental ones, and generally came off as pouty nut case. If Nuke LaLoosh is ever displaced from being the epitome of the five-cent-head, we expect Triunfel could be a worthy replacement. Oddly enough, at a game back in April at Cheney, Triunfel hit a couple of doubles, drove in two runs, and seemed to haunt his former mates. This turned out to be something of an aberration. In 47 games with the Isotopes this season Triunfel is batting .213 and has just six doubles and one home run. The Mariners are not exactly known for their clever personnel moves (who can forget Jason Varitek AND Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb?), but it seems unlikely that anyone is going to regret the waiving of Triunfel any time soon.

Former Mariners and Rainiers Alex Liddi and Trayvon Robinson are also on the Albuquerque roster, making one wonder why, with all of the dough the Dodgers have, they have to rely on Seattle outcasts to fill their AAA roster. The Rainier roster is laden with ex-M's too, of course. We're not sure what Nick Franklin has left to prove at this level, as he's batting .364 for the Rainiers with an OPS of 1.079, though he's hit just .128 in a handful of at-bats with the big club so far in 2014. Abraham Almonte, Jesus Montero, Logan Morrison, and Humberto Quintero joined Franklin as ex-M's in today's lineup.

Alas, our vocal young fans only kept up their patter of hey-batter-batter for about two innings, when either their vocal cords gave out or the effects of the Captain Crunch wore off. But they were entertaining while they lasted, even though they wanted a pitcher and not a belly "scratcher" in a clear yet incomprehensible departure from official chatter.

Of the former Seattle prospects on the Isotopes roster it was Robinson who did the damage today. He led off the game with what the Tacoma scorer charitably called a double, but what my Sweetie, the official scorer, properly identified as E-7: an easy popup that Tacoma left fielder Xavier Avery lost in the Sun that went for two bases. After the play a Tacoma player ran out some sunglasses for Avery, who apparently didn't realize it was sunny out as the 1:35 p.m. game began. Robinson scored later on a legitimate two-bagger by Clint Robinson.

Almonte tied the game with a home run on the second pitch in the home half of the first, and it remained 1-1 until Trayvon Robinson connected on a two-run homer in the Albuquerque fifth.

It remained 3-1 until the ninth, in large part because of Liddi. Tacoma loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the fifth, but Montero grounded out to the former Mariner at the hot corner. Then in the bottom of the eighth the Rainiers had a runner on first with one out when Montero smoked what looked for all the world like a double headed into the left field corner. But Liddi made a sprawling stop at the bag, whipped the ball to second for a forceout, and Montero barely beat the relay to first to avoid the twin killing. Ty Kelly followed with a single to right, on which the notoriously slow-footed Montero made it to third. But Avery, who still owes us something to make up for the botched play in the first, whiffed to end the threat.

In the bottom of the ninth, with the bulk of a large Armed Forces Appreciation Day crowd already departed for wherever is considered a better place than the ballpark on a sunny Sunday in Tacoma, Jabari Blash led off with a Texas-league single to right. Gabriel Noriega, however, followed by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. Naturally, Quintero then hit a homer that would have tied the game had a runner remained on base. Almonte singled to keep hope alive, but Morrison grounded out feebly to end the contest and the Isotopes won 3-2.

Weisenheimer admires the kids who called out Triunfel as a traitor, even though, technically, the M's cut the guy loose. In this day and age when we're planning special events to honor the enemy (is anyone else sick and tired of the hoo-ha about Derek Jeter? I say good riddance to Yankee rubbish.) it's good to see that some of the young people of today recognize that one should root, root, root for the home team.