Louisville Slugger Field, Louisville, KY
Game 1 of 4
Bats Home Opener
Happy Home Opening Day!! I return to the familiar confines of Louisville Slugger Field for another season of baseball in the Allergy Capital of the U.S., and on a Friday the 13th, no less. The Louisville Bats are struggling to start the season, returning from a 2-6 road trip to begin 2012 under the new management of David bell. The Bats are at the bottom of the International League in AVG (.193) and OBP (.265), are only better than the league-worst Syracuse Chiefs by a run in Runs Scored (26) and a few points in ERA (4.77), and are tied with the Charlotte Knights for the league-worst Runs Allowed (38). 8 games is a fairly modest small sample size, and there is plenty of time for improvement, but the cloud that is looming among the others over Louisville today, is they open a 4-game series at home tonight against the 6-2 Columbus Clippers, the AAA National Champions of 2011. However, the Bats were 12-9 against the Clippers last year, and 9-2 at home. Leave it to a few Bats veterans and a couple of new guys to hold their own. The Clippers got on the board first, but Chris Valaika sealed the deal in response.
RHP Chad Reineke got the home opener start against Columbus LHP Scott Barnes, whose violent delivery was interesting to behold…every pitch he threw looked as if his shoulder was promptly separated upon release. And he did this 96 times. OUCH!
Here's some video I shot of Barnes' delivery...
Reineke pitched to great contact by the Clippers, with 2ER, 7 hits and 2 Ks in 4.2 IP, walking nobody and hitting Matt LaPorta. Barnes was also effective, striking out 6 and allowing only 4 hits and 4ER in 5 IP…but his Achilles heel was in his 4 walks, 2 WP and 1 HB.
By the time the top of the 5th ended with the Clippers up by 2, Reineke had been replaced by Travis Webb and the Bats retaliated against Barnes, beginning with a 1-out double by DH Daryl Jones.
Hold on a second, who is this Daryl Jones guy?Jones was a 3rd round pick by the St Louis Cardinals in the 2005 draft. He spent 7 years in the STL farm system, with a .757 OPS during that time. Jones has never made a Major League appearance, yet was named the organization’s 4th best prospect in 2009 by Baseball America (who was ranked lower than him? David Freese, Allen Craig, and Daniel Descalso). In November of last year, Jones was granted Free Agency by the Cardinals and was promptly signed by the Reds. At 25 years old, the outfielder has an opportunity to boost his big league value by posting a solid season for the Bats, and looked pretty good at the plate tonight, despite the fact that he left a total of 3 runners on base.
With Jones on, he steals 3rd during Corky Miller’s turn in the box and crosses the plate on a Put-out attempt where Lonnie Chisenhall missed the catch from Matt Pagnozzi. Miller walks, Kris Negron is hit by Barnes, and with 2 on and 2 outs, the only way Corky can score from second is on a well-placed poke to the deep left field corner. Valaika goes CLUTCH and delivers this, Miller and Negron both score and the Bats take the lead.
Todd Frazier walks to lead off the 6th, and scores Louisville’s 4th run on a Fielder’s Choice by Jones.
Scott Carroll, my favorite pitcher in 2011, has been appearing as a middle reliever for the Bats this season; in 3 games so far his ERA is 0 and has allowed 5 hits in 4.2 IP with 4 strike outs. Perhaps the biggest reason for his move to the bullpen is due to the acquisition of more seasoned starters Jeff Francis and Sean Gallagher by the Reds during the offseason. Scott looked great tonight, allowing 2 to reach on base on back-to-back hits (a double and a single) with only one out in his first inning of work, but held the Clippers hitless and scoreless after that. J.J. Hoover pitches a 3-up, 3-down 9th inning to earn the save and the Bats win their home opener.
Friday night, Opening Night, and dollar beer night collided for a robust attendance of 12, 108 (8K of which were in their seats for the first pitch, and a little less for when the final out was recorded). The most significant improvement at Slugger Field this year is the renovated Budweiser Scoreboard…gone are the yellow light bulb text displays, replaced by great LCD boards.The main scoreboard, however, still utilizes 1960’s technology for its alpha-numeric displays. This is Minor League ballpark nostalgia in full effect. As if you may not have know, a great deal of the paid attendance NOT in the seats for first pitch were right here, at the Overlook patio.
Photos from the Game:
Clippers LF (and former Major League hopeful) Matt LaPorta faces Chad Reineke
Scott Barnes on the mound, my attempts to capture his shoulder-seperating herky-jerkiness on camera were unsuccessful, but the memory (ouch) remains...hopefully the previously imbedded video will help you see what I saw!
Bats CF Denis Phipps faces Barnes (Phipps has added some upper-body muscle to his frame during the offseason)
Bats 1B Neftali Soto faces Barnes
Clippers DH Chad Huffman faces Chad Reineke
Chad Reineke on the mound
Obligatory Todd Frazier photos! It’s good to see Todd back, but I can’t believe he didn’t make the Major League team to start the season. I prefer him in the hot corner (and at the plate) much more than the cancerous Juan Francisco, but I hate it for Todd that he’s still here.
Soto faces Barnes Soto flies out to right field to end the inning, as Barnes traces the ball in the air
Manager David Bell, Bats C Corky Miller, and Chad Reineke discuss candlesticks on the mound. Bell gets the ball from Reineke and makes the call to the bullpen.
Clippers RF Travis Crowe faces LHP Travis Webb
Bats DH Daryl Jones faces RHP Hector Ambriz
Miller faces Ambriz, Soto at 3rd base Corky shows bunt???
Ambriz on the mound
Miller walks (second walk of the inning for Ambriz); Bats OF Bill Rhinehart as 1B coach and Clippers 1B Beau Mills Mills is not holding Corky, who is something less than a threat to steal
Bats RHP Scott Carroll
Clippers 3B Lonnie Chisenhall faces Scott Carroll
Denis Phipps faces RHP Chen-chang Lee Phipps cracks a double to CF
Todd Frazier Todd Frazier Todd Frazier
Swingandamiss Todd Frazier
My guest at tonight’s game was my friend Marty (who was with me when I got the Corky Miller FB last year). Here are the results of the Mystery Rookie Pack pull:
Marty chose the pink wrapper and ended up with a 2004 Bowman Chrome Carlos Quentin RC #202.
I always let my guest choose first, so I got the blue wrapper and ended up with a 2008 UD Timeline Clay Timpner RC #80.
Official Program, featuring new manager David Bell on the cover
Official Scorecard (with Danny Dorn) and Bat Chat
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