Game 1 of 4
The day prior to the game, I happened to check the schedule to see who tonight's starting pitchers were. I often forget to do this, which always adds a slight element of surprise...walking up to the East entrance of LSF and seeing the lineups on the Bud sign over the right field bleachers. As I did check, I found out Drew Smyly would be starting for the visiting Mud Hens, and my baseball fan heart raced a little bit.
Yes, it's true...Smyly was activated by the Detroit Tigers on July 29th and sent to Toledo to rehab after sitting on the DL since early July due to an intercostal strain. For those of you who don't know what an intercostal strain is, it involves a group of muscles located in between the ribs, so this kind of injury is a little bit tricky for a pitcher, and recovery tends to be a bit slow and sometimes painful. Drew got the call-up to Detroit in mid-April, and was pitching very well that month, with a 1-0 record, 1.23 ERA and a .222BA/.268 BABIP through 4 starts and 22 innings. Regression set in during late May/early June, when he finished June with a 2-3 record 4.48 ERA, .270BA/.311 BABIP in 13 starts and 68.1 innings since his debut in April. Drew was on his way back to his original form in July when the injury sidelined him.
Reviewing his previous start for Toledo following his activation, it appears that Drew is starting out slow with limited innings per game...coincidentally enough, this start was against the Louisville Bats in Toledo, where he pitched 3 innings, allowed 2 hits, 2BB, 5 strikeouts and no runs in a no-decision. All indications point to another brief outing for Drew, and a first-hand look, for me, at what this 2010 2nd round draft pick is all about.
As of tonight's first pitch, there was only one team in the International League West division worse than the Bats...and that team is the Toledo Mud Hens, one game behind Louisville's 26 games behind the division leading Indianapolis Indians. Once again, I feel obligated to notify my daughter (Kei, this time around) that the Bats just aren't playing well and not to expect a win.
Smyly is facing Tim Gustafson, who is the Bats starting pitcher you don't hear a lot about...as of tonight, he's 3-3 with a 4.64 ERA in 11 starts. His 35 strikeouts seem modest, but compared to Sean Gallagher (who I have yet to see pitch this season) who has 80 strikeouts in 23 starts, that's not bad for a small sample size.
I should also mention that former Bat Danny Dorn is in tonight's lineup for the Mud Hens, playing first base.
Smyly's first inning is magical, retiring the side in order on a groundout and two Ks (one swinging). His second inning is less than magical, as he allows both Neftali Soto and Mike Costanzo to reach base on back to back singles to start the inning. Chris Valaika successfully sacrifices to allow them to advance, and Major League veteran Willie Harris doubles to bring them both home. Smyly gets out of the inning on another swinging strikeout, stranding Harris and Corky Miller (who walked on a 3-1 pitch). His 3rd inning goes better (walking Denis Phipps, plus two flyouts and another swinging strikeout), but bad luck smacks in the 4th, as Willie Harris hits again (a single this time), and advances to 2nd on a Balk. After Smyly retires Cody Puckett (who strikes out swinging for the 2nd out), Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin gives the ball to Matt Hoffman and Smyly's night is over, having tossed 79 pitches (51 for strikes). Harris scores on Corky Miller's seeing-eye grounder to short off of Hofffman, Smyly's 3rd ER.
Gustafson, meanwhile, delivers the performance I expected from Smyly, with fewer strikeouts (4) , only allowing one run (earned) and walking one to go 6.2 innings, 106 pitches (64 for strikes). Toledo would score again in the 8th inning (on a throwing error by Corky Miller), but that's it. The Bats would score one more time, in the 6th, on a 2-out solo HR by, you guessed it...Willie Harris. Willie finishes the game by driving in 3 of Louisville's 4 runs, going 3-for-4 with 7 total bases.
Kei's selection was this 2010 Topps Update Rhyne Hughes RC (sorry, kiddo...not Gold). Rhyne was drafted in the 50th round of the 2003 draft by the Pirates, but did not sign. The following year, he was picked in the 8th round by the Devil Rays and was the player to be named later in the 2009 deal that sent Gregg Zaun from the Orioles to the Rays. Hughes only appeared in 14 games for the Orioles in 2010, striking out 19 times in 51 PA. He spent most of 2010 and 2011 in AAA Norfolk, but has been in AA Bowie for the 2012 season, striking out 74 times in 313 PA.
Ahh, I picked this 2008 Upper Deck Timeline Mike Parisi RC. Mike was picked in the 9th round of the 2004 draft by the St Louis Cardinals, and made appearances in 12 games for the Cardinals (2 of those games were starts) in 2008, with a record of 0-4, 8.22 ERA, and 2.261 WHIP (consisting of 15BB and 13K in 23 IP), he returned to AAA Memphis and was eventually drafted by the Cubs in the 2009 Rule 5 draft. After appearing in only 6 games between AA and AAA, Parisi was granted free agency in October 2010, again signing with the Cubs in November 2010, and was released in March of 2011. Parisi pitched for 2 months in 2011 with the Independent League Long Island Ducks, and was selected to appear in the 2011 Atlantic League All-Star Game. His tenure with the Ducks led to a new deal with the Dodgers, pitching in only 9 games during each season of 2011 and 2012 with AAA Albuquerque, sidelined since May 28 with shoulder pain.
Which isn't great news for Mike Parisi. By the way, a Mike Parisi fun fact: he recorded the first win as a pitcher in the new Busch Stadium on April 4, 2006. This occurred during an exhibition game between the Memphis Redbirds and the Springfield Cardinals (both Cardinals affiliates, of course) prior to the actual MLB first home opener on April 10, 2006.
Official Program #4, featuring Didi Gregorius...my goodness, they misspelled his name, inside and out!!
Official Scorecard #3, featuring Corky Miller, and autographed by Corky Miller!!