Tuesday, May 27, 2014

5/27/2014 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders 11, Louisville Bats 4

Louisville Slugger Field, Louisville, KY
Game 2 of 4

He pitches left hand...he pitches right hand! I saw it with my own eyes, and I'm here to tell you all about it!!
After hearing about Pat Venditte, drafted by the New York Yankees in both 2007 and 2008 and the game's only active "switch pitcher," many years ago I was immediately intrigued and ever hopeful that one day, I would see him pitch in person. Today, finally, it happened!!

I attended this game with a group from my church...not the same Men's Club that I usually attend a game with once a year. At any rate, I sat in a different section this time...much farther from the action, and mostly obscured by folks endlessly wandering around in the aisles throughout the game. Don't people observe standard baseball etiquette and stay out of the aisles during play? Of course I know they don't...I'm just venting a little bit.

As I arrived at the game, I noticed Venditte's name on the roster for the visiting Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders and after my initial shock, I wasted no time informing everyone seated near me that if they got to see Venditte tonight, they'd see something they probably had never seen before. Bruce Billings started for the Rail Riders (I keep wanting to call them Yankees, which they were until this season) so a Venditte appearance would only occur if the appropriate call to the bullpen was made later on.

By the bottom of the 3rd, after a great deal of "call and response" offense by both teams, the Rail Riders were up 3-2. Billings was removed after 2.2 innings, 49 pitches with the bases loaded and I heard those unforgettable words emanating from the PA: "Ladies and Gentlemen, now pitching for the Rail Riders, number 7, Pat Venditte."

I realized immediately that I needed new notation for my scoresheet; I'd never recorded a switch pitcher before. The solution was fairly simple, I added an "L" or an "R" to indicate which paw Venditte was using for a particular batter.
 In case you weren't aware, Venditte's existence in professional baseball literally forced a new rule in the books. Known colloquially as the "Pat Venditte Rule," Rule 8.01(f) specifically states:
A pitcher must indicate visually to the umpire-in-chief, the batter and any runners the hand with which he intends to pitch, which may be done by wearing his glove on the other hand while touching the pitcher’s plate. The pitcher is not permitted to pitch with the other hand until the batter is retired, the batter becomes a runner, the inning ends, the batter is substituted for by a pinch-hitter or the pitcher incurs an injury. In the event a pitcher switches pitching hands during an at-bat because he has suffered an injury, the pitcher may not, for the remainder of the game, pitch with the hand from which he has switched. The pitcher shall not be given the opportunity to throw any preparatory pitches after switching pitching hands. Any change of pitching hands must be indicated clearly to the umpire-in-chief.
Interesting to note that the first batter Venditte faced was Tucker Barnhart, who is a switch hitter. As Venditte indicated he was going to pitch to Barnhart left-handed, Barnhart subsequently entered the batter's box batting right-handed.

Venditte has a special six-fingered glove he uses, here's a photo of that glove from a few years ago:

At any rate, Barnhart connects with Venditte's second pitch for a 2-run single, giving the Bats a 4-3 lead (both runs were charged to Billings). The Bats would hold onto this lead, as starter Josh Smith kept pace with Venditte for the remainder of both of their outings. The game blew wide open in favor of the Rail Riders during the 7th inning when Smith's relief, Pedro VillarERAal (and subsequently, Ryan Dennick) allowed 5 runs on 3 hits. The Rail Riders tacked on 3 more runs in the 8th off of Adam Russell; the Bats never scored after Barnhart's work in the 3rd inning.

Seeing Venditte do his thing...and do it fairly well (3IP, 3H, 0ER, BB, Balk) has been the greatest moment of the season for me, so far...and a difficult one to top!

Rail Riders RF Zelous Wheeler faces RHP Josh Smith

Rail Riders SS Dean Anna (or, DEE NANNA if you like) faces Smith

Bats 2B Ruben Gotay (GOE-tie) faces RHP Bruce Billings

Bats DH Shelley Duncan (a recent call-up, and former Yankees 2nd round 2001 draft pick...also son of Dave Duncan) faces SHP* Pat Venditte (* SHP = Switch Hand Pitcher)

The Mystery Rookie Card game was a little bit different this time around; since I didn't have a guest, per se, I thought it would be fun to pick up 3 cards total - one for me, and the rest for a couple of kids who came along with our church group. A few teenagers aside, there were only 2 kids (both happened to be boys), so the 2 extra I purchased ended up as making prescient sense.

My pick was solid, in my opinion. A nifty 2008 Bowman Gold Daryl Thompson #BDP34. Too bad it wasn't a chrome refractor, but I'm not that picky (at least not with Daryl Thompson).
As it happens sometimes, I have a personal history with one of my picks, and this time it's true. I remember Daryl very well from the 3 partial seasons he spent right here in Louisville (2008, 2009, and 2011)...parts of his 6-year tenure with the Reds organization that ended in October 2011 when he was granted free agency. What I didn't know is how Daryl came to the Reds; as one piece in the trade that sent he and Bill Bray (among others) from Washington in exchange for Austin Kearns (or kEARnS, get it?), Felipe Lopez and Ryan Wagner (none of whom have played in any MLB games since 2013). Thompson spent about a month in the Twins system, pitching for AAA Rochester, and has spent the rest of his career (to date) in various stints with the Independent league Southern Maryland Blue Crabs and the Mexican League Guerreros de Oaxaca, with the exception of 4 games with the AAA Las Vegas 51s in 2013.

The first kid I chose happened to be the son of a guy I know, he was there with his mom and dad. Unfortunately, his dad spent most of the time "away" from the game, on the phone and/or talking to others elsewhere in the stadium. The kid wasn't really there for the game; I found out later he wasn't really a baseball fan, but really enjoyed the concessions and the merry-go-round. He and his folks thanked me for the card; I explained the rules of the game to him and reviewed his random pick: this 2008 Bowman Prospects Luis Munoz #BP88
As the little guy didn't really know anything about baseball, I made sure he knew who the Pirates were (he did), and I also made sure he knew how well the Pirates did last season (he wasn't aware). That's probably the two most flattering things one can say about Munoz; the Dominican signed with the Pirates in 2003 as a 21-year-old and spent 4 full seasons in their organization. After 3 months pitching for AAA Indianapolis and AA Altoona in 2008, he ended up in the Seattle Mariners organization to finish that season with the AA West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx. For the next two years, he bounced around the Mariners system and then fell off the radar. In 2013, he showed up with the Independent Trois-Rivieres Aigles (of the Canadian-American Association) for nearly 2 months.

The second kid I picked was the son of a guy I didn't know; he, too, was there with mom and dad, and unlike kid #1, they stayed in their seats for the entire game, and paid some tight attention as well. When I gave him the card, and explained the rules, he was more than excited to play (and his parents were, too). I got the impression right away that he'd stashed a few baseball cards under his bed during his short life, and also that he liked to play baseball. His pick was also pretty solid, and he knew right off the bat that he had a keeper: this 2008 Topps Matt Joyce #UH123
Joyce was drafted by the Tigers in the 12th round of the 2005 draft, and made his pro debut with Detroit in May of 2008. His value was never higher at the end of that season when he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for Edwin Jackson. He spent 2009-2012 bouncing around the Rays system, playing 353 games during that period at the MLB level and garnering an All-Star game nod in 2011. Since the start of the 2013 season, Joyce has been a mainstay of the Rays' lineup and has a .253/.343/.422 line with an OPS of 115+ in 233 games.

My scoresheets, using my new pitch-counting method! Read about it HERE, download the scoresheets for free HERE!

Official Program (featuring Tucker Barnhart) and Scorecard


Bat Chat and Gameday Stats

If you enjoy my work, I encourage you to spread the word via Twitter
(I am @yoshiki89), and also please leave a comment!

Friday, May 23, 2014

5/23/2014 Buffalo Bisons 7, Louisville Bats 5

Louisville Slugger Field, Louisville, KY
Game 2 of 4

The weather is warmer, and Munenori Kawasaki is here. Both of these are causes for potential awesomeness.
This is also the first time I've seen the Bisons since Tug Haines was here just over 3 years ago, and the Bisons were still a New York Mets affiliate.

33-year-old right hander Shawn Hill takes the mound for Buffalo, the very same Shawn Hill that has been in and out of the Toronto farm system so many times, it's hard to understand what it is about him that they like, or don't like.
Louisville's Tim Crabbe (who spent time in Pensacola and Louisville last season) was looking pretty good, as good as Hill if you don't count his extra walks, but the Bisons got to him early on, and he was out of gas by the 5th inning.

That's OK, Tim...stuff happens. Have a Pork Chop Sandwich...I promise, you'll feel better.

I usually don't take photos during the National Anthem, but today I made an exception...you'll see Kawasaki standing at the end of the line, on the far right (next to the red-shirted trainer).

Warm weather, at last...Chihiro and I are enjoying the sunshine!

Former Indianapolis Indian (2013) and Columbus Clipper (2010-2012) Jared Geodert faces Crabbe in the 1st inning.

Bats RF Felix Perez faces Shawn Hill.

Tim Crabbe vs. Bisons LF Matt Tuiasosopo. We repeated his name so many times, it's a lot of fun to say two-EE-ah-so-SO-po. Like Goedert, he's been making the rounds in the International League for the past couple of years, playing for Buffalo in 2012, Toledo in 2013, and now back with Buffalo.

Andy LaRoche sighting!! And what a GLORIOUS pr0n-stache he's sporting these days...

Kawasaki faces Crabbe in the 4th. Kawasaki-sama was 0-for-3 with a walk today.

For the Mystery Rookie Card game, I got pwned, again. I picked this great-looking 2008 Topps Heritage Chris Volstad #515. Sure, it looks great, but sometimes less-than-great things come in great pacakages, and Volstad is a reminder of this. 
It was hard for folks like me not to like Volstad out of the gate...he was a top-100 prospect for 3 consecutive years; he not only seemed to be a decent starter for the Marlins for four seasons or so, he actually was. Looking back, I was excited about the possibilities when he came to the Cubs in the Carlos Zambrano deal, but those possibilities packed their bags and went elsewhere, instead of joining Volstad in Chicago. Volstad wasn't much better for the Rockies organization, and started this season in Korea with the Doosan Bears.

Speaking of "not-so-great"...here we go again, only Chihiro picked one in an even greater package. This 2007 Upper Deck Goudey Daisuke Matsuzaka SP is an undersized treat...
...while Matsuzaka's career really hasn't been. But you already know that by now, I'm sure.

My scoresheets, using my new pitch-counting method! Read about it HERE, download the scoresheets for free HERE!

Official Program (featuring Tucker Barnhart) and Scorecard

Ticket (Felix Perez)

Bat Chat and Gameday Stats

If you enjoy my work, I encourage you to spread the word via Twitter
(I am @yoshiki89), and also please leave a comment!
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