Sunday, April 24, 2011

4/24/11 Omaha Storm Chasers 7, Nashville Sounds 3

Greer Stadium, Nashville, TN
Game 2 of 4

Who ever thought that a pick-up basketball game would ever be so…controversial

PHOTO CREDIT: Gage Matthews

I had this date on my calendar since I heard the news. Nothing says “Fate” in Baseball like a AAA matchup between a former pitching star in rehab (did I just write that?) for the team he got recently traded to, amid some fan-scandal, pitching against the team he was traded from…pencil in the opposing starting pitcher as a former starting pitcher for the team the rehab star pitcher is pitching for now…ugh…

That didn’t flow as well as the intro to a Star Wars movie, but it is what it is…

Funny thing is, I had hoped to see the Omaha Storm Chasers during one of their visits to Nashville to play the sounds (and still do), and this series was one I originally shot down as ‘too soon in the season, too busy at home’ for me to make the 3-hour trip for. Not a horrible move in doing so, but it would have been GREAT to have been at this game.

Next best thing to being there…listening on the radio! And even better than that, knowing someone who went and took FANTASTIC photos at the game!! Gage Matthews (on Twitter he’s @MinnesotaRoyal) was there and was kind enough to allow me to use some of his work as a visual companion to my scoresheets and ingratiating sense of urgency to post a game recap. Thanks, bro!!

You can check out ALL of Gage’s wonderful photos, way too many to post here, and some much better than what you are looking at, on his flickr photostream. Gage is a swell guy who is currently located in Nashville, and is a regular contributor at the exceptional Kings of Kauffman Kansas City Royals blog...

The story of this game ends with “Greinke leaves after 2.2 innings due to a limit in pitch count after giving up 3 hits and 2 ER” but there’s really more to it than that. Greinke was actually very good, as was Tim Dillard in relief. Too often it’s heard that ‘this pitcher did well but made a mistake when he left this ball hanging (or whatever) to this batter’…this was an email comment on a recent episode of the Up and In Baseball Prospectus Podcast, and I couldn’t agree with Goldstein and Parks more when the fact of the matter is: Hitters can be good at hitting baseballs, just the same as Pitchers can be good at throwing baseballs. This game is a very good example of how a couple of very good pitchers did a very good job but were simply bested by hitters who were doing just a bit better than they were.

The Sounds started off proving this fact to Jeff Suppan, right away in the 1st inning, as Brendan Katin knocked a 2-run HR with 2 outs to take the early lead in the game. After that, it was all Omaha, buddy.

It wasn’t Mike Moustakas or Eric Hosmer who were the ‘big’ heroes today…sure, Hosmer had an RBI on a SAC fly (gee, that’s not really sexy) and Clint Robinson went 1-for-4 with 2 runs scored and a great lead-off double in the 8th inning, but the real hitters in the game were David Lough, Lorenzo Cain, Gregor Blanco, and Manny Pina. Especially David Lough…

It now occurs to me, I haven’t been paying enough attention to David Lough.

After holding a 5-2 lead for 3 innings, the Storm Chasers added icing to the cake with a 2-run 8th inning. The Sounds threatened against recently demoted Kanekoa Texeira in the bottom of the 9th but Caleb Gindl stranded 2 to end the inning and the game with only one additional run scored.

It was a victory for Royals fans who wanted to see Greinke choke for the Brewers, and who wanted to see former Brewer Suppan do well against this squad. It was really a victory for Royals fans who are enjoying the way these fellas are playing, from low A to AAA, and what kind of future the organization is looking at. It’s kind of easy now to kinda dismiss the ‘hype’ a little, but the hype is real…the Royals are real.

I listened to the game on KOIL AM 1180, called by Mark Nasser (who is very good, by the way) and Brett Pawlak. Don Money was ejected in the bottom of the 8th inning for arguing a call in favor of a checked swing by Irving Falu that occurred in the bottom of the 8th. At the end of this game, Omaha had won their 7th straight game; and the Sounds had dropped 5 of their 6 games against the Storm Chasers.

But, hey…enough of my warbling…let’s check out some of these great shots by Gage Matthews!!

Gregor Blanco

Eric Hosmer, Lance Zawadzki, a trainer, and Mike Moustakas

Eric Hosmer…he has the ball

Eric Hosmer…he throws the ball

Mike Montgomery and future Royals Superstar Vin Mazzaro*

* this comment in reference to a historic event that occurred during the 3rd week of May, a few weeks after this game…

Zack Greinke runs his laps before the game

Greinke warms up

Jeff Suppan warming up

Greinke takes the mound to start the 1st inning

Yes, I think the hair was a very bizarre touch…

Lorenzo Cain at bat

Eric Hosmer looks like a bad a$$, ALL the time…

Suppan on the mound

Hosmer is holding Mat Gamel…or is it Taylor Green? the 1st inning

Zack Greinke is pretty good at Pitchers Fielding…he made 2 very good assists during his brief period of work…this is among my favorite photos in this group

…this is among my favorite photos in this group

Lorenzo Cain races around 2B on his screaming triple to CF in the 2nd inning…the beginning of the end of Greinke’s outing

Cain slides into 3B as Taylor Green is ready for the throw (not in time)

Don Money takes the ball from Greinke as George Kottaras looks on…adios, Zack

Clint Robinson looks (and swings) like a tough guy

MOOOOOOOOSE…Mike Moustakas, yeah!

Tim Dillard, one of my favorite pitchers in the Brewers’ organization, found out how good the Storm Chasers are at putting his balls into play

George Kottaras scoops a ball in the dirt from Dillard

Kevin Pucetas on the mound

Mike Moustakas, dip in his cheek, waiting for…waiting for what?!?

Gage used this photo as his profile pic on Twitter…I love this shot!

Kanekoa Texeira warms up, he’s a minor leaguer now

Storm Chasers WIN!!!

ALL PHOTOS BY: Gage Matthews
…thanks again for letting me use them in this post, hope to see you at Greer this season for a Yazoo and a mega-chili dog!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

4/23/11 Kansas City Royals 1, Texas Rangers 3

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, TX
Game 2 of 3

The Royals' crazy April ride begins to skid with this series against the Rangers...

Kyle Davies pitches well but finds the Rangers striking early, and Alexi Ogando doing a bit better than expected.

Alex Gordon extends his hitting streak to 17 games, Jeff Francoeur extends his to 13 games, Kila Ka'aihue is the only Royal to hit the board, and Cody Eppley makes his MLB debut for the Rangers.

4/23/11 Los Angeles Dodgers 8, Chicago Cubs 10

Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
Game 2 of 3

You gotta love the top of the order

Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney (batting #1 and #2 respectively) combine for 6RBI, 7H, 4R, and even 2SB (Barney’s was part of a double steal with Marlon Byrd…it’s so good to see that kind of stuff again!).

Pre-game hype was all about the clash of the TITANS, Ryan Dempster against former Cub Ted Lilly. Meh. Neither were great, neither lasted more than 5.2 innings…they combined for 12ER, 20H, 4BB and 6K facing 52 batters total.

Jeff Baker’s 2RBI double in the 8th capped off a 5-run inning that gave the Cubs the kind of lead they needed to keep on top of the Dodgers for the rest of the game.

What Lilly let go of, Matt Guerrier made it worse for the Dodgers. Sean Marshall did his best Carlos Marmol impression, really leaving us nearly to vomit…shockingly, Jeff Samardzija (YES, that same guy!) came in to pitch a stellar 1.1 innings with 3 consecutive strikeouts on the 8th inning. WHOA!! And then the real Carlos Marmol enters to only freak us out half as much as he usually does, but does very well.

Andre Ethier hits safely in his 20th consecutive game.

Scorekeeper’s Note: in the bottom of the 4th, while attempting to steal second, a pick-off attempt on Darwin Barney by Lilly > James Loney is called “Obstruction” (on Loney, for not clearing the basepath). The obstruction call is subsequently ruled an Error, charged to Loney, on your scoresheet.


Monday, April 18, 2011

4/18/11 Indianapolis Indians 10, Louisville Bats 4

Louisville Slugger Field, Louisville, KY
Game 3 of 3

Holy Foul Balls, Batman! The rain threatened late in the game and did approach lightly at the start of the 9th inning…not enough to permit your friendly neighborhood scorekeeper to leave the game, but a brief retreat to drier quarters resulted in a “right place at the right time” situation where yours truly managed to catch a ‘roof ball’ fouled away by none other than Corky Miller!

The weather was gorgeous starting out, as my buddy Marty joined me for my second game of the season…and with Scott Carroll on the mound again!

Thanks again for coming, Marty!

Scott’s line looked great tonight, a much better outing than Opening Day on 4/7/11…7IP, 7H 3R (0ER), 2BB, 4K, 86 pitches (55 strikes). Scott left with the game tied, Matt Klinker in relief, after a few hairy innings where the Indians’ scoring was due to the unusually slipshod defense provided by the Bats. Klinker gave up the inning rather quickly; with 1 run already in on a groundout to 1B by Jason Jaramillo, Indians SS Pedro Ciriaco (3-for-4) belted a 3-run HR to deep left field to give the Indians the lead at 7-4. The Bats responded with a no-out RBI single by Danny Dorn in the bottom of the 8th, but that was the end of the offense for the Bats. Klinker (2IP, 5H, 7ER, 2BB, K, 49 pitches) allowed 3 more runs in the ninth, just as the rain began its light entrance into the game.

Corky stepped up to the plate to lead-off the bottom of the 9th. Marty and I moved a few rows back to avoid the meek onslaught of precipitation as thousands of fans decided it would be better for them to vacate the park. Our first move put us in a slightly better place, Jim the usher called to us and said “hey, come on back here” and we stepped up to the entrance to the club seats, just under Slugger Field’s famous aluminum roof.

Roof balls are about as regular as foul balls in the stands. After several games, you can almost tell by where the ball bounces on the roof (and the sound it makes) whether or not the ball will roll back down to the seats or if it will bounce over the brick partition and never return. Corky saw two balls and swung at two pitches before fouling back his 5th pitch of the at-bat, a screaming backwards line pop up that nailed the roof right over our heads. I dashed out from the tunnel just in time to see the ball bounce back on the concrete walkway and again in the row of seats below me…the prize was mine!! My very first Bats game ball, courtesy of Corky Miller.

Thanks for the ball, Corky!

Sean Gallagher enjoyed a very sound outing for the Indians (6IP, 3H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB, 7K, 85 pitches, 58 strikes)…but the Indians offense and just plain ‘getting on base’ made the difference, especially when faced by Matt Klinker.

Overall, the Bats are still doing well (9-3), and still doing much better than the Indians (3-9).

Corky Miller at bat (2-for-3, HBP, R)

Corky swings and misses!

Corky singles to LC against Sean Gallagher in the 5th inning.

Corky at 1B

Indians 1B Matt Hague runs towards the bunt, 2B Chase d'Arnaud not holding Corky Miller

A team meeting on the mound with Sean Gallagher dissolves…on how to pitch to Scott Carroll with 1 on, 0 out! COME ON!!!

Chris Leroux (2IP, 2H ER, BB, K) pitches to PH Todd Frazier, who was walked.

My rain-stressed scoresheets

Official Scorecard and Bat Chat (with season stats)

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