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!!!

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