Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Baseball Journal April 21-22, 2018

The Yankees were playing the Blue Jays on Mexican station this Saturday morning.  Lacrosse, Supercross, and Hockey were on as well.  But I was going to a movie in the afternoon, so I didn't get too attached to anything.  I did see the Yankees win 9-1Aggie Baseball against the Northern Colorado Bears should have started before I left, but it didn’t come on.  The campus radio station was instead running a vinyl record marathon.   

Without any in-person Aggie sports going on this weekend, I asked Ron if he wanted to see Ready Player One.  So, we decided on Saturday afternoon.  I’d turned him on to the book a couple of years ago without having read it myself.  He loved it.  I ended up hearing the audiobook version read by Wil Wheaton.  I liked it, kind of.  Maybe it was Wil’s reading, but the female heroine, Artemis, came off as a total bitch later in the book.  You had to wonder why Wade was trying so hard with her.  Thankfully, she was a lot more likable in the movie. 

I enjoyed it, probably mostly because my expectations were so low to begin with that it didn’t have to do much to make me happy.  It had some wonky movie “logic,” and the characters and their relationships weren’t well developed, but it was fun.  Mecha-Godzilla was my surprise star of the movie.  I called a Godzilla-loving friend immediately afterward to tell him to go see the movie.  He’ll love it.  My main question about the film was, “How could you do a Buckaroo Banzai reference and not do the line from the movie?”  (You know, “No matter where you go; there you are.”)  I was a bit disturbed by the funeral scene with the Star Trek “casket” with my initials out in front of it.

Before the movie we sat through the commercials and the trailers.  I loved the little PAX East report/commercial featuring Jessica Chobot, whom I adore watching on the Internet.  I got vertigo watching the totally-not-a-Die Hard-remake.  The totally awesome Avengers Infinity War trailer came up.  Ron was completely unmoved and instead wants to see Solo: A Star Wars Story, in spite of how lame the last three Star Wars movies have been (less one enjoyable half-hour at the end of Rogue One).  I think we’re going to be seeing separate movies this spring.                 

Aggie Baseball must have been delayed by weather as it was on when I got home after the movie.  It was 9-9 in the eleventh.  The Aggies had a 9-5 lead in the eighth and blew it.  Kinda glad I wasn’t listening to that.  Coach Green had been ejected from the game in the ninth for arguing balls and strikes.  Once again, without lights at the stadium and a late game, darkness came into play.  Adam Young and Matt McHugh calling the game were sure the umps would call it after 10.  In the top of the eleventh, Joey Ortiz drove in a run.  He should play with a sore hand all the time.  His hit one to the outfield that was likely darkness aided as the fielder never saw it.  The Aggie dugout went crazy yelling.  Trey Stine drove in two more for a 12-9 Aggie win.

I picked up the end of the Rockies beating the Cubs 5-2.  I flipped over to the Chihuahuas versus the 51’s.  It was 4-3 Chihuahuas there.  When I tuned in, Travis Jankowski dropped a flyball for a double.  On the next play, a groundout to first turned into a double play, as Brett Nicholas at first threw to third to get the runner advancing there. 

Tim Hagerty was excited again.  Another no-hitter was in progress.  It was certainly an unlikely one.  The pathetic A’s were playing the Red Sox, who have the best record in baseball. But tonight, Sean Manaea had it working, and the Sox had to come back down to earth with their 17-2 record.  Manaea finished it off.  Fourth time’s the charm for me.  Unfortunately, I had no way of watching this one.

I was able to pick up my after dark Rangers affiliate at this point.  The Rangers were up 6-4 over the Mariners after six.  Regrettably, I decided to listen to the seventh.  Within minutes, the M’s rattled off five hits in a row, including two home runs.  It was 9-6 Mariners when the dust settled.  The Rangers had a long bottom of the inning without scoring.  Eric Nadel took over the mic in the eighth.  He thought that Matt Hicks’ call of the seventh may have lasted an hour. 

Back in Las Vegas, it was 6-4 Chihuahuas.  I’d only missed their starter, Walter Lockett, hitting a three-run homer.  I found myself fighting poor reception on both stations and kept flipping back and forth.  In the bottom of the ninth in Arlington, the Rangers loaded the bases.  The M’s closer threw 9 balls in a row as he couldn’t find the strike zone.  Unfortunately, it ended on a flyout and a 9-7 Mariner win.  Everyone and myself were disappointed.  Even Eric was disappointed.  “What a heartbreak!” he exclaimed.  In Las Vegas, the Chihuahuas in the ninth dropped 7 runs on the 51’s and sent 11 batters to the plate and won 13-4, to close out my baseball for the day. 

Wow, did I wake up without any energy today.  All I did was sit around, watch TV, and listen to baseball on the radio, completely exhausted.  I did get up and exercise right after waking anyway.  I turned on the radio, and oh my goodness!  ESPN Radio was talking about baseball!  They were discussing Sean Manaea’s no-hitter.  There was some sort of controversy with it (what a surprise).  A hit earlier in the game was later changed to an error.  Manaea didn’t know about the scoring change until later.  He was able to relax, thinking he didn’t have a no-hitter going.  When he found out later in the game, then he got nervous.  The ex-football player commentator said a baseball no-hitter wasn’t as good as getting a shutout in the NFL.  Then they switched to draft talk.  It was priceless entertainment.

Thankfully, the Aggies were playing the Northern Colorado Bears a little later in the morning, so I had something intelligent to listen to.  It was 40 degrees to start the game there in Greeley, Colorado, but at least the sun was out and an encroaching sunset wouldn’t be an issue.  The Aggies scratched out a run early.  By the third inning, the Aggies had their third hit batter against a Bears’ pitcher, who hadn’t hit anybody all year.  Apparently, it’s a strategy.  (There ended up being at least four hit Aggies in the game.)  Oh, and this disappointing news was reported.  Joey Ortiz’s three-run inside-the-park homer from Friday had been rescored a single and a three-base error.

There was some good defense in the game by Marcus Still.  In the bottom of the third, he threw out a runner at third, who had just knocked in the tying run, and had a diving catch in the bottom of the fourth.  In the eighth, the score was tied at 2, after Alex Pinedo came out after pitching 7 2/3, probably his longest outing this year. 

By the ninth, two other games on the radio had started, but I kept with this one.  A bases loaded walk gave the Aggies back the lead in the top.  Tristen Carranza then drove in two.  The crowd went wild with these developments.  The Aggies must have brought some fans with them.  It was 6-2 going into the bottom.  Brock Whittlesey, who’d thrown one pitch in the eighth and 53 pitches yesterday, came in to finish it.  A run scored and the bases were loaded, but Whit got all three outs for the win.  6-3 Aggies, final.  The Bears aren’t a good team.  Losing one of these three games and winning the other two with great difficulty, isn’t making me believe in the Aggies this year.

Though the game went a bit more than three hours, those last two innings went about an hour and a half.  It was already the fifth in both of the other games on.  The Rangers were beating the Mariners 4-2, and the Chihuahuas were beating the 51’s 2-1.  I decided to mostly listen to the Rangers, since I’d be listening to the pups during the week.  Shin-Soo Choo drove in a run to make it 5-2.  He’s on fire lately.  In Las Vegas, Brett Nicholas drove in two.  He’s also on fire. 

Back from injury, Delino DeShields looked good in center field as he robbed a wind-driven home run ball at the wall in the sixth.  Jake Diekman came in for the seventh.  The bases were loaded, but he got out of it with a pair of strikeouts.  Meanwhile, the Chihuahuas were winning 6-1 in the seventh, though Nicholas got thrown out at the plate trying to score on a sacrifice.  Base running might not be his best skill.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa drove in two runs in the eighth to make it 7-4 Rangers.  Who?  I’d heard this guy mentioned several times over the last couple of Rangers games I’ve heard.  The announcers like his game, though I don’t think they’ve settled on how to say his name.  I got the name from my baseball preview (which I still haven’t finished), otherwise I’d never have been able to spell it from hearing it.  He’s on their 40-man roster, but not a top 10 prospect.  Keone Kela worked the ninth.  He let on two, but got a pair of strikeouts before Jurickson Profar made a great catch at second to end the game.  7-4 Rangers was the final.    

I picked up the Chihuahuas game in the bottom of the ninth.  Las Vegas scored four runs, three off a home run.  But, the pups safely won it anyway 9-6.  It was their sixth win in a row.  They have a 13-5 record this season.

A half-hour later on the same station, the ESPN Sunday pre-game came on.  The big news was Brandon Belt having a 21-pitch at bat at the beginning of a game that lasted 13 minutes.  It ended in an out, but he homered later and the Giants beat the Angels.  I may have been baseball’ed out today by this point.  (Though I was still disappointed that the scheduled college baseball game that was supposed to be on Stadium this afternoon never came on.  That’s about the third time they’ve disappointed me on this.)  I had the game on this evening, but wasn’t really listening because it was the Dodgers and the Nationals and don’t like either team.  This was too bad, because it was a good game.  The Dodgers beat the Nationals with a comeback in a close game.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Baseball Journal April 19-20, 2018

I was intensely busy in the early part of my work day (evening).  I put the Braves versus the Mets on as the MLB.TV free game.  At least they’re not blocking eastern teams for me this season.  Though the Mets are looking good so far, Matt Harvey appears to be the weak link.  He gave up six runs over a couple of innings while I was watching (well, mostly listening).  Still, he stayed in for six innings to save the bullpen.  Harvey looked noticeably thinner, maybe it was from shaving the beard.  Meanwhile, former Chihuahua Matt Wisler went seven innings for the Braves and only gave up one run.  12-4 Braves was the final.

Oops, I forgot all about Aggie Softball.  They played a double header at Arizona this week.  I’m sure the Wildcats streamed a video feed that I could have watched.  The Aggies lost both games, and the second game badly on a run-rule.  I’m actually having trouble keeping track of all the games at night.  I’m also having a hard time deciding about going to WAC Softball Tournament in a couple of weeks.  It’s an investment of time and money and that session pass earlier in the year didn’t entirely work out.  As much as I’d enjoy watching the games, I’m not sure if I can physically tolerate being out there for four days.  I have to let them know at work about taking a vacation, and I’m afraid of the workload I’ll come back to after a vacation.

It was another somewhat unpleasant night in Reno for the Chihuahuas and Aces game, but at least the sun came out briefly during the cold.  The pups built up a 5-0 lead by the fifth with big leaguer Kris Medlen going for the Aces.  Yasmany Tomas, on rehab, was playing first for them.  He had priority in playing time over Cody Decker.  I’d wondered why he was just pinch hitting in this series.

The Chihuahuas got an interesting run on a sacrifice.  Socrates Brito (love that name) made a catch at the outfield wall.  It was initially ruled a catch, but then an ump called it live, thinking he trapped it against the wall.  Finally, the umps had a conference and ruled it a straight catch.  In the sixth, Tim Hagerty on the call exclaimed, “It’s a new Reno team.”  Suddenly, the lethargic Aces started hitting and it was only 6-5 Chihuahuas.  The outburst was short-lived.  El Paso pitching managed to nurse that one-run lead to a win.

Lord, my notes for today are a mess.  It may take more time to decipher this, than write it.  Take everything I’m writing about Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with a grain of salt.  I don’t even want to try and after-the-fact fact-check all this.   

The Aggies played the Northern Colorado Bears today in Greeley.  It was my fourth afternoon game of the week, which has been a nice treat.  This one was by necessity, since they don’t have lights at the stadium there.  The park is daytime only and very home run prone.  The ball travels well to left, even when it’s not windy.  Today, it was 50 degrees and windy there to start with rain a possibility, even snow later.  Several of the Aggie players wore face masks while out playing. 

Adam Young was joined by Matt McHugh for the broadcast.  Odd that they took an analyst for this trip given that they didn’t broadcast several road series this season.  I think they took a plane for this trip, but I’m not sure.  Matt is a really good and insightful commentator.  I enjoyed his in depth insight on the team and baseball strategy over the weekend.  Nobody was enjoying the cold.  Adam thought the weather was probably better in Las Cruces.  Not so much actually.  It was cold and windy here too.

Aggie ace Kyle Bradish started and gave up a run in the first, but the second inning was a nightmare.  The Bears loaded the bases with two outs.  Catcher Mason Fishback dropped a foul popup that would have ended the inning.  That along with another error led to three runs scoring.  Another run scored on a play at the plate.  A misplayed flyball brought in another run.  It was 6-0 Bears, 5 of those unearned, when the inning mercifully ended.  (Never make a two-out error.)  In a small bright spot, Joey Ortiz was back in the lineup.  With his left hand still hurting, he drove in a run in the third.

In the fourth, Adam commented on the sound of a train going by in the distance.  Over the radio, it sounded more like it was going across the infield.  This happened several times during the game.  More importantly, Joey came up and hit a three-run inside-the-park home run.  He might be batting with one hand, but there's nothing wrong with his wheels.  6-5 Bears.

At this point, my commentary becomes more speculative than fact-based due to my lack coherent notes.  In the bottom of the fifth, Bradish came out after giving up another run, 7-5.  He yielded seven walks today.  There were reportedly several scouts in attendance, no doubt freezing and disappointed.  It ended up being a five-run inning for the Bears.  Mason Fishback did homer for the Aggies later.  I heard several girls screaming afterward.  Did he bring a fan club with him? 

By the eighth, there was a meeting between the coaches and the ump about the oncoming darkness, but they kept playing.  13-7 Bears was the final.  Matt pointed out their somewhat absurd winning stat line: 13 runs, 6 unearned, 9 hits, 15 strikeouts.  The Aggies definitely hurt themselves in this game.  It also ran long at over three hours, 20 minutes with an attendance of 129 hearty souls. 
On MLB.TV, the Giants and Angels free game was not blocked.  Swell.  I finally got a live look at a Shohei Ohtani at bat right when I tuned in.  He has a great stroke and got a hit.  I need to see him pitch sometime.  In the fifth, I did see good old Al Pujols field a ball and make a light toss to an uncovered first base for an error.  Oh, that just warmed my heart.  Later in the game when it was basically over, he got a double.  The crowd added another number to his 3,000 hit board, at which point he was taken out of the game.  And that's what he's good for at this point: a future Hall of Fame prop.  (And I'm pretty sure he's going in as a Cardinal.)

Starting at the same time, I turned down the sound of the video and brought up the audio of the Chihuahuas versus the AcesBrett Nicholas hit a three-run homer fourth to make it 6-0. Reliever Eric Yardley got his second career hit in the sixth, so you know the pups were hitting. 
Though the Chihuahuas’ game was functionally over with a 9-0 lead late (and Andrew McCutchen’s three-run homer put the Giants up 7-0 late), Tim was excited.  A possible no-hitter was in progress for the Padres against the Diamondbacks.  The Padres are the only team without a no-hitter.  As Tim mentioned, they’ve played over 7,800 games.  I bailed on both my games to go to MLB.com, as they had a live look-in available for the Padres’ game.  I think every other time I’ve turned on the TV for a possible no-hitter, it was immediately broken up, so I was hoping it might be different over the Internet. 

Tyson Ross was well over 100 pitches in the eighth.  He was running on fumes and having trouble finding the strikezone.  He got two outs, but let on a runner with a walk.  Coach Andy Green went out and talked to him.  I’m sure Ross said something to the effect of “Let me either do it or lose it.”  The score was 1-0 Padres, so this wasn’t an easy decision.  Ross stayed in and gave up a double on the next batter and the runner scored to tie it.  At least the Padres at least ended up winning 4-1.  This was the third possible no-hitter of the season I’d watched.    

The Giants won their game 8-1.  Back in Reno in the seventh, an Aces runner was thrown out trying to take home on a shallow hit.  Not a great decision.  The biggest cheer of the night came in the top of the ninth.  Reno had put a position player out to pitch and he had 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts.  The final was 11-3 Chihuahuas, a four-game sweep.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Baseball Journal April 14-18, 2018

Got back from Aggie Baseball in time for Chihuahuas baseball.  Chihuahuas went down 7-0 to the 51's after two innings.  I watched a TV show for a half hour.  When I turned the game back on, the pups had tied it in the fourth.  A couple of errors helped.  They took the lead in fifth, 8-7.  In the sixth, the Chihuahuas took an improbable 11-7 lead, which would be the final score. 

I got back home from Aggie Baseball and a late lunch/early dinner only in time to get the final score between the Chihuahuas and Las Vegas.  It was a 10-0 win for pups.  These guys can hit.   

The radio station did carry Sunday Night Baseball with the Rangers versus the AstrosJustin Verlander was going for Houston and Bartolo Colon was on for the Rangers.  The Rangers had had a “shocking” five-run comeback yesterday and won it in ten innings.  Today was Jackie Robinson day in Major League Baseball.  Players had been asking Colon, whos 44, what it was like to pitch to him. 

Robinson Chirinos homered early for a 1-0 Ranger lead.  Well, lets fast forward.  Colon took a perfect game into the eighth.  He lost it on a walk to Carlos Correa.  A hit followed that to break up the no hitter. Yuri Gurriel sacd Correa in to end the shutout and tie the score.  The Houston crowd gave Colon a hand as he left the field after a 7 2/3 1 hit, 1 run performance.  Reception got a bit fuzzy as my station powered down after sundown.  I think Verlander had a similar line, but neither of them factored into the decision.

I finally remembered to switch to my after dark Rangers affiliate in the ninth and kept with them.  In the top of the tenth, Chirinos doubled in two runs for a 3-1 Rangers lead.  There was some high drama in the bottom, but that was the final score.  I am losing track of all the extra inning MLB games Ive heard and watched this year.  This is getting absurd.

My dad showed me the front sports page of the Las Cruces Sun-News last week from Thursday and Friday.  Aggie Coach Brian Green had just won his one-hundredth victory against the Lobos on Tuesday. 

Heres Thursdays sports page.

And heres Fridays.

You might not notice unless you look carefully, but theres a small typo in the Thursday article.  I make mistakes here too.  I dont have an editor either.

Lobos . . .

Day game!  Day game!  The Chihuahuas played a morning game against the 51s.  A bunch of schoolkids were there having a good time and cheering.   The 51s scored early with a run.  The Chihuahuas tied it thanks to an error.  In the sixth, the 51s plated two.  In the bottom, Allen Craig hit a two-run homer to tie it again at 3.  The 51s scratched out a run in the seventh.  Brett Nicholas started off the bottom of the inning with a pinch hit home run to tie it at 4.  Are we seeing a pattern here? 

In the eighth, Las Vegas had runners at first and third with no outs, but a strikeout and a double play ended the threat.  In the ninth, the 51s scratched out another run and took the lead.  In the bottom of the ninth, Nicolas started off again.  He got on and moved to second with no one out, but was stuck there for two outs.  Franmil Reyes came up hit a single off the wall to score Nicholas and tie it.  This was their fourth comeback in the game.  Reyes was picked off to end the inning. 

The new minor leagues extra innings rule, finally came into play for the Chihuahuas.  The video board gave the fans there an explanation to the new rule.  The tenth started with a runner at second with no outs for both teams.  The Chihuahuas picked off the automatic runner on second in the top.  They got two runners on in the bottom, but failed to score.

Unfortunately, the 51s finally busted out and scored four times in the eleventh.  The Chihuahuas would easily score a run in the bottom, but used two outs to do it.  The somewhat disappointing final was 9-6 Las VegasTim Hagerty supposed that the visiting team would likely usually play for multiple runs in extras, since the home team would have a normally have a big advantage, only needing one run with a runner already on second.

Good thing I got to hear that ballgame.  At work later, the Diamondbacks werent on, the ESPN Monday game wasnt on, the MLB Network blacked out their two games, and MLB.TV also blacked out their free game.  The blacked out games were the Astros and Mariners and the Padres and Dodgers.  We dont get any of those teams games here locally.  This isnt selling MLB.TV to me if Im not going to be able to get any of the teams I like. 
While the Aggies had two entertaining wins over the weekend, they were not convincing wins.  Today's matinee against Division III Sul Ross State was a chance for a good win.  The coaches had even agreed to use the run-rule for the game right before they started.  I was at least happy to have a game to listen to, though I wasn't sure anything would happen that would be worth writing.      

It was a warm, sunny afternoon, but the wind was blowing pretty hard.  This was a brotherly game.  The Sul Ross Lobos had a pair of brothers.  The Aggies were putting in some reserves and were starting both Braden and Brenden Williams.  And both teams had a Munden brother.  The boys' family showed up from El Paso to root them on.  Their mom was wearing gear for both teams.

The Aggies jumped out to a five-run lead.  It looked good early to this point.  In the third though, in spite of a runner's interference double play, Justin Dehn didn't make it out of the inning.  He gave up five runs while he was in and Wyatt Kelley allowed another of his runners to come in to give the Lobos a 6-5 lead.  (I'm calling them “Lobos” so this doesn't sound as bad as it is.  DIII is probably like the equivalent of an area high school all-star team.)

Thanks to three hit batters in the bottom (the Aggies are second in the nation in that stat), the Aggies retook the lead 7-6.  However, a run was thrown out at the plate on a sacrifice and Trey Stine, who drove in a run, was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double.  In the fifth, with a couple of regular starters in, the Aggies hit four doubles in a row (along with a fourth hit batter) and put up six runs to make it 13-6.

In the sixth, the Lobos did score another run, but there was some good defense.  The Williams brothers combined to throw out a runner at the plate.  Brenden also made a great play on a deflection and got an out with pitcher Alex Reyes hustling to cover third.  The wind died down late in the game.  In the eighth, in a nice move by the coaches, the Munden brothers did face each other for an at bat.  Younger brother Matt Munden got the better of his older brother by getting him to line out. 

The Lobos tacked on a home run in the ninth, but the final was 14-8 Aggies.  The Lobos had two home runs, while the Aggie had none, but they did have 8 doubles.  Nick Gonzales went an impressive 5 for 5 hitting.  The attendance was also a surprising 530, which was excellent for a weekday day game against a DIII school.  Again, this was an entertaining game, but not convincing for the Aggies.

For my break at work, I turned on the TV and watched the Giants versus the Diamondbacks.  (MLB.TV was blocking the Astros' game.  Are most of the teams I like going to be blocked this season?)  It was Johnny Cueto versus Patrick Corbin in pitching.  This was a very tight game.  Cueto helped his own cause at one point, as he hustled to get a popup, while the rest of the infield was shifted to the other side. 

By the seventh at 0-0, something was up.  Corbin had a no-hitter going.  The last out of the inning was a leaping, snowcone catch by AJ Pollack of a Buster Posey liner.  By the eighth, the crowd was applauding every out.  At 7 2/3, Brandon Belt broke it up on a check swing with the infield shifted to the other side.  The D-Backs got a 1-0 win.  Corbin only gave up 1 hit for the game.  Obviously, Cueto did pretty well too.

I'd actually forgotten all about the Chihuahuas.  Hey, there was a no-hitter going on!  I picked up the game in the bottom of the seventh with the pups up 3-1 on the Reno Aces.  In the ninth, the Chihuahuas added two unearned runs, thanks to an error.  However, the bottom had some drama.  The bases were loaded with one out.  Cody Decker came in as a pinch hitter, but struckout.  The next batter did drive in two though.  But, that was all.  5-3 Chihuahuas was the final. 

More day baseball this week!  Can you believe it?  It was a Rangers versus Rays match up this morning.  I even had good reception on a weak station today.  Admittedly, the game wasn't action-packed.  My highlight was hearing Eric Nadel, promoting upcoming games, referring to Bartolo Colon by his nickname, Big Sexy.  Also, the Tampa crowd was using cowbells during the series and Eric and Matt Hicks were both of the opinion that, We don't need more cowbell.

I also didn't recognize several the Rangers players, which is probably a bad sign, not for me, but for the team.  Other than a first baseman making a jump catch and landing on his rear on the base to get the out, the other memorable play was a fan interference call.  It was ruled a double, but might have been a homer for the Rangers.  Chelsea Market upheld the call.  The fan was ejected, though stadium officials went back and forth on that too.  Perhaps they had to get a decision from New York on that one too.  

There was some ninth inning drama, but the Rays prevailed 4-2.  Eric seems pretty loose so far this year.  He may have already written this season off.  I've heard him get more uptight with the team's performance at times when they were expected to win.

“Boy, I hope we don’t have a delay in this game.”  Later in the evening, Tim Hagerty was being as professional as possible in a 30 degree, rainy night in Reno while calling a game between the Chihuahuas and the Aces.  The pressbox there is open air.  (Not to mention, I could hear Reno’s radio announcer in the background for the whole time.)  At one point, Tim said he was having trouble writing on his scorecard from the cold.  I’ve been there too.

The game was in the sixth and official by the time the rain started coming down.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, it didn’t rain hard enough to end the game.  The pups were up 2-0 at the time.  In the bottom, the Aces got three on with nobody out.  After a popup and a double play, they got nothing out of it.  In the seventh, Neftali Feliz came in in relief for the Aces.  Yes, that’s the former Rangers’ closer.  With Allen Craig from the Cardinals playing for the Chihuahuas, it was the 2011 World Series all over again.  (Actually, Craig came out of the game before Neftali came in.) 

The Chihuahuas held a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth.  The first Aces batter walked.  He advanced to third when the catcher slipped on a wet home plate trying to throw him out at second and threw it into centerfield.  So, the tying run was at third with no outs.  He was left stranded and the Chihuahuas won.  What was that stat I reported on?  If you load the bases with no outs and don’t score, you’re probably going to lose.  This time it was right, though when it happened to the Chihuahuas earlier this month, they still won.  The jury is still out on that stat.  So much for Sabrmetrics.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

NM State Aggies vs Chicago St Cougars Baseball 4-15-18

It was definitely warmer and sunnier today, as opposed to yesterday.  However, when I tested the weather outside, there was an occasional cold breeze blowing.  I settled on wearing my Aggie hoodie again, though I was pretty sure it would warm up later.  A lady at the ballpark had a blanket with her and wasn’t sure if she needed it either.  Overall, it was a stunningly beautiful day for a ballgame.

I saw a bunch of girls were playing on the soccer field as I drove into the parking lot.  I think there were two games going on with each playing on a half field with some mobile goals set up.  None of them were wearing Aggie uniforms though.  A couple of people were watching in the stands.  I’m not sure who was playing.  I thought that if the baseball finished early, I’d stop and watch if they were still playing.  The game didn’t finish early (not much of a surprise there), but there was still a soccer match going on afterward using the whole field.  I was driving past and wanted to stop, but I couldn’t figure out who was playing.  The Aggies don’t have blonde goalie that I know of.  (Also, some guy behind me was in a hurry and trying to pull into in truck bed.  I was afraid to stop.)

Speaking of blondes, the ticket seller girl from yesterday was in the office today.  When asked, she confirmed that she was there with her sister and mother.  “She’s dating one of the players,” she said.  “Your sister or your mother?” I asked.  It was a pleasant exchange.  I told her I was glad she got to see a game for a change and a good one at that.  Inside, every other person was wearing the giveaway shirt from yesterday.  Boy, they’re cool.  (Damn it.)  Some other player girlfriends and some little kids were hanging out in the “kiss and cry” area.  The kids were by the dugout looking for autographs. 

I picked up a soda and popcorn at the concessions.  It was $1 hot dog day, but I’d learned my lesson.  Of course after I’d sat down inside, everybody was coming in holding hot dogs in both hands.  I got so hungry watching them, but I held out, not wanting to ruin lunch after the game.  My usual seat was taken.  I decided to sit up high in the stands under the canopy.  I tried looking into the pressbox, but still never got a glimpse of the female PA voice. 

A great crowd came in for the game (announced at 652), likely thanks to the weather.  (In Major League Baseball today, six games got canceled for bad weather.)  Another sorority (I think) was sitting in the center grandstand.  A member threw out one of the first pitches.  A little league team was out on field.  A couple of them were dancing and a couple of the Aggie players started mirroring them.  It was cute.  One of the kids threw out the other first pitch.  The catcher handed him back the ball and talked to him after.  It was another nice moment. 

I should mention who was sitting in my usual spot.  A lady was there in Chicago State colors.  By the number on her hat, I could guess she was the mother of their starting pitcher and leadoff batter, Zach Thomas.  I’d assume that was his dad was next to her.  She was taking copious notes on all his pitching and hitting during the game, as well as snapping pictures with a good camera.  I noticed an Asian family complete with grandparents sitting nearby.  I’d guess they were Edward Kang’s relatives.  So, the Cougars had some fans present. 

For the Aggies, Bruno Teramoto started at second.  Balls would be finding him constantly during the game.  Nick Gonzales moved over to short.  Joey Ortiz was out with a bruised glove hand.  In the bottom of the first, Logan Bottrell led off.  With his walkup music playing, the rest of the team gave him a high wave as he came up to bat.  He worked a walk, was sacrificed over by Marcus Still, and was driven in by Logan Ehnes.  1-0 Aggies. 

It was another “Bark in the Park” day.  A pair of beautiful golden labs came in.  A girl came in with a chocolate lab that Kyle Bradish’s chocolate lab took offense to and some barking ensued.  An older fellow came in with a fluffy white poodle, whom he put in the seat next to him.  Elsewhere, a kid came in wearing an “Aggie Empire” shirt.  I almost wore mine today.  Thank goodness I didn’t.  It would have been a fashion catastrophe. 

I noticed Victoria Castro and Amy Bergeson from the Softball team come in for the second inning.  I would have asked them how things went Saturday in Phoenix, if I’d had the chance.  There were a bunch more kids present today.  When mini foam footballs were tossed into the crowd in this inning, they went crazy for them.  Likewise, every foul ball out of the stadium was followed by a stampede of kids going for it.

During the third inning, Adam Young on radio (it’s so great to have radio during a game) negatively confirmed that the home Texas Tech game was canceled, as he went over the Aggies’ remaining schedule.  He didn’t mention it, so I’m assuming it’s off.  They lost 2-1 to the Red Raiders earlier this month in Midland.  This was after losing their series to Sacramento State (3-29-18).  I completely missed the game since there was no broadcast (and I didn’t think to find a Texas Tech broadcast).  That close loss may have been more discouraging to me than if they’d gotten blown out, since it meant that they could have won.  I would have liked to have seen a re-match here. 

On field, on his fourth chance, Bruno made an error to let on a runner.  Next, he wasn’t able to able to get to an infield bunt to let on another runner.  Aggie pitcher Alex Pinedo then yielded two more hits and a pair of runs scored.  2-1 Cougars.  Bruno would then make a good diving stop for the second out.  With two on and two out, the Cougars tried to bunt.  Adam was terribly confused by the strategy, but Pinedo wasn’t and got the third out.   

The Aggies came back with a single and a walk.  Trey Stine came up and hit a low arcing blast to left center for a three-run homer.  I took a look at the pitcher’s mom.  She showed no emotion.  Zach Thomas is the Cougars’ ace and that was only his second homer given up for the year.  After a coaching visit, Thomas got a strikeout, but then gave up a pair of doubles for another run.  Thomas got another strikeout, but after an error (which was later ruled a hit), the coach came back out.  Zach was already walking back to the dugout before he got there, his head hanging.  Again, no emotion from the parents.  Now I felt bad.  5-2 Aggies.

In the fourth, a little kid and his dad came in.  Both were Dodger fans by the hats they were wearing.  The kid had two foul balls and the old man had one himself.  Pinedo gave up a pair of walks with a couple of strikeouts in between them.  Then there was a high popup on the infield.  Nick lost it in the sun at short and dropped it.  A run scored from second.  Nick’s sunglasses were on his hat.  He’d be wearing them for the rest of the game.  5-3 Aggies.

A trio of older men were nearby discussing some baseball.  A little girl in a sundress, somebody’s granddaughter, was listening to them with rapt attention.  She got a foul ball too and one of the souvenir shirts tossed into the crowd.  The Aggies loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth.  Ehnes got to first to fill them via getting hit.  Unfortunately, Tristen Carranza struckout to end the inning.

Tyler Lowe led off the fifth with a triple for the Cougars.  His ball just kept carrying out to center field as it hit the wall.  He nearly went for an inside-the-park homer.  He was driven in on a fielder’s choice next.  Pinedo gave up another single, but a good double play ended the inning.  5-4 Aggies.  Mason Fishback led off the bottom by getting hit by Dylan Cumming.  Fishback has been a magnet for balls lately.  Nick walked afterward, but neither scored.

“You’re missing a good game, Blue!” shouted a fan after a disputed call in the sixth.  I’d noticed earlier that the Chicago State manager also shouting at the ump from the dugout.  Pinedo was out and the Aggies would begin a parade of one-inning relievers.  Stine led off the bottom by getting hit.  Man, I’m hurting just watching.  The bases were loaded on two singles.  Fishback was plunked again to bring in a run.  That’s the fifth time he’s been hit in two games (only four officially counted though). 

Nick brought in another run with a sac fly to center.  After walking Bruno, Cumming was finally taken out.  After four hit batters, the Aggies weren’t sorry to see him go.  Grant Trower came in.  His first pitch was a wild pitch that let in a run.  Carranza did have his hand stepped on while taking home, but stayed in the game.  Trower’s second pitch was a passed ball and let in another run.  Bottrell then doubled to clear off the remaining runner from Cumming.  Five runs for the inning and 10-4 Aggies.

The play of the game happened in the seventh.  From shallow center field, Marcus gunned down a runner at home coming in from second.  Chance Hroch let the throw go through for the play at the plate.  The runner laid there at home after in complete disbelief.  I was approaching the end of the page where I was taking notes and I can’t help to notice that that was my last note on the game.  There might be a correlation there. 

The Aggies tacked on two more runs in the eighth with RBI hits by Bruno and Marcus.  With two runners in scoring position, the Aggies had a chance to run-rule game, but Stine flied out to end the inning.  The Cougars went down in order in the ninth.  Our final: Aggies 12, Cougars 4.  The game took a little over three hours.  The first half of the game went long, but the second half went pretty quick.  Let’s hand out a game ball to Tyler Lowe on the Cougars for going 3 for 5 with 2 RBI’s.  For the Aggies, their pitching relief corps went four scoreless innings, Trey Stine had three RBI’s off a home run, and Logan Ehnes went 3 for 4 with an RBI.  Mason Fishback gets another purple heart for taking two more hits for the team.   

I got the lunch I’d been waiting for over at Schlotzsky’s in the form of their BLT on a pretzel roll with a creamy tomato basil soup for dipping.  It was excellent.  I kissed the chef on both cheeks and said something in French as I kissed my fingertips in praise.  Hopefully, they’ll allow me back in the restaurant.  Another great day at the ballpark.    

Monday, April 16, 2018

NM State Aggies vs Chicago St Cougars Baseball 4-14-18

I was about 30 seconds from walking out the door about an hour early for the game when Ron called.  I was going to go early since they were offering a free t-shirt, which looked fairly cool.  He offered to meet me at the ballpark, but I said I'd wait for him to pick me up.  We got to the stadium about 15 minutes till first pitch.  I did not get a free t-shirt.  I saw a couple in the crowd later and they did look good.  Oh, well.  The anti-rape people were there, offering free t-shirts to students for pledging not to rape anyone.  Everyone else was only offered a sticker for taking the pledge.  I declined.  So much for a free t-shirt. 

Worse, the Women's Tennis team was playing their last home match at the same time.  For another year, I'm not going to get to see Eli Arnaudova in person.  I'll just have to live with her tantalizing pictures.  They were even offering free pizza and, I think, free admission.  These NMSU scheduling people need to work a little harder.  If they'd played the matches earlier in the day, I would have gone.
It was bright and sunny today, but it wasn’t warm.  With a cold breeze blowing, it was 62 degrees.  I was wearing my Aggie hoodie, but had a windbreaker over it.  I kept reasonably warm, though the wind was blowing in.  I wished I’d brought my sunglasses as there was quite a bit of glare off the field.  Ron forgot to bring his radio for the game and got way angrier about it.

The parking lot was full when we got there.  A couple more RV’s were parked there as well.  On the way in, I at least, got to hear the radio pregame.  Chicago State is winless in the WAC and, including last night’s game against the Aggies, they’d been run-ruled in their last six games.  Inside, there weren’t any programs (though they’d show up later), but there was a great crowd.  The Old Man said “Hi,” as we sat down by him.  He asked me to pass along some hitting advice to catcher Mason Fishback.  I had to tell him that I, not only don’t work for the team, I don’t know anybody on the team.  I’m sure the next obvious question would have been, “Then why are you keeping a scorecard and taking notes?” but he left that alone.  After all, I could ask him back, “Why do you cheer so obnoxiously at times?”

This was a treat before the game, football hero, Larry Rose III threw out one of the first pitches.  He was all smiles.  It was good to see him.  After seeing him throw, good thing he wasn’t a quarterback.  He was joined on field by a pair of sorority girls, whose chapter was seated next to the visiting dugout.  They were about as proficient.  At least they didn’t make Larry look even worse.  Okay, so I’ve seen basketball players (I can’t find the old post to link to it) and a football player not be able to throw a baseball.  How can you be a high-level male sports athlete and throw like girl?  (No offense to the Softball girls.) 

The game started well for Aggie starter Jonathan Groff with two quick outs.  Shortstop Joey Ortiz almost made a great play to end the inning with a running and falling away throw to first.  The batter just beat it out.  After that good play, Marcus Still made a bad throwing decision on a single to center and allowed both runners to advance, but no harm was done.

In the bottom, I noticed Larry was sitting with the sorority girls, but he had his girlfriend with him (at least, I'm guessing that was their relationship).  DJ Downs, Aggie marketing guy, came down from the pressbox to talk to him for a bit.  On the field, Chicago State's catcher, Matt Cox, was really tall and well-built.  He's like a first baseman.  Is this a new preferred body type in grooming catchers?  Adam Young on the radio call mentioned that the Aggies are second in the country in batting average.  On cue, the Aggies went down quickly in order.  Some Cougar fans were there and made themselves known cheering.

Marcus made a good running catch in center on the first batter of the second.  The next batter walked.  Mason Fishback made a bad throw on a stolen base attempt, and then a passed ball got the runner to third.  Groff got a strikeout looking on a great offspeed, but a bunch of those pitches were actually missing, which resulted in another walk.  Groff threw over to first a bunch and managed to pick the runner off to end the inning.  In the bottom, “Bitches, leave.”  (What movie is that from anyway?)  The sorority girls left en mass.  Well, they made an appearance.  I nearly lost my scorecards to a sudden gust of wind.  The Aggies went down in order again.  Shortstop, Tyler Zunkel, made a great throw from his knees to end the inning.

To start the third, Joey matched him by sliding to a knee to get the first out.  Events do not go well in the field after this.  Next, there was a double.  Then Joey bobbled and dropped the next grounder.  Worse, it was contagious.  A sure double-play ball rolled between the legs of second baseman Nick Gonzales.  This allowed a runner to score and put another on third. 

Larry took a phone call and left the game with his girlfriend following.  I was hoping he'd walk by so I could wish him luck, but he went in the other direction.  A groundout brought the runner at third in.  After a walk and several throws to first, a bad throw to second from Fishback on a pitchout brought in another runner on third.  Finally, the inning ended on strikeout looking.  Chicago State scored three runs on three errors and one hit.  What a defensive nightmare that was.  That hurt my feelings to watch and my head to write.  3-1 Cougars.

Between innings, I was hit by another ball.  This was a foam ball tossed in the crowd by those sexual assault people.  Ron retrieved it from nearby and kept it.  Joe Fitka had pitched two good innings starting for the Cougars.  Unfortunately, he was actually their closer.  By the third, he was losing his command.  Fishback's bad day continued as he was hit by a pitch to start the inning.   Nick walked and was erased on a fielder's choice.  The bases were then loaded on another walk.

The Aggies finally got on the board as Joey drew a walk to force in a run.  Trey Stine sacrificed in another run.  The big blow came with Caleb Henderson tripling past a diving centerfielder and clearing the bases.  The centerfielder, Jacob Vanitvelt, came up bleeding from the field.  His nose got cut by his sunglasses.  Chicago State didn't have a trainer, so the Aggies' trainer had to go out and patch him up.  Tristen Carranza then brought Caleb in with a double.  The Aggies would bat around.  The Cougars brought in a reliever to finish the inning.  When the dust cleared the Aggies were now up 6-3.  That's the way to get over some bad defense in the field. 

I saw people walking by with multiple giveaway shirts.  Even the Old Man was now wearing one.  They're all mocking me.  By the way, even with the sorority girls gone, there were plenty of good-looking girls still left in the crowd.  Several handsome young men too.  This is what Aggie Baseball needs to do all the time: bring in an attractive crowd. 

Groff led off the fourth with a walk.  This is a season high for him at four.  He got the next two outs, but hit the next batter.  Matt Paciello came up and doubled the two runners in.  Marcus made a great leaping catch in center to rob another double and end the inning.  The score was now 6-5 Aggies.  The Aggies worked a couple of walks, but didn't score in the bottom.

A couple of glamorous young blondes and a sophisticated older woman sat down behind us and then moved up in front of us in the fifth.  I recognized one of them as a friendly ticket seller from some other games this year.  I'm guessing she was with her sister and their mom.  They had a good time watching the game and amiably chatting.  That's nice to see.  Maybe I'll see her again in the ticket booth and say something.

Groff gave up his fifth walk to start the inning, but a couple of strikeouts and a groundout finished the inning and his outing.  It was a gritty appearance.  He was at over 100 pitches before this inning and left at 123.  He gave up 5 runs, but only 2 earned.  He may have been left in for five innings to qualify for a possible win.  Groff could be tied for the most wins in the nation after today. 

Cougar relief pitcher Robert Gutierrez got two groundouts in the bottom before going wild.  He plunked Carranza on the helmet.  Words were exchanged.  The ump talked to the pitcher.  Then Fishback was hit for the second time, this time in the back.  Again, the ump talked to Gutierrez as he handed him the ball.  Nick then took one for the team.  At this point, the crowd was in an uproar.  No action was taken though.  Marcus got the best revenge with a single, scoring Carranza.  7-5 Aggies.

Wyatt Kelley came in for the Aggies and hit his first batter.  Accident?  Maybe-ish.  It wasn't a hard hit at least.  Unfortunately after a double, a passed ball, and a single, the score was now tied at 7.  If the hit batter was retaliation, it backfired.  The Chicago State dugout and their fans were roaring.  They wanted this one bad given the losing streak they’re on. 

A group of girls, including one on crutches, moved into the seats vacated by the sorority and Larry earlier in the game.  They were having a good time laughing about something in the inning.  Other people around them were laughing too.  I have no idea what that was about, but they left a bit later.  At that point, I think I recognized one of them from Aggie Soccer.  That might explain the crutches.  I'm not sure if it was them or not.  Sometimes, the girls are hard to identify out of uniform.  No more hit batters in the bottom of the sixth, but no Aggie runs either.

Chance Hroch came in after a leadoff double in the seventh and shut the Cougars down.  I should mention here that the wind had finally died down and it was actually a bit warm out in the sun.  It was much nicer.  For the Aggie batters, it was now hitting time.  Fishback got to first via a walk, instead of getting hit.  Nick then came up and bombed one to straightaway left for a two-run homer.  The Aggie bench and the crowd erupted.  They were back in the lead 9-7.

The hit parade continued in the eighth off new reliever Edward Kang.  He comes to Chicago State via Taiwan.  Stine started off with a double.  Logan Ehnes came up next and hit a “Wow!” no-doubter line drive two-run homer to right.  Here’s one time I would have liked an MLB Statcast replay of a homer.  An unnatural quiet came over the crowd as Caleb came up next and then he homered to left.  Then I realized my radio was off, which was why it was so quiet.  Fishback came up after Carranza doubled and was hit for the third time.  The ump called him back to the plate for either leaning into the pitch or not trying to get out of the way.  Fishy and Coach Green both vigorously argued this one.  Kang would manage to get him and the next two batters out to finish the inning.

Brock Whittlesey, who’d come on in the eighth, gave up a leadoff hit in the ninth, but shut the door after that.  Our thrilling final: Aggies 12, Cougars 7Matt Paciello gets a gameball for the Cougars for going 3 for 5 with 3 RBI’s.  Caleb “My name is Earle” Henderson gets one for his 4 RBI performance.  Nick Gonzales gets one for his dramatic two-run seventh inning homer.  And Whitt’s two-inning save earns him a gameball.  Mason Fishback gets a purple heart for getting hit three times.

It was a long game at three and half hours, but a good one.  I missed the attendance figure, but it was good too.  It was finally nice and warm by the time we left.  Ron and I enjoyed an excellent meal at Raising Cane’s chicken fingers.  This was my third time in two weeks, though I had the sandwich this time.  It’s been busy there every time.  Overall, it was a great day for baseball.  The Aggies earned this win, though they probably didn’t deserve it after four errors.  I feel bad for Chicago State.  Hopefully they’ll get a win . . . after this Sunday’s game when they’re playing someone else.