I am just back from the River Cats game and what a pleasure it was. River Cats starting pitcher, Chad Reineke, pitched 5 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, and the bullpen (Jerry Blevins and Ryan Webb, who got the win) were similarly flawless. The Las Vegas 51s starter, Fabio Castro, went 6 innings without giving up a run and reliever T.J. Beam was unscathed in the 1 1/3 innings he pitched. A real pitchers duel that was fun to watch.
River Cats reliever, Ryan Webb, who played the entire 2008 season at Midland, Texas (AA), came in for the top of the 8th and gave up a hit before getting the third out. In the bottom of the 8th, the 51s’ Bill Murphy replaced Beam after the first out. Murphy faced three batters and couldn’t get anyone out, giving up 2 runs. He was replaced by Bryan Bullington who allowed 2 more runs to score (1 Murphy’s, and the other his), which brought the score to 4-0 River Cats. Webb pitched a 3 up-3 down 9th inning for the win. The River Cats have now won 10 out of their last 11 games.
Before ending this post, I must comment on going to a game at Raley Field in Sacramento. Yes it get’s very hot in the summertime, but today’s temparature barely got above 80 degrees with a nice breeze. The stadium is intimate (today’s attendance a little under 6,000) and is very fan and family friendly (no rowdy drunk fans and lots of entertainment between innings). The food is varied and delicious and there are lots of different beverage choices. So different from the MLB experience, where the players are kept apart from the fans and many players won’t sign autographs. There are few big egos among the minor league players as they get paid next to nothing. The whole atmosphere in the stadium doesn’t have the commercial overtones so prevalent at the major league level.
Here’s an example of what I am talking about: before the game began, I went in search of James Simmons, one of the River Cats starting pitchers who was the A’s top draft pick in the First Year Player Draft of 2007 (26th over all). He has graciously agreed to read my novel and I always try to say hi to him when I am at a River Cats game. I finally found him charting pitches in the stands right behind home plate with another starting pitcher, Gio Gonzales. I sat and chatted with them for an inning. They very nicely dispatched the seat police with a “She’s with us” comment. I bid them adieu when the next inning started so they could concentrate on their assigned task. This kind of player contact would never be possible in a major league park.
So, if you want to see where real baseball is played and feel like you are part of the action, you need to go to a minor league game. It doesn’t matter which level you see, although the ability of the players is the highest in Triple A. Minor league and independent baseball is where baseball is played for the shear love of the game. Yes, the players are all trying to advance, ultimately to the majors. But these guys haven’t yet become jaded and they play their hearts out. Their energy is infectious. So, if you live within striking distance of a minor league park, go to a game. You won’t be disappointed, even if the home team loses. It’s just pure fun.
Texas Hurts the A’s Again and Again and Again: The A’s need Orlando Cabrera to hold another meeting and kick some butt. After dropping a double header to the Rangers Friday and losing shamefully yesterday by the score of 14-1, the A’s need a swift kick in the pants. Not to mention that the Ballpark at Arlington took its toll on the health of A’s players once again. The last time they were there, 4 guys went down. This trip Travis Buck, who was beginning to get his swing back, is now on the DL, and the two Jacks (Cust and Hannahan) have sore backs and are day-to-day. Let’s hope we don’t lose anyone else today.
The River Cats Are on a Tear: The bright spot in the A’s orgaization is their Triple-A team, the Sacramento River Cats, who have won 9 out of their last 10 games. In about 90 minutes, I am headed up to Sacramento for their 1:05 start today against the Las Vegas 51′s, who are currently in last place in the PCL Southern Division. Hopefully, I can witness some good baseball and another River Cats win. They now lead their division with a 31-18 record. Not too shabby! I’ll keep you posted. Go Cats! And Go A’s!
I have been MIA on this blog since May 1st. Can it really be that long? I was preparing for and attending my major landmark high school reunion in Western Massachusetts. Every day I would say to myself: I have to put up a new blog post, but I was far behind where I needed to be in the preparations for the reunion and it didn’t get done. Well, I’m home now and plowing out from under 3 weeks of life’s other demands that also got put on hold since May 1st. But I’m back and ready to write on all things A’s.
Jason’s Got His Groove Back: Jason Giambi has finally started doing the main thing the A’s wanted him to do this year: take some of the pressure off the VERY young starting rotation by hitting homers and driving in runs. Yesterday (Saturday) he stroked his 400th long one and went 2 for 5, scoring 2 runs. He got a standing O from the fans and came out for a curtain call to a huge cheer. Welcome back, Jason!
Garciaparra is Back too: Nomar Garciaparra, who came off the DL a few days ago, matched Jason’s line exactly yesterday. He loves to swing the bat and rarely misses an opportunity when the pitch is anywhere near the strike zone. We’re happy to have him back too, ticks and all.
The Planets Are Aligned: The A’s got everything they wanted today. Josh Outman pitched into the 8th inning, giving up only one run in the 1st, and saving the tired bullpen who pitched 6 innings last night. The bats also did their part with Landon Powell hitting a 2-run blast in the 6th to put the A’s ahead 3-1.
Landon gave Kurt Suzuki the day off, even though he pulled his hamstring on Monday. After he hit the dinger, he tired not to limp (unsuccessfully), bringing back memories of Kirk Gibson’s infamous limp around the bases after his homer off Dennis Eckersley in the World Series. Is that a grimace of pain on Landon’s face above?
In the 7th, Jason Giambi hit a monster blast extending the A’s lead to 4-1. He definitely didn’t gimp but looked like he had just shed 10 years as he sprinted around the bases.
Final score: A’s 6, D-Backs 2. Now that’s my kind of score!
That’s all for now. See you next time. Go A’s!!
I apologize for not posting an entry in over a week. I have been under the weather for that period and we are without a hot water heater, because the old one decided some time ago to leak and rotted out the floor underneath it and the 2 nearby furnaces, which now have to come out so that the floor can be fixed. GI showers with cold water are no fun! Also, in less than 2 weeks I leave for a milestone high school reunion in Massachusetts which I am running, so I am tearing my hair out trying to get ready for that.,
Sweeney Saves the Day and Holiday gets a Dinger: I hope you all saw Ryan Sweeney time his jump perfectly and reach over the wall to rob Ian Kinsler of a 3-run homer in the eighth inning yesterday in Texas. It was a thing of beauty and saved the A’s lead. I’m sure it made ESPN’s Web Gems last night. Here is his being congratulated by Matt Holliday after making the spectacular catch.
In the top of the ninth, Holliday finally hit his first homer as an A. I hope this opens the floodgates and he starts pounding the ball out of the park with regularity.
Eric Chavez to the DL? Eric is one of the nicest guys on the planet and his presence in the clubhouse and the dugout are invaluable. Having won more gold gloves than he can carry certainly speaks to his talent. That being said, can he be healthy enough to contribute on the field or at the plate? I just don’t know. Last night, Bob Geren hinted that he might be headed for yet another stint on the DL.
What Happened to Our Infield? Yikes! The infield was decimated in Texas. Garciaparra and Ellis went down with calf injuries, Willy Casilla stepped down wrong on the mound and injured his calf and Brett Anderson got a blister on one of his pitching fingers, which is not a wimpy injury if you’re a pitcher. It was a very bizarre game on Tuesday night in Arlington. Jason Giambi gave his hanstrings too much of a workout in the same game and now he is day-to-day. I guess it’s back to the drawing board to raid the River Cats, once again. Maybe we should activate Mike Gallego!
Things were so bad last night that no one was available to warm up Michael Wuertz in the bottom of the ninth inning, so Manager Bob Geren, a former catcher, donned a mitt and crouched down behind the plate for a few pitches until Kurt Suzuki could get his gear on and relieve him. Way to go, Bob. I hope your hammies can take it.
Now on to the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field: Let’s hope the A’s left the injury bug back in Texas. They open a weekend series tonight in Seattle. The Mariners are sitting in first place at the moment, although as my brother in Seattle often points out, ”They’ll fade!” I hope he’s right. The A’s are only 3½ games behind the M’s. This series could change that in a big way.
Hold it, Hot Off the Presses! The A’s just now put Chavez on the 15-day DL with a strained right forearm, retroactive to April 25th. They recalled Gregorio Petit from Sacramento. Petit was hitting a mere .238 at Triple A this season, but that is a whole heck of a lot better than Chavez’ .100 batting average. Last year Gregorio batted .348 in 14 games over three stints with the A’s.