After Saturday night’s authoritative 11-6 thumping of the Cardinals (which really should have been 11-3 but for three meaningless runs scored in the top of the 9th), I had high hopes for Game 2 of the NLDS on Sunday.
The Phils jumped on Chris Carpenter for four early runs, and I was liking the chances of going up 2 games to none on the Cards. But then the unthinkable happened – Cliff Lee blew a four run lead. Granted, he didn’t seem to be at his sharpest last night – he allowed a leadoff triple in the first, and a leadoff double in the second, but managed to wiggle out of those jams. Things would start to unravel in the fourth, when the Cards pulled to within one run, and go further downhill from there.
In the meantime, Carpenter was yanked after three innings, and the parade of relievers must have lulled the Phillies into one of their all-too-frequent offensive stupors.
The Cardinal bullpen yielded only one hit the rest of the way, a single by Jimmy Rollins, which was quickly nullified when Rollins got picked off to end the seventh.
I should have known better than to get too optimistic. After all, the Cardinals are the only NL team to have a winning record against the Phils this year, so I certainly shouldn’t expect this series to be a cakewalk. Also, I’m a Phillies fan – a member of a group of people known for their pessimistic tendencies. I’m pretty sure it must be a chemical they put in our water ;-).
Today is an off day, so let’s hope the Phillies snap out of it, and get back to hitting (and winning) tomorrow in St. Louis. Especially you, Carlos Ruiz, and you, Placido Polanco, both hitless thus far! Let’s get to work!
In my last installments, we had visited San Francisco and Oakland during the summer of 2000. After this, another short break for the birth of kid number two was in the works. Once our quest resumed in 2002, we were off to Toronto to see the Blue Jays play two games in SkyDome.
After dropping the kids off at Grandma and Grandpa’s in northeastern PA, we pointed the car north towards Canada. Instead of making the whole drive in one day, we stopped off in Buffalo to take in a minor league game, and then stopped for the night at Niagara Falls (on the Canadian side – there is much more to do on that side, for some reason). After a little sightseeing the next day, we continued on to Toronto.
Once again, we had not made advance reservations, figuring it couldn’t be that hard to get a hotel room in a major city on a summer weekend. Everybody goes away for the weekends, right? Except that there was some sort of event going on that had everything booked up, and we ended up taking an interior room with no windows. I will never do that again! It was like sleeping in a crypt, it was so dark. You would think we would learn from these things.
The first game we saw was on August 2, against the Baltimore Orioles. Scott Erickson was on the mound for the Orioles, and Esteban Loaiza was pitching for the Blue Jays this night.
Neither pitcher would get a decision in this game. Erickson gave up 7 runs in three innings before being taken out. Loaiza left after 5 2/3, with a 8-3 lead. The Jays’ bullpen proceeded to cough up 6 runs, while the O’s pen had only given up one run. Final score, 9-8, with the win going to B.J. Ryan, and the loss to Kelvim Escobar.
[B.J.?? According to Retrosheet, his given name is Robert Victor Ryan. My mind is going places it really shouldn’t.]
From our seats, we had a great view through the open roof of the CN Tower next door:
Looking toward the outfield, you can see the massive Jumbotron, which at the time was the largest video display in any ballpark. The inside of the open roof is still very imposing, and there are also hotel rooms that overlook the field! The Renaissance Hotel is attached to the stadium, and there are about 70 field-view rooms. There have been a number of instances in which the activity taking place inside of one of the rooms was much more interesting than the activity taking place on the field below. Remember to close your drapes, people!
The next day we took a trip to the top of the CN Tower, located right next to SkyDome. On a clear day the views are spectacular, and we got a neat bird’s-eye view of the closed roof. Boy, is it blindingly white! The shadow of the tower adds an interesting touch:
We went to a second game later that day, again against the Orioles, but since it was a last minute decision as to whether or not to go, we bought the cheapest seats available, way up in the upper level in left field. But since the crowd was a relatively sparse 17,534, it was no problem to wander over behind home plate to get a shot of the entire field:
Chris Carpenter was pitching for the Jays, and Travis Driskill for the Orioles. Carpenter did not have a very good day, giving up 7 runs in four innings. Driskill got the win, and Carpenter the loss, in a 8-4 Orioles victory.
In yet another casualty of corporate naming, SkyDome is now known as the Rogers Centre. Note the spelling – “centre”, not “center”. Remember, we’re in Canada!
After this trip, there would be a three-year dry spell with no new stadiums visited. No, there weren’t any more kids being born! I don’t think there was a specific reason. Anyway, next time we will visit Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (they hadn’t been exorcised yet).
(all photos mine)