The past week was a really busy one for me. In addition to seeing three different levels of Phillies (AA, AAA, and majors), my son had two baseball games, and the cold water valve in my laundry room broke, sending a geyser of water all over, and down through the floor vent into the finished basement. Fortunately, it broke while I was in the act of turning it on, instead of when I was unaware and off doing something else, so I was able to find the main shutoff valve without too much panicking and minimal water damage. On the plus side, the floor behind my washer and dryer is now cleaner than it’s been in years!
This entry is going to be a bit long, so please bear with me.
Tuesday, May 4 – Lehigh Valley IronPigs vs Indianapolis Indians
The IronPigs held the first of two Education Days scheduled for this month. Education Day just means that the game starts at 10:35 am, and there are lots of school groups in attendance. My own children were, in fact, at school that day; we just had lots of other people’s kids surrounding us.
As they were last year, the IronPigs player head shots were drawings by local school students:
Leadoff batter Rich Thompson looks very serious in this rendition. In need of a little Prozac?
Luis Maza, on the other hand, looks quite happy.
Has John Mayberry been getting the Michael Jackson treatment? He looks a bit pale.
This artist even included Andy Tracy’s stubble.
Not a bad likeness.
Neil Sellers could be forgiven for going 0-for-4 today, since it looks like he might have trouble seeing straight.
Paul Hoover looks rather demonic. Hoover has just been called up to the parent club to replace backup catcher Brian Schneider, who is currently on the DL.
Brian Bocock, that is not a good batting average!
Drew Carpenter, hitless so far this year (he didn’t get one this day, either).
Dewayne Wise needs a neck reduction!
The IronPigs were hosting the Indianapolis Indians, AAA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Drew Carpenter started for the ‘Pigs, giving up one run in six innings, striking out five:
Carpenter was opposed on the mound by Daniel McCutchen (no relation to Andrew – obviously). He makes pitching look almost painful with this expression:
Paul Hoover is out at second, but the throw from Indians shortstop Argenis Diaz was not in time to turn the double play:
No IronPigs game is complete without the Pork Racers – Hambone, Chris P. Bacon, and Diggity:
John Mayberry is safe at second on a steal attempt:
Mike Zagurski came into the game in relief of Carpenter. I recall listening to the radio broadcast of his major league debut a few years ago, when Larry Andersen described him as looking “a little Kruk-y”:
Antonio Bastardo was called upon to get the final out of the eighth inning:
Scott Mathieson came in to close the game and get the save. Mathieson is attempting to come back from not one, but two, Tommy John surgeries. He looked pretty good, hitting 95 and 96 mph on the stadium radar gun (though who knows how accurate those are?):
Final score: IronPigs 3, Indians 1.
Wednesday, May 5 – Phillies vs Cardinals
Finally, my first Phillies game of the season! Not only that, but we had some amazing seats (thanks, Eric and Michelle!), just past the Phillies dugout in the fifth row. We missed the first inning, however, due to absolutely nightmarish traffic resulting from simultaneous Phillies and Flyers games. I hate when (hmph!) secondary sports like hockey interfere with my plans!
Nonetheless, with adult beverage in hand, we settled in for the start of the second inning. Kyle Kendrick was on the mound, and he pitched masterfully for seven innings, scattering six hits and giving up no runs:
The Cardinals countered with Brad Penny, shown here rockin’ the high-socks look. The little white blur is the ball going past him:
Brendan Ryan led off the third for the Cards, and was called out at first on this play:
I think the Phils got a lucky break here, as it sure doesn’t look like Howard has the ball yet. This brought Tony LaRussa out of the dugout for the second time in the game. He had earlier come out in the second inning to argue Colby Rasmus’ being called out at third on an attempted steal. Unfortunately for LaRussa, both arguments were to no avail:
Placido Polanco got the Phils on the board in the fourth with a two-run homer. Shane Victorino was on base at the time, and congratulates Polanco as he crosses the plate. Victorino would also hit a solo homer in the sixth:
Chase Utley prepares to field a ground ball:
Cards third baseman David Freese tracks down a popup in foul territory. The expressions on the faces of the fans in the vicinity of the play are priceless:
Is Albert Pujols pondering the Cards’ lack of offense in this game? The Phillies pitchers kept Pujols in check through the first three games of the four-game series, with Pujols going 3-for-13 with no RBIs:
Chase Utley makes the pivot on a 6-4-3 double play to end the top of the seventh:
Danys Baez and Jose Contreras pitched perfect eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to close out the victory for Kendrick.
Final score: Phillies 4, Cardinals 0.
Saturday, May 8 – Reading Phillies vs Akron Aeros
The Reading Phillies were holding their annual Spam carving contest this past Saturday. I had no intention of taking part in this, I just simply planned on snapping a few photos of other people’s Spam creations.
My daughter, motivated by the prospect of the $250 prize, had other plans.
At her urging, I handed over the $5 entry fee (proceeds benefitting a charity called Opportunity House) and we received our can of Spam. What to carve? I was a bit unprepared, as I’ve mentioned, this was not part of my original plan. We decided upon the R-Phils mascot, Screwball.
Step one: figure out how to get the Spam out of the can intact. Eww. My experience with Spam ended many years ago during childhood, when my mom would occasionally serve it. I have never willingly touched Spam since then.
Let’s just say it’s a bit, um, slimy. Best not to think about what’s actually in it. It’s also not the easiest medium to work with. And after your hands are covered with Spam juice, it’s not easy to control your carving utensils (a plastic knife and toothpicks).
Anyway, here is our entry, “Spamball”:
Here’s the real Screwball for comparison:
OK, so not a perfect likeness, but like I said, Spam isn’t the easiest thing to work with.
Mmm, a Spamdog!
These two contestants are working on separate halves of what would eventually be the winning entry, “Screwball’s Spamtastic Opportunity House”:
Prior to the winner being announced after the seventh inning, judges narrowed the entries to six finalists. Ours was one of the six! Fans then cast their votes for their favorite. The finalists got to walk out on the field accompanying their entry. Sadly, I do not have any pictures of this, since I was on the field and couldn’t very well take a picture of myself.
The winners, pictured above, got the cash, and the rest of the finalists got a cap and t-shirt as consolation prizes. My daughter claimed the cap, since the shirt was extremely large and would have looked like a dress on her.
I only managed a few pictures of the game, as it was incredibly windy and cold, making it hard to hold the camera steady.
R-Phils starter Yohan Flande:
Aeros starter Eric Berger contorts himself:
R-Phils centerfielder Quintin Berry reminds me of a t-ball player who needs to use the bathroom:
The R-Phils lost, 5-2, though we left before then since it was so windy and cold. The kids didn’t even mind missing the post-game fireworks, they were so uncomfortable.
Whew! Now I’m caught up. Hope to be blogging more regularly this month.
(all photos by me, except the can of Spam)
Just like last year, the Reading Phillies are offering their Kids Club program for kids 12 and under, and amazingly, there is no charge to join. One of the perks of membership is a free ticket for kids to each of seven designated games during the season. How could we refuse such an offer? This past Sunday was the first Kids Club game of the year.
In addition to the free ticket, members of the Kids Club get to take part in a special pre-game activity for club members only. This game’s activity was an on-field photo session with almost all the R-Phils players, with the exception of that day’s starting pitcher and catcher.
Of course, the big draws, top prospect Domonic Brown and newest propects Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies, were at opposite ends of the warning track, with everyone else arranged alphabetically in between. So we needed to make a choice – go to Brown first, or Gillies and Aumont?
We chose Domonic Brown, mostly because I foresee him being promoted from double-A Reading before either Gillies or Aumont. Here are the kids with Domonic:
Domonic generates a lot of speed with those incredibly skinny calves!
We then worked our way around the warning track, stopping for photos with various players, as well as the ever-popular Crazy Hot Dog Vendor. Unfortunately, just before we got to Gillies and Aumont, the photo session ended, as the players had to go prepare for the game. I did manage to snap a quick pic of the two as they headed back to the clubhouse. Gillies, who is legally deaf, wears hearing aids in both ears, and one can be seen here:
After wandering around, getting something to eat, and dealing with minor meltdowns at the gift shop, it was time for the game to start. On the mound for the R-Phils was Yohan Flande:
Flande was sharp through six shutout innings, giving up only one hit and two walks. Not a particularly hard thrower, he kept the Portland Sea Dogs batters off balance all afternoon. Here, Portland first baseman Lars Anderson has not hit the ball, he’s so far in front of it that the ball hasn’t even crossed the plate yet, and he’s already swung through it:
Starting for the Sea Dogs, a Red Sox affiliate, was Stephen Fife:
In the bottom of the first, he walked the speedy Brown, and then hit Tagg Bozied with a pitch, but managed to escape unscathed.
Domonic Brown makes it back to first in time on a pickoff attempt:
Bozied apparently shook off being hit on the hand/wrist (I couldn’t really tell exactly where – Bozied bats right-handed, so his back was to us, as we were seated on the third-base side) as he ripped a two-run double in the third to put Reading on the board.
After six innings, Reading was up 2-0 in this quick moving pitching duel. Then, the relievers came in. B.J. Rosenberg gave up four runs in the top of the seventh, on a solo home run by Lars Anderson, and a three-run homer by Jason Place. The Sea Dogs now led 4-2.
Rosenberg was later placed on the DL with a strained muscle, so maybe that explains the rough outing.
In the bottom of the seventh, Portland reliever Robert Coello returned the favor, allowing a three-run dinger to Tagg Bozied, the hero of the game, to put the R-Phils up 5-4. Bozied had knocked in all five of the R-Phils runs so far. Here he is about to be congratulated by Reading manager Steve Roadcap after his home run:
In the minors, the manager often doubles as the third base coach.
In other game action, Reading shortstop Freddy Galvis fields a ground ball and fires to first for the out:
Tyson Gillies attempts a bunt, but it ended up rolling foul:
Reading tacked on another run in the eighth, and held on to win 6-4. A great day at the ballpark, with the temperature comfortably in the low 70’s, and an R-Phils victory! Now we have to wait until May for the next Kids Club game.
In my last entry, I was a bit pessimistic about the Phillies’ chances against the Mets. In the wake of their being swept by the Braves, I was happy that they’d at least won the first game to avoid being swept again. In retrospect, what was I worried about? This time, the cleat was on the other feet, and the Mets were the ones being swept!!
It does my heart good to see the Mets looking as frustrated as this:
The Mutts, oops, Mets were only able to muster a grand total of 3 runs over the 3-game sweep, as the Phillies won by scores of 7-2, 4-1, and 2-0.
Last night, the Phils opened a 4-game series against the Reds by absolutely erupting
for 22 runs, 10 of which came in the first inning! I almost felt a teeny bit bad for Johnny Cueto, who gave up 9 of those runs in a mere 2/3 of an inning. Amazingly, 8 of the 10 runs came after there were two outs and no one on base!
Cole Hamels gave up a solo homer to Jonny Gomes, but that was it for the Reds. Things got so bad for them, they brought infielder Paul Janish in to pitch the bottom of the eighth, his second such appearance this year. Apparently the first outing was less than stellar, as he gave up 5 runs. This time would be no different, as Janish coughed up six runs, including a Jayson Werth grand slam. Poor Janish now has an ERA of 49.50 to show for his efforts.
Now for tonight. More often than not, it seems that after the Phillies have an outburst like this, the next night they are asleep at the wheel. I hope that this time they can continue with the offensive heroics, and keep their winning streak going.
On Sunday, we took the kids to the Reading Phillies for Kids Club Game #2, where they were happy to receive their Crazy Hot Dog Vendor pillowcases.
There was also a pre-game Mascot Meet and Greet – the R-Phils have no less than 5 mascots! I can understand mascots with names like Blooper, Change-Up, and Screwball (a dog, turtle, and mutant Mr. Red/Met combo, respectively), but I’m not so sure about Quack (duck) and Bucky (beaver). I think it’s just so they have enough to complete the Mascot Band, which performs live before Saturday games.
Yohan Flande was on the mound for the R-Phils, making his second start at AA since being called up from Clearwater.
The Connecticut Defenders (S.F. Giants affiliate) countered with prospect Tim Alderson.
The Defenders would come out on top, winning by a score of 12-5. They ran rampant on Flande and catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, stealing six bases altogether, including two double-steals in the second inning, resulting in two runs scored. Here is one of those runs:
One more favorite shot from the game – in this one, Connecticut shortstop Sharlon Schoop’s bubble bursts, both literally and figuratively, as he is unable to make a play on a hard ground ball that had caused him to stumble while fielding it.
More Things That Make You Go “Hmmm”
On the way home from Reading, we passed a restaurant that was advertising a “Bridal Tasting” later this month. One assumes/hopes that this is a chance for brides and grooms to sample menu options available for rehearsal dinners or receptions. Otherwise, the choice of wording leads to some unusual mental images.
(all photos by me except where noted; erupting baseball is the logo for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes)