Friday, June 23, 2006

Game Report: Aquasox vs. Dust Devils - Fister Act

You know, usually seeing a Mariners game and sitting in the upper decks costs me around $25 in ticket plus food, and about an hour of transit time what with walking there from work and bussing home. Tonight I went up to see Doug Fister, the Mariners' 7th-round draft pick, start for the Everett Aquasox. It worked out something more like this:

1 Aquasox ticket, 6 rows from the field: $10
1 game program, so I know who people are: $2.50
2 hot dogs, after the game: $1
Bus fare to Everett: $2.50
Time spent on buses today: 3 hours
Seeing Doug Fister pitch 5 innings of no-hit ball with 9 strikeouts: PRICELESS

Short version: Doug Fister is AWESOME. The first five innings went insanely fast as he mowed down the Dust Devils lineup to the tune of no walks, 9 K's, and one batter reaching on an error. He left the game with a 1-0 lead after Bryan Sabatella stole two consecutive bases and was driven in on a Kuo Hui Lo "infield single". Unfortunately, that was the only run the Aquasox would score for the evening. Ari Kafka continued the no-hitter in the 6th, but Saydel Beltran basically handed the game to the Dust Devils, serving up a single, a home run, and a double on his first three pitches of the night. In the 8th inning he started off with another three consecutive hits, and then Jose Colon came out to allow them to score, and got himself his own four earned runs in the 9th as well, showing that he could throw a fastball in the low 90's, but that he couldn't throw it for strikes. When the dust finally cleared, no pun intended, the Tri-City team beat the Aquasox 10-1.

Doug Fister
Doug Fister is 6'8". No, really.

Reasons I already love Doug Fister:
1) He's like ninety feet tall
2) He's pretty cute
3) He wears high socks
4) He struck out a bazillion guys
5) His name is great for puns

The Dust Devils led off the game by having Anthony Jackson hit a ground ball that bounced up the middle, and Aquasox shortstop Ogui Diaz basically dropped it for an error. Fister retired the next 15 guys he faced, with 9 strikeouts, 2 fly outs, and 4 groundouts. My only notes for the first five innings of Dust Devils at-bats are things like "Holy crap" and "Nice charge in by Pimentel" and "My god, that inning took less than three minutes".

Andrew Kreidermacher matched Fister for four scoreless innings. The Aquasox got a couple baserunners out there, though. In the first inning, Dickey and Lo grounded out, but the big first baseman Joe White hit the ball good and hard into left field that probably would have been caught or picked up by a major-league outfielder for an out or single, but this turned into a double. Pimentel bounced the ball to the shortstop, who dropped the ball, but Bonilla struck out and left White at third.

Adam Moore hit a nice clean single to center to start off the second inning for the Frogs, but DH Jair Fernandez hit a nice easy grounder up to third which became a double play, and Sabatella also grounded out after that.

More baserunners in the third, as Diaz led off with an infield single to second, where Geoff Strickland stopped the ball but pulled the first baseman off the bag with his throw. Gavin Dickey drew a walk. Kuo-Hui Lo grounded to short, and Dickey was easily out on the force at second, but the speedster Lo ran out the grounder and was safe by a split second at first to prevent the double play. Joe White struck out so hard he threw his bat all the way to the backstop on the swing. Pimentel popped out in a short fly ball to second base, which reminded me of a play I made at softball last week, oddly enough.

Bonilla, Moore, and Fernandez were up and down in the 4th. In the fifth, Sabatella led off with an "infield single" where he hit a short fly ball past second base, and Geoff Strickland ran out and right fielder Victor Ferrante ran in, and neither one of them caught it as Strickland fell over, which also reminded me of a play I made at softball last week. Diaz struck out, but by the time his at-bat was over, Sabatella was on third, having stolen both second and third. Dust Devils catcher Ramon Rodriguez really did make a valiant attempt to throw him out both times, but failed. Dickey popped out to shallow right, and after that Kuo-Hui Lo hit a SCORCHING liner to third base; I'm not sure whether to jeer Daniel Mayora for not managing to actually throw the ball to first, or whether I should be impressed that he made the stop and didn't just flee in terror when the ball was hit on a path to decapitate him. Probably the latter. White grounded out after that, but it was 1-0 Aquasox.

I was all psyched to see Fister pitch the rest of the game, and I wondered how many K's he'd get, but when the top of the 6th was starting, I looked up and the righty on the mound had gotten a little shorter and a lot stockier; it was Ari Kafka. Now, Kafka did technically continue the no-hitter, but he was really not that great. Unlike Fister, who was a veritable strike machine, Kafka threw a ton of bad pitches, high, low, in the dirt, you name it. Rodriguez bounced the ball to short and it was bobbled for an error. The Dust Devils gave up an out by having Steve Boggs sac bunt Rodriguez to second. Jackson walked, and while Mayora was up, Kafka threw a pitch that not only almost hit him in the head, but somehow bounced all the way to the backstop. Moore's quick reaction and feet kept the batters to only take one base, and Strickland popped up to shallow left field. Kuo-Hui Lo charged in to catch the fly ball; it might have been foul, might have been fair, and would have been caught by Yuniesky Betancourt if it had been in Safeco. Either way, he got it, which ended the inning.

The Aquasox went up and down 1-2-3 in their half of the 6th. After the inning, a guy came down and handed out coupons for a free bowl of Ivar's clam chowder to the row I was sitting in. Apparently despite how I never win anything at Safeco, I'm now 2-for-2 at Everett, having won a coupon for a free Quizno's sub when I went to Jeff Clement's debut game last year. Go figure.

Saydel Beltran came out to pitch the top of the 7th inning. He's a lefty who doesn't rhrow particularly hard, and the Tri-City batters had no trouble picking up his stuff. Victor Ferrante smacked his first pitch into left field for a single, and then Josh Banda took the first pitch HE was offered and hit it over the left field wall for a home run, which put the Dust Devils ahead 2-1. Matt Repec took the first pitch HE was thrown and drove it to deep right center field, where it hit the scoreboard and actually knocked out the "2" in the hits column before bouncing onto the field; you could see the scoreboard people scurrying to fix the number back up, only this time with a "3", as Repec had a double. Fortunately, Suarez grounded out and Rodriguez and Boggs popped out, but ugh.

With a 2-1 lead, Kreidermacher left the game and Sean Jarrett came in to pitch the bottom of the 7th. Fernandez popped out and Sabatella grounded out, but Ogui hit a clean single to center. After about seventy thousand pickoff attempts, he stole second base, and then stole third as Dickey drew a walk. Dickey also stole second, sort of, as the catcher didn't try to throw him out. Lo walked anyway which loaded the bases, and that was curtains for Jarrett. Devin Collis, a lefty, came in to pitch, and he wasn't even on the printed roster on the scorecard. He got big lefty hitter Joe White to ground out to second. Might as well get Mariners farmhands used to the whole "not scoring with the bases loaded" trick early, right?

At this point the stadium announced that they were selling hot dogs and sausages at buy-one-get-one-free prices, while supplies lasted.

For whatever reason, Beltran stayed out to pitch the 8th, and he still sucked at it, giving up three consecutive hits yet again. Jackson hit to left, Mayora hit to right, and Strickland almost hit it out of the park in center, doubling in two more runs. Finally, Beltran came out of the game, and Juan Colon came in to pitch. My impression of Juan Colon is that he's got a pretty strong arm, but who cares if you throw a fastball in the low-to-middle 90's if you can't control where it's going? Colon tried to pick Strickland off second and fired the ball into center field, and Strickland took third, making it really easy for Ferrante to drive him in on a single to left. Ferrante stole second, and Banda popped out. Repec hit a nice long drive into the gap, but because it was unclear whether it'd be caught, Ferrante stayed at second in case he'd need to tag up, so by the time the ball was dropped and he started running, Repec himself was almost at second. A strikeout and a groundout later, and the score stood at 5-1.

Bottom of the 8th. Bonilla doubled with one out. Moore singled. Fernandez erased them both with a double play, his second GIDP of the evening. Perhaps having your slow-footed catchers DH and bat together in the lineup may not be the best idea?

Now the hot dog offer was upped, or maybe downed, to hot dogs and sausages for a dollar each, while supplies lasted. Given the attendance of 2470, most of which was one elementary school, and gone by that point, it seemed likely supplies would last a while.

Remember what I said about Colon having a great fastball with no control? The board was showing it at 91-92mph, but the first thing he did in the top of the 9th was walk Steven Boggs on four straight pitches. At least it took him six pitches to walk Anthony Jackson. Mayora squared to bunt, and Colon still didn't field the ball in time; by the time he got to it, he looked around at all the bases and couldn't decide where to throw it, and all the runners were safe. At that point I think he'd thrown like 9 balls and 3 strikes, and he added a horrendous wild pitch which scored Boggs. Strickland struck out for the first out of the inning. Ferrante grounded the ball back to the mound, and this time Colon threw the ball past the first baseman (apparently he doesn't even have great control while fielding); while they were recovering it from the foul territory by right field, Jackson scored easily and even Mayora came around from second to score. Ferrante himself made it all the way to third.

Finally they took out Colon, and brought in Jose Suriel, another lefty. Banda immediately hit the ball deep into the hole, and shortstop Diaz got it and threw to first but not in time, so Ferrante scored. To add to the carnage, Repec hit a long fly ball to center for a double, and Banda got to third, scoring on a Suarez groundout after that. Rodriguez hit a grounder deep into the hole too, but this time Diaz was ready for it and fired it to first for the out.

The score was 10-1 going into the bottom of the 9th. Simon Ferrer came out to pitch for the Dust Devils. He had a sort of Japanese-ish motion with a slight hitch in it, which would maybe be for disrupting timing, except he threw slower than Jamie Moyer does. Sabatella got a nice hit to left field, but ended up getting tagged out by a mile at second trying to stretch it into a double. See, Dave Myers is not only the Aquasox manager, he's also the third base coach half the time. Anyway, Diaz walked, but Dickey struck out, and then Lo just grounded weakly to short, and the ball was tossed to second for the force-out, and that was that.

I'm not sure why I bothered transcribing my scorecard, aside from that I direly disagree with the game log as it's noted on -- there are several things that I see there that I'm pretty sure are dead wrong. For example, they don't even have Sean Jarrett out there pitching on their version of the game. Ridiculous.

I should note that the two Aquasox position players I was most impressed by (obviously, the player I was most impressed by was Doug Fister) were Kuo-Hui Lo and Adam Moore. I think Moore did a great job handling the pitchers and recovering from some of those godawful wild pitches and whatnot. Lo has some amazing speed and a good arm, and I like his swing. Dickey also has pretty good speed and a decent arm.

Anyway, if you read this far, you get to be rewarded with another picture of Doug Fister!

Doug Fister
Doug Fister kicks. He also kicks ass.

After the game, I had about 20 minutes to kill before my bus would show up, so I wandered back to the concessions, and not only did they still have dollar hot dogs, when I asked for one, they gave me two for a dollar instead. Yum. While I was walking from concessions to get out of the stadium, munching on a hot dog, I rounded a corner and almost literally was knocked over by two Aquasox players. Minor league games are such fun that way.

And now, it's REALLY past my bedtime, and I need to get up tomorrow so I can drive in to work so I can drive to Tacoma afterwards and see the Rainiers! Yay! I get to see Chris Snelling! Jeff Clement! Hunter Brown! And even a nice side dish of Justin Leone!

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