Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Game Report: Aquasox vs. Hawks - Can I Take Your Orta, Please?

Tonight, I hung out with friends from college that I hadn't seen in a while. One's just in town for a few days and had suggested the Yankees-Mariners game, having misread the schedule, so I semi-jokingly countered with the Aquasox-Hawks game, back when I thought Doug Fister was the starter tonight. Well, while ignoring baseball this weekend, I failed to notice that not only did Fister get moved out of the rotation, but Adam Moore and Kuo-Hui Lo and Brian Kappel all got sent up to Wisconsin. Dammit!

Oh well. It was still a good evening to hang out with friends and catch a game, and I did get to see several interesting players on the Hawks, including Jeremy "Jon's Little Brother" Papelbon, Josh "Carney's Son" Lansford, and Tyler "First Round" Colvin.

"Short" version: Billy Petrick got off to a rocky start pitching for the Hawks, and the Aquasox managed to string together a run in the second inning after catcher Chao Wu led off with a single. Wu advanced when Bryan Sabatella grounded into a DP that turned into a fielding error instead, and both of them advanced during Petrick wild pitches during Ogui Diaz and Gavin Dickey's at-bats. Unfortunately, Ricky Orta lost it immediately after that, first giving up a huge home run to Steven Clevenger. Matt Camp got a bunt single, Matt Matulia walked, both advancing when Orta attempted a pickoff but threw the ball into shallow center field. It didn't matter as Tyler Colvin came up, smacked the ball deep into the right field corner, and flew around the bases for a 2-RBI triple, and was subsequently driven in on a Russ Canzler double. The Hawks added another run to make it 5-1 in the 4th, as 1B Elvin Puello was hit by a pitch, stole a base, advanced on a double play, and was scored by a Matt Camp double.

The Aquasox started to make a comeback in the 5th as Petrick tired. Chris Minaker, Joe White, and Curtis Ledbetter loaded the bases on singles and walks, and Chao Wu grounded out but drove in a run, and Sabatella hit a sac fly to drive in another. The score stayed at 5-3 until the 7th inning when Greg Nesbitt came in to pitch for the Aquasox, and he gave up two runs as Camp and Matulia induced infield bobbles and Colvin and Lansford thwacked the ball to left field, resulting in a sac fly and a double. Jayson Ruhlman held the Aquasox scoreless for the next few innings, striking out five in a row at one point, and Tyler Colvin added a run in the top of the ninth by hitting a double to the left field corner, stealing a base, and scoring on a grounder.

With the score 8-3, Jeremy Papelbon came in to pitch, and he got the first two outs easily, but then he suddenly and inexplicably ran into trouble. He walked Ledbetter, gave up a single to Wu, walked Sabatella, and with the bases loaded... walked Leury Bonilla. 8-4. Ogui Diaz bounced a grounder in front of the mound after that, and Papelbon charged it as if to throw home... and fell flat on his face. 8-5. More suspense, but Gavin Dickey hit a screaming liner which second baseman Steven Clevenger happened to be in the right place for, he jumped up and snagged it, and that was the game.

Russ Canzler, about to become Aaron Solomon's last strikeout victim.

I've got a bunch of game notes, but it's late and I'm tired.

Tyler Colvin, despite having lackluster numbers so far for a first-rounder, seemed pretty awesome to me tonight. The kid's got amazing speed, both footwise and batwise. Every ball he hit was hit hard, and he just flew around the bases; I almost thought his triple was going to be an inside-the-park home run for a second. He also made a super diving catch of a Minaker long fly ball into the gap. Between being 2-for-4 with three RBIs, a triple and a double, and two runs scored, I'd say he had a good evening.

However, in all honesty, the game MVP should probably be Steven Clevenger. Starting with that home run which kicked off the Hawks offense, he reached base in all four plate appearances, with a walk, a bunt single, and a real single as well. Despite botching what should have been a double play early on, his instincts were really good for the rest of the game, and he made a lot of good stops, even though they didn't all turn into outs. His catch for the final out of the game was pretty sweet.

There was a funny moment when 3B Leury Bonilla totally dropped a grounder that came straight to him, so he missed out on throwing out Russ Canzler. However, Josh Lansford had started running, and by the time Bonilla recovered the ball, he fired it to second, and got Lansford tagged out. I really wanted to write it down as an error, but technically he did make a play.

Aaron Solomon has a really weird pitching motion. He kicks his left knee up and sort of points his foot out straight at the plate, and comes down on it in a sort of half-twist not-quite-hesitation as he fires the ball to the plate. He was getting low-90's speed according to the stadium radar, and he only gave up one run in two innings on two hits, walking none and striking out three. I really wanted to see Doug Fister, but if they had to have someone else out there, it was good to have someone who was interesting to watch.

Looking up Jayson Ruhlman's stats, I'm somewhat confused by the way he dominated tonight. Or, perhaps not. I mean, before tonight he had 5 walks and 12 strikeouts in 8.1 innings for a 8.64 ERA, and tonight he dominated for three innings, striking out five in a row at one point. The thing is, those 5 Ks were bookended by two walks, a wild pitch, and hitting Greg Halman in the knees. If he can cut down on the other stuff between his K's, he'll be a good pitcher.

Chao Wu doesn't seem like a good catcher, but I'm bad at evaluating it at the A level, I suppose. Let's put it this way -- their team stole five bases and were never caught, and the Aquasox stole once and were caught once.

Apparently Jeremy Papelbon hadn't given up a run before tonight, which makes his awful string of five straight baserunners and two runs seem sort of abnormal. Bad night, I guess, but it couldn't have helped when he fell on his face trying to field a grounder.

I saw Steve Uhlmansiek and Navitidad Dilone charting pitches with a radar gun, and two Hawks pitchers that I couldn't identify offhand sitting a few rows back. Now that I know where to look for these things, it's always fun to try to spot them.

I suppose the highlight of the night for me was when they had a baseball trivia question: "Willie Mays got twelve Golden Glove awards in a row from the inception of the award. Who is the only other outfielder to receive twelve consecutive Golden Gloves?" I thought about it for a minute and said, "I bet it's Roberto Clemente or someone along those lines," and my friends disagreed -- keep in mind that we all went to college in Pittsburgh -- and sure enough, I was right. I guess it's just that Clemente's been on my mind lately -- I'm even thinking one of the recent books on him might be a good book club book soon -- but despite dying so young, he did have a long and amazing career in almost every way possible.

Some people were trying to follow tonight's Mariners debacle over the radio and such. It sounds like it sucked, due to umpire calls and due to the suspense of an hours-long rain delay just as the game was tied. I'm glad I was up in Everett. Despite that I know these guys are the future of the club, I don't feel as emotionally invested in whether they win or lose; I'm just there to watch some kids play baseball. I could enjoy good plays, pitches, and hits from whichever side made them.

No comments: