This is my first attempt at a recap, it is hard work. Please forgive any errors, poor writing, or cynicism. Hope you find it enjoyable nonetheless - Wactivist
Nashville Sounds - 5
Let me just start by saying that I think I now know why we keep pulling people up from AA instead of from AAA. Our boys in Reno just aren't that good. Or, well maybe since we keep pulling all our talent up from Mobile nobody gets a chance in Reno. Chicken or egg, this is the impression I got after watching nine horrible innings against my current hometown Nashville Sounds. I left glad to have seen some baseball, but demoralized that the diamond(back) in the rough I was looking for with my amateur snakepit eyes ... just wasn't there.
I don't want to be so negative though, not yet. So before I go into the game recap, I want to start off with some game highlights!
- Despite ferocious heckling from some drunk "rednecks" (as my friend at the game described them), Starter Billy Buckner had a pretty decent outing. In addition to only allowing 1 run over five innings (and more on that run later) he floated a soft fly ball into short left field to raise his batting average to (according to the scoreboard) .400. A scoreboard error I think, but still it shut the hecklers up right quick.
- SP Travis Blakley, from Australia, is hilarious. He gave a "g'day" to the Buckner hecklers by the dugout and they went nuts because of his accent. Many started mock playing didgeridoo (yeah, they weren't very good at heckling, just loud .. plus they called it an auzzie stick horn when they couldn't recall the proper name) and Blakley couldn't stop laughing at them. Now, I love the guy, 4.91 ERA or not.
- After it all ended, the public announcer let us know that a gentleman from England celebrated his birthday by watching his first American baseball game with us today! Walking toward the cheering crowd sitting with the gentleman at the time, I was half hoping to see Jim taking the piss out of a bunch of Tennesseans, but instead I saw a confused old man trying to understand exactly why the game ended after only 8.5 innings, and not nine. Either way, let's try this trick at some point Jim - could have some fall league fun that is for sure.
- I got to shake Brett Butler's hand after the game. I told him I'd rather see him as our skipper in Phoenix and was pulling for him last week (sort of a lie, I just know I didn't want AJ). He smiled politely and thanked me for coming out to cheer on the team.
On to the recap.
Our favorite son of an infamous Red Sox first basemen didn't start off with much luck.
After a scorelss Aces top of the first another son of fame, lead off man Tony Gwynn, hit a grounder down the first base line just beyond the reach of the slow to react 1B Bryan Byrne, right in front of my excellent third row first base seat. Thanks Bryan. Alex Romero instead had to pick up Byrne's garbage as the speedy Gwynn did his part to turn it into a triple. Gwynn didn't have to stand around long as the Sounds' Escobar poked a line drive to left resulting in a 1-0 deficit for the good guys.
Buckley got out of the inning though with no further damage, save a swipe of 2nd by Escobar that was later erased when C Carlin caught him trying to steal third.
For the next four innings the teams each hung zeros on the scoreboard with both pitchers looking strong. Of note to the readers of this blog was the lackluster performance of our infield. While the THREE errors awarded to our guys didn't come until after Buckner sat down for the night, there were a number of slowly hit grounders that our slow reacting boys were not able to grab. A problem that didn't result in any scoring until best name of the year lefty Jon Countalngus (the hecklers enjoyed it when my companion exclaimed "make him change his name" the minute she saw his jersey) took the mound in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Inheriting a walk from Buckner who was clearly starting to tire, Countlangus was able to retire the next two batters he faced with successive line outs. Then the wheels came off the thing as I had flashes of another Jon fill my pained mind. Yes, I'm talking about Mr. Rauch.
A two out single moved the man on first over to second to give the next better, Jason Bourgeois, two RBI when he delivered a powerful two out triple in the gap. Our first error of the night was planted on 2b Ruben Gotay allowing Bourgeous to hit home. A pinch hitter came in to replace the excellent Sounds starter Burns with a fly out and -..boom. Unless our offense had a miraculous uptick in their production - this game was over. And it was.
The rest of the night saw our final nine batters retired in order. But the pain on the defensive side wasn't as quick.
Reliever Jose Marte escaped the seventh despite a SS Guillermo Reyes error that plated Gwynn who then proceeded to steal second and advance to third on a throwing error by C John Hester. Marte's luck ran out in the eighth though when he coughed up a walk, allowed the man to advance to second on a steal and then to score after a Gillespie double to left. After Gwynn walked and threatened to steal yet again, Butler had enough and pulled Marte for also hilariously named Billy Spottiswood who got us out of the inning.
As our guys walked up for what was to be a routine 1-2-3 embarrassment, I wasn't as upset as I should have been. After enduring eight innings of obnoxious, vulgar, and rarely funny heckling a man with a small child near our section stood up and told the rablerousers to watch their language. The shock and shame among the hecklers was priceless. It was the first time I laughed at any of their hijinks, but their shame at least proved to me they weren't Dodger fans.
When the game was over we saw the bad guys steal three bags from us, our not so good in the field guys committed three errors, our hitters collected only three hits, and left the crowd begging for a ninth K so we could get a (single?) free White Castle slider (disgusting, I don't care what Harold and Kumar told you). At least it was a familiar sight to this die hard D-Backs fan. Sigh.
Despite the suck-town performance of our Aces, I had a great time at the game. Baseball is baseball right? Weather permitting I will try to get to at least a few more of the games during this (my)home stand.
I took a bunch of pictures and uploaded them to my flickr page. Here is the full slide show. It is a new camera and I was mainly playing around with it -- so take them for what they are. Me playing with my camera. In case the slide show below doesn't load - here is a link to the flickr photos - link.