I was expecting a rather bigger crowd for a night game at Salt River - the last time I went, I seem to recall they had to open overflow parking on the soccer fields. That wasn't needed tonight, with the small lot in front of the main entrance just about able to hold everyone's cars. I did have to park in the Desert Parking Lot, but that's my fault for getting there a bit late, thanks to work. I think a combination of alternative options e.g. the NFL and ASU football, plus some seriously dodgy weather [walking up from the parking lot someone asked if the game would still be on because of the lightning!]. combined to keep people away.
The official attendance figure was 564, but I'm fairly sure not every one of those was still present by the end, even though the game was played at a mercifully brisk tempo. It was over in 2:21, which is pretty quick for a game where the sides combined for 15 hits, five walks and seven runs. Can't say I minded, having forgotten to dress appropriately or check the weather forecast: shorts and a T-shirt weren't quite cutting it by... Well, I was regretting that sartorial choice about five seconds after stepping out into the Scottsdale drizzle. Still, nothing that hot-dog and couple of Blue Moons couldn't overcome!
As a result, instead of the standard SnakePitAFLFest position behind the Rafters' dugout, shoewizard and I retreated to a more sheltered position under cover of the upper deck, from which to view things. Unfortunately, I'd already missed the first inning, which contained the main source of entertainment as far as the Diamondbacks prospects on view were concerned. Daniel Palka stroked an RBI single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, then stole third-base and came home as the result of a throwing error on the play by the Peoria Javelina's catcher. He seems to have good speed for a big guy, have stolen 24 bases in 31 attempts over the minor-league season.
That hit was it, Palka going 0-for-3 with two K's over the rest of the night (and not looking good on those K's) and our other prospect, catcher Oscar Hernandez, went 0-for-3, though fouled a ball hard off himself first time up, so might have put a damper on his evening. No sign of any pitchers taking part, though I'm unable to decide which of the four Rafters' relievers had the best minor-league name: Beck Wheeler, Brady Dragmire, Chad Girodo or Carlos Estevez? Quality of play was the usual AFL mix: I missed an apparently really good running catch in center by the Rockies' Raimel Tapia, but a very simple ground-ball go right through the legs of Toronto prospect Emilio Guerrero at third.
Salt River scored two in the first, before Peoria chipped away to tie things up with single runs in the fourth and fifth. However. the Rafters retook the lead with a three-run sixth. Chris Bostick led off with a triple, and scored on a sacrifice fly, then Rowdy Tellez of the Blue Jays launched a really long home-run, which almost cleared the top of the berm in right-center, probably a good 440 feet or more. Certainly one of the more impressive shots I've seen at Salt River. Guerrero then somewhat redeemed himself with an RBI double, to complete the scoring, with the Rafters winning 5-2, and improving their record to 7-6, tied with the Scottsdale Scorpions at the top of the Eastern Division.
Not that, it has to be said, we were paying all that much attention to the game, chatting about the prospects for the Diamondbacks this winter - as shoe has mentioned elsewhere, he reckons John Lackey is a possible pick-up for the team during the off-season. But - and he'll probably hate me for telling you this - shoe says he is feeling cautiously optimistic about the team's situation. Yep. I'm not sure the last time shoewizard and optimism were mentioned in the same sentence, but it has been a while! I might try to get out to another game in November - but if I do, think I'll make a better effort to dress for the occasion!