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Arizona Fall League: Taylor dominates, Rafters prevail

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Diamondbacks prospect Josh Taylor struck out seven over four scoreless innings, and the Salt River Rafters extended their AFL division lead.

This is the first time we’ve been to Camelback Ranch for an Arizona Fall League game, but the atmosphere was the same laid-back one we’ve come to know and love over the last decade or so. The official attendance was 344, so Mrs. SnakePit and I were able to whizz into the (free) parking at 6:30pm, and still be picking our seats out by the time of first pitch at 6:35pm. We opted to sit down behind the Rafters’ dugout on the third-base side, which gave us a good view of D-backs prospect Josh Taylor, who was making his second AFL start. The first hadn’t gone too well, as he had been charged with seven hits and four earned runs in 2.2 innings, so significantly better was hoped for this evening.

And significantly better was certainly delivered, to the delight of a large cheering section to our left, presumably of family and friends, for the Phoenix-born left-hander. He tossed four very solid scoreless innings, allowing one hit and a walk, while striking out seven batters. Taylor wasn’t the only Diamondbacks’ pitcher to see action tonight, as three of the relievers used were also sporting Arizona jerseys: Gabe Speier, Jared Miller and Joey Krehbiel also pitching in this one. Speier was charged with two runs, but could have got out of the inning, but for a checked swing squib that squirted between the first-baseman and the bag with two outs. Miller looked particularly good, working 1.2 innings with four K’s, striking out the side in the seventh, and Krehbiel had a scoreless eighth, punching out two.

There were good efforts on the hitting side too, from LF Jamie Westbrook and 3B Dawel Lugo, who each had two hits, and drove in a run for the Salt River Rafters. Lugo got the team on the board in the third, taking advantage after Glendale dropped a foul pop-up. Westbrook then made it 2-0 in the fifth inning, with a one-out single to right. It did look like Westbrook tweaked something in his final at-bat, ending the top of the ninth, going down at the plate, and leaving the game. However, he did make it off the field under his own team, and was greeted on the top step of the dugout by a team-mate offering a good source of potassium. 1B Kevin Cron also started for Salt River, but went 0-for-4, though was credited with a stolen-base. His night was likely most memorable for the first PA, which included his bat flying further into the stands than I could have thrown it, with a running start...

Good to see Superfan Susan there, with her traditional brand of enthusiastic encouragement, and we also found ourselves sitting in the same row as the mother of Braves’ prospect Dylan Moore, whose two-run homer in the seventh inning broke the tie and made a winner out of Miller. Only at the AFL... The victory pushed the Rafters’ record to 5-2-1, and gives them a 1.5 game lead over the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League East. There was a discussion on Twitter regarding the date for an East-side AFLSnakePitFest, and the decision has now officially been made. It will be Saturday November 12 at Salt River Fields, which is a 6:05pm first pitch. Put that one in your diaries, folks.

Finally, to follow up on a Tweet I sent out during the early going:

As proof of the above, I present the photo below. #TheStruggleIsReal folks...