I was two Stella Artois down by the time we arrived at the ball-park, courtesy of dinner at the nearby Buffalo Wild Wings. A third beer, this time a Blue Moon, was immediately added, in solidarity with imstillhungry95 who (as his name implies) had recently reached legal drinking age. It would have been churlish not to have bought him his
first second tenth what the hell have you been doing over the past week, ish95? legal beer. A fourth adult beverage was added in the later innings, purely in order to get Mrs. Snakepit the hot chocolate she needed, the temperature at Salt River Fields having dipped into the frozen wasteland of the sixties. What loving husband could possibly do less?
So, incisive commentary and detail will be found somewhere else. Here, we'll just be celebrating the Rafters' walk-off win in the 11th inning over the Javelinas, a victory that takes Salt River back to the top of the Eastern Division of the Arizona Fall League, one game ahead of the Mesa Solar Sox, with four games left to play before the championship contest, next Saturday at Scottsdale. Tuesday's contest in Mesa could be particularly pivotal, after tonight's contest at Salt River Fields, which saw the Rafters fall behind the fourth, then take the lead in the fifth, only to let that slip away, before prevailing on a one-out RBI single from Brewers' catcher Jacob Nottingham in the 11th.
The starter for the Rafters was Diamondbacks' prospect Josh Taylor, who by coincidence we had also seen in our previous AFL outing at Glendale. He wasn't quite as dominating here, managing only three strikeouts over his five innings of work. But Taylor was almost as effective, holding the Javelinas to two hits, one walk and an unearned run over his five innings of work. We didn't get to see any of the other Diamondbacks on the Rafters' roster, which is a shame, as we particularly wanted to see K-machine Jared Miller. The hitters on view - 3B Dawel Lugo and LF Jamie Westbrook - combined to go 1-for-10, Westbrook getting the only hit.
But, hey: this was a night where we were simply hanging out at the ballpark with other SnakePitters, which renders the line-score and the final result largely irrelevant, given the pleasant company. We managed to score some free tickets as we approached the box-office, which is always nice, and the relaxed AFL atmosphere was no different from usual, with a particularly youthful crowd demanding balls from the players, every time they approached the dugout. The announced crowd, on Military Appreciation Night, was fractionally above two thousand, which seemed to overwhelm the single concession stand open, as shown above,
Hence, I can't really comment on the three-run Rafters' fifth inning, since I missed the entire thing in line at the stand, helping Mrs. SnakePit avoid the onset of hypothermia. They'd also run out of Blue Moon, so I had to make do with a Redd's Apple Ale. I am still trying to figure out what "Apple Ale" actually is [thanks, Bill!], and whether that is different in any meaningful way from "cider". But it's all part of the experience, as we enjoyed the last professional baseball we're going to see in 2016. It was fun, and after the strains we've all experienced during the last week, offered a very welcome escape.
Baseball is still brilliant, and we'll miss it when it's gone.