Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A tornado and some storm clouds on the field

Where to begin? Two games, one very hot day. The O-Royals played a double header today after last night's game was tornadoed out. (For the record, having to huddle in the basement together is a great way to get to know your neighbors.)

Brandon Duckworth made the start for Omaha, his second AAA appearance of his rehab assignment. After a not-so-spectacular showing last Wednesday that put his ERA at 22.50, Duckworth dominated the Albuquerque lineup. He struck out six over six full innings, walked only one, and gave up one run -- a solo homer in the 2nd. Sadly, the Omaha lineup wasn't able to pony up much help, and was down 1-0 when Duckworth left the game.

Omaha loaded the bases with one out in the 7th -- which was the last inning because it was a double-header, which means we have a 4th inning stretch and it's all on the line in the 7th. The Royals scored on a 2-out, bases-loaded fielding error on the Isotopes' 3rd baseman, but failed to bring in any more offense, so the game went into extras. Thad Markray surrendered 4 runs in the top half of the frame, and that was pretty much the end of things for game one.

The good thing, if there is any such thing, about a 10:35 a.m. game is that not much is expected of the promotions team, so I got to listen in on a lot of great pitcher-to-catcher chat between innings. In spite of all my dugout time, that kind of thing is something I rarely get to hear, so it was fascinating to hear how Paul Phillps thought Duckworth was handling things. (For the record, he thought Duckworth was being too timid on first pitches, and if he'd just have faith in himself and pitch the ball, it would move the way it needed to and Duckworth would get ahead of batters. Turns out he was very right.)

Minor League Baseball doesn't count attendance for each game separately, so they only posted that information for game 2. But I would guess that the attendance for this morning's first game was somewhere around...150. Sigh. Allegedly there were about 3100 in attendance for the second one, or maybe that was a combined total. But it was a pretty darn small crowd for a while. A small, warm crowd, and not warm like a teddy bear. Warm like...it was easily 95 degrees out, and all those great clouds from yesterday were NOT there today. I might be a little burned.

Game 2...Man, what a weird one. John Thomson got the start as part of his rehab process. It wasn't pretty, as he gave up eight runs over 3.1 innings, including a grand slam in the 1st. He also hit two batters. Poor Justin Huber got hit by a pitch in each game, and when he was hit to lead off the 4th inning, home plate umpire Delfin Colon warned both dugouts. Mike Jerschele, who for the record is a great fighter, questioned why on earth the Colon thought Thomson had hit those batters on purpose. Colon responded by ejecting Jersch, which prompted Craig Brazell to come out from the on-deck circle and fight the good fight for his manager. Well good golly, that just about sparked a bench-clearing brawl. That's one of the few things left on my list of basebally things I dream of seeing, but it did not happen today.

A few innings later, Thomson was still running his mouth the umpiring crew. The threat of ejection didn't bother him, as he had already come out of the game. It was kind of awkward to be around grown men bickering like that, and a little bit scary too. Thomson is a mean-looking fellow. However, I was totally on his side, as there's no reason in frozen hell that he would have hit those guys on purpose -- he's trying to rehabilitate himself, for Pete's sake! Doesn't it stand to reason that he would want to locate all of his pitches accurately?

Gads. Whatever. It's all over, the 'Topes are leaving town, and the Royals can move on with the rest of their season.

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