Saturday, March 5, 2005

A Good Friday, but only for the Miracle

We were given Good Friday off because my boss says he used to be an alter boy, one of the few that was not molested, and because, well...the Board of Realtors was closed. So I'm enjoying my long easter weekend at the ballpark.

Having three days to watch games, I had to pick and choose who I was going to watch when. My first priority was to track down Travis Bowyer and find out when he was pitching. He said Sunday,'s Red Wings on Sunday. This left Friday and Saturday to sort out.

I want to watch the rookies one day but I wasn't sure about the college game. Anyway, a couple of the guys on the Beloit squad asked if I was going to watch them play today, to that settled that.

I'm not sure I'm their good luck charm though. Once again it was a slaughter of the Snappers, this time at the hands of the High A Fort Myers Miracle during an inner-organizational scrimmage that ended with a 13-2 score.

Oswaldo Sosa took the start for Beloit and pitched two very solid innings, walking only Justin Arneson and striking out Ryan Spataro and Javier Sanchez.

Meanwhile Beloit drew first blood. J.P. Martinez took the mound for the Miracle, and pitched well in the first. But he fell a foul of high winds in the second. With two outs, catcher Tim Lahey singled and then Javier Lopez got on base after catcher Josh Johnson lost the ball on a third strike call. Patrick Ortiz then sent a flyball to the outfield which got shoved around by the high winds and hit the ground out near center, driving in two runs.

Unfortunately, it would be the only two the Snappers would get.

Sosa came back out in the third, allowing a single to Johnson and then walking Denard Span. Mark Tolbert's high fly to left was also uncatchable as the winds again interfered, and he notched a triple, driving two in and then coming home on Arneson's following sac-play to center. Brock Peterson, who looked to be a threat at the plate, lined out to end the inning.

Bo Pettit, who is in camp on a try out agreement came into pitch for the Miracle. Deacon Burns made it a little hot for Pettit, lighting him up for a homer. Trevor Plouffe then singled, but that was all the Snappers would get out of Petitt through two innings. He issued no walks, and struck out Lahey in the fourth.

Meanwhile, lefty Mike Rogers came in for Beloit in the fourth. "Rock" usually has it going on, but not this afternoon. He issued two walks, a double and a single in the fourth, allowing two more runs, both earned. He also allowed a runner to advance on a wild pitch. He did however strike out Paul Rutgers in the fourth and Mark Zamojc in the fifth. In fact the three batter fifth was a little bit more of what we've come to expect from the Rock.

"Miracleman" has long been a fan of Peter Tautor and was hoping for him to come up back in the 2003 season, but this was my first look at Tautor.

He struck out both Landon Burt and Korey Feiner, but he allowed singles to Spataro, Heath Anderson, and Angelo Fermin, all of which came back to bite him when Paul Rutgers homered. With the bases cleared, Beloit manager Kevin Boles requested the inning be rolled and Tautor came in without a third out, something which made him very unhappy.

Tristan Crawford took the mound for the Miracle, allowing a single to Australian rookie Michael Lysaught, but then shut down the next three batters he faced all on pop-ups, including Burns, who fouled out.

I was somewhat surprised when Tautor took the mound again in the seventh, but he did redeem himself, taking out the three batters he faced, including one strike out to Zamojc.

Kevin Culpepper's parents were at the park today, and he did well by them, taking down Plouffe, John Woodard and David Winfree through the heart of the Beloit line up. Robbie Hebert came in for the seventh inning, striking out Travis Kalin to start, and sending Dwayne White out on a fly ball before allowing singles to Tarrance Patterson and Greg Najac. But he would finish off by striking out Lopez.

Alex Merricks was next up on the mound for Beloit. The eigth inning looked looked good -- three up and three down, but he got into trouble in the ninth. He walked Rutgers, and then hit Zamojc with his first pitch to him. It was not a good day at the park for Mark Zamojc who was struck out twice, and then took a ball to his arm. Arneson singled and then Ramiro Chamizo, also in camp on a try out agreement, doubled to bring in three runs. Boles again requested them to roll the inning, and Merricks came off without only two outs.

The eighth inning was little better for the Snappers. Trevor Plouffe tripled, but Woodard failed to bring him home.

I've long waited to have a chance to see Josh Hill pitch. He was injured at the start of last season and pitched some Gulf Coast League games last season, but given my weekend warrior schedule and the somewhat static pitching rotation in place for the GCL, I never got a chance to see him. Highly thought of in Quad City in 2003, 2004 was probably a disappointment for the Aussie righty. However, I have to say, he worth the wait. He dealt Winfree a fly ball, struck out D-White, and lined out Patterson.

Because Boles optioned to roll the ninth inning, we played ten. Lou Wieben, another player in camp on a try out, pitched the tenth. I was beginning to think we might go to eleven. He walked Rutgers, Spataro, Anderson and Feiner, bringing in another run that the Miracle really didn't need. Then Fermin singled, but I have to call it a fielder's choice as they took Spataro out at home on a really smart play. Burt singled as well, and Fermin was taken out at 2nd. Arneson would have reached on a fielder's choice, but they took Burt out at second to end the inning.

Which left it all up to Hill to end the game.

Greg Najac got a nice little single off Hill to open the bottom of the tenth. Not to let it go to waste, Burns followed him on base. Plouffe, who would end up 2-for-5 on the day flew out. Kalin followed, but Hill issued a walk to Lysaught, giving Beloit three men on base. Unfortunately, Lopez's grand slam hommer turn into an outfield fly ball to end the game.

On the whole, I'm not sure it was great batting by the Miracle squad, so much as it was really bad pitching by some of the Beloit squad. Both Tautor and Weiben are on the Miracle roster, but were loaned to Beloit for the game. I find it interesting that for a squad that has Jay Rainville, Kyle Waldrop, Anthony Swarzak, Matt Fox and Chris Marini on it, plus Sosa and the usually good Rogers, I find myself watching some really bad pitching when I'm watching Beloit.

That being said, I don't care how nicely the boys ask tomorrow, I'm watching the Rookies play.

* I have often said I am easy to find at the ballpark. Just ask Kyle Waldrop's dad. He had no trouble finding me at all. He knows me from the DTFC board and he's also followed the discussion over to Twins Territory now. I feel bad that I've never gotten to see Kyle pitch yet, but as I've previously noted, the GCL schedule and pitching rotation allowed for some pretty stagnent line ups. I heard Kyle groaned a bit when he found out he was facing the Red Sox farm yet again on Wednesday, as he's faced them something like twenty times already. He got in 1 1/2 innings worth of work in the rain shortened game.

* Sean Aronson and Justin Stecz from the Miracle staff stopped by during the game for a chat. Sean reported that shortstop Kaulana Kuhaulua is out with a broken ankle. They also believe that pitcher Jeff Randazzo will be starting with the AA New Britain Rock Cats.

* Travis Kalin's parents were in attendance, parked in lounge chairs under a shadey tree as always. I told them that Elizabethton was going to be a bit of weekend haul for them and suggested maybe they take a week off. His dad said "More like a couple of months off".

* Justin Arneson, who was a free agent signing and whose playing time was shortened in Quad City last year by injury impressed me quite a bit. I could easily see him sticking with the High A Squad this season. Brock Peterson and Paul Rutgers are two guys I'd also like to see on this year's version of the Fort Myers Miracle.

* Matt Moses did not play, but did put in an apperance as "first base coach" and had no problem cutting it up with the Low A coaching staff while he was out there. Very amusing.

* A gentleman asked me after the game if I was the ultimate Twins Fan. I guess he was impressed with my scorekeeping through a minor league game and the fact that number of the players and staff know who I am. "You seem to have quite a following," he said. I cannot lay claim to that title, but I do have several minor league pitchers who have stated in writing that I am the #1 Twins Fan. I am sure there are many of you out there who would like to contest the title, but...who are your references? I do not lay title to either the #1 Miracle Fan or the #1 Rock Cats Fan, however, I am without a doubt the #1 Gulf Coast League Twins fans because's not like they have that many fans in the first place!

* The gentleman turned out to be Trevor Plouffe's father, who thought that perhaps Trevor would make it to the Miracle mid-season this year. We shall see. Right now, I'm expecting to have Jesus Merchan and (fingers crossed) Sam Taylor at short for the Miracle this season. In any case, he said that Trevor had not been playing short as his arm was a little sore from throwing so they gave him five days off and that right now, he's more than ready to be back in the infield line up. I also had a request from Max Bats to get a picture of Trevor for their website, which I set up after the game. Trevor, by the way, is very fond of his Max Bat.

* Today, the Minnesota Twins assigned catcher Gabby Torres, infielder Brent Abernathy and outfielders Todd Dunwoody and Jason Tyner to minor league camp. Righty Pat Strange was released by the Twins yesterday.

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