Diamonds in the Desert: A Baseball Blog from Tucson

October 7, 2017, 15:09
Filed under: Uncategorized

To My Friend who checks in here on occasion:  thank you for your support!  It’s a treat to see your visits in my daily stats!  And while I still love and follow baseball like crazy, I just haven’t had the heart (or time) to blog one team as I once did.  Part of what gets me jazzed about writing a blog is when I can SEE (in other words attend) a lot of a team’s games AND follow them the rest of the season via radio broadcasts.  So, while I listen to the Arizona Diamondbacks on a daily basis on radio, I rarely SEE them…and so can’t quite get as passionate about writing as I need to sustain the blog.  And, while I could be in the park and SEE the Pecos independent league Tucson Saguaros, none of their games were easily available for my listening pleasure…making it difficult to know what was going on except for those times when I was there.  (There were, as always, some incredible young men playing for peanuts on our team!  I wished information was more readily available because their efforts deserve to be highlighted!)  So, I am stuck: still loving the game daily, but not passionate about a team to cover it in my blog.  Sorry to let you down, but thank you for checking in!


There’s A New Team in Town!
May 20, 2016, 16:25
Filed under: Uncategorized

TEAM Photo, 2016 Tucson Saguaros

Last night at Kino Stadium Tucson met its latest pro baseball team, the Tucson Saguaros, of the Pecos (independent) League. Pre-season publicity has been next to nonexistent, so I have a lot of catching up to do if I’m going to blog effectively, but it was a thrill to see a bunch of young athletes dressed out in uniforms bearing the word “Tucson” on them. OUR team! And, in their inaugural season on opening night, they notched a big WIN into the history books (11 to 4). Both the Saguaros and their Santa Fe Fuego opponents showed a bit of early season awkwardness (Fuego ended with more errors than runs), but the kids had energy and already seem to be a cohesive team unit. The field was in excellent condition, the moon was nearly full, there was beer and food…a perfect evening of baseball fun! True, there are signs the team is operating on a shoestring budget. True, there weren’t very many fans in the stands. But also true: our new team played with heart and enthusiasm. They’re going to be a joy to follow this season: I hope you’ll check them out! They only play at Kino Stadium on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. You’ll find them at Bisbee on Sundays and on the road the rest of the time. First pitch at 7pm; GA tickets (and almost all seats are GA) are $7.50. Check them out, baseball fans!

More info here: (and follow them on Facebook!)

(Disclaimer – This posting has not been reviewed or approved by Pima County, the Tucson Saguaros, Pecos League, or any other baseball official and represents the views and biases of the author alone)

I’ve Got the “No Baseball” Blues
March 17, 2014, 14:35
Filed under: Uncategorized

It is March. The weather here in Arizona is absolutely gorgeous. Everything about today whispers, “baseball is back – take heart!” But for the first time since I moved here in 2002, there is absolutely NO professional baseball to be found in Tucson. None now and none on the horizon (well…there will be a four-game reprieve as the former Tucson Padres play the former Tucson Sidewinders at Kino Stadium beginning April 11th – more info on that follows). For a die-hard baseball fan, this is a very hard season to face. Apparently the Cactus League is doing its usual thing up in the Phoenix Metroplex…but it is quiet in Tucson. Of course we knew this was coming, as the former Tucson Padres (now the El Paso Chihuahuas) decamped after new ownership stood up to take the team to a new park in Texas… And major league schedules made it impossible to schedule a couple Spring Training games in town for this new season… Yes, we knew it was coming – but darn, it still hurts!

And so I’ve watched the scoreboards and noted transactions with mild interest from afar…feeling detached from the game I love to watch in person. And I’ve even grown uncertain about what major league team I’ll “care about” this year. And there’s a blogger’s irony here: for the first time ever, two new folks are following my blog whom I do not even know – and they are, sadly, getting absolutely NOTHING in return for doing me the “honor” of following my blog. All those years I wrote my heart out…and they only find me now, when I’m taking a somewhat involuntary year (at least) off. Because, you see, I only care to blog a team I can see and support LIVE. So this blog will languish for at least a season and then we’ll see if I care to regroup – if I miss the blog activity enough to follow and chat about some distant major (or minor) league team. Time will tell. Thank you for checking in. Maybe next year there will be something NEW here!

Before I go, let me share some info on the upcoming PCL series here in Tucson next month.

El Paso vs. Reno…at Kino Stadium!  Here’s some information from a recent press release about the four-game series that’ll be played in Tucson next month:

The El Paso Chihuahuas (San Diego Padres) and formerly the Tucson Padres, will play the Reno Aces (Arizona Diamondbacks) at Kino Stadium on April 11 – 14. Pat Murphy will manage the Chihuahuas; Phil Nevin the Reno Aces. The Chihuahuas begin their inaugural Pacific Coast League season on the road with eight road games – Reno (4/3 – 6) and Tacoma (4/7 – 10).

Alan Ledford, President of MountainStar Sports Group, said “After meeting with the City of El Paso Project Manager, MountainStar Sports Group has elected to move the home opening day for the El Paso Chihuahuas in the new downtown ballpark to Monday, April 28th”.

Ledford said that the adjustment of the home opening date will allow construction crews the critical time required to prepare the ballpark for “a great experience” on April 28th. Public safety components, concession spaces, and state-of-the-art amenities will be finalized during this time.

Long time Tucson Triple-A General Manager Mike Feder will oversee the Tucson operation. Tickets are on sale at Kino Stadium. You can also call (520) 434-1367 for more information after that date.

Maybe I’ll see you there!

(Disclaimer – This posting has not been reviewed or approved by Pima County, the City of Tucson, the El Paso Chihuahuas, San Diego Padres, PCL, MiLB, MLB, National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority, or any other baseball official and represents the views and biases of the author alone)

Final Two Are in the Books
September 2, 2013, 16:46
Filed under: Uncategorized

According to my calculations, this is my 133rd post of the 2013 season and the 466th since I began this blog 7 years ago.  It’s been exhausting and exhilarating “work,” merging my love for baseball and my joy in writing.  Thank you, dedicated followers for keeping tabs here – through three different Tucson teams and a TON of different players.  I’m uncertain what I’ll do with this blog in the future as baseball leaves Tucson without a team for at least the 2014 season.  You may find a few posts in the next month or so following transactions affecting our Padres…and perhaps some updates on the PCL playoffs, but the long-term future of this blog is still up in the air.  We’ll see what develops.  But RIGHT NOW, I have work to do!  We can’t miss the final two games, can we?  And man, did Tucson do them up right!  They won both final games with ninth-inning come-from-behind drama.  Last night’s game gave Tucson its 3,000th AAA win.  Isn’t that a fitting milestone to accomplish!  Our Pads just had to add one more to the tally, however.  Sure it’ll look a bit less “pretty” with 3,001 wins, but I like the fact that with today’s win the Tucson Padres ended the season TEN games above .500 for the first time in team history.  A lovely way to end the T-Pad era, don’t you think?  Here’s a quick look at both final games.

Sep 1st, Final Score:  Tucson 3, Las Vegas 2.  LHP Jason Lane took the start for Tucson, facing a Vegas team that looked a little different from previous games.  Going to the playoffs, the 51s rested some of their critical players and gave a spot-start to a pitcher called up from AA just for the game (RHP Greg Peavey).  The Pads struck first in another low-scoring contest, putting up a run in the second on an RBI fielder’s choice hit by Jonathan Galvez, scoring Mike Wilson who’d walked to lead off the inning.  Vegas answered with a run in the fourth, but Tucson added another go-ahead run in the sixth.  This time, my man Ben Francisco hit an RBI double to bring home Gregorio Petit.  Vegas tied the game up with a run in the seventh.  Both starters out of the game – both allowed the two earned runs against them.  Lane was not only effective on the mound, by the way, but at the plate.  He’s the first player I can recall who had a perfect evening, going three for three at the plate!  Yes – our PITCHER!  (Well, he used to play OF, so it’s not AS crazy as it sounds, but still!)  Brad Brach took the eighth and stranded a couple of batters who reached with hits and Tucson was back out there for the ninth, against 51 D.J. Mitchell.  I was so excited when our Pads played perfect little ball in that ninth inning!  Scott Moore led off with a walk, Galvez bunted him over, and Cody Decker (who was catching last night) brought him home with an RBI single!  It was all we could get…but also all we needed!  Miles Mikolas took the bottom of the ninth – now a save situation – and he was powerful out there in his return from the DL!  He faced only three batters – struck out two!  Pads win!  The 3,000th victory in Tucson’s AAA history!

Sep 2nd, Final Score:  Tucson 5, Las Vegas 4.  Balls were flying at Cashman Field in today’s day game.  Jaff Decker stunned the crowd as he led off the game with a solo homer to kick things off!  Our starter Arturo Lopez allowed a Vegas run in their second inning, but Tucson came back with two runs – on a two-run homer by Cody Decker – to take the lead yet again.  Lopez then allowed a two-run homer to Vegas’ Jamie Hoffmann, tying the game yet again.  A variety of relievers followed and the game settled into a fairly scoreless affair…until our reliever Greg Gonzalez gave Vegas a go-ahead run in the seventh inning.  It was starting to look grim – though I liked the symmetry of ending the season on that 3,000th Tucson win – as Tucson just couldn’t get guys in after a runner would get on base!  The ninth rolled around…C Eddy Rodriguez leading off.  He gets a single which brings the pitcher’s spot up to bat.  I absolutely LOVED Manager Pat Murphy’s choice of pinch-hitter!  None other than starting pitcher, Sean O’Sullivan!  Sean got it done!  He hit an RBI double to tie the game!  Murph then replaced Sean with pinch-runner Gregorio Petit.  Jaff advanced Petit to third with a perfect sacrifice bunt and Daniel Robertson came to the plate.  D-Rob hit a sacrifice fly deep enough to score Petit – Pads ahead by ONE!  Dean Anna – who ended the day one for five, potentially threatening his shot at the PCL batting title – ended the inning with a groundout.  Save situation again…time for Miles Mikolas again.  This time Miles had an outing that I think of as more consistent with his “history” – and has made me pull my hair out – as he allowed two hits before finally ending the game with a Tucson win!  Pads win the game AND the series – and end their season 10 games above .500.  Thank you, Tucson Padres!!

Transactions.  Yesterday, when San Diego recalled LHP Tommy Layne and C Chris Robinson, Tucson was able to activate both RHP Miles Mikolas and INF Jesus Merchan from the DL.  Both had the opportunity to play in the final games of T-Pad history.  Today, San Diego added RHP Burch Smith to their roster: the third T-Pad to join the Parent Unit with a September call up.

Batting Title.  If you’ve followed the team lately, you’re probably aware that our Dean Anna has been leading the PCL in batting average.  The two closest contenders were also playing in games today…but have also just finished.  It would appear that OUR Dean HAS won the Champion Title with a .331 batting average (over the Sky Sox’s Chris Owings who made a run at Dean today and reached .330!).  Congratulations to Dean on yet another well-deserved award in his amazing, breakout season!  (I’m still looking for a San Diego call up for Dean, too!)

Playoff Preview.  The PCL playoffs will kick off on Wednesday.  Southern Division-winning Las Vegas 51s (AAA Mets) will begin their best of five series against the Salt Lake Bees (AAA Angels) in Utah on Wed.  In the American Conference, the Northern Division went down to today to go final:  the Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA Royals) will play the Oklahoma City RedHawks (AAA Astros) in that Conference battle.

Next Up:  Vamos a Tucson Mexican Baseball Fiesta!  Don’t forget that the Tucson Padres staff will be hosting the 3rd Annual Mexican Baseball Fiesta at Kino Stadium on October 3-6, 2013. This year’s event will include the Naranjeros de Hermosillo, Tomateros de Culiacan and Yaquis de Obregon of the Mexican Pacific League, as well as a group of instructional league players in the Los Angeles Dodgers and Kansas City Royals organizations.  These Fiestas are great fun – and October baseball in Tucson is simply gorgeous!  I hope to see you there!

At the End…My Thanks.  I wanted to take a moment to thank a number of folks who’ve made Tucson Padres baseball possible – and such a joy to follow.

First of all, to General Manager Mike Feder and all his staff:  thank you for your vision and hard work in bringing the AAA Padres here 3 years ago for their temporary “visit.”  I hope you’ll stay at work trying to bring us more baseball in our future – if anyone can do it, it’s you!  You and your staff have done a magnificent job providing outstanding events and promotions and very reasonably-priced baseball entertainment.  Thank you so much for that!

Groundskeeper Andy Beggs needs a shout out and thanks!  I’ve watched a lot of years of baseball at Kino Stadium but have never seen the field kept as beautifully as Andy has done!  I honestly thought it couldn’t be done – yet you’ve managed to make our baseball field a source of pride, rather than an embarrassment – even during our dry, hot summer months!  Well done!

Broadcaster Tim Hagerty has been the soundtrack of my summer evenings for the past 2 years.  On those evenings when I wasn’t at the ballpark, I was tuned into Tim’s broadcasts, taking notes, and emailing questions.  Thank you for your clear, fair, and accurate play-call…but more importantly, thank you for taking time to answer my questions and for all your support in my blog work!

Of course, I want to thank Manager Pat Murphy and all this year’s Tucson Padres.  Murphy did a classy job with this team and I think they responded to his leadership.  As a group they seemed to like each other and enjoyed playing this game together.  The results speak for themselves, I think: a solid winning season!  Not only good on the field, they were friendly with fans – very approachable and fun to interact with.  This was a team that you love to love…and that makes it all the harder to say goodbye to them!

Last, but certainly NOT least, I want to thank Director of Game Day Operations Debbie Clark.  Tucson thanks you for your 13 years of hard work behind the scenes making the game-day experience comfortable and fun for fans.  But I also thank you for putting up with me for the 5 years I had the distinct pleasure of being a part of your staff.  Working for the Tucson Sidewinders really lit my love for baseball on fire – and I SO appreciate your making that happen.

1 - East to El Paso Next Season

We ARE Done Here.  Our team will head east for 2014…with no new baseball team on the horizon for Tucson baseball fans.  Time to worry about that absence later!  For now, check out this very nice “farewell” Broadcaster Tim Hagerty used to close out the final Tucson Padres broadcast this afternoon.  Have the Kleenex handy if you’re a real fan!  Goodbye

(Disclaimer – This posting has not been reviewed or approved by Pima County, the City of Tucson, the Tucson Padres, Tucson AAA Baseball, San Diego Padres, PCL, MiLB, MLB, National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority, or any other baseball official and represents the views and biases of the author alone)

Aliens Clinch Division Title
September 1, 2013, 15:25
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gee, the joint was jumping at Cashman Field last night!  Eight of the teams’ combined 14 runs were scored on home runs…ALL of Tucson’s runs came in on homers!  That after a night when there was minimal offense at all…last night was much more like you’d expect at Las Vegas.  The 51s started the scoring drive with a solo home run against our starter, Keyvius Sampson, in the first inning.  Tucson took control of the game with Brandon Allen’s THREE-run homer in the third!  Vegas tied the game with two runs (no homers that time) in their half of the third, and went ahead with a solo homer in their fourth.  Vegas went to their pen after Mike Wilson smashed a two-out double in the fifth, and John Church gave Allen a perfect pitch which he launched for a homer to put up another two Tucson runs!  Vegas – playing like a team that needed just ONE win to clinch the franchise’s first Division title since 2002 – added another two runs in their fifth to take the lead again.  They added another two for good measure in the seventh.  The Pads answered back with another run – a solo homer hit by Gregorio Petit – in the ninth, but couldn’t make up the deficit to win the game.  But even before Petit’s dinger – as our leadoff batter went to the plate in the ninth – Broadcaster Tim Hagerty had excitedly announced to his radio listeners that Tacoma had shutout Sacramento for a win:  Las Vegas had clinched our Southern Division!  Don’t know if the team and/or fans were aware of that…but it was neat to hear the fans at Cashman Field cheer and holler after the win, when the PA dude announced their “Las Vegas 51s, Southern Division Champions!”  Wish it’d been Tucson, but am happy it wasn’t Sacramento.  Let’s look at some highlights from last night’s game.  Petit!  He was four for five, with a homer, an RBI and two runs-scored!  Allen!  Two for four with two homers, FIVE RBIs, and two runs-scored!  Sampson took the loss – his third as a Padre – for four and two-thirds innings of work.  He allowed six runs on nine hits (NO walks!).  Dan Cortes tossed one-third inning – scoreless.  Matt Andriese took two innings and allowed two runs on two hits and two walks.  Brandon Kloess took the final inning and held the 51s scoreless.  Only two more games in this 2013 season…hard to believe the end is near.  My final hope for our Padres:  that they’ll win this series by taking these final two games in Vegas.  If they do that, they’ll also FINALLY get their record higher than the nine games above .500 that has been their season high.  Go Pads!  Final Score:  Tucson 6, Las Vegas 8.

Transactions.  Yesterday, San Diego activated RF Kyle Blanks from the DL.  To make room for him on their roster, the team optioned RHP Anthony Bass back to Tucson. In today’s first day of roster-expansion callups, San Diego recalled both LHP Tommy Layne and C Chris Robinson!  I’m especially excited that C-Rob is getting another chance in The Show.  I hope this time he’ll actually get into a game!  I don’t see a transaction sending us an additional catcher…I guess Cody Decker will get that chore in these final two games of the season.  This article suggests that Brad Boxberger and Brad Brach will likely be recalled next – possibly on Tuesday (after the PCL season is complete).  Bass will likely go back up with the Brads, too.  I’m still hoping San Diego will take Dean Anna this month – of all our players, Dean has really made a name for himself this season.  He deserves a shot at the Bigs!

Gone, but NOT Finished.  The Tucson Padres are playing their final series of the 2013 season in Las Vegas against the 51s (AAA Mets).  That series continues tonight at 7:05pm.  The season finale tomorrow will air at 12:05pm.  You can catch both of these games on 1290AM The Source or live-streaming off the Tucson Padres website.

(Disclaimer – This posting has not been reviewed or approved by Pima County, the City of Tucson, the Tucson Padres, Tucson AAA Baseball, San Diego Padres, PCL, MiLB, MLB, National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority, or any other baseball official and represents the views and biases of the author alone)

Like a Mirror
August 31, 2013, 12:52
Filed under: Uncategorized

Last night’s game at Cashman Field in Las Vegas had a distinctly familiar feeling to it as both starting pitchers made quick work of their opponents in an excellent pitching duel. It was a lot like the team’s final game at Kino Stadium…including the way the home team (not us!) got one mid-game run to take and hold the lead.  Our Sean O’Sullivan did a fine job for Tucson, going eight complete innings and allowing that one run (a single, a sac bunt, and an RBI single) in the fifth inning.  Sean didn’t have his strikeout machine working last night, but did hold the 51s to the one run on six hits and two walks.  His opponent on the mound, Rafael Montero, had an outstanding outing!  In his six and one-thirds innings of work he allowed no runs on only three hits and one walk. He struck out eight Padre batters and was able to sit our team down one-two-three in three innings.  Like the previous night at Kino Stadium, this game didn’t look like the “typical” game in Vegas – parks known for being much more hitter-friendly.  Vegas began putting relievers in the game in the seventh inning, but the Pads were still unable to get anything going against Tim Byrdak or (former T-Pad) Greg Burke.  That brings us to the ninth inning.  Jaff Decker first up for the Pads against new reliever for the 51’s, Justin Hampson.  Jaff gets a single!  Only our fourth hit of the night!  Daniel Robertson then executed a successful sacrifice bunt to get Jaff to second and to bring Dean Anna to the plate.  Dean got an RBI single!  Game tied!  I was expecting extra innings at that point, but had a pleasant surprise when Mike Wilson stepped to the plate.  Mike had entered the game as a defensive change in the eighth, replacing Kyle Blanks in left.  And making it look so easy, Mike took a ball deep and OUT of the park for a two-run homer!  Tucson suddenly had a two-run lead!  Hampson got the next two outs and Tucson sent Brad Boxberger in for a save.  Brad did it PERFECTLY – he struck out the side for a fast and easy end…and a Tucson win!  Win for Sean (his eighth) and save for Brad (his fifth).  Dean was the only Padres player to get multiple hits – he was two for four with a double, an RBI and a run-scored.  He continues to look good for the PCL batting championship title!  The win took the Pads back to nine games over .500 – I’m hoping that they’ll finally break through that glass ceiling and get 10 (or more) over before the season ends.  You see, I’ve found a solution to my dilemma regarding the standings:  I CAN root for Tucson to beat Vegas AND still hope that Vegas wins the Division.  Because, you see, Tacoma has a say in this thing, too.  Duh.  I swear, sometimes I’m so slow to pick up the obvious!  Last night Tacoma tromped on the Sacramento River Cats!  Two more Tacoma wins and Vegas will clinch the Division.  And since our Pads can’t win the Division, I’ll be perfectly happy as long as the River Cats can’t win it, either!  Go Tucson – Go Tacoma!!  Win win win!  Final Score:  Tucson 3, Las Vegas 1.

Transactions.  I don’t see anything new to report yet today.  It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when San Diego can expand its roster to 40 players tomorrow.  By the way, the game notes I picked up Thursday night from the Press Box indicate that Tucson has been affected by 151 transactions this season.  Wow!

Gone, but NOT Finished.  The Tucson Padres are playing their final series of the 2013 season in Las Vegas against the 51s (AAA Mets).  That series continues tonight at 7:05pm (tomorrow’s game will also air at that time – the final game, on Monday, will be played at 12:05pm).  You can catch all of the remaining games on both 1290AM The Source and live-streaming off the Tucson Padres website.  And I have to say, it’s pretty cool that about 20 Tucsonans went to Vegas to support the Padres in this season finale!  Neat to hear folks cheering there for our guys!  Well done, fans!

(Disclaimer – This posting has not been reviewed or approved by Pima County, the City of Tucson, the Tucson Padres, Tucson AAA Baseball, San Diego Padres, PCL, MiLB, MLB, National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority, or any other baseball official and represents the views and biases of the author alone)

Fun Farewell
August 30, 2013, 15:45
Filed under: Uncategorized

No matter that it was “The End,” I truly did have a great – mostly fun – time at Kino Stadium last night.  Oh sure, there was that catch in my throat during the pre-game introductions of staff and players, but aside from a few weepy moments, it just felt like a great big party…watching our boys play one heck of a tough game along with 8,000 of my nearest and dearest friends.  How ‘bout that?  The Pads pulled over 8K for their final game!  There were cameras and media everywhere (I somehow ended up in a TV interview – channel 9 this time – again!).  I kept thinking, “Doggone it, ya’ll!  Where have you BEEN all season?”  No matter.  They WERE there last night.  Everyone seemed to be aware of the importance of the night for fans…the players – even some who haven’t done so during the season – stopped to sign autographs without complaint and Manager Pat Murphy shared popcorn and chatter with fans each inning as he moved into position to coach third.  It had the feel of a great big group hug.  You sensed that Murph, in particular, would actually miss us as much as we’ll miss him and the team.  That was just wonderful.  I’d run upstairs before the gates opened to thank Broadcaster Tim Hagerty for his work in the booth and for all he’s done to make me feel like “media” this season.  On my way back out, I ran into Reno Broadcaster, Ryan Radtke!  I used to bug him like I currently bug Tim!  We had a great little chat…another bit of closure, since Ryan also broadcast the final Tucson Sidewinders game at Kino Stadium (then known as TEP).  And the game itself!  Whew boy!  A remarkable pitcher’s duel tossed by our RHP Bruch Smith and Reno’s RHP Charles Brewer.  Those two were just plowing through the opponent’s lineups!  Been a long time since I’ve seen so many zeros on the scoreboard!  Tucson finally broke out a bit against Brewer in the fourth.  Both Jonathan Galvez and Brandon Allen hit singles to start the frame and Gregorio Petit brought Galvez home with an RBI single.  That was it!  But it looked like it might be enough as Smith continued to send the Aces back to their seats with no runs-scored.  Both starters worked seven complete innings.  Burch gave up three hits, but no walks or runs – and he struck out TEN.  Superb outing for Burch!  Brewer allowed the one run on six hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts.  At some point in the seventh, one of my fan friends with a smart phone had dialed up the Las Vegas/Colorado Springs game and reported the sad news:  Vegas had beaten COS.  Tucson had been eliminated from playoff contention.  We fans had a lively discussion about whether we should tell Murph the news.  Some felt that he should know a significant piece of info like that.  Some felt that we should let the team continue to play this close game AS IF it could make a difference in their playoff run.  In the end, none of us told Murph the news.  And so we moved on – pitching changes in the eighth.  Brad Brach tossed a scoreless eighth for the Pads, as did Joe Paterson for the Aces.  Brach returned to face the first batter in the ninth…that player singled.  Time for a lefty-lefty matchup:  Murph brings in Tommy Layne.  Tommy walks the first batter he faces (Tucson’s first walk allowed all night long!), but then gets a K for the first out in the inning.  Now Murph needs a righty and he calls on Kevin Quackenbush.  Kevin gets his first opponent to fly out!  Two down!  Every fan on their feet, cheering and quacking (okay, maybe I was the only one quacking…), as Kevin faced the next batter.  I think this threw Kevin off.  Noise and a full house at HOME?  How can this be?  So rattled was Kevin that he walked the bases loaded with the next batter.  But we STILL screamed and clapped and stood on our feet!  Go Kev!!  Quack quack quack!!  Ace’s right fielder, Alfredo Marte at the plate.  He takes a called strike, but makes contact with the second pitch.  Oh no, it deflected off Petit’s glove for a single!  Worse!  Two runs scored!  You could hear the air being sucked out of the crowd – we simply deflated.  With that one hit, Reno now held the lead.  Kevin gave up another walk to load the bases again…but didn’t allow any more runs to score.  Brett Butler and the Aces sent David Hernandez in for our half of the ninth.  Scott Moore led off with a single, but two pop ups and a strikeout later the game ended with Scott stranded on first.  If Vegas hadn’t already done so, our loss would’ve eliminated us from the playoffs.  In fact, for me, the loss was less difficult to absorb BECAUSE the team had already been eliminated.  Tucson goes to Vegas for four beginning tonight…and here’s my dilemma:  I don’t want the Pads to lose, of course, but I’m also not 100% sure I want them to play “spoiler” of the 51’s playoff chances.  Sacramento won last night and remains only two games back of Vegas for first in our Division.  I just do not want the River Cats to win that title again!  What’s a Padre fan to do??  Final Score:  Tucson 1, Reno 2.

Buying a Smile.  Since he joined us from the New York Yankees earlier this season, OF Ben Francisco has honestly been one of my favorite players.  Hard to say why exactly.  He’s got decent numbers considering he doesn’t start in every game, but nothing that jumps out at you.  I’ve just appreciated the times he’s gotten a clutch hit and his calm, laid back manner on the field.  For all that, he’s been one of the more standoffish players from a fan’s perspective.  We have noticed that he seems to be interacting (and enjoying) himself with his teammates more in the past few weeks, but he’s seemed reluctant to interact with the fans.  You won’t find his picture in the team trading card set…and the team photo taken last week indicates that Ben Francisco is “not pictured.”  Is he just camera shy?  A quick Google search shows he has been photographed while part of other teams, so maybe it’s not that.  Perhaps he’s just uncomfortable being in the minors after starting with the Yanks this season?  Who knows!  But I hatched a plan when I heard that the T-Pads would auction off team jerseys after last night’s game!  GM Mike Feder promised fans who won the bidding would get to take the jersey “right off the player’s back,” so I would bid on Ben’s jersey JUST to get a photograph of him with me!  A good plan, slightly skewed by disorganized process of jersey-fan matching, which ended up perfectly!  Check it, folks!  This is Ben Francisco – of your 2013 Tucson Padres – and yours truly last night after the game.  That smile of his was a bit pricey – but SO worth it!  And THEN I got to run the bases!  Gosh, what more could I ask for?

A Smiling Ben Francisco...and Me, too!

A Smiling Ben Francisco…and Me, too!

Transactions.  I don’t see anything new to report yet today.

Gone, but NOT Finished.  The Tucson Padres will play their final four games of the 2013 season in Las Vegas against the 51s (AAA Mets).  That series begins tonight at 7:05pm (the first three games will air at that time – the final game, on Monday, will go at 12:05pm).  Because the UofA football team has its season opener tonight, the T-Pad game will NOT air live on 1290AM The Source.  You CAN catch it live-streaming off the Tucson Padres website.  The final three games will be available on both 1290AM and the Pads web.

(Disclaimer – This posting has not been reviewed or approved by Pima County, the City of Tucson, the Tucson Padres, Tucson AAA Baseball, San Diego Padres, PCL, MiLB, MLB, National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority, or any other baseball official and represents the views and biases of the author alone)