Diamonds in the Desert: A Baseball Blog from Tucson

Opening Night!
April 13, 2013, 13:57
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yesterday felt like the longest day of the year!  Chores done early, I sat and watched the clock while pretending to read a book…isn’t it time to go to the ballpark YET?  Even though the day was cloudy (which just didn’t seem a very cheerful way to greet opening day), I couldn’t wait to get out to Kino Stadium to see our Tucson Padres battle against the Fresno Grizzlies!  At last the clocked ticked down to the most reasonable moment for my departure and I was off in a flash, arriving just before the gates opened to lines of waiting fans.  There’s just no easy way to describe the feeling it gives me, each time, to walk through the gates (getting my cool 2013 schedule magnet from this year’s crop of interns) into the ballpark.  Seeing the gorgeous green field ahead of me (while Groundskeeper Andy Beggs and his crew were still hard at work getting the diamond into perfect playing condition), noticing the bustle of staff (from experience I know that opening day is nothing short of a minor disaster or two) and the excitement of the fans…greeting long-remembered baseball fan-friends…feeling the buzz of anticipation.  A new year about to begin!  So what if the home team has already played seven games and lost five: our boys are home!  And it’s always a thrill to see them decked out in their home whites for the first time.

I was fortunate enough to get three friends to join me at the game last night, and we enjoyed the game and fellowship from our reserved seats just to the third-base side of home plate.  Game time temp was a perfect 76 degrees and the clouds began to break up just enough to grace us with splendid sunset colors before first pitch.  These are the days when I love living in Tucson – especially when there’s baseball!  The concession stands didn’t seem to be totally prepared for opening night (oddly that always seems to be the case…and you’d think it’d get better each year), but having arrived early I wasn’t terribly dismayed to have to wait in line for food and condiments.  Before long it was time for pre-game activities, my favorite being the introduction of everyone on both teams (instead of just the starting lineups), immediately followed by the National Anthem.

After Introduction, the Teams Await the National Anthem

After Introduction, the Teams Await the National Anthem

And then the play ball kid shouted, “PLAY BALL” and we were off!  Tucson sent RHP Sean O’Sullivan in for the start, which is a funny thing only because he pitched for San Diego in the Spring Training game I went to in March.  Sean got roughed up in the first inning.  No telling what was going on with him then – because he settled down a lot afterwards – but he allowed four earned runs in that frame alone (one was a two-run homer by Fresno LF Roger Kieschnick – the only homer in last night’s game).  Those four runs would be all the difference in the game.  But I don’t want to make Sean out as the “goat” in the game!  Even though he had NEVER had a professional at-bat before last night’s game, Sean showed himself a deft hand in the batter’s box:  his bases-loaded walk in the second brought in Tucson’s first run of the game…and he brought two more T-Pads home in the fourth with a double!  So the guy may have given up runs, but he was also responsible for the first three runs-scored in the Tucson Padres 2013 home season!  Only CF Daniel Robertson was able to get credit for another Tucson RBI last night – and man, he had some GREAT defensive moves out there in deep center!  Sean ended up with the loss (his first – he got a no-decision in his first start against Salt Lake).  Manager Pat Murphy used three relievers in the contest, two of whom were T-Pads last season.  The one “new guy,” RHP Brandon Kloess, reminded me of a throwback to older days in the game, what with his stirrup socks and his healthy mustache!  Brandon was the only Tucson pitcher who did not give up a run.  RHPs Daniel Stange and Jason Ray (now off the DL) followed, and each allowed one run (though the one against Daniel was unearned).  Both D-Rob and 2B Jonathan Galvez stole a base – and Tucson committed no errors.  It certainly wasn’t a horrible game, though it was disappointing that the home team lost their home opener.  (Well, and because now I’ll have to eat some crow with my Fresno-fan cousin, to whom I talked a little pre-game smack about my team taking the game…)  Win or no, there’s still nothing like opening night at the old ballpark with friends!  Final Score:  Tucson 4; Fresno 7.

Transactions.  As mentioned above, RHP Jason Ray has been activated off the 7-day DL (INF Anthony Contreras remains on the DL).  Tucson also activated OF Brandon Allen (who actually had a pinch-hitting appearance last night).  San Diego has selected the contract of RHP Thad Weber – and the organization has released OF Sawyer Carroll (oh, I hate it when that happens – this may explain why Kyle Blanks is now playing OF instead of 1B).  The Transaction site indicates that RHP Matt Jackson has been assigned to Tucson from Lake Elsinore Storm (High A ball).  RHP Fautino De Los Santos has been placed on the 7-day DL retroactive to April 10th.

Home Series Against Fresno Continues.  The Pads face the Fresno Grizzlies for three more games.  First pitch tonight is scheduled for 7:05pm.  First 2,500 fans through the gate with paid admission will receive a free 2013 Tucson Padres schedule magnet and it’s the first GIANT Fireworks Spectacular of the season!  Tomorrow’s game vs. Fresno is a rare (one of only two) day game, with first pitch at 1:05pm.  It’s Bark in the Park and Military Appreciation Sunday.  You can get more information about these promotions here.

(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)


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