Diamonds in the Desert: A Baseball Blog from Tucson

This Is It.
August 29, 2013, 13:54
Filed under: Uncategorized

The night I have long-dreaded is upon us:  the farewell game for the Tucson Padres at Kino Stadium.  It’s a good thing that beer will be cheap at the Park tonight, as I can see many of us fans longing to drown our sorrows as we say goodbye to our team.  “There’s a tear in my beer…”  Even today’s overcast skies seem prepared to cry on this sadly historic day.  Contrary to what today’s paper suggests, however, I know that we have been just plain ol’ LUCKY that we have enjoyed this franchise here in Tucson for the past three years.  They are not “deserting us” – they were never ours to begin with!  The Padres sent their AAA affiliate here 3 years ago because we had an empty ballpark in which they could play the (anticipated) ONE season while a new stadium was built in California.  Remember?  This team DID abandon Portland (for soccer…sound familiar?) and landed here simply because our Park was vacant (and because of some good legwork by folks like Mike Feder who encouraged a team to come here).  After the deal in CA fell apart there was a moment when some Tucsonan with loads of money could’ve purchased the team and kept it here permanently.  No one stepped up…except for that group from El Paso, who was willing to spend an incredible sum to land a AAA team in a city that once hosted AA ball.  Since El Paso needed time to build a stadium, we were blessed to gain yet another “gift” year with these Tucson Padres.  Through my sadness, though, I’m feeling extremely blessed that we got THREE whole years out of a one-year deal.  And I’m especially pleased that this 2013 team was OURS.  If you have to lose baseball, it’s nice to have it go out on a HIGH note.  And they surely did!  Not only have we seen a competitive, winning team on the field, but they’ve also been kind and friendly with the fans.  Our boys recently won their 73rd game, guaranteeing the Tucson Padres their first winning season.  It is the first time a San Diego AAA affiliate has had a winning record since the 2004 Portland Beavers!  They’re the kind of team you just LOVE to love…and I’ll be watching for these players’ names (and calling them “mine”) for the rest of their careers.  So, 2013 has been a blessing in many, many ways.  But endings still hurt.  (And there is that horrible knowledge that there will be NO baseball here next summer…)  For now, though, let’s suspend this talk of THE END!  The Padres will be playing tonight at Kino Stadium.  They will still have four more games after tonight in the regular season we can follow from afar.  And there is that itsy bitsy chance that they could make the playoffs, deferring the end just a bit longer (we have to win tonight AND Vegas has to lose – otherwise we’re eliminated).  Let’s get ‘em Padres!

Having skipped my first choir practice of the season to greet the Padres on their return for the final homestand at Kino, I couldn’t find a way to skip the SECOND rehearsal…not if I expect to ever sing with this group!  So, sadly, I missed all but the final two innings of last night’s game versus the Reno Aces.  Perhaps that saved me some heartache, as it appears that Arturo Lopez scuffled just enough in the early innings to give the Aces the lead in the game.  By the time I tuned in, the Padres held a one-run lead.  And they won it with that score in place!  Arturo gave up two runs in the third – and was done for the evening.  Greg Gonzalez took the next two innings and held the Aces scoreless.  In the bottom of the fifth, down two to nothing, the Pads put three runs on the board to take the lead!  Chris Robinson, Jaff Decker, and Dean Anna each collected RBIs in that frame.  Matt Andriese replaced Gonzalez on the mound – and promptly gave the Aces a run to tie the game up once again.  This time, Tucson wasted no time in taking back the advantage:  the first batter up, Brandon Allen, took the second pitch he saw and launched it out of the park!  A line drive homer to right!  Pads ahead once again!  Suddenly Matt – who earned a blown save in the top of the inning – was in line for the win!  Brad Brach pitched a scoreless eighth.  Kevin Quackenbush tossed a scoreless ninth. Win for Matt (his third); save for Kevin (his fourth).  No errors in the game, either!  Pads were out-hit five to nine…but hey, we won!  Mixed news in the standings at the end of the day:  Vegas split another double-header in Colorado Springs, erasing that ½ game that they’d used as a cushion in their lead.  We’re still back five games…with exactly five left to play.  Sacramento won last night – they’re two back of Vegas.  Our elimination number is ONE.  A Vegas win OR a Tucson loss will push us out of contention.  Buckle down, Padres, and win tonight!  Final Score:  Tucson 4, Reno 3.

Transactions.  Our LHP Robbie Erlin had a fabulous start for San Diego last night – getting a win to prevent a DBack sweep of the Parent Padres!  Always a joy to see one of ours do well in The Show!  To make room on their roster with Robbie’s call up, San Diego optioned Brad Boxberger back to Tucson.  Aside from that, I don’t see any new moves to share with you today.  But I did find a really thorough article on our LHP Jason Lane and his attempt to revamp his baseball career as a pitcher.  You can read that here.

Final Night Has Arrived!  The Tucson Padres will play their final home game in team history tonight at Kino Stadium.  It still seems ironic that they’re playing against the team we once knew as the Tucson Sidewinders – the Reno Aces (AAA DBacks).  The game will be played at 7:05pm.  It’s Toros Thirsty Thursday!  As usual, there will be one dollar beverage specials from 6 to 9pm.  Don’t forget that college students can get into the Park for just $4 with their college ID, too. Before the game, each member of the Tucson Padres team will be introduced to give fans an opportunity to applaud their winning season and outstanding effort. The Tucson Padres front office will also be introduced on the field before the game to honor their 3 years of dedication.  There will be a silent auction on the concourse where fans can bid on Padres’ game-worn jerseys. The high bidder of each jersey will go down on the field after the game to get it from that player.  Numerous other specials will occur throughout the game.  And after the game ALL fans will have the opportunity to run the bases!  I’ll be there – and I’ll be looking for you, too!  Don’t forget to bring the Kleenex.  I think it’s going to be a heartbreaker, no matter what happens in the game itself.  Sniff!

(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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