Diamonds in the Desert: A Baseball Blog from Tucson

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)


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