Diamonds in the Desert: A Baseball Blog from Tucson

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)


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