Diamonds in the Desert: A Baseball Blog from Tucson


Really Bad Night at the Office
August 28, 2013, 14:13
Filed under: Uncategorized

The Tucson Padres had one of a very few seriously “off” nights in last night’s contest against the Reno Aces at Kino Stadium.  The Pads fell in a calamity-filled game in which they tallied nearly as many errors (three) as hits (four) while their pitching allowed the Aces 14 hits and 10 runs.  Tucson’s one run (yes, ONE) came in the fourth inning and scored without a single hit in the frame (walk, hit batsman, fielder’s choice, sac fly).  Jason Lane started strong – and even struck out the side in the second – but was battered by a five-run fifth.  He actually lasted five and one-third innings…and gave up seven runs (six earned).  Tommy Layne followed for one and two-thirds innings with no runs scored against his line.  Brandon Kloess had another iffy night, going one inning and allowing three runs (two earned).  With a blowout at hand, Manager Pat Murphy opted to send C Eddy Rodriguez in to pitch the ninth (our “normal” position-player-pitcher, Jesus Merchan, is on the DL) – he tossed 21 pitches but held the Aces off the scoreboard.  Ugly ugly night of baseball for our Pads.  BUT, good news!  Vegas lost, too!  We remain 5 ½ games behind them.  Sadly, Sacramento won – they crept up a game on Vegas once again – now 2 ½ games back.  Final Score:  Tucson 1, Reno 10.

Aside from the baseball thing, it was actually a wonderful night at the ballpark!  After a week of monsoon sogginess, the air dried and cleared so that the city and surrounding mountains really sparkled.  A heavy mass of clouds to the west gave the sunset just enough moisture to bring out an amazing array of colors in our valley and on our mountain peaks.  A gorgeous evening in the Old Pueblo!  And the ballpark was hopping, as a crowd of over 3,000 fans showed up to enjoy a beautiful evening outdoors.  Perhaps they’ve finally realized that their chances to see live baseball under the stars at Kino Stadium are fading quickly.  Whatever their reason for being there, it was really great to see so many people out at the Park on a Tuesday evening!  We were all tickled to see OF Jaff Decker back in Tucson (though, of course, sorry for his demotion), too.  My friends and I enjoyed ourselves – even though disappointed in the game on the field – and I added a couple of baseball highlights to my memory banks:

Brad!  If you have followed the Tucson Padres closely this season, you’ve probably heard stories about utility infielder Cody Decker and his sense of humor.  He’s called the lineups on the radio broadcast, given an interview using a variety of international accents, and has produced a couple of short films as #AntiHero.  His latest film, “Brad,” has gotten over 4,000 hits on YouTube and is the basis of a recent interview with Cody.  If you haven’t seen the movie, you can check it out here .  The movie “features” a cardboard cutout of big leaguer Brad Ausmus and our Cody as a novice catcher studying at the foot of greatness.  Dry humor – but a lot of fun.  Well, as I arrived at the ballpark last night, my friends in the front row informed me that THE BRAD was actually at Kino Stadium!  Sure enough, as the team moved from the clubhouse to the dugout, there HE was!  I asked Manager Pat Murphy what Brad thought of “Brad,” and Murph said, “Ask him,” as he pointed to the figure following him.  As Brad approached he stopped and prepared to sign an autograph (is it a faux pas to NOT ask a big name player for an autograph?), but instead I asked if he’d seen Cody’s movie.  “Yea.”  Well, I went on, did he like it?  “It’s good…for an amateur.”  We laughed and laughed at that.

Proud Poppa!  As usual after a loss, the T-Pads slipped off the field as quickly as they could, swinging wide of the stands so they wouldn’t have to sign autographs or otherwise make happy and nice with their fans.  It always takes me awhile to get my stuff together to depart, however, and I was grateful for that as I got to see one of the most beautiful player moments of the season.  As Manager Pat Murphy was departing, he was met by RHP Sean O’Sullivan who held a tiny bundle closely in his arms.  Sean was introducing his newborn baby girl to his Skipper.  Aww!  I called out to my front-row friends (who have attended EVERY home game – and who love to take pictures of all kinds of special moments), “Baby!” and headed over to see Sean and his little family up close and personal.  Most of the guys – and Sean in particular – have their “game face” on most of the time we see them.  It took me a second to register what was different about Sean last night…he was smiling!  Not just smiling, but beaming with pride and joy.  I have never seen such intense love and happiness on one person’s face.  It transformed him.  Here’s a guy who’s recently played on his absolute favorite team in the whole world (the San Diego Padres), only to be designated for assignment and then outrighted back to Tucson.  A guy who might be a bit bitter and unhappy with all that stuff.  And here he is looking like the happiest man on Earth.  A moving sight.  Of course I told him his daughter (who was born while Sean was with The Parent Unit) was beautiful.  He beamed at me – really looking me in the eyes – and said, “Thanks.  She looks just like her mom” (who was, of course, standing right there too).  I have to say that right there and then the ugly moments of baseball I’d just witnessed were completely washed away…and I left the ballpark feeling that all was right with the world and in Kino Stadium.

Transactions.  I don’t see anything new to report yet today.  Check that!  According to a news release on the San Diego Padres website (Erlin) LHP Robbie Erlin will be added to the SD roster today to take tonight’s start against the DBacks in Phoenix.  Robbie was scheduled to start tonight’s Tucson Padres game – it looks like they’ve replaced him with Arturo Lopez.  That’ll be two of our starters scratched this week.  Doggone!  Additionally, today’s Arizona Daily Star ran an interesting article on who we might expect to see called up to San Diego when rosters expand in September.  My real hope is that Dean Anna will get the call.  He’s had a remarkable, breakout season with Tucson!  Not on anyone’s scope when he arrived here in April…EVERYONE now knows who he is and what he’s done.  In my opinion, he deserves a shot at The Show this fall.

Only Two More Nights!   The Tucson Padres continue the final homestand of their history tonight at Kino Stadium, playing against the team we once knew as the Tucson Sidewinders, now known as the Reno Aces (AAA DBacks).  Both games will be played at 7:05pm.  Tonight is the final Weiner Wednesday and Social Media Night.  Hot dogs will be just one dollar each all night long – and check out the Tucson Padres Facebook page for this week’s social media special!  They’ve cooked up an awesome deal for this FINAL social media special of the season.  The Padres’ final home game in their three-year history will be tomorrow night…and 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.  The team MAY be playing in their ‘90s throwback Toros jerseys, too.  I say “maybe” because Gregorio Petit – and the rest of the team with him – believes that they’re bad luck.  In fact, they have lost three of the four games in which they’ve worn those jerseys.  So the team struck a deal with General Manager Mike Feder:  IF the team is still in contention on Thursday they will NOT wear those “unlucky” jerseys.  If they’ve been eliminated, you’ll see them on the players. You can also expect there might be other specials and deals and fun events as the Tucson Padres staff hosts the FINAL game of Tucson Padres history.  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!  Only two more to go!

(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)



Monster Third Sets Table for Tucson Win
August 27, 2013, 12:46
Filed under: Uncategorized

When I tuned into last night’s game on the radio, I was surprised to find that the game was actually being played.  In my part of town, we’d just been blasted by a heavy thunderstorm, with flooded roads every way you turned.  Such is our weather in monsoon season – storms are very isolated, even though extreme in places.  Apparently there wasn’t a drop of rain at Kino Stadium!  The game was already at the end of the second inning, and the Pads were behind two-to-one.  Apparently the one Tucson run came on a homer by Gregorio Petit!  But it seems that the Padres were simply waiting until I tuned in to really go to work on offense.  After holding the Aces scoreless in the top of the third, Petit led off our third with a fly out.  Well, that was the last out for quite some time!  AND Petit would come around to bat again in the inning and get an RBI single.  But between his two ABs, everybody was reaching base and crossing home!  Brandon Allen got a single, Kyle Blanks took a walk, Mike Wilson got an RBI single, Scott Moore took a walk, Jonathan Galvez got a two-RBI single, Eddy Rodriguez hit a two-RBI double, starting pitcher Keyvius Sampson hit a single (and Eddy was tagged out trying to cross home plate), Daniel Robertson took a walk, Petit took his second AB – RBI single, Allen hit a two-RBI double…and finally Reno went to their pen.   Starter Zeke Spruill done for the night; Chase Anderson on the mound.  Kyle flew out to end the inning.  The Pads had put up EIGHT runs in a 12-batter frame!  It seems that we’ve done that every other game here lately.  As it happened that would be enough for the win, though it was NOT the end of the scoring.  The Pads put up three more runs in the fourth (Galvez RBI single, scored Wilson; D-Rob two-RBI single scored Moore and Galvez) after Keyvius again held the Aces scoreless in the top of the frame.  Reno did answer with two runs in the top of the fifth (both against Sampson – both earned), but from there on out the offense for both teams shut down.  Keyvius earned his second win with the Pads, going six innings and allowing all four Reno runs on seven hits and two walks.  He struck out five.  Nicely done!  Arturo Lopez took over from Keyvius and went two scoreless innings (no hits, one walk, one K).  Brandon Kloess had a chance to redeem himself when he took the ninth.  In a game eerily similar to the last one in which he pitched (a Padre blowout), this time Kloess held ‘em scoreless!  He walked one and struck out one.  I’m positive that did good things for his confidence!  Well done, T-Pads!  With the win, Tucson is back to nine games above .500 – which ties their season record.  It’s just amazing that we’ve got such a good record and STILL can’t make any headway in the standings.  While Sacramento was shutout by the Grizzlies, Vegas played – and SWEPT – a double-header in Colorado Springs.  That gave the 51s another ½ game advantage in the standings over the Pads.  Our magic number to elimination is now down to three games, as we sit 5 ½ games out of first place (Sacramento is 3 ½ back).  Of course, we have to keep winning…but it’d be really nice if Vegas would also lose a game or three!  Let’s Go Tucson!  Final Score:  Tucson 12, Reno 4.

Transactions.  Yesterday turned out to be a busy day on the Transaction front…  It appears that our worry about OF Reymond Fuentes’s health following his removal from the game early on Sunday night was misplaced.  From his demeanor as he left the field that night, I don’t THINK he knew it yet, but he had, in fact, been tapped by San Diego for a call up!  Rey was not on the 40-man roster, so SD “selected his contract” and released Edinson Volquez to free up a roster slot. Yesterday Rey made his major league debut – a start in CF – with our Parent Unit!  In fact, it’s curious that the Parent Units of the two teams slugging it out here in Tucson are battling each other just up the road in Phoenix.  Last night the DBacks beat San Diego – and Rey went oh for three in his debut.  Also called up yesterday:  Anthony Bass.  Bass was set to start at Kino tonight – the team now projects that LHP Jason Lane will take the start.  To make room for Rey and Anthony on their roster, San Diego optioned Brad Brach and Jaff Decker back to Tucson.  (Bass also played in last night’s game at Chase Field – tossing the final one and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief for the Pads.)  Finally, our awesome closer, RHP Miles Mikolas, has gone on the 7-day DL with some shoulder soreness.  Oh drat!  That could hurt!  Apparently, however, it was that move that made the Padres reach out to promote Dan Cortes from Lake Elsinore to Tucson.

Only Three More Nights!   The Tucson Padres continue the final homestand of their history tonight at Kino Stadium, playing against the team we once knew as the Tucson Sidewinders, now known as the Reno Aces (AAA DBacks).  All games will be played at 7:05pm.  Tonight is the final Eegee’s Free Ticket Night – stop by your favorite eegee’s restaurant in the Tucson area and get your free tickets to this game.  Tomorrow night will be Weiner Wednesday and Social Media Night.  Hot dogs will be just one dollar each all night long – and check out the Tucson Padres Facebook page for this week’s social media special!  They’ve cooked up an awesome deal for this FINAL social media special of the season.  The Padres’ final home game in their three-year history will be a 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.  The team MAY be playing in their ‘90s throwback Toros jerseys, too.  I say “maybe” because Gregorio Petit – and the rest of the team with him – believes that they’re bad luck.  In fact, they have lost three of the four games in which they’ve worn those jerseys.  So the team struck a deal with General Manager Mike Feder:  IF the team is still in contention on Thursday they will NOT wear those “unlucky” jerseys.  If they’ve been eliminated, you’ll see them on the players. You can also expect there might be other specials and deals and fun events as the Tucson Padres staff hosts the FINAL game of Tucson Padres history.  I’ll be there – and I’ll be looking for you, too!   I hope you’ll take advantage of all the fun events planned at the ballpark as our final season here in Tucson winds down.  Only three more to go!

(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)



Tacoma Avoids a Sweep
August 26, 2013, 15:42
Filed under: Uncategorized

What fun it was last night to see friends from the days when I was a part of the Tucson Sidewinders game day staff!  And how thoughtful and generous of the Tucson Padres to provide us an opportunity for a reunion – and free tickets to the game!  A night to cherish as THE END becomes more and more real.

Former Sidewinders Game Day Staff Members - Together Again! (Photo Credit Steve Feldman)

Former Sidewinders Game Day Staff Members – Together Again!
(Photo Credit Steve Feldman)

It was a muggy – and then WET – night at the ballpark for the game following our reunion…and Tucson’s hopes of a playoff spot grew slightly fainter as they lost the final game of the series to the Rainiers.  It was a treat to see Sean O’Sullivan take another start for the Pads, even if his outing wasn’t one of his best.  He lasted five innings and gave up four runs on ten hits – no walks, though, and six strikeouts!  San Diego used him as a reliever…I’m sure he’ll get back into “starter form” here soon!  It was also a treat to see Kyle Blanks back with the team!  It seems so long ago, but Kyle started the season with Tucson and played a couple of series with the team before being called up.  He’s on a rehab assignment now and was last night’s designated hitter.  He had an oh-fer night, but it was still neat to see him!  The Rainiers did most of their damage early, putting up three runs on Sean in the second inning.  Tucson answered with one run in the bottom of the frame, but trailed all evening.  Tacoma added a run against Sean in their fifth…and local boy Stefen Romero hit a two-run homer off our reliever Greg Gonzalez in the seventh.  Those were the final runs the Rainiers put on the board.  Tucson responded with a powerful bottom of the seventh, adding three runs to their tally.  Two of those came in on a two-run homer hit by Ben Francisco!  That dinger came against another Tucson local – one of my favorite baseball stories! – Tom Wilhelmsen.  BTW, Ben replaced leadoff batter, Reymond Fuentes, in the fifth inning.  Rey was hit by a pitch in the very first Pad AB…we fans were speculating that he was hurt enough to be pulled from the game early.  Sadly, he had not garnered a hit at that point so his hitting streak has ended (at 12 games).  Of course, I’m more concerned that he be OKAY to play soon!  But it was sad to see his streak end that way.  Ben was actually awesome in his shortened night:  two for three with the dinger giving him two RBIs and a run-scored.  Chris Robinson continues to impress – he was three for four with an RBI and a run-scored.  After Greg’s one and one-third innings of relief, we saw the Tucson debut of RHP Dan Cortes.  He was great!  In the final two and two-thirds innings he held Tacoma off the scoreboard – no hits or walks allowed either!  Fortunately, Las Vegas also lost last night, so the Padres did not lose ground against THEM last night.  Sacramento is another matter:  they won their game and are back to two games behind Vegas for the Division lead.  Reno comes to town tonight – a fitting end to AAA baseball here – and they are already eliminated from playoff contention.  I fear that means they will be playing with the wild abandon of those whose only goal is to be a “spoiler” for our T-Pads chance at first place.  Come on T-Pads – let’s ACE the Aces!  Final Score:  Tucson 4, Tacoma 6.

Another Honor for Dean Anna!  Today the Pacific Coast League announced those PCL players who league managers and media representatives elected to be on the All-PCL Team.  Tucson’s lone entry on the team is our Dean Anna, who was named second baseman for the Team!  Dean continues to lead the league in batting average with his .333.  As WE all know, he’s been a critical part of our success this year – it’s neat that others in the League recognize that.  Well done, Dean!

Transactions.  Yesterday San Diego sent 1B Kyle Blanks to Tucson on a major league rehab assignment.  He played in last night’s game at Kino Stadium.

FINAL Homestand Continues!   The Tucson Padres continue the final homestand of their history tonight at Kino Stadium…we’re now down to the final SERIES.  Pout.  Tonight they kick off a four-game series against the Reno Aces (AAA DBacks).  All games will be played at 7:05pm.  Tonight is the final Family Four Pack Night at the Park.  A group or family of four can get four box seats, four hot dogs and four soft drinks for only $20 – that’s a $70 value!  Any tickets purchased after four will be sold at a $5.00 price.  Additionally, it will be Community Food Bank Night at the Park!  Each person who brings two cans of food, as a donation for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, will be admitted free.  Food Bank donation boxes will be located at each entrance.  Remember, the items needed most are canned meats, canned vegetables, canned soups, canned fruit and canned tomato products.  Please, no glass containers.  Finally, the Padres will also honor one of the two youth teams that recently represented Tucson on the national stage:  the Sunnyside Softball Little League National Champions.  Tomorrow night will be the final Eegee’s Free Ticket Night – stop by your favorite eegee’s restaurant in the Tucson area and get your free tickets to this game.  I hope you’ll take advantage of all the fun events planned at the ballpark as our final season here in Tucson winds down.  Only four more to go!  Get on out to at least one game before it’s too late!

(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)



Pads Jump on Relievers to Win
August 25, 2013, 15:17
Filed under: Uncategorized

The early innings in last night’s contest between our Tucson Padres and the Tacoma Rainiers were typical pitcher’s duels.  Neither team scored early as the starting pitchers were facing pretty close to the minimum in each inning.  That changed a bit in the fourth when our starter Burch Smith gave up two runs on a homer smashed into right by Tacoma’s Nate Tenbrink (who has been the one Rainier with a very solid series).  But Tucson answered immediately with a run of its own, when Gregorio Petit hit an RBI double to score Mike Wilson (who’d walked to lead off the inning).  Burch lasted five innings, allowing those two runs on only three hits and one walk (five strikeouts!) – a very impressive outing by Burch!  Jason Lane followed Burch and took two scoreless innings of relief.  He only allowed one hit and had two strikeouts!  Gosh, he’s looking good as a reliever.  But, while our guys were getting it done on the mound, so were the Rainiers.  If anything, Tacoma’s starter, Hector Noesi, seemed to buckle down and REALLY throw after he allowed that one run in the fourth.  The Pads went down one-two-three in both the fifth and sixth.  The game was looking like a very close, low-scoring win for Tacoma.  Especially when Tommy Layne replaced Jason on the mound for the seventh.  He allowed two consecutive singles, got an out, but then allowed a two-RBI double that gave the Rainiers a four-to-one lead.  Drat!  But our Pads didn’t give up.  No sir!  In the bottom of the seventh, the finally broke through against Noesi.  Jonathan Galvez led off with a single and Cody Decker followed with a double.  Noesi got a strike out, but Tacoma decided to go with a lefty-left match up and put Brian Moran out on the mound to face the next batter.  Moran’s usually very effective.  But not so much last night!  Reymond Fuentes had a prolonged AB against him, which finally resulted in an RBI single.  Daniel Robertson followed suit with an RBI single.  Brandon Allen then brought two runners home with another single!  Seeing his strategy hadn’t worked quite right, the Tacoma skipper went to the pen and this time drew out Josh Kinney.  Another fine pitcher!  Wilson greeted him with an RBI single.  Scott Moore reached on an error – and THAT scored a run, too.  Finally, Kinney found his stride and struck out two to end the inning.  Pads had put five runs on the board in a ten-batter inning!  Tommy started the eighth inning – hit a batter and gave up a single, but struck out two – but turned things over to Kevin Quackenbush to get the final out in the Tacoma eighth.  Both Kinney and Kevin set their opponents down one-two-three in the next frames.  Another monster inning for the Padres wins the game for them!  That’s six wins in a row!  Sadly, they made absolutely no progress in the standings against Vegas.  The 51s somehow hung on to beat Fresno again, so we remain five games behind them for the Division lead.  Sacramento DID lose.  They are still in second, three back of Vegas.  One more against Tacoma (a team that swept the Pads earlier this year) – and wouldn’t it be FINE if we swept all five?  Go Tucson!  Final Score:  Tucson 6, Tacoma 4.

Transactions.  Yesterday San Diego called up RHP Brad Brach – a move which also made room for RHP Sean O’Sullivan on the Tucson roster!  Sean is expected to start for Tucson in tonight’s game.  Brach was able to join the Parent Unit’s roster because the team designated RHP Edinson Volquez for assignment.  RHP Dan Cortes has also been assigned to Tucson from High-A Lake Elsinore Storm.  Good heavens!  I thought I recognized his name!  He played with Tacoma in 2010 and 2011.

FINAL Homestand Continues!   The Tucson Padres continue the final homestand of their history tonight at Kino Stadium.  They’ll conclude the series with the Tacoma Rainiers (AAA Mariners) tonight; then the Reno Aces (AAA DBacks) come to town for four.  All games will be played at 7:05pm.  Tonight is the usual Military Appreciation and Bark in the Park Night.  As always, all military personnel (active, retired and veterans) and a guest will be admitted free when a Military ID is presented at the Padres Box Office. Dogs will also be admitted free with their owners, and the first 100 dogs will get a free Frisbee.  Fans may sit on the berms or in their seats with their four-legged friends. The Padres will also recognize former Sidewinders players, field staff, full-time staff and game day employees before the game with an on-field ceremony.  Well, you KNOW I’ll be there for that!  Tomorrow night will see the final Family Four Pack Night at the Park.  A group or family of four can get four box seats, four hot dogs and four soft drinks for only $20 – that’s a $70 value!  Any tickets purchased after four will be sold at a $5.00 price.  Additionally, tomorrow night will be Community Food Bank Night at the Park!  Each person who brings two cans of food, as a donation for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, will be admitted free.  Food Bank donation boxes will be located at each entrance.  Remember, the items needed most are canned meats, canned vegetables, canned soups, canned fruit and canned tomato products.  Please, no glass containers.  Finally, the Padres will also honor one of the two youth teams that recently represented Tucson on the national stage:  the Sunnyside Softball Little League National Champions.  I hope you’ll take advantage of all the fun events planned at the ballpark as our final season here in Tucson winds down.  Get on out to at least one game before it’s too late!

(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)



Hit Parade Continues!
August 24, 2013, 14:14
Filed under: Uncategorized

During the Tucson Padres’ post-All-Star break slump, the biggest thing missing from their game was hitting.  They’ve definitely worked through that issue (for now, anyway) and are slugging up a storm in their recent victories.  Last night was practically as good as a team can get, from the Padres’ perspective:  good starting pitching, good defense, amazing run-scoring, etc.  It all started with a very effective outing by Tucson’s starter, Matt Andriese.  After having to slip a start with arm fatigue, Matt was back in good form last night against Tacoma.  He tossed five innings and allowed only one run on four hits and two walks.  Meanwhile, the Pads were having a field day against Tacoma’s Andrew Carraway!  Tucson put two runs on the board in the first (both RBIs to Mike Wilson, who had an incredible night), then blasted away with four more in the third (this time Brandon Allen had a two-RBI double, Gregorio Petit had an RBI double, and Scott Moore had an RBI single).  Wilson picked up his third RBI with Tucson’s run in the fourth.  Yes, at the end of four, the Pads had a seven-nothing advantage!  Andriese gave up a Tacoma run in the fifth – and his evening ended.  In the bottom of the fifth, Tucson added another FIVE runs to the scoreboard!  And guess who had another two-RBI double in the frame?  Yup!  Mike Wilson!  Other RBIs in the inning went to Daniel Robertson (with an RBI walk), Dean Anna (sac fly), and Allen (RBI single).  Nine Padres reached the plate that inning!  Two of those runs were allowed by Tacoma’s first reliever, but both were charged to Carraway.  Jason Lane took two innings of relief after Andriese left – he held ‘em scoreless on one hit.  Tucson added its final run in the sixth on a D-Rob RBI single.  From there on out, Tacoma’s pen held Tucson off the board.  But still:  13 to 1!  New guy (see Transactions) Greg Gonzalez followed Jason on the mound – one hit, one walk, NO runs allowed.  Nice!  No need for our closer with a blowout going, so the Pads sent Brandon Kloess in to take the ninth.  It was not pretty.  Thankfully, the Pads held such a lead going into the frame that we could absorb the shock of a five-run ninth by our opponent…but I wouldn’t like to see us do that too often!  Kloess got an out on the first batter, but couldn’t do it again…single, walk, walk, RBI single, RBI walk, (and the worst) three-RBI triple…  Finally, Manager Pat Murphy had seen enough, and he put Arturo Lopez in the game.  Lopez allowed a single – got a strikeout – then relied on CF Reymond Fuentes to track down a hard fly ball in the gap for a game-ending fly out!  Whew!  What a game!  And just look at these numbers!  Wilson – four for five, two doubles, FIVE RBIs, and two runs-scored.  Chris Robinson – four for five with two runs-scored.  Allen – three for five, two doubles, three RBIs and one run-scored.  Rey was also three for five – his hitting streak continues to match his games-played in Tucson at 12!  There was ONE Tacoma batter who had an incredible night no matter who was pitching:  Nate Tenbrink was three for three with two doubles and a walk.  Tucson committed NO errors (two by the Rainiers) and turned THREE double plays.  See what I mean about it being a “complete” game?  Well done, Tucson!  They’ve won five straight…and doggone it if that STILL isn’t helping us in the standings.  Las Vegas trailed most of their game last night – but somehow pulled out a win in 10 innings. They remain in the lead; we’re five back.  Sacramento split their double-header in Colorado Springs last night – they are now two games back of Vegas in second place.  Fresno has been eliminated…we have seven to go before the dreaded magic “E” appears on our line.  Not mathematically impossible, folks, for the Padres to make it to the playoffs!  Hold onto that thought!  Meantime, Tucson has already won this series with Tacoma…but each game still matters for the run to the playoffs.  Go Tucson!  Final Score:  Tucson 13, Tacoma 6.

Transactions.  RHP Sean O’Sullivan has returned to Tucson!  He hasn’t actually been activated on the roster yet…that will require another roster move that is yet to be determined.  The Pads added Greg Gonzalez to the pen (and he played last night) from High-A Lake Elsinore Storm.  To make room for him on the roster, the team placed INF Jesus Merchan on the 7-day DL.  It struck me last night that that means we will not see Jesus play in Tucson again.  Ever.  Goodness, how I hate endings!  Here’s a bit of a rumor or two about major league players who might be playing at Kino Stadium in the next few games…  San Diego may be sending INF Kyle Blanks to Tucson for a rehab assignment!  No sign of that yet, but the SD press is making that claim.  Additionally, the DBacks may send both C Miguel Montero and INF Willie Bloomquist on rehab assignments with Reno when Reno is here this week!  The addition of Miggie to the lineup would be a fitting bit of closure to our AAA history here…he was once a Tucson Sidewinder!

FINAL Homestand Continues!   The Tucson Padres continue the final homestand of their history tonight at Kino Stadium.  They’ll face the Tacoma Rainiers (AAA Mariners) tonight and tomorrow; then the Reno Aces (AAA DBacks) come to town for four.  All games will be played at 7:05pm.  Tonight is an amazing night at the ballpark!  The Famous San Diego Chicken has decided to come out of semi-retirement to play one last gig in honor of Tucson’s baseball history and help us say farewell…Beto Coyote, a famous mascot in his own right, of the Hermosillo Naranjeros will also show up to entertain fans.  As if that wasn’t enough excitement, the staff is capping the evening off with a Fireworks Spectacular following the game!  And did I mention you can get coupons for $2 off the price of any ticket at any local Giant convenience stores?  Yup!  The Padres will also recognize former Toros players, field staff, fulltime staff and game day employees before the game with an on-field ceremony. Some of the players (and a former manager) include Tim Tolman (manager in 1996), Carlo Colombino, Dave Rohde, Terry Clark (Tacoma’s hitting coach!) and Bronswell Patrick (our pitching coach!). What a fun evening at Kino Stadium – TONIGHT!  Tomorrow night will be the usual Military Appreciation and Bark in the Park Night.  As always, all military personnel (active, retired and veterans) and a guest will be admitted free when a Military ID is presented at the Padres Box Office.  Dogs will also be admitted free with their owners, and the first 100 dogs will get a free Frisbee.  Fans may sit on the berms or in their seats with their four-legged friends.  The Padres will also recognize former Sidewinders players, field staff, fulltime staff and game day employees before the game with an on-field ceremony.  Well, you KNOW I’ll be there for that!  I hope you’ll take advantage of all the fun events planned at the ballpark as our final season here in Tucson winds down.  Get on out to at least one game before it’s too late!

(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)



Pads Crush a No-Hit Bid
August 23, 2013, 15:38
Filed under: Uncategorized

I couldn’t help but worry when I heard that LHP James Paxton was starting for the Rainiers last night…  Paxton has relatively “ordinary” numbers at this point in the season:  except against the Padres!  Last time we saw Paxton here in July, he tossed his first-ever complete game shutout.  And here he was again.  So I felt an ominous sense of doom early last night, as Paxton appeared to be one-upping his previous appearance by tossing a no-hitter against us last night!  Worse, Tacoma had blasted out four runs against our starter, Robbie Erlin, in the third and added another run in the fifth. True, it’s really early in the game to be talking about a no-hitter in the fifth inning…but it felt like if anyone could do it, it’d be Paxton.  Down five…no hits of our own…and only three base-runners – two on walks, one on an error…I wasn’t holding out much hope for our Pads.  It was a relief when Ben Francisco led off the fifth with a single.  We all exhaled:  at LEAST the Pads weren’t going to be no-hit!  But then Cody Decker and Jesus Merchan followed with singles!  We’d gone from no-hit to back in the game.  Bases loaded – none out!   And I don’t know who was more surprised, fans or Paxton himself!  Chris Robinson followed Jesus at the plate and he whacked a ball that looked tailor-made for a double play.  The Rainier’s second baseman, Ty Kelly, surrounded the ball, MEANT to tag second, and tossed to first…but actually missed the bag at second!  C-Rob out, but Ben scored.  RBI groundout for Chris!  Daniel Robertson up next – ANOTHER RBI groundout!  Two out, two in…and believe it or not, the fun had just begun!  Dean Anna walked; Jonathan Galvez hit an RBI single; Mike Wilson hit an RBI single; Gregorio Petit hit an RBI single…and BEN was back up to bat!  This time, Ben smashed out a two-run triple!  Cody also got a second chance in the inning – he took a walk, and Paxton’s final pitch went wild!  Ben raced home on the wild pitch!  Tacoma went to the pen…Paxton’s night was over.  Their reliever got Jesus to strike out and end the inning.  Robbie was also done for the evening but he went from expecting a loss to being in the running for a win!  Tucson had scored EIGHT runs in the inning, for a three-run lead.  Holy cow!  The Pads put up one more run in the sixth…Tacoma added one (on a solo homer) in the seventh to account for all the scoring.  Brandon Kloess took an inning of relief work (allowed a walk, erased it on a double play), followed by Arturo Lopez (who allowed the solo homer) for an inning.  Brad Brach pitched one and one-third scoreless innings.  Tommy Layne got the final two outs in the ninth on a strike out and a pop out.  After going hitless through four innings, Tucson ended up out-hitting Tacoma, 13 to 10!  Every T-Pad had at least one hit in the evening.  Ben’s triple was the only extra-base hit by a Pad (no doubles – which is unusual for us).  After trailing five-nothing, Tucson notched up their fourth consecutive win.  Las Vegas also won last night (what else is new?) – so the Pads remain five games back of them.  Sacramento was rained out in Colorado Springs – be interesting to see how their double-header goes today.  In any case, our Padres are on a roll now!  Yay, Tucson!  Final Score:  Tucson 9, Tacoma 6.

Transactions.  It appears that no one staked a claim on RHP Sean O’Sullivan after San Diego designated him for assignment:  he has been outrighted to Tucson.

FINAL Homestand Continues!   The Tucson Padres continue the final homestand of their history tonight at Kino Stadium.  They’ll face the Tacoma Rainiers (AAA Mariners) tonight through Sunday; then the Reno Aces (AAA DBacks) come to town for four.  All games will be played at 7:05pm.  Tonight the Padres pay tribute to the University of Arizona with Bear Down Friday.  All fans wearing Wildcats-related attire will get a box seat for only $5 (half off regular price!).  There will also be a U. of A. alumni athlete softball game on the field from 5:30 – 6:30 pm.  Perhaps the biggest night of the homestand – and of the season – will be tomorrow night!  The Famous San Diego Chicken has decided to come out of semi-retirement to play one last gig in honor of Tucson’s baseball history and help us say farewell…Beto Coyote, a famous mascot in his own right, of the Hermosillo Naranjeros will also show up to entertain fans.  As if that wasn’t enough excitement, the staff is capping the evening off with a Fireworks Spectacular following the game!  And did I mention you can get coupons for $2 off the price of any ticket at any local Giant convenience stores?  Yup!  This is a biggie, folks!  I hope you’ll take advantage of all the fun events planned!  Mark your calendars and plan to attend at least one of the final nine games at Kino Stadium!

(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)



A “Welcome Home” Win
August 22, 2013, 13:56
Filed under: Uncategorized

Note to self…If you’re trying to stay under the radar while ditching your first scheduled choir rehearsal of the season, you should probably not participate in a TV news interview from the ballpark.  How nice that everyone saw me on the 10 o’clock news!  Not!  But MAN!  What a great night at the ballpark, as the Tucson Padres returned home to kickoff their final homestand at Kino Stadium!  Amazing rainbow over the batter’s eye early…eerie moonrise through the clouds during the game…awesome pitching by our starter, Anthony Bass…and a pregame photo with Padres’ comedian – last night’s designated hitter – Cody Decker…all capped off by one dollar hot dogs.  Oh my.  This is exactly what I’ll miss next year when Kino is silent and “our boys” are playing in El Paso.  But I digress…

The Funny Man and Yours Truly

The Funny Man and Yours Truly

Last night’s game was also a very well-played game by the Tucson Padres who fielded a much different lineup than in the final games out in Sacramento.  Manager Pat Murphy  rested 3B Scott Moore, C Chris Robinson, and CF Reymond Fuentes.  OF Mike Wilson returned from the DL to play in right – Daniel Robertson shifted to center – Gregorio Petit took third.  With Bass on the mound, it all seemed to work.  Anthony went eight innings and allowed only one run to score (in the sixth) on five hits and no walks.  Not a lot of strikeouts, but he was effective without them.  On offense, Tucson began scoring in the first with a single run (Dean Anna scored while the Rainiers were turning a double play off Jonathan Galvez’s bat) and added one more in the second (solo homer by Cody!) and third (Galvez scored after reaching on a hit-by-pitch, stealing second, and racing home on Wilson’s RBI single).  Since they didn’t put up a run in the fourth, they added two in the fifth (RBIs to Petit and Cody).  At that point it was five to nothing, Pads!  And the way Bass was cruising, it looked like a quick and easy victory for the Pads.  That mostly held true, though the team gave us a bit of a scare in the ninth.  Murph sent Jason Lane in to close the game…and it’s really not all his fault that he could only get one out and allowed two runs to score!  Tucson had a sudden breakout of fumble fingers, as both Petit and Galvez made fielding errors backing Lane.  Neither of Lane’s two runs was earned.  Unfortunately, they still showed up on the scoreboard!  Murphy then called in Kevin Quackenbush to rescue the team.  It wasn’t particularly clean – he hit a batter and allowed an RBI single (charged to Lane) – but he finished strong, with two strikeouts to end the game with his second save of the season.  Bass earned his fourth win.  If he can keep doing that kind of work – with that confidence – he’ll surely be back in The Bigs soon!  Such fun to see our guys once again – to chat with them and to cheer for them – but especially fun to see them win!  Our relative position in the standings was not affected by the win, however, since both Vegas and Sacramento also won last night.  But we’ve got a three-game win streak going and are now six games over .500 for the season!  Also cool:  Dean collected two hits to raise his batting average to .335 which is best in the Pacific Coast League!   Final Score:  Tucson 5, Tacoma 3.

Reymond Fuentes Had the Night Off

Reymond Fuentes Had the Night Off

Local Boys Back in Town.  As you may recall, the Tacoma Rainiers team includes a couple of players with strong ties to Tucson.  OF Stefen Romero was featured in several articles and cheered by local fans during Tacoma’s last visit here.  This time he’s day-to-day with, in the words of his manager, “an owie” on his leg.  I don’t know if we’ll see him play here in the series.  Today’s paper contains a nice write up on another local kid with a great baseball story:  Tom Wilhelmsen. Tom’s one of my favorite stories, since I had the pleasure of seeing him pitch for the Indy Tucson Toros some years ago at Hi Corbett.  It was a thrill for us when he landed back in affiliated ball and eventually went on to much success in the Mariners family of teams.  Lately the road’s been a bit tough for Tom – today’s article talks about how he’s dealing with the challenges.  Good attitude, Tom!  Tom’s expected to work relief in tonight’s game against the T-Pads.

Transactions.  As noted above, yesterday the Tucson Padres activated OF Mike Wilson from the 7-day DL.

FINAL Homestand Continues!   The Tucson Padres continue the final homestand of their history tonight at Kino Stadium.  They’ll face the Tacoma Rainiers (AAA Mariners) tonight through Sunday; then the Reno Aces (AAA DBacks) come to town for four.  All games will be played at 7:05pm.  Tonight is the ever-popular Toros Thirsty Thursday with dollar beverage specials from 6pm to 9pm – and the team will be wearing the ‘90s version of the throwback Toros jerseys.  Remember:  college students with school IDs can purchase tickets for just $4!  On Friday night the Padres pay tribute to the University of Arizona with Bear Down Friday.  All fans wearing Wildcats-related attire will get a box seat for only $5 (half off regular price!).  There will also be a U. of A. alumni athlete softball game on the field from 5:30 – 6:30 pm.  Perhaps the biggest night of the homestand – and of the season – will be Saturday night!  The Famous San Diego Chicken has decided to come out of semi-retirement to play one last gig in honor of Tucson’s baseball history and help us say farewell…Beto Coyote, a famous mascot in his own right, of the Hermosillo Naranjeros will also show up to entertain fans.  As if that wasn’t enough excitement, the staff is capping the evening off with a Fireworks Spectacular following the game!  And did I mention you can get coupons for $2 off the price of any ticket at any local Giant convenience stores?  Yup!  This is a biggie, folks!  I hope you’ll take advantage of all the fun events planned!  Mark your calendars and plan to attend at least one of the final nine games at Kino Stadium!

(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)