Hoppers Extend Their Winning Streak (8/14/2011)

Yesterday’s Greensboro Grasshoppers win against the Augusta GreenJackets extends the Hoppers winning streak to six wins and inches the team that much closer to being in contention for a playoff spot at the end of the season. Check out the box score and game recap for all the official details.

Sunday afternoon day games mean no batting practice on the field, but I showed up early anyway to see what was going on. Several players from both teams were stretching and throwing, and if you look closely in the following picture, you can see the team chaplains from Baseball Chapel leading chapel service in the home team dugout. They’re the guys in the light blue shirts:

Pre-game Warmup

While waiting for the gates to open, I ran into the bus driver for the GreenJackets. Turns out he used to drive the bus for Greensboro, too. While I was chatting with him, we were joined by my buddies Patrick and his son Eli, who occasionally contributes photos for the blog here. The bus driver was telling us about the team’s trip down here from Lexington, riding with storms the whole time. They ended up getting into town about five in the morning. I joked that I hoped that meant they weren’t well-rested and our team would be able to take advantage of that. As it turns out, maybe that did play into our getting the win.

So how did the game go? In a word, weird. I don’t want to steal Bill Hass’ thunder from his latest blog post since you should be reading his blog, too, so here are the highlights he noted: an outfielder lost a glove attempting to catch a home run, four strikeouts in one inning, tripping for a balk, and turning a blown save into a win. Read all the details for that weirdness and more in his latest blog entry: Just stick it in the W column. And check out my scorecard below to see how the four strikeout inning went down.

I was worried about the game being a difficult one for several reasons. The Hoppers haven’t played against the GreenJackets yet this season and really didn’t know what to expect. (The Hoppers and GreenJackets are in different divisions in the league and don’t meet each other as much as teams in the same league do.) Looking at their stats, I knew the GreenJackets are good. They are very much in contention for the second half title in their division. The Hoppers were hot against Lakewood, but I wasn’t sure it was going to last. In our favor, we were starting Robert Morey, who threw a complete game shutout earlier in the season. The GreenJackets starting pitcher was one of their best, so I was ready for a tense pitcher’s dual to unfold. Instead, I saw six home runs (three on each side of the scorecard). Morey pitched for five and a third innings and was winning when he left the mound. He was replaced by Kenneth Toves, who only pitched for the final two-thirds of the sixth inning. In those two outs, he managed to blow the save on his first pitch when the GreenJackets batter homered off of him, tying the score at five. The Hoppers responded in the bottom of the sixth with four runs of their own, and even though Miguel Mejia took the mound in the seventh, since Toves was the pitcher of record when the Hoppers scored all those runs, he gets credited with the win. Mejia pitched for an inning and a third, being replaced by Grant Dayton in the eighth, who picked up the save. A dropped third strike in the ninth where the runner got on base allowed the weirdness that had Dayton record four strikeouts in that inning.

Want to see Robert Morey pitching? I thought you did:

Robert Morey Pitching

Robert Morey Pitching

Offensively, I saw the most beautiful bunt I’ve ever seen. In the sixth, with runners on first and second, Ryan Fisher laid down a bunt that slowly trickled down the third baseline, going slow enough to become obvious that it wasn’t going to roll foul. The third baseman sprinted to the ball, but wasn’t able to get it in enough time to make the throw to first. Instead of sacrificing, like the intent was, Fisher found himself with a hit that put him on first and loaded the bases. All three of those base runners ended up scoring: Christian Yelich and Mark Canha when Danny Black singled two batters later, and Fisher when James Wooster singled after Black. The bottom of the sixth inning infused exactly the energy the Hoppers needed to finish strong. The GreenJackets managed one more run in the eighth. I completely blame that run on the Hoppers pitching. The batter singled, but advanced to second on a wild pitch, third on a balk, and home on another wild pitch. But it wasn’t enough to rally the GreenJackets to a win, and the Hoppers went back to the locker room victorious for the sixth straight game.

Want to see what it looks like when James Wooster hits an RBI single? I thought you did. I put my camera on “continuous mode” and snapped this series of pictures when he singled in the sixth.

James Wooster's RBI Single

Here’s how I had the game scored. Especially check out the top of the ninth, with the four strikeouts:

8/14/2011 Scorecard: Greensboro (9) v Augusta (6)

As has been my custom lately, as soon as I got in the park, I headed over to the third base tunnel (pictured above) to hang out for autographs. It was a successful venture, as I was able to get both GreenJackets players who are featured in the SAL All-Star pack to sign their cards. I also picked up Cody Clark’s autograph. He’s the strength and conditioning coach for the Hoppers. Additionally, I got Steve Kline to autograph a baseball. Kline is a former major-league relief pitcher and is now working as the pitching coach for the GreenJackets. Here are the autographs I got, including hitting coach Kevin Randall’s, whose autograph I got the previous day.

Autographs: Kevin Randall, Cody Clark, Seth Rosin, and Rafael Rodriguez

Steve Kline Autograph

It was a great game, and one thing made it even more thrilling for me. Earlier in the week, I received a nice email from Bill Hass thanking me for linking to his blog. He mentioned that he’d try to give me a shout out on the radio when he was in the booth with Andy Durham on Sunday’s game. I had been listening to the radio broadcast off and on during the game, but that’s pretty hard to do at the ballpark, especially when all my awesome friends kept dropping by to say “hi” and watch some of the game with me. So I didn’t hear a shout-out during the game, but as soon as I got in my car and was listening to the post-game broadcast, they started talking about both Bill’s blog and my blog. It was really, really, really cool to hear them tell their listeners to go check out “Greg Cohoon’s Hoppers Fan blog” as well as the “Bill on Baseball” blog. I’ve gotten to know a bunch of people at the park over the past couple of years, but I’m not officially associated with the team. This is just a fan blog, written by an obsessed fan. To be mentioned alongside Bill Hass’ official Hoppers blog is quite an honor and I really appreciate it. Thanks, guys!

So, seriously, if you’re not already reading Bill on Baseball as well as my blog, what is the matter with you? 😉

With the way things are going, the end of the season is going to look interesting for several teams jockeying for a playoff spot. At this point, the best thing for the Hoppers to do is keep winning and see where everything else falls out. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Remember, you can click on any of the pictures in the post to embiggen them. Check out the photo album on Facebook for all the pictures. Join the conversation by leaving a comment — what are you thinking?

See ya at the ballpark!
Email: hoppersfan@gmail.com
Twitter: @HoppersFan
Facebook: www.facebook.com/HoppersFan

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