The Lakewood BlueClaws rolled into Greensboro for a four-game series from July 4-7. I was out of town visiting family for the July 4 game (which the Hoppers lost 2-5), but made it to the rest of the games in the series. The July 5 game was another loss (2-7), and it was was another hot day game. I had the day off from work in recognition of the Independence Day holiday and got back into town just in time to make it to the game. It was another hot day — the temperature cooled down while the boys were on the road, but climbed back up once they came back to town.
One of the ceremonial first pitches was thrown by Sweet Lou Whitaker, a second baseman for the Detroit Tiger from 1977 to 1995. Apparently, Sweet Lou lives in a nearby town and is friends with the owner of the Hoppers, so his presence at the ballpark isn’t terribly out of the ordinary. It was definitely pretty cool to see a major leaguer throw a first pitch on the field.
The most interesting part of the game was what I believe was the professional debut of right-handed pitcher Robert Morey. I might have previously seen Morey pitch during this year’s ACC Tournament, which was held in Greensboro. I just don’t remember if I saw a Virginia game where he pitched or not. The Marlins drafted him in the 5th round of this year’s draft and he was assigned to the Jamestown Jammers. I couldn’t find a record of him pitching in Jamestown before getting moved up to Greensboro, so I think his appearance against the BlueClaws was his pro debut. It appears that pitcher Anillins Martinez was released in order to make room for Morey on the roster. Morey pitched two innings, allowing 2 hits, 1 run, and getting 2 strikeouts. In what is called a “piggyback” start (thanks to Bill on Baseball’s recent blog entry for explaining that term), Morey was replaced by Curtis Peterson, who pitched for five innings, allowing 6 hits, 3 runs, and striking out 4. Alejandro (AJ) Ramos closed the final two innings, allowing 3 runs off 2 hits and getting 3 strikeouts.
Here’s a series of pictures of Robert Morey throwing a warm-up pitch:
This game marked the third appearance of my Rally Cap since I started paying attention to its win-loss record. I pulled the Rally Cap in the top of the 8th, when AJ took the mound. The Hoppers were down 4-2, and I thought my Cap might work its magic again when Greensboro turned a nice double play followed by a skillful strikeout. Alas, the magic wasn’t working and my Rally Cap suffered its first loss since I started keeping track, bringing it to a 2-1 record. The Cap would make another appearance in the next game.
Sausage Race (between 2nd and 3rd): won by Hot Sausage. Country was looking good, but stopped to do a line dance between third and home.
Sumo (middle of 3rd): won by Blue Sumo
The Hoppers have recently reintroduced their “strikeout victim” promotion. They choose a batter on the opposing team, and if that batter strikes out, everyone at the game gets a coupon for a free item from a local business. In years past, it was sponsored by Waffle House and the coupon was for a free waffle. It was hugely popular with the fans. Every time the strikeout victim would appear at the plate, the stadium would erupt with cries of “Waffle! Waffle! Waffle!” With Waffle House’s financial woes this year, I don’t think they could afford to sponsor the promotion again. So, for the first half of the season, there was no strikeout victim. Recently, Sheetz has stepped up to sponsor the promotion and it’s called “Fry Guy” because if the batter strikes out, everyone gets a coupon for free fries. The problem the Hoppers were having is that the fans just couldn’t seem to get into the rhythm of chanting “Fry Guy” like they would “Waffle.” I think the promotions department has come up with a solution — they now put someone on each dugout with a sign. On the third base side, it’s “FRY” and on the first base side, it’s “GUY.” Under their leading, the crowd is much more lively in getting the chanting going. Here’s a picture of Laura on the third base side, holding up the “FRY” sign:
Somehow, I messed up the batting order on my scoring program, so I only scored a couple of innings of the game. No scoresheets to share this time.
All of my pictures from the game are on Facebook.
It was another scorcher today. It was a day game, and started at 12:30. As much as I was concerned about the heat, it was actually cooler at noon today than it was at 6pm yesterday. Sitting out in the sun was just asking to be baked, and with the sun directly overhead, it was difficult to find a seat in the shade. The good news is that the Hoppers came away with the win, 5-4.
I was concerned at the beginning of the game, as starting pitcher Edgar Olmos couldn’t seem to throw a strike. By the time he was replaced after only 2.2 innings, he had walked 4 batters with only 2 strikeouts. He threw a total of 32 balls and only 23 strikes. Somewhat surprisingly, only one batter scored on Olmos, in the 2nd inning. Olmos was replaced by Natividad Dilone, who pitched 4.2 innings and was credited with the win, allowing 3 runs. The last 1.2 innings were pitched by Alejandro (AJ) Ramos, who delivered 2 strikeouts and allowed no runs. Offensively, the Hoppers looked great. Two of our five runs were homers: Chad Cregar started off the 2nd with a solo homer on his first at-bat after coming off the DL and Justin Bass started off the 6th with another solo homer. Rand Smith spent a significant part of his time on first taunting second and attempting to steal. He never got a good chance to run for it, though. It’s definitely nice to see some good defensive playing from the Hoppers. You can see the improvement from the first half of the season. It’s showing both on the field and on the scoreboard — today’s game was another errorless outing for the Hoppers. Today was the last day for the home stand. The Hoppers are on the road to face the Rome Braves tomorrow through Saturday. They’ll be back in Greensboro for a four-game home stand against the Lakewood Blueclaws starting next Sunday.
Before the game, I headed out to the blazing hot left field and took a few pictures of the players warming up:
Sumo (between 1st and 2nd): won by Red Sumo
Sausage Race (between 4th and 5th): won by Hot Sausage. They ran a 90-yard dash today (I suspect because it’s tough for the sausages to run the bases in the blazing heat we had today) and while Sage was off to a good start, she just fell short at the end.
Perhaps one of the smartest things that the Hoppers did today didn’t have anything to do with playing baseball. They watered the stands. That is to say, that they hooked up the hose and sprayed down one of the sections. It was such a great idea, in the oppressive heat, to do it. For about an inning leading up to the spray-down, they were announcing over the PA that section 114 would be hosed down — both to let people who didn’t want to get wet enough time to get out of the area and to let people who did enough time to get over there. I think almost every kid at the ballgame made a dash to 114 to take part in it.
I used iScore to score the game. I missed a pitching change for the Power, and the reasons behind a couple of outs, but here’s how I had it (click each picture of the scoresheet to embiggen):
I had a great time at the ballpark today, but I hope that it’s cooler next time the boys are in town for some home games.
All of my pictures from the game are on Facebook.
Put another game in the WIN column!
The Hoppers treated everyone to another great evening of baseball, and delivered another win. That keeps them undefeated in the 2nd half of the season, and secures their spot as the only undefeated team in the division right now. Let’s hope they can keep the momentum going. It’s not too early to ask for a sweep of this series against the West Virginia Power, is it? They’ve already secured the series win, and if they can win the next two games, they’ll sweep.
The Hoppers won the game 2-3, but didn’t get their first run until the fourth inning. The Power got on the board in the second, and I was beginning to wonder if I needed to get my rally cap out. I didn’t. Going into the fifth, the score was tied 1-1. The Power scored a run in the top half of the inning. The Hoppers responded by scoring two in the bottom half. The rest of the game was scoreless, but continued to be exciting, with great batting and fielding from both teams. Left-handed pitcher Chad James gets the win, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits with 4 strike-outs. It’s his second win of the year, bringing his record to 2-4. After five innings, James was replaced by Erick Carrillo, who allowed one hit in two innings with no strike-outs. Arquimedes Caminero pitched the seventh and eighth innings, also allowing one hit, but coming through with five strike-outs and getting the save. I love watching Caminero on the mound. As he’s preparing for his pitch and taking the signs from the catcher, he strikes an intimidating figure, stiff and leaning slightly forward. Just before his wind-up, he relaxes and quickly goes through a smooth delivery of the pitch.
In addition to securing the win, Chad James encountered a wardrobe malfunction. At one point (maybe the fourth inning?), his belt apparently failed and he had to get a replacement (click each picture to embiggen):
Sausage Race (between 2nd and 3rd): won by Country Sausage. Sage came out first, but left the field at the visitor’s dugout before even getting to first base.
In addition to entertaining the fans with a great ballgame, the Hoppers brought in Myron Noodleman, the hippest nerd in da’ biz. Myron provided great entertainment between several of the innings. He did some solo dancing. He led the crowd in the chicken dance and the YMCA dance. He did a very clever “dueling signals” dance with Hoppers manager Andy Haines while “Dueling Banjos” played over the PA. My favorite dance was when did a little dance with Hoppers players Terrence Dayleg and Alejanero (A J) Ramos. They started by approaching Myron as though the were going to fight with him, but Myron countered by hypnotizing them and getting them to dance with him. The players looked like they were having a great time with him, and the fans loved it. During the game, Myron wandered throughout the ballpark, signing autographs and posing for pictures with the fans, and just generally being funny. He posed for a picture with me, and while my shirt says that I’m proud to be awesome, I was thrilled to be hanging with Myron. If he’s going to be performing at a ballpark near you, that alone is reason to go to the game. Check out his schedule to find out when you can see him in your town.
I used iScore to score the game. Here’s how I had it (click each picture of the scoresheet to embiggen):
There are two more games in the series before the Hoppers hit the road again. I’m planning on being at both of them. Tomorrow’s game is an afternoon game and they’re giving away a set of baseball cards to the first 1,500 fans in the gate. I’m definitely planning on getting a set. Monday’s game is a day game. I’ve been putting in overtime at my day job so I’ll be able to take a really long lunch and attend the game. I love day games, ’cause we get to play BINGO. The only downside I see so far about the next two games is that since they’re in the middle of the day instead of the evening, I expect it to be tremendously hot. It’s OK, I’m the Hoppers Fan. I can deal with the heat in order to watch the boys play baseball.
All of my pictures from the game are on Facebook. Most of them are of Myron Noodleman having a blast and entertaining the fans.
Come from behind wins
are so exciting and fun
and make great drama.
Welcome back, Hoppers Fans fans! It’s been pretty dry in this blog for over two weeks. I got behind on writing about games, then I got really busy at my job that provides a paycheck, and to make it even more frustrating, the home stand that started Thursday was the first time in almost two weeks that the Hoppers were at home. I missed the Thursday night game, but I was at last night’s game against the West Virginia Power and was thrilled to have baseball back in the city!
I’ll just go ahead and say it. My rally cap takes total credit for yesterday’s win. I don’t remember what inning I put the cap on, but I’m sure I had it on by the sixth inning, when the Hoppers were losing 6 to 1. In the seventh inning, the Hoppers scored a second run, but they really got on fire in the eighth inning, where they scored six runs. The final score was six to eight, in favor of the Hoppers. It’s was another great game to watch — come from behind wins are always dramatic, and it’s nice when it’s the home team that is securing the win. This means that with two wins in the 2nd half of the season, the Hoppers are undefeated and continue to hold the top spot on in the SAL Northern Division standings for the second half of the season. (They share that spot with the Lakewood Blueclaws.) Curtis Peterson started the game, and allowed four of the six Power runs in four and two-thirds innings of pitching, with two of those runs being in fifth inning before he was pulled and a third one scoring from a runner he allowed on base before he was pulled. When Natividad Dilone took the mound from Peterson, the bases were loaded. He walked the first batter he faced (sending in a run that was charged against Peterson). The inning was thankfully over when the next batter grounded out. The final two runs the Power scored came in the sixth inning with Dilone on the mound. Dilone keep the Power scoreless through the seventh, and when Ramon Benjamin took the mound to close in the eighth, he only allowed a single batter to take a base, delivering what appeared to be three easy outs, two of which were strikeouts. I really want Peterson to emerge as a great starting pitcher, but I’m not seeing it yet. He always seems to come out doing well for about four innings, where he just kinda falls apart. I hope he’ll continue to work on his stamina and be able to stay in the games for more innings before being pulled.
I forgot to bring my fancy camera to the ballpark, but I took a few pictures with Camera+ on my iPhone and applied the filter that makes it look that you took a picture of a tiny model instead of real life (click to embiggen):
Before the game started, I spent some time chatting with my friend Pat at the Taylor Made Kettle Corn booth. With the drought of home games, it had been about two weeks since we chatted. He hooked me up with a bag of delicious kettle corn for the evening and we caught each other up on what we’ve been up to the past couple of weeks. The short version is that it’s been a tough couple of weeks for both of us, and we’re both glad to be back in the park for some Hoppers home games. I can’t recommend the Taylor Made kettle corn enough — Pat’s a great guy, the kettle corn is delicious, and the prices are amazing. A small bag of kettle corn lasts me the entire ballgame, and a large bag can easily be shared by several people. The best part is that anything you don’t finish at the ballpark, you can take home and enjoy since it doesn’t tend to go stale for a couple of days. Just seal it up in some tupperware or something and snack on it for a few days. It’s good, good stuff.
Susage Race (between 1st and 2nd): won by Country Sausage. Sage had the lead until she reached third base, where she stopped to drink a glass of water offered to her by one of the pitchers in the Hoppers bullpen. Will she ever win?
Sumo (in middle of 2nd): won by Red Sumo
I used iScore to score the game. Here’s how I had it (click each picture of the scoresheet to embiggen):
In about an hour, I’m headed back to the ballpark. They’ve got Myron Noodleman scheduled for tonight, which should prove to be great entertainment. I’ll try to remember to bring my camera this time. And fireworks! Friday and Saturday games have fireworks — last night’s show was awesome, and I’m looking forward to another great display tonight.
The Hoppers were back in Greensboro last night for the first game of an 8 day homestand. And they won! WooWoo! I was out of town for a few days and got back in town just in time to get to the ballpark before the game started. It rained (sprinkles, mostly) for almost the entire game, but the grounds crew did a great job of keeping the field playable, both teams and the umpires did a good job of keeping the action moving, and most of the fans sought shelter under the upper decks to enjoy the game. All in all, it turned out to be a fine night for baseball.
Last night was baseball
and the Hoppers brought their game
securing a win.
Before the National Anthem was sung, the colors were presented on the field. They stayed on the field during the singing and then were retired from the field. Jim, the announcer, asked everyone to show respect to the colors until they had exited the field, and I was really pleased to see that everyone remained standing and quiet until the flag was retired.
The game itself was generally a good example of smart baseball. The Hoppers had pretty consistent pitching from starter Bryan Evans (after hitting the 2nd batter he faced with a pitch, anyway) who pitched for five innings only allowed one run. Middle reliever Natividad Dilone pitched for 3 innings and also allowed one run. Closer Alejandro Ramos shut down the ninth inning 1-2-3 with outs that were all garnered as a result of nice fielding plays. The BlueClaws used 4 pitchers throughout the contest, pitching 2.1, 2.2, 1.0, and 2.0 innings each. All four Hoppers runs were earned against the first two BlueClaws pitchers.
Sausage Race (between 1st and 2nd): won by Country Sausage
Sumo (middle of 2nd): won by Blue Sumo
I don’t know if other teams do this or not, but the Hoppers like to have fun with the opposing batters. For example, last night, whenever BlueClaws right fielder Domingo Santana came up to bad, his walk up music was taking from Carlos Santana’s Black Magic Woman. They also put interesting pictures on the scoreboard for batters who share a name with celebrities. Last night, BlueClaws catcher Sebastian Valle was honored with mug shots of two other “Sebastians” (click each picture to enbiggen):
Yeah, that’s Sebastian the Crab from The Little Mermaid and Sebastian Bach from Skid Row (my wife had to identify that one for me). Fun times with the visiting team.
Once again, I used iScore to score the game. Here’s how I had it (click each picture of the scoresheet to enbiggen):
All my pictures from the game are on Facebook.
And now it’s time to head back to the ballpark for today’s game. The rain has cleared up a bit, so I’m hoping they can get a great game in without any problems with the weather.
Yesterday’s game win
was really enjoyable.
Today’s loss? Not fun.
So, yeah, after yesterday’s win, I was pumped to go to the ballpark today. I was even more pumped when, after the first inning, the Hoppers were ahead 4-1. Curtis Peterson was on the mound, looking good. He ended up pitching 5 innings, allowing 2 runs off 5 hits. Helping the Hoppers was the opposing pitcher, Tony Butler, who allowed 4 runs off 2 hits in 4 innings. All four of those runs were in the first inning, and I was surprised that the Shorebirds let Butler pitch 3 more innings after such a terrible first inning, which included 3 walks.
Peterson was relieved by Ramon Benjamin who was taken out after facing 4 batters. He struck out the first batter, the second got on base with a base hit, and he walked both the 3rd and 4th batters. Benjamin was replaced by Sandy Rosario, who was unable clean up the mess Benjamin left him — all three batters on base when Rosario took the mound ended up scoring. At the end of the sixth, the Hoppers were losing, 5-4.
The seventh was a good inning for the Hoppers, and they pulled ahead 6-5, which they maintained through the eighth.
Then, the ninth inning came. The Shorebirds batted around for eleven batters. Five of those eleven walked. Six of them scored. Going into the bottom of the ninth, the Hoppers went from leading by one to trailing by five. It was embarrassing. Alejanero Ramos’ 27.00 ERA really tells the story of the ninth inning, as he pitched for only 0.2 innings. Arquimedes Caminero relived Ramos and secured the final out after facing 3 batters. When the Hoppers stepped behind the plate in the bottom of the ninth, the first three batters fell quickly by hitting to third base, where Levi Carolus was easily able to throw to first before they could reach the base.
The fans that were left at this point left the ballpark pretty dejected. Check out the box score if you want to see the full details of the sad tale.
All was not sadness at Newbridge Bank Park, though. The highlight of my evening was meeting first baseman Chad Cregar and getting his autograph on my team ball before the game. No one was at the autograph table when I walked up, and Chad was happy to chat with me for a bit. I told him that I thought he had the coolest walk-on music and he chuckled about it.
Cregar’s the eighth autograph on my team ball. Here’s a picture of his signature:
In promotion news: Country Sausage won the Sausage Race between the first and second innings. Red Sumo won the Sumo Match in the middle of the 2nd inning.
I’m going to miss tomorrow’s game, ’cause I’m heading off to Winston-Salem to watch the Dash play their fist game in their new stadium. Maybe the Hoppers will do better without me in the stands.