Game 3 of the Greensboro Grasshoppers – Lakewood BlueClaws series came Tuesday evening, July 6. The Hoppers fell to the BlueClaws again, on a close 6-7 game. My Rally Cap was out and in force, but must have been just too little, too late. This brings my Rally Cap record to an even 2-2 since I started keeping track. It was an exciting game, though, especially towards the end when the Hoppers were starting to rally.
The Hoppers highlight of the night goes to Chase Austin, who hit two homers. One came in the 3rd inning and the 2nd came in the 9th inning, putting the Hoppers just one run short of tying. Pitching for the Hoopers was Chad James (2.1 innings, 4 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 4 strikeouts), Natividad Dilone (2.2 innings, 4 hits, 3 runs, 1 strikeout), and Ramon Benjamin (4 innings, 1 hit, 3 strikeouts). I love watching Benjamin pitch — he’s so efficient.
The highlight of the game for me was off the field, collecting autographs. Before the game started, I was thrilled to find Carlos Paulino (catcher) signing autographs at the table by the playground area. I had a couple of baseballs I’ve been carrying around to get Paulino to sign — the only Hoppers game ball I have is a foul ball Paulino hit that I scrambled to pick up about a month ago when it went into the stands, and the ball I threw when I threw the first pitch last month. Paulino caught my pitch, and I thought it would be cool to have his autograph on the ball I threw. So I took them to the table and he was happy to sign them for me. When I told him where each ball came from, he seemed to get a kick out of it. After getting Carlos’ autograph, I headed over to the Hoppers bullpen area to watch the team warm up in the outfield. There, I got both Michael Pasek (2B) and Erick Carrillo (P) to sign their cards. Later in the game, I spotted Curtis Peterson (P) in the stands and got him to sign his card, too. I’m hoping to get all the cards in the team set autographed before the season’s out.
Sumo (between 2nd and 3rd): won by Red Sumo.
Sausage Race (between 8th and 9th): won by Hot Sausage. Hot entered from center field instead of by the Hoppers dugout with the other two sausages. It was kinda weird.
The “Fry Guy” Strikeout promotion was in full effect today. Here’s Spaz encouraging the third base side to coax BlueClaws batter Buschini into a strike:
Remember earlier when I said I saw Curtis Peterson in the stands? Guess what he was doing. He was filming Ramon Benjamin pitching. I guess they analyze the tapes to see how they can improve.
I used iScore to score the game. Here’s how I had it (click each picture of the scoresheet to embiggen):
All of my pictures from the game are on Facebook.
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.
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.
MiLB.com has a nice article about Curtis Peterson’s debut last night, as well as the attempted robbery he stopped last week:
Petersen plays hero ahead of debut
By Paige Schector / MLB.com
After coming through the incident unscathed, Petersen was ready to make his debut Monday.
“I felt good,” he said. “The fastball is not there yet, but my curve and changeup were working. I pitched downhill. It was respectable.”
In his first full season, Petersen knows there’s a long road ahead and time to improve.
“I want to get hitters out earlier in counts in a long, long season,” he said. “I may not have as many strikeouts. Get some ground balls, go for easy outs and hopefully pitch deep into games.”
Curt looked great on the mound. Too bad the Hoppers blew the game in the ninth. I’m looking forward to seeing more of him as the season progresses.
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.
Thanks to my buddy Jason for forwarding me this newspaper article about Hoppers pitcher Curt Peterson stopping an attempted robbery in a Walmart parking lot Wednesday morning:
GREENSBORO — Grasshoppers pitcher Curt Petersen stopped an attempted robbery Wednesday morning in the parking lot of the Walmart on Battleground Avenue….
“This guy came up behind her and grabbed her purse and her keys,” Petersen said. “She was yelling, ‘Help! Help! Help!’ I thought maybe it was just a joke. … I thought maybe they were messing around. But then she got knocked down, and I knew it wasn’t a joke.”
Petersen said he dropped his things, ran to Dixon’s car and grabbed Conrad before he could get in.
“I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ And he said, ‘I’m taking her car.’ And I was like, ‘No, you’re not,’ ” Petersen said. “I had a hold of him, and he threw the keys back to the lady and said, ‘All right, all right, just let me go.’ And I said, ‘I don’t think so.’ “
That’s awesome! Curt’s from Texas, and I bet they’re used to having regular citizens stopping thugs like that all the time. I met Curt at the Season Ticket Holders Picnic on Tuesday and chatted with him for about 10 or 15 minutes. He seems like a really nice guy, and reading about how he stepped up and prevented this robbery just confirms that for me.
The article says that he’s probably scheduled to pitch on Monday. I can’t wait to see him on the mound.
Way to go, Curt! Welcome to Greensboro.
Edit to add: WFMY News 2 ran a story on this incident, with the following video:
Last night, I attended the picnic that the Hoppers hold for their season ticket holders. I was really excited about it, ’cause it would be a chance to meet the players, have some good food, and watch batting practice.
I arrived at the ballpark just as they were starting and met my ticket rep, Kate. She was holding an extra Opening Day ticket for my wife, so I went ahead and picked that up. Then I headed over to where the food was going to be served and milled about a bit. After a few minutes, the players came out of the clubhouse and started mingling with the fans. The picture on the left shows them hanging out. They were really happy to chat with everyone and sign autographs. I looked for Kyle Skipworth (catcher) since he’s the only returning player from last year. I had his baseball card from last year’s set and wanted to get it autographed. He was great to chat with and said he was happy to be back in Greensboro. He likes it here, and I’m looking forward to watching him play before he moves up, which I expect to be soon.
After eating supper, I had a chance to chat with Curtis Peterson (right handed pitcher) for a while. He said that he was really enjoying Greensboro, loved the ballpark, and was looking forward to being able to explore some of the downtown attractions. He seemed like a really nice guy, and I want him to do well. Later in the evening, I watched him pitch a little bit and think he might have a future. It looked like he was struggling with his control a little bit, but he seemed confident enough that he’ll work through it just fine.
I also had a brief chat with manager Andy Haines, and got his autograph on a baseball. I had previously picked up autographs of several other players on the baseball, too. Hopefully, by the end of the season, I’ll have the full team.
Here are a couple of the autographs I got:
Before the team took batting practice, Andy Haines introduced all his staff and players by name and position. They were all standing on top of the dugout:
After the introductions, the players took the field for batting practice, which was really fun to watch. I also ran into a couple of my friends, Caroll and Jason, who are the chaplains for the team. The three of us had a great chat about the fantasy league we’re in this year, and about baseball in general. We’re all looking forward to the season.
The Hoppers let us stay as late as we wanted. I was having so much fun watching, I didn’t notice that pretty much everyone else left and I think I was the last one to leave. Everyone was extremely nice, from the players to the staff. It was a great little perk for season ticket holders, and I’m glad I went. It would be nice if they opened up batting practice more often.
Anyway, we’re less than a day away from Opening Day now. I can’t believe I’ve waited all winter and now the wait is finally over! I’m looking forward to it. If you’re at the game tomorrow, come find me and say “hi.” I’ll be in Section 104, Row Q, Seat 1.