What a Bizarre Game

Tonight had so many quirky moments, and I’m pretty sure the ValleyCats paid off the umps, because there were a lot of favorable calls that fell the home team’s way.

In the top of the third, the first pitch Reynaldo Mateo saw was popped up over the pitcher’s mound. Ryan Dineen came in to make the play, and bobbled it a couple of times as he stumbled across the hill. Eventful, but it was still an out. You could see Bushue was struggling with his command, and he gave up a solid basehit and a walk to the next two batters. With runners on first and second with one out, Melvin Mercedes hit a sharp grounder toward second, and Boog Powell (no, not that Boog Powell) got in the way and was called out on interference. Austin Booker closed out the inning with a weak grounder to third. Crisis averted!

Tony Kemp led off the bottom of the third with a solo shot to right-center, but the game settled back down for the next six outs, so getting out of that jam wasn’t the momentum shift I was expecting.

James Ramsay — or Ramsey as his jersey says — led off the fourth with a solid line drive up the middle. He was absolutely dead to rights on a pick off; he was leaning, and stumbled trying to shift his weight back toward first, but the home plate ump decided to call a balk instead. None of us in our section saw anything obvious, so I can’t say for sure as to what he did wrong. He came set well enough, so I’m guessing he just didn’t step off the rubber satisfactorily. The next batter, Luis Alverez, hit a shallow fly ball to right, and again, Ramsay was dead to rights. He didn’t stop halfway to third, and the throw behind him beat him by at least two and a half steps. Somehow, he was called safe. I have no explanation for it. It’s not like there was a missed tag, it’s a force play, so maybe Mercedes just totally danced around the bag as he made the catch and never made contact with it… I’m assuming Ramsay’s expended all of his guardian angels and he’ll be unceremoniously put out in each of his at bats tomorrow.

From that point in the game, the pace slowed to a snail’s wiggle; the fielding grew sloppy, and the pitchers lost control. The glancing “blow” came unexpectedly in the home’s half of the sixth. With the bases loaded and two out, D’Andre Toney hit a routine fly ball to right, and Kelvin Rojas just muffed the play. He took a clean route to the ball and had his eyes on it all the way. He closed his glove too fast, and the ball scooted away from him. The bases cleared, and an erratic throw to third allowed D’Andre to reach safely.

The ‘Cats weren’t smooth in the field in the late innings, but at that point they’d built up enough of a cushion to hold on and win.

iScore Box | iScore Scorecard


Melvin Mercedes       4  1  3  1  Tony Kemp             3  2  1  1  
Austin Booker         4  0  1  1   Chan Moon            1  0  1  0  
Kelvin Rojas          4  1  2  2  D'Andre Toney         4  0  1  3  
Michael Soto          4  0  0  0  Conrad Gregor         4  1  0  0  
Josh Miller           4  0  1  1  Dan Gulbransen        5  1  1  2  
Luis Baez             4  1  1  0  James Ramsay          4  1  2  0  
Reynaldo Mateo        4  0  0  0  Luis Alvarez          3  1  2  1  
B.J. Boyd             4  2  3  1  Jon Kemmer            2  2  1  0  
Herschel Powell       3  1  1  0  Ryan Dineen           4  0  0  0  
                                  Thomas Lindauer       4  1  0  0  
TOTALS               35  6 12  6  TOTALS               34  9  9  7

VERMONT LAKE MONSTERS         000 020 040 -- 6  
TRI-CITY VALLEYCATS           011 023 20x -- 9  

ERR--Austin Booker, Kelvin Rojas (2), Ryan Dineen. 2B--Luis
Baez, Herschel Powell, Luis Alvarez, Jon Kemmer. HR--Tony
Kemp, Dan Gulbransen.

 VERMONT LAKE MONSTERS           IP    H    R   ER   BB   SO   HR
Deyvi Jimenez (L)              4.67    4    3    3    3    4    1
Derek Hansen                   1.33    2    4    1    2    0    1
Taylor Massey                  1.00    1    2    0    1    1    0
David Mota                     1.00    2    0    0    0    0    0
Tanner Bushue                  4.33    4    2    2    1    3    0
Albert Minnis (W)              0.67    1    0    0    0    0    0
Adrian Houser                  2.00    6    4    4    0    0    0
Pat Christensen                1.00    1    0    0    0    1    0
Chia-Jen Lo                    1.00    0    0    0    0    2    0

WP--Tanner Bushue (2). BALK--Deyvi Jimenez. SO--Josh Miller,
B.J. Boyd, Luis Baez, Reynaldo Mateo, Kelvin Rojas (2), Ryan
Dineen, Tony Kemp, D'Andre Toney, Dan Gulbransen (2).
BB--Herschel Powell, Luis Alvarez, Jon Kemmer (2), Tony
Kemp, D'Andre Toney, Conrad Gregor.

Offensive Highlights
2B Tony Kemp: 
3-4, BB, HR, 2 R — Kemp left the game in the top of the seventh, replaced by Chan Moon. Not sure what happened there.

DH Dan Gulbransen: 1-5, HR, R — Not the best night offensively, but he put a charge into the homerun he hit. It got out in a hurry, and was deep to right-center.

LF Jon Kemmer: 1-2, 2 BB, 2B, 2 R — Jon has shown a very good eye at the plate, and he earned a walk after a tough at bat in the sixth. He doesn’t seem overly speedy, but he runs the bases well.

Pitching Breakdown
Batters faced:
Bushue 17, Minnis 2, Houser 10, Christensen 4, Lo 3
Pitches-strikes: Bushue 57-36, Minnis 8-5, Houser 45-33, Christensen 11-8, Lo 13-11
Groundouts-Flyouts: Bushue 5-4, Minnis 1-0, Houser 4-0, Chistensen 2-0, Lo 0-1

Tanner Bushue (4.1 IP): Tanner seemed to have the Lake Monsters under control through the first four, but didn’t come out strong in the fifth. He had some extra time while the offense was chugging along, and it really affected his command. He showed a high-80s fastball, slider, curve, and changed velocity on the slider to wind up with something between a cutter and a changeup that got quite a few swings and misses. It had a really nice fade to it. Actually, thinking back on how it was moving, it’s likely it was a change and not a slower slider. I’ll keep a closer look the next time I see him.

Albert Minnis (0.2 IP): He was barely in the game long enough to show us a fastball and a curve. Release point felt inconsistent, but it was a really small sample size.

Adrian Houser (2.0+ IP): Houser attacked the zone and pitched to contact. His fastball (85-88) has a lot of cut to it, and he offsets it with a serviceable curve (76-78 with varying amounts of plane change). The problem with staying in the middle of the plate without dominant stuff is that eventually guys are going to get good wood on the ball, and that’s what did in Houser’s evening. There was a lot of solid contact on his flat curveballs in his third inning of work.

Pat Christensen (1.0 IP): Pat was a real trip to see. Every pitch felt slower than the last, and he had the Lake Monsters out of whack while he tried to clean up Houser’s mess. His fastball was peaking in the low-mid-80s, and he mixed in a true 12-6 curve in the mid-60s. It was like watching Bugs Bunny pitch.

Chia-Jen Lo (1.0 IP): Lo’s only here on a rehab stint from AA Corpus Christi, and he absolutely dominated the Lake Monsters in the ninth. His fastball was consistently in the mid-90s (92-96), and he offset it with a change that came in 12 MPH lower than that. The Lake Monsters were having some fun with being so overwhelmed, heading back to the bench with huge smiles on their faces after seeing someone that polished in the second game of the season. What an absolute treat it was to see him throw tonight.

Closing Notes
– The umps were definitely favoring the ValleyCats tonight, and if you wanted to say the fix was in, I’d have no right to go against you. There was a questionable balk overturning a pick off, a safe call on a throw back to the infield after a fly ball, a trapped fly ball in left by Kemmer, and inconsistent strike zones that happened to only hurt the Lake Monsters.

– While there were 15 runs and 21 hits tonight, it wasn’t a traditional slugfest. Sure, there were well hit balls, but the big rallies for both teams were among terrible fits of control and fielding miscues.

– Because of said miscues and control problems, the first four and a half innings took a mere hour and four minutes. The remaining four innings took almost two hours…

The ‘Cats Are Back in Town!

I’ve been battling a seriously annoying sinus infection all weekend (read: sleeping for the better part of 20 hours on Sunday), but I’ve been jonesin’ for some live baseball, and toughed it out to take in the game last night. Luckily for me, the ‘Cats came out firing on all cylinders to help me snap out of my grogginess.

iScore Box Score | iScore PDF Scorecard


Melvin Mercedes       3  0  1  0  Tony Kemp             4  1  3  2  
Austin Booker         4  0  0  1  Jose Fernandez        4  0  1  0  
Ryan Gorton           4  0  0  1  James Ramsay          4  0  0  1  
Michael Soto          4  0  2  0  Conrad Gregor         3  1  2  1  
Luis Baez             4  0  0  0  Ernesto Genoves       5  1  1  0  
Xavier Macklin        3  0  0  0  Ronnie Mitchell       5  1  0  1  
Kelvin Rojas          3  1  2  1  Dan Gulbransen        5  2  2  0  
B.J. Boyd             4  1  1  0  Jon Kemmer            4  2  4  2  
Herschel Powell       4  1  1  0  Ryan Dineen           4  1  2  1  
TOTALS               33  3  7  3  TOTALS               38  9 15  8

VERMONT LAKE MONSTERS         001 020 000 -- 3  
TRI-CITY VALLEYCATS           121 020 12x -- 9  

ERR--Austin Booker. 2B--B.J. Boyd, Ryan Dineen, Ernesto
Genoves, Tony Kemp. HR--Kelvin Rojas, Jon Kemmer.
HBP--Conrad Gregor. SACF--Tony Kemp. SB--Ronnie Mitchell,
Tony Kemp, Dan Gulbransen.

 VERMONT LAKE MONSTERS           IP    H    R   ER   BB   SO   HR
Gregory Paulino (L)            4.00    7    4    3    2    4    1
Tyler Johnson                  2.00    3    2    2    3    0    0
Fernando Cruzado               2.00    5    3    3    0    2    0
Evan Grills                    4.00    3    1    1    2    2    1
Edison Frias                   1.00    3    2    2    0    1    0
Kevin Comer (W)                4.00    1    0    0    1    5    0

PB--Ryan Gorton. WP--Fernando Cruzado. SO--B.J. Boyd, Luis
Baez (2), Austin Booker, Michael Soto, Xavier Macklin (2),
Herschel Powell, Ernesto Genoves (2), Jose Fernandez, James
Ramsay, Dan Gulbransen (2). BB--Melvin Mercedes, Kelvin
Rojas, Xavier Macklin, Ryan Dineen, Jon Kemmer, Jose
Fernandez, James Ramsay, Conrad Gregor.

Offensive Highlights
2B Tony Kemp:
 3-4, 2B, Sac Fly, 2 RBI, SB, R — Small, athletic build. Quick hands, compact swing, fast out of the box, good acceleration while stealing/advancing.
LF Jon Kemmer: 4-4, HR (1), BB, 2 RBI, 2 R — Lean build, made solid contact on each hit, showed some pull power on a hard line-drive homer in right center. Fought back from an 0-2 count to get a walk.
3B Ryan Dineen: 2-4, 2B, BB, R — Returning 2012 ValleyCat picked up where he left off last season, making solid contact on pitches up in the zone. Still prone to chasing sliders down and away, grounding out to the right side twice.

Pitching Breakdown
Evan Grills:
4.0 IP, 16 BF, 73 pitches – 42 strikes, 2 K, 3 H, 2 BB, 7 GO, 2 FO — Tall and lean southpaw with solid stuff. Fastball, change, slider, curve. Commands the outside corner on righties very well. As expected for the first start, fatigue hit hard around his 60th pitch, and he labored hard through his last three outs.
Edison Frias: 1.0 IP, 6 BF, 18 pitches – 13 strikes, 1 K, 3 H, 2 GO, 0 FO — Didn’t seem comfortable at all. Sort of a herky-jerky delivery, fastball flat and in the heart of the zone.
Kevin Comer: 4.0 IP, 14 BF, 51 pitches – 33 strikes, 5 K, 1 H, 1 BB, 4 GO, 3 FO — Polished breaking ball command, whiffing four on called third strikes. Hard sinker, decent fast ball command. Change was left up in the zone, but the change of velocity led to some bad swings.

Closing Notes
– Home plate umpire, Dave Attridge, had a pretty solid zone all night, favoring called strikes on the outside corner. Nate Caldwell in the field had a few close plays at first, and they all appeared to go down the right way. This duo didn’t get barked at from either bench, or the crowd.

– During a trivia question, the contestant was asked to name one of the twenty-six former ValleyCats to have reached the big leagues as an Astro. The dude answered “Ben Zobrist” which is incorrect, but was awarded a correct answer anyway.

– James Ramsay (0-4, RBI) was sporting a jersey with his last name spelled incorrectly; there was an ‘e’ replacing the second “a.”

– Remember the “Dar-ryl, Dar-ryl” chant of old? It was really fun doing that to one Herschel Powell of the Vermont Lake Monsters. Say it with me now… “Her-schel, Her-schel”

– Though it was a sell-out crowd of almost 5,000 people, the crowd never really hit a groove with cheering on the team. It was a little eerie just how quiet The Joe was with so many people co-occupying the space. Chalk it up to the iffy weather and the ‘Cats pulling away fairly early? Sounds good to me.

– Here’s the official box score, and recap of the game. Looks like the only thing I “got wrong” was assigning a passed ball opposed to a wild pitch on Johnson. Those are tough calls to make, so I call it a push!