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
VERMONT LAKE MONSTERS (6) AT TRI-CITY VALLEYCATS (9) VERMONT LAKE MONSTER AB R H BI TRI-CITY VALLEYCATS AB R H BI 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 LOB--VERMONT LAKE MONSTERS 3, TRI-CITY VALLEYCATS 7. 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 TRI-CITY VALLEYCATS 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.
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.
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.
– 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…