Archive for July 1st, 2009

Mr. Perfect

Well, let’s add Brandon Hynick to the list of players who have achieved awesomeness in 2009.

Hynick pitched a seven-inning perfect game for Colorado Springs yesterday, the ninth in Pacific Coast League history and the first since 2007.  (The game story referenced eight perfect games.  I don’t think they’re including the combined effort by three Portland pitchers in 2006.)  He struck out six in winning his seventh game of the season.

The all-time list of no-hit games in the PCL can be found here (who the hell is Tom Drees and how did he pitch three no-hitters in 1989?).  I’ve pulled the perfect games and listed them below for easier reference.

May 31, 1943 – Cotton Pippen, Oakland (7 innings)
May 16, 1948 – Kewpie Dick Barrett, Seattle (7 innings)
September 12, 1954 – Roger Bowman, Hollywood (7 innings)
May 19, 1975 – Gary Ross, Hawaii (5 innings)
July 7, 2001 – John Halama, Tacoma (9 innings)
May 7, 2003 – John Wasdin, Nashville (9 innings)
June 9, 2006 – Ryan Meaux, Cla Meredith, Aquilino Lopez; Portland (7 innings)
June 25, 2007 – Manny Parra, Nashville (9 innings)
June 30, 2009 – Brandon Hynick, Colorado Springs (7 innings)

Not a ridiculously bad list.  The first four are unknowns, Halama and Wasdin were established major leaguers, and Parra was an up-and-coming prospect.  Where Hynick will end up is anyone’s guess.

Tom Gorzelanny and Ian Snell Might Be Too Good For The Minor Leagues

Times are tough for Pirates pitchers Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny.  Both are relatively young (27 and 26, respectively) and have had some major league success, but something – injury, lack of confidence, playing for the Pirates – has derailed once promising careers.

Last weekend, Gorzelanny and Snell found themselves pitching on back-to-back days for the Indianapolis Indians.  On Saturday, Gorzelanny went five innings against Toledo, striking out twelve and allowing four hits.  The next day, Snell took the hill against the Mud Hens, walked the first batter he faced, then struck out thirteen in a row.  Thirteen.  That means he struck out the side in the first, second, third, and four innings.  Mike Hessman was the first to make an out in some other way, grounding out to third with one out in the fifth.  Snell finished with 17 strikeouts in seven innings.

Barring a trade, the two will have starts coming up later this week, so it should be interesting to see what they do the next time out.

The Weekend Of Junior Felix

Down 10-1 in the bottom of the seventh tonight, the Baltimore Orioles came back with five-spots in the seventh and eighth innings to beat the Red Sox, 11-10.  Late in the game, a graphic flashed up that it was the first time Boston had led by nine runs and lost since June 4, 1989 against Toronto.  Immediately, I remembered the game, and a quick search of confirmed my suspicions that the game, and the entire weekend, belonged to Junior Felix.

Felix, a 21-year-old rookie outfielder who I always manage to confuse with Felix Jose, had made his major league debut the month before, homering on the first pitch he saw from Kirk McCaskill.  When the Blue Jays came to Boston on June 2, Felix was scuffling, with two homers, ten RBI, and a .255 batting average.  He had also displayed a startling propensity for striking out (21 in 94 at-bats) and below-average base-stealing ability (five steals in eight tries).

A little Red Sox pitching was all he needed to get rolling.  In the first game of the series, he went 2-for-4 with three runs scored.  One of the hits was a ninth inning inside-the-park grand slam off Bob Stanley that turned a tight 3-2 game into a more relaxing 7-2 contest.  The next day, he went 3-for-5 with four RBI in a 10-2 Toronto win.

Sunday was the game I remembered.  The Red Sox jumped out to an early 10-0 lead behind Mike Smithson, who allowed two runs on four hits in six innings.  In the seventh and eighth innings, however, Toronto started mounting a comeback, scoring six times against Smithson and Stanley.  The barrage continued into the ninth, through pitchers Rob Murphy, Lee Smith, and Dennis Lamp, and didn’t end until the Blue Jays held an 11-10 lead.

Boston manufactured a run in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings.  It stayed 11-11 until the top of the 12th, when Tom Lawless singled and Felix followed with his second homerun of the series.  Duane Ward shut down Wade Boggs, Sam Horn, and Randy Kutcher in the ninth to close it out.  Felix finished the game 3-for-7 with a run scored and three RBI.

Felix’s totals for the weekend: 8-for-16, two homeruns, four runs scored, eleven batted in.  He had some good games here and there the rest of the season, but nothing quite like that three day stretch of excellence.

Ten Years From Now?

We may be saying something along these lines…

As I’m sure you remember, in the late 2000s the US experienced a short-lived infatuation with Indian culture.  For some bizarre reason, the Indians thought this would be a permanent thing.  Of course, it wasn’t.

So what exactly in the blue hell am I talking about?

Soon, we will see the debut of the most intriguing figures to stride the Gulf Coast League rubber since the days of Loek Van Mil. For we will see the Bradenton Pirates give game action to Rinku and Dinesh. The stars of Indian Reality Show “Million Dollar Arm.”

To say that the odds are long would be an understatement. If a man with a resume like Stephen Strasberg isn’t a sure thing, you know that Singh and Patel aren’t likely to make it all the way to the show. But that being said? They do have upside.

Rinku has a developing curveball to go with his inherent lefthandedness. After all, he likes it.  And with all the work that he’s been doing with Tom House, you have to figure that he’s on his way to developing a repeatable arm action. He’s a better athlete, and he touches the upside of a major leaguer as a lefty who can hit 90.

Not to say that Dinesh isn’t going to make it. Mr. Singh has shown a stronger feel for the game. And he can get the ball to the plate at 91-92. But this is all ballast for right now.

Right now, we’re waiting for the big debut. Right now, I’m trying to avoid posting a YouTube video of a Bollywood dance number.

Do I have anything else to say? No.

So I’ll bail.

Is It The End Of Nashua Baseball As We Know It?

After last night’s American Defenders game, my friend Chris was moved to write down a few thoughts of his own on the current state of the team and its seemingly inevitable demise.

There comes a time in everyone’s life where their childhood memories eventually fade away. It may be something small and minuscule or it may be something significant. This is minuscule but it is still something that is hard to watch die right before your eyes. I am talking about Nashua minor league baseball. Last night I went to the American Defenders of New Hampshire game at Historic Holman Stadium and in front of a crowd of about 150 I saw former all star and major league record holder Eric Gagne pitch.

Gagne was someone who at one time was considered one of the best closers in the game, then injury struck and he was never the same. He pitched for the Red Sox for a short time as well, but those facts alone were not good enough to draw more people than an average night at the Olive Garden. I bought the cheapest seats in the house and had free roaming abilities to move all the way to the first row behind the visiting dugout.

This brought me back to a time when I used to work for this ball team. I was making minimum wage but loved every minute that I was able to work there. On a good night two to three thousand people would be there cheering on their beloved Nashua team, watching local legends like Butch Hobson and Glen Murray.

I am not going to compare Gagne’s appearance to Ricky Henderson’s… actually, I am. When Henderson came to town the house was packed, the energy was fantastic and it was the place to be. The scoreboard was working, and the reason why I start with this is because the scoreboard was turned on but it was like when your computer is on screensaver – it’s on but no one is there. The PA announcer had to keep announcing the score and if it wasn’t for the outfielders putting up their hands to show how many outs there were the game could have gone on all night.

To see a team that I once had the privilege to work for in the state that they are in now was tough to sit through. I heard the players swear when they made a mistake, a conversation from three sections away, and (worst of all) the cheers from the Little League game just outside the stadium completely overshadowed any cheering that took place for the Defenders baseball team. Unless there is some sort of miraculous marketing change in Nashua where they can convince people that they need baseball in that city, Holman Stadium will turn into another baseball memory that will be written about in a book or magazine that people will always say “whatever happened to…” It truly is the end of an era for Nashua minor league baseball.