Twins-Royals in Pictures

Made it out to the Twins-Royals game last weekend with the family.  We got there early and checked out the ‘outfield experience’ back where there used to be nothing but fountains.  Still, you immediately know what stadium you’re in when you see this view.

Fountain-Small

It was a really nice day, which was a good thing because, due to 8 pitching changes (7 of them of the mid-inning variety) we were there for quite a while (game time was at least 3.5 hours).

Continue reading

Our Last Trip to Beloit

BeresfordSteals

Due to our impending move to Kansas, catching Snappers games is about to become a lot more difficult just due to sheer distance.  Thus, we took advantage last weekend and took in the last game of the first half of the season for Beloit against the Quad Cities River Bandits (Cardinals A affiliate).

This was doubly exciting because earlier in the week Aaron Hicks had been called up to take a spot on the roster.  I was hoping to get a chance to see him play this year before I left, and he made it just in time.

HicksPickoff

Continue reading

Portraits of Frustration: Milton Bradley Edition

This is my photo of Joe Mauer’s sac fly on Friday that ended up in the stands thanks to the Cubs right fielder forgetting how many outs there were.  If I had the time and/or inclination I would superimpose a thought bubble over the entire crowd, reading “What the hell is Milton Bradley doing?”

Poor Ryan Theriot.  Waiting for that throw that will never come.

Pitcher’s Duel in Beloit

Lewis-crop

A week ago, the Snappers beat the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 4-0 in a game that didn’t see any scoring until the eighth inning.  Joe Testa started for the Snappers and pitched the first three innings before giving way to Bradley Tippett (I assume this was by design, because Testa certainly wasn’t struggling – his line:  3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 SO, 0 BB).

Pitch-crop

Tippett picked up right where Testa left off (his line: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 5 SO, 1 BB) and completely shut down the Timber Rattlers lineup.  The only hit off Tippett was an infield hit due to a poor throw by the third baseman (picture), and each Snappers pitcher only faced one hitter over the minimum in their outing.

The picture below was the theme of the day, it seemed like the ump had a large strike zone and all the pitchers (Beloit and Wisconsin) were dealing pretty good.
YerOut

Wisconsin would end up winning the strikeout race – starter Wily Peralta would strike out 10 in six innings (including five straight and eight of ten Snappers in innings 3 through 5) – but with neither team scoring it was clear the first team to score would win.

Wisconsin Pitchers –
K K K K K K K K K K K K

Beloit Pitchers –
K K K K K K K K K

Beloit finally broke through in the eighth inning against the Timber Rattlers bullpen.  It started off with back-to-back one-out walks, which brought up James Beresford who delivered a line drive off the third baseman’s glove that scored the eventual game winner.

The inning snowballed from there for the Snappers, with a two-run single from Ramon Santana (see picture) and a sacrifice fly from Jon Waltenbury.

It was a fantastic game to watch. Both teams played excellent defense, pitched extremely well, and then we got to see a dramatic late-inning rally and a Snappers win. An ideal day at the ballpark. (Here’s a link to all of our photos from the game)

Just What We Needed – Twins 20, White Sox 1

I will never get tired of this picture (click on any of the images for the larger version):

Mrs. Mak had a friend with season tickets at US Cellular, but couldn’t make it to a weekday afternoon game. Since we both work a somewhat flexible schedule, the wife and I headed down to the south side to see if we could reverse the Twins luck and end a six-game losing streak.

First of all, we had GREAT seats. We were about six rows above the Sox dugout.

Continue reading

What I Watched Instead of Walk-Off Weekend

ThePitch_small

The weather here was beautiful this weekend, so my wife and I made the trip up to Beloit to take in a game on Sunday.  Keeping an eye on the Snappers this season (via Seth and JeffA), it seemed like they were having a tough go of it so far, perhaps our presence could inspire a victory?

Beloit Snappers 9 – Peoria Chiefs 6

box score | play-by-play

Success!  Upon returning home to see the Twins were victimized by another walk-off HR, it was obvious we had made the right decision.  Dan Osterbrock got the start for the Snappers, and promptly gave up a 2-run HR in the first.  Not an auspicious start, but Angel Morales upped the ante with a 3-run HR of his own in the bottom half of the first.

MoralesHR_small.jpgAngel Morales connects on a 3-run HR

Osterbrock and Morales were the stories of this game, Osterbrock ran out of gas in the sixth, but essentially cruised through the first 5 innings.  After the fifth I commented on the efficiency of the Snappers pitcher, so if that was enough to jinx him, I apologize.

Osterbrock_smallDan Osterbrock delivers

Fortunately, the Peoria starter struggled mightily, not making it out of the third inning.  By the time he left the game, only one Beloit player in the lineup had yet to reach base and the Snappers had a 7-2 lead.

IMG_0470The ump was calling the high strike, but come on…

James Beresford knocked out three singles (all ground balls through the infield:  to tell you the truth the Peoria shortstop had a really tough day – not sure if he was being poorly positioned by the coaches or what, but everything was just out of his reach).  I mentioned Morales, who got hits in his first three at-bats and scored 2 runs.

Beresford_smallJames Beresford

Steve Blevins came in to put out the fire in the sixth, and after the inherited runner scored, he got out of it to leave the Snappers ahead 7-6.  At this point I was a bit worried that I had signed up to witness another bullpen implosion, but Blevins was solid over the next two innings (no hits, one walk – the only free pass issued by Beloit pitching) and Danny Rondon pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with 2 strikeouts to earn the save.

Rondon_SmallDanny Rondon tosses to first

This might have been the ideal baseball game.  The Snappers jumped ahead early, and other than one half inning, never looked like they were going to give up the lead.  A nice solid win for Beloit, hopefully that starts something of a roll for them.

More pictures to come as I upload them.

Sometimes I Feel Bad For The Guy

You know who I feel bad for? Nick Blackburn when he’s in Chicago.

He pitched pretty well, I thought, but he was let down by the offense, the defense, and the bullpen in this one as the Twins fell to the Chicago White Sox 6-1.

Buehrle was good on Sunday, the only hits the Twins got were a first inning single by Justin Morneau and a Delmon Young homerun (that I didn’t see off the bat because I was focusing the camera on the first baseman, expecting a groundout).  The only other offensive excitement was whether or not Mike Redmond would make it to first on a dropped third strike (he didn’t) and guessing whether or not Carlos Gomez would bunt (he did).

Continue reading

A New Career?

The Beloit Snappers are including some fan-submitted photos in their game program this year.  Since I had some photos from some games, I submitted this one:

Got the call yesterday from the Snappers, who informed me that my picture made the cut!  My spoils include:

– One free copy of the 2009 Snappers Souvenir Game Program
– Four box seats to any April or May home game
– Four vouchers for a free hot dog and soda
– One team autographed baseball
– The opportunity to throw out a first pitch at an April or May home game

This beats the time I caught one of the free T-shirts they were throwing into the crowd.

So I think this makes me a professional photographer, right?  Time to ditch this chemistry gig and start racking up the free hot dogs and soda! Anyway, this only made me wish the baseball season would get here sooner.  Less than three weeks until real baseball starts again!

Sign Backstrom Now: Hockey Day ’09

Over the weekend, my wife and I drove back to Minnesota for some time with my family.  As we got there on Saturday, we took in my brother’s hockey game against Dodge County (he plays predominantly JV as a freshman, but he scored a hat trick in the JV game, and got to dress and play in the varsity game as well).  After those two games, we hadn’t come anywhere close to sating our desire for hockey.  Fortunately, my parents bought us tickets to the Wild v. Ducks.  The seats were in the upper deck, and our view was fantastic.  We could see the whole ice and watch plays develop and everything.

img_00121

Plus I got to test out the zoom on our camera.

img_0010That right there is Nicklas Backstrom, who was the only reason that the Wild were still in this game after two periods.  I know a lot of debate has been heard recently about the advisability of signing him when he becomes a free agent this summer.  And I also know the argument that the Wild system benefits goalies’ stats by limiting opportunities.  After that game (and the one that followed against Chicago on Monday night), it seems obvious to me that Backstrom is an elite goaltender, and it’s not going to work for the Wild to just plug in the next prospect (in this case Josh Harding).  It sounds like I’m basing this on only a couple of games, and while it is true that I haven’t seen the Wild play as much as some people, the last couple of days only confirmed what I already believed concerning Backstrom.  I think that Harding would be a reasonably good goaltender if given the majority of the minutes, but he wouldn’t provide the same level of play Wild fans have grown accustomed to from Backstrom.

img_0014

Unfortunately, Backstrom would not be able to win this one singlehandedly.  While Derek Boogaard got seemingly every other shift in the second and third period (seriously? you’re down by a goal or two and you think Boogaard will make a difference?), the Wild failed to mount many scoring opportunities.

img_0013After a while the Ducks wore down the Wild in their defensive zone and banged home a couple of goals to make the final 3-0.  Hockey day was great because I got to take at least one game of my brother’s first high school season, but on the professional side of things there was altogether too much of this.

img_0016

Beloit Photos Rescued

snappy After a few months of the family desktop doing its best paperweight impression, I decided it was about time that I try to rescue some of the files off of it. Due to our digital camera going missing about the same time, the last couple of installments of our trips to Beloit never made it onto the internet. So here’s photos from one of two August games up in Wisconsin. It was too long ago for me to provide any meaningful commentary on the game, but I hope you enjoy them regardless. I’ve got another set coming up tomorrow.

August 10: Beloit v. Peoria Chiefs

Ben Revere
Paul Kelly
Rene Leveret
Andrew Schmiesing
Allan de San Miguel
Yangervis Solarte
Ramon Santana
Jeanfred Brito
Henry Reyes
Mark Dolenc
Other Pics

Back to Beloit

For my wife’s birthday, she decided she wanted to go to a ballgame with a couple of friends (How did I get so lucky?). So once again we drove up to Wisconsin to see the Snappers take on the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Seattle Mariners A affiliate).

The Snappers roster this time around looks quite a bit different right now than it has all year. There were a few promotions during since the All-Star break and Beloit has been recently hit by more than their share of injuries. Joooooooooooooooe Benson (back), Deibinson Romero (leg), and Chris Parmelee (wrist, pictured below forlornly coaching first) are all out for the year.

Jair Fernandez is also out for some time with a cast on his right arm. That didn’t stop him from warming up the pitcher when the catcher (Greg Yersich) wasn’t ready to go. Of course, since the cast was on his throwing hand, warming up the pitcher became a three-man operation (pitcher, catcher, ball return guy). Then in the top of the ninth inning the third out came on a strikeout and the batter’s follow through caught Yersich on the back of the head with his bat and drew a fair amount of blood. Add to that Ozzie Lewis did not play Sunday and was placed on the DL on Monday, and clearly this team a little snakebit right now.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers – 8, Beloit Snappers – 4
box score | play by play

As for the game itself, it was kind of a disappointment. I don’t know if the lineup had too many new guys, but the defense was not very good behind Michael Tarsi. Outfielders consistently threw to the wrong base allowing at least three runners to take an extra 90 feet, infielders checked runners for so long that they didn’t throw out the guy at first, and they made three errors. Tarsi didn’t help out much, he gave up some solid hits, was pretty wild all afternoon (1 walk but a lot of 3 ball counts), and one run scored on a wild pitch. It added up to a lot of pitches in 4.1 IP, probably around 80 to 90, and he left with the Snappers down 7-1.

The Snappers managed to keep the game interesting however, they drew 7 walks to add to their 7 hits and 1 HBP, so there were scads of baserunners. Unfortunately, the hits were all singles after Ben Revere’s 1st inning triple, so it was a lot of running around the bases, but not as much scoring as one would like to see with 15 baserunners.

Besides Revere’s triple, Mark Dolenc got on base 3 times (hit, walk, HBP), stole his 23rd base, and scored 2 runs. One of them was on this sac fly by Yersich, I thought I had the CF in frame, and if I had, I think this would have been the best pic I’ve taken at these games. He’s still back there, it just isn’t quite the perfect shot.

Estarlin De Los Santos got two singles and an RBI, otherwise not too many notes on the Beloit offense. Michael Allen did a great job in relief, posting 3.2 scoreless innings in his 3rd appearance with the Snappers. The weather was great and the company was top notch, so I’m not going to complain about anything so silly as the score, but this was a team that was missing a few key players, and it showed.

Other pics:

Michael Tarsi Pitching Pitching Fielding Fuming
Snappy D. Turtle Dancing
Michael Allen Pitching
Ben Revere Batting Batting Running
Estarlin De Los Santos Batting Batting Batting
Jeanfred Brito Batting Batting Batting
Mark Dolenc Running Running
Juan Richardson Batting Batting
Yangervis Solarte Batting Batting Batting Batting Running
Home Plate Umpire Sweating

Beloit Doubleheader

Last Saturday, my parents were coming into town, and, since Beloit is pretty close to on the way from Marshall to Chicago, we figured why not take in a game to kick off the Memorial Day weekend? After checking the schedule and noticing the unusual start time of 5 PM, I took off from work a bit early and headed up to Wisconsin. In about the fifth inning, a whole bunch of people started to show up, talking about how they didn’t realize the game time had changed. But, the others in the stands behind us assured them that this was a doubleheader so they would get to see a game after the current one. This was news to me, but I’m always up for watching more baseball, so this report will cover both games of May 24, as the Snappers swept the doubleheader from the Burlington Bees (Kansas City’s A affiliate).

Game 1 – Beloit 8, Burlington 0 (7 inn.) (box scoreplay-by-play)

Game 2 – Beloit 3, Burlington 1 (7 inn.) (box scoreplay-by-play)

Last time I went up, I was disappointed that I missed Ben Revere. He was in the lineup on this day and he was really exciting to watch. He went 5-8 in the two games with a double, a triple, 3 runs, and 3 RBI.

He can absolutely fly around the bases, and he’s extremely aggressive with his speed. Almost too much so. In the fourth inning of game one, with Revere on third, Garrett Olson (“Red” as my wife likes to call him) fouled a pitch, in the air, right in front of the Beloit dugout on the third base line. The third baseman came over and made a nice catch as he went into the dugout. Revere tagged and tried to score! Note that the ball was, at that point, about 40-50 feet away from home plate. Even though the 3B recovered and shoveled the ball to the catcher before Revere reached home, the umpires called the play dead when the fielder went into the dugout. Olson was out, but they awarded each runner one base. First off, I honestly don’t know if that’s the right call, I know if the ball is thrown into the dugout runners move up, but it seems odd that they would be given a base in this instance. Secondly, my scorekeeping acumen is being severely tested by this team. I had to put a ‘?’ for the scoring play. The official box score awarded Olson an RBI, so it may have been the world’s shortest sacrifice fly.

Still, my scorekeeping was a vast improvement over whomever was operating the Pohlman Field scoreboard. As a math major and general number nerd, these types of things amuse me. The score in the top of the fourth was 2-0 with Beloit adding a run in the bottom of the third, but 1+0+0=2? Later, the third inning run was added, but the 5 run lead seemed bigger somehow, and it didn’t have anything to do with the way the pitching staff was confounding the Burlington batters.

The pitching was exemplary for the Snappers. In two games, Michael Tarsi, Bradley Tippett, Michael McCardell, and Steven Hirschfeld combined to record 42 outs while facing only 48 batters and allowing one run. Michael Tarsi was particularly impressive, pitching the first 6 innings of game one and allowing 2 hits, no walks, while striking out seven. McCardell started game two and threw 3 perfect innings, before a walk, a basehit, and a groundout got Burlington on the board. He must have been on a pitch count because he got pulled after 60 pitches exactly (according to my count) and only 3.2 IP.

In between games we amused ourselves by thinking of real-life situations where being referred to as Jooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooe Benson would be hilarious (the announcer in Beloit has been drawing out his first name longer and longer with every visit). For instance, when he goes to sign his next contract, does he need an extra long dotted line? I think there’s a Twins Territory commercial in there somewhere if/when Benson makes it to the bigs. Also, someone left a banana on top of the dugout for the entire break, almost until the next game started. I knew you wouldn’t believe me, so I got photographic proof.

Chris Parmelee continued his run of recording a strikeout and a walk in every game I have attended (in those 4 games he is 1 for 9, with a HR, 5 BB, HBP, 5 SO for a .111/.467/.444 line and a .000 BABIP). But, I did finally get a picture of him swinging at a pitch, so this trip was a success.

Some quick notes on other players, Jair Fernandez (3rd on Beloit in OPS behind Revere and Parmelee) went 1-4 with an RBI and 2 SO. “Red” Olson got 3 RBI on the day and went 2-2 with 2 BB in game 2. Ramon Santana and Ozzie Lewis (who just returned from the DL) both got 2 hits and an RBI in game one and didn’t play in the nightcap.
Finally, even though the Snappers mascot came in last place in the sausage race (to be fair, he is a turtle), I’m happy to report that Beloit celebrated their doubleheader sweep in WGOM-approved style, with a very nice fireworks display after the games.

As always, there are a few more photos and videos available if you’re interested.

Beloit Repoit

I went up last weekend on Sunday to see the Snappers take on the Peoria Chiefs (the Chicago Cubs A-level team). The Snappers won to complete the 3-game sweep and move to two games over .500, which was their high-water mark for this season to that point.

Final Score: Beloit 5, Peoria 4 (box scoreplay-by-play)

Pictures and more to follow

Peoria is managed by Ryne Sandberg, who’s in his second year of managing the team. He had a flock of people following him around whenever he would leave the field, but he seemed to be in good spirits during the lineup card exchange.

Ryne Sandberg

I was excited to see Ben Revere play since he’s been tearing up the league in his short stint there, but he wasn’t in the lineup for this game, so I can’t report much of anything other than that he is capable of playing catch.

Besides Revere, Chris Parmelee is one of the other intriguing prospects on the current Beloit team. In addition, he was one of the few lefties in the lineup, so he was facing me in the 3rd base bleachers when he batted. So I was ready to try to snap some shots of his swing.

First attempt: no good, taking all the way.

Chris Parmelee

Next attempt: way outside.

Chris Parmelee

At some point, he’ll swing the bat, right?

Chris Parmelee

Alright, this is the last one, if he doesn’t swing here, I give up.

Chris Parmelee

Just kidding, one more try!

Chris Parmelee

Bah, somehow he saw through my clever ruse. Parmelee has far and away the most strikeouts and the most walks on the Snappers roster. He didn’t disappoint on Sunday. In fact, he didn’t put a ball in play in any of his 3 trips to the plate (1 SO, 2 BB).

David Bromberg was the starting pitcher for the Snappers. He has pitched well after a couple of rocky starts at the beginning of the season, and I thought this was another well pitched game, 6 IP, 96 pitches, 65 strikes, 6 SO, 2 BB, 2 ER, 7 H. There weren’t any innings where he really labored (23 pitches in the second was the highest of any inning).

I remember Bert Blyleven always used to stick out his tongue when he threw a curveball (or something like that). Could that be what’s going on here with Bromberg? I can’t tell if what type of grip he had on the pitch, but in the other pics of him I don’t see his tongue at all.

David Bromberg

Loek Van Mil came in and pitched two innings of relief, he struck out one, walked two, allowed a run, and got bailed out a little bit when the potential tying run was thrown out as a result of a poorly thought out baserunning adventure (resulting in the most interesting scorebook notation of the day, the 8-2-5-4 double play).

I tried to get some shots of the action that were a bit more dynamic than the pitcher sticking out his tongue, or the batter taking nearly every pitch thrown to him. Matt Dolenc made a nice running catch in right field, the ball was right down the line, as you can see below.

Matt Dolenc

Then, in the top of the fourth, Greg Yersich gunned down a Peoria base-stealer at second.

Caught Stealing

It turns out that the pitch was strike three to the batter, ending the inning and rendering the baserunner meaningless, but I like the picture, so it stays.

Beloit’s offense started with Jair Fernandez reaching base on an error then scoring on Ramon Santana’s two-run single in the second. Joe Benson delivered a 2-out, 3-run double that hit off the center field fence in the air in the fifth inning to put Beloit ahead for good. Matt Williams pitched a perfect ninth to get the save.

More of my pictures of the game are on flickr.