07 August 2005

Portland Doubleheader...

So Erin, Erin's parents and I headed over to NYSEG Stadium in Binghamton Saturday night to check out some portion of the doubleheader scheduled between the Binghamton Mets and the Portland Sea Dogs. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Steve Trachsel was making a rehab start for the B-Mets, and Jon Lester was pitching for the Sea Dogs in the first game.

Getting there in time to see the Sea Dogs on the field in their red jerseys, Lester was on the mound and looking fairly good. During his outing he had trouble locating his secondary pitches, and appeared to have a lot of trouble getting them over for strikes. Moreover, his fastball sat at 91 all game, hitting 93 on a couple high fastballs. From the looks of it (this being my first time seeing him pitch) he was laboring a bit, and didn't have his 'A' stuff. His one poor inning- in which he surrendered two runs- was largely a product of errors (a passed ball and an error on Ramirez) and wild pitches- he threw three in the inning, accounting for both runs crossing the plate. In the 3rd inning Aarom Baldiris launched an inside fastball off Lester that was crushed, but just foul. In the 5th he wasn't as lucky when Derran Watts straightened a pitch out and drove it for a HR.

Meanwhile, Steve Trachsel was looking every bit the healthy major league pitcher, shutting down the AA Portland lineup. In that first game, the only batter not looking overmatched was Brandon Moss, who went 2-for-3. Hanley Ramirez was swinging early in counts, grounding to the right side a lot in these ABs.

Binghamton won 3-1.

In the second game- a game so good that we actually hung out for the entire 8 innings- Portland's pitching didn't look as polished, but the offense lept to life. Hanley Ramirez had two singles, one of which was especially impressive- up 3-1, Hanley got a good, riding fastball from Binghamton starter Kenneth Chenard about shoulder high- and Hanley got on top of it, absolutely rocketing the ball back up the middle. It wasn't a great pitch to swing at- but it was a great pitcher's pitch, and as such Hanley's swing was pure athleticism. Good stuff.

David Murphy hit an extremely impressive opposite field HR, a ball on which he had really strong but especially easy power the other way. He didn't get fooled, either- he took the pitch where it was thrown, and really put a strong swing on it, and it was gone by a lot. Moss came through with another well hit ball, this one a double that he worked for three bases on the error.

Ultimately though, Jim Mann was forced to load the bases with one out (intentionally) in the bottom of the 8th (extra innings), and with Lastings Milledge (who you'll remember in the night terrors you had over Manny's trade- he would have been included) up, Mann walked in the winning run on a 3-2 pitch. Portland lost both games- but it was extremely fun to see the team up close finally. In fact, in between games, I got thisclose to Murphy and Ramirez, and told them both to "have a great game," which I'm sure they cherished. Hanley's actually a really sweet guy- signing for some kids. He was on the field, mugging with some fans at the fence- when the announcer was running through the lineups, he announced Hanley as "#6"- he wears number 2- so Hanley mocked confusion and started grabbing at his jersey, trying to read the number on his back. Hey, I laughed.

Binghamton wins game 2, 8-7.

Here are the pictures. CLICK for larger view.

The Portland fun- bus; and Hanley signs to Youngbauer for covering on the steal

Lester ambles to the dugout after an inning of work; Hanley approaches the plate

Hanley's at bat from the 3rd base side; Hanley's at bat from behind home plate- Steve Trachsel pitching

David Murphy strides to the plate; Hanley from his position at SS

David Murphy in CF; Jon Lester from the windup

Lester delivers a fastball; Lastings Milledge on deck

Brandon Moss on deck; Brandon Moss at bat

Kaz Matsui on deck; Ballwinkle, retarded minor league mascot

Hot air balloons approach; Erin eats cheese

Jon Lester delivers another pitch; The Alpo hot air balloon

Hanley approaches the batter's box; Hanley bats again

Two bumble bee balloons; Brandon Moss to the plate

Hanley alone on the bench; Hanley on the bench with Sheldon Fulse

The weird lady with the "Austrailian hat" singing; Game One lineup

Hanley's pre-game stretching; Moss and Murphy have a catch

Hanley taking cuts on the 3B line before Game Two; Hanley signs ball, gets close to me

David Murphy signs; Showroom under the bleachers (swear to God)

Wait... that's not David Wright!; Hanley at bat again

Ramirez at the plate; Moss scoring on Ramirez single

Hanley on first after 2 RBI single; Murphy scoring on opposite field HR

Thank you, NYSEG field!

Some explanation- the balloons in the air were part of some Binghamton-wide festival that really probably isn't worth explaining beyond it's description. So that's that. Also, here are some numbers to align to the players to clarify a bit:

2- Hanley Ramirez
3- Brandon Moss
31- Jon Lester
18- David Murphy
Lastings Milledge- Mets best positional prospect
Kazuo Matsui- big league waste of cash on rehab assignment

...and that woman is singing for "Australia Day," which ended up being an absolutely atrocious display. As a singer, she made a great concessions worker.

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