Tag: Tacoma Rainiers
Here’s the final game of the trip I took.
The River Cats won, 14-3. Kila Ka’aihue led six Sacramento hitters with 2 hits apiece, both of his going for home runs as he drove in 4 runs. Grant Green also homered and plated 4 of his own as the River Cats broke the game open with an 8-run 4th. Bruce Billings picked up the win with 5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB & 5 SO. Luis Antonio Jimenez, Carlos Triunfel & Guillermo Quiroz all had 2 hits each for Tacoma. Hector Noesi struggled through 5 IP, 9 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 3 BB & 3 SO.
After getting to bed past 1 AM thanks to that marathon the night before, I was thankful to be able to sleep in. Once I got going, I spent most of my afternoon in the area of Pacific Ave and Dock St around the Tacoma marina. Thanks to Yelp, I found a nice little place that had some tasty chicken teriyaki and sushi before snapping some photos of various things in the area. It was a good way to kill some time before heading back to Cheney Stadium for my second game.
I’d watched a couple games online to see what the angle of the sun was like, but it was overcast for the first game so where I shot from didn’t really matter at any point. This time the sun was out, at least for the first inning. It sets behind the third base side, much like it does at Salem-Keizer, so I got some nice, sharp pitching shots early before the clouds took over.
It wasn’t long before Sacramento left no doubt that this one wasn’t going into extra innings again. Entering the 4th down 2-1, they put up an 8-spot against Hector Noesi, helped in large part by a 3-run homer by Grant Green along with a 2-run shot by Kila Ka’aihue, both coming with 2 out. Normally Noesi probably would have been taken out at that point, but since Tacoma’s bullpen was running on fumes he went 5 innings before Jandy Sena, brought back up from Double-A after the last game, finished. Bruce Billings had a high pitch count so he only lasted 5 innings himself, but the River Cats got through the rest of the game without much trouble.
Fortunately this wasn’t the night of the 18-inning game because I had to leave Tacoma no later than about 10 PM, needing to get up to friends of mine just north of Seattle before the hour got too late. It took just about an hour to do so, which was pretty reasonable. This meant I only missed about 20 minutes of this one.
Not much else to say, but I definitely enjoyed the chance to work a couple games there. From here, I’ve got various things to work on from the rest of the trip along with another game or two from Sacramento now that I’ve been back home.
I’ll just start this one out with the gallery link and recap first:
The Rainiers won, 2-1, in 18 innings. In a game that set records for Sacramento in length in innings and time (5:32), Tacoma position player Scott Savastano both pitched and hit a walkoff home run. Prior to that, Dan Straily took a 1-hit shutout into the 9th before being removed after a leadoff double that came around to score. His line was 8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO and he was matched up in a great duel with Danny Hultzen who went 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO. Jermaine Mitchell’s homer in the 6th was the only run of the game for the River Cats.
For Sacramento, Grant Green went 3-for-7, Josh Donaldson was 1-for-5 with a 2B and 3 BB, Eric Sogard & Collin Cowgill both went 2-for-8 & Michael Taylor had a rough 0-for-8 with 4 SO. On Tacoma’s side, Mike Carp was the only one with a multi-hit game, 2-for-4 with a 2B and sacrifice fly. Darren Ford was 1-for-6 with a 2B and 2 BB & Luis Rodriguez was 1-for-4 with 3 BB, but Nick Franklin, Luis Antonio Jimenez, Mike Wilson, Trayvon Robinson, Vinnie Catricala & Brandon Bantz combined to go 0-for-34 with 17 SO.
I don’t know what the frequency of them is, but you don’t see many games that go 18 innings. To put it in perspective, the Oakland A’s (Sacramento’s parent club) have played a 15-inning game this year, a 16-inning game last year and a 17-inning game in 2006. You have to go back to 2004 to find the last time they were involved in a game that went 18 innings (8/8/04 @ MIN). That was a 6-5 win, but it had been tied at 3 entering the last inning.
Until this game, my first at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, the longest game Sacramento had ever played came on 5/21/11, a 16-inning affair at home against Oklahoma City that went 5:04. It was the third time in their history they’d went 16. By the time this one was over, they eclipsed both records. This game also set a Tacoma record in length (since 1960), topping a 19-inning game that went 5:22 on 4/28/89, a 4-3 win over Las Vegas. The last time they’d played 18 was a 4-3 win over Iowa on 8/1/99.
Clearly, this was a historic game to see.
Before all of that, I was just excited to see a game in Cheney Stadium. When I was thinking about this trip it centered around covering a couple games here. From there it was a matter of working out which games I wanted to attend in the Northwest League and, after arranging a few things for me to take care of work while visiting friends in the Seattle area, I was able to add in a couple days to go to Victoria, BC.
Cheney Stadium opened in 1960, includes light towers from old Seals Stadium in San Francisco, and underwent various renovations over the years. You can find old photos online and see a place that wasn’t a whole lot to look at, indicative of the fact it was recently finishing its fifth decade of operations. The latest renovation, completed in time for the 2011 season, saw a complete rebuilding of the grandstand area, suites, press box and more. It looks like much of the old concrete structure itself was kept but the design of the stadium was greatly updated. Admittedly, it changed my thoughts from Cheney Stadium being a place I was ambivalent about and would probably only visit if I was in the area to a place I wanted to see at least a game or two at.
Getting there is simple enough once dealing with the seemingly ever-present traffic and construction on I-5 in that area. It’s within a couple miles of an exit and can be reached via another highway or surface streets. For this game I had to rush a bit because I stayed in Portland until early afternoon, meeting up with a couple people to sample food carts downtown. Thanks to the MLB At Bat App and a plugin to my car stereo, I was able to listen to part of that afternoon’s A’s game as I drove. The traffic led to me checking into my motel around 5 PM and I finally got to the ballpark a few minutes before 6 PM – later than I’d have preferred for a first visit, but I still had an hour before it started.
You can get a sense of the place from the photos, but I generally liked it. The sightlines were pretty good, the photo wells adjacent to the dugouts were about where I like them, and getting around was easy. I was especially looking forward to this one because of the matchup I’d been keeping an eye on as soon as pitching rotations were set up coming out of the Triple-A All-Star Break. We’d get Dan Straily for Sacramento against Danny Hultzen for Tacoma.
I saw Straily pitch just last year in Stockton, and by the time I wrote this he’d been called up to the Oakland A’s. That’s just 13 months since I saw him in High-A, and as of this moment he led all of professional baseball in strikeouts this season. Not bad at all. Hultzen was Seattle’s 1st Round pick and 2nd overall out of Virginia in the 2011 draft. Classic matchup of a non-prospect who’d turned himself into one (Straily was selected in 2009 in the 24th Round, 723rd overall out of Marshall) against one of the most hyped young pitchers in the minors.
Sidenote: in the course of about a month and a half, I saw the 2nd and 3rd picks in last year’s draft. Trevor Bauer was taken by Arizona one spot after Seattle got Hultzen. The first pick in 2011? Gerrit Cole, who is currently in Double-A in Pittsburgh’s system.
As for the game itself, the matchup between Straily and Hultzen lived up to its billing. Hultzen had experienced some high pitch counts that kept him from going very far in any of his Triple-A starts, but he was much better in this one. 6 innings may be about average for a starter but he struck out a number of hitters and really only struggled toward the end of his outing. Meanwhile, Straily continued his dominance of the minor leagues. After a double in the 1st by Mike Carp, he didn’t allow another hit until Darren Ford led off the bottom of the 9th with a double just inside the RF line. Apart from the innings, their pitching lines were very similar.
Obviously, the Rainiers tied it up in what would have normally been their last time up. That’s when it got interesting. Innings went by with both teams having good chances to score. In the 10th, Bobby LaFromboise entered for Tacoma and bailed them out of a bases loaded, one-out situation by getting Kila Ka’aihue to bounce into a double play. LaFromboise would go 3.1 scoreless innings before Steven Hensley added 4.1 of his own. For the River Cats, Rich Thompson, Fautino De Los Santos and Justin Souza combined for 7 IP of scoreless baseball while striking out 10. In the 11th, 13th and 17th, Tacoma put runners into scoring position with sacrifice bunts but failed to end it each time.
With long games like this, things are bound to get a little strange. Tacoma’s mascot Rhubarb (who wants you to know he’s a reindeer, not a moose) got into a pair of colored underwear and nothing more than a Snuggie while dancing to The Sugarhill Gang’s Apache (Jump On It). River Cats pitcher Bruce Billings, who’d start the next night, came over to chat for about an inning. Pitching coach Scott Emerson gave running play-by-play during a couple spots, as if he was on the radio. Wes Timmons wrote “RUNS!” on the dugout wall with athletic tape. In the 17th, Daric Barton borrowed my camera to take some shots of his own and we talked about a few things.
By that time it’d passed midnight and if the examples above weren’t proof enough, we’d hit “weird baseball” stage. Baseball Prospectus and ESPN writer Kevin Goldstein hashtags #weirdbaseball on Twitter whenever a game passes into the midnight hour locally and ice cream is then consumed. In fact, a game between the A’s and Rays just recently hit that mark. I didn’t have any ice cream here, but I did get the first game I can remember being at that went into the next morning.
To really finish off the odd things that took place, Tacoma brought position player Scott Savastano in to pitch in the 18th. It’s the first mention of it, but the night before the two teams took 13 innings and 4:43 to decide that one, so both bullpens were running on fumes by this point. Savastano had entered in place of Mike Carp at 1B earlier. He threw a 1-2-3 inning but nearly gave up extra bases to Michael Taylor, who crushed one to deep left center where Ford ran it down.
The River Cats countered with Shane Peterson, normally an outfielder. He struck out his first batter on three pitches, then up stepped Savastano. It was about 12:40 AM and we were coming up on a Pacific Coast League curfew of 12:50 in which no new inning could start after that. Saving everyone from having to suspend the game and finish it later in the day, Savastano crushed one over the visitor’s bullpen and the building behind it. Game over, walkoff home run, 2-1 Rainiers victory, and a position player was responsible for his own pitching win on top of it.
Just your routine 18-inning, 5.5 hour game, right? By the time it’d reached the 12th inning I figured I had nothing else to do so I’d stick around to see what happened, and I was treated to this.
18-inning game? Yeah, that happened.
I’ll talk more later on about Eugene and Salem-Keizer, the first two of my four baseball games on this trip, but last night’s contest between Sacramento and Tacoma deserves a special spot of its own here.
I like Cheney Stadium well enough, especially after the renovations. It seemed like a typically old ballpark from the photos I saw before they tore down the old structure and put in something new while keeping and updating the seating layout, but I’ll cover a game just about anywhere if I get the chance.
Tacoma ended up winning 2-1. Yes, in 18 innings. For much of the, shall we say, expected portion of the game, it was going by at a nice pace. Dan Straily & Danny Hultzen were as advertised. In fact, Hultzen had his best game in Triple-A out of five starts so far (6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 SO). His only blemish was a homer by Jermaine Mitchell in the 6th.
Meanwhile, Straily was nearly untouchable in his sixth PCL start. Taking a one-hit shutout into the 9th, he was finally removed after allowing a leadoff double to lightning-fast Darren Ford, who would score on a sacrifice fly. Straily: 8 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 SO.
The game went to extra innings, and it went on, and on, and on. At a couple points, River Cats pitching coach Scott Emerson gave running play-by-play commentary in the dugout. Pitcher Bruce Billings came over and we chatted for about an inning about photography and various ballparks. Wes Timmons used athletic tape to spell “RUNS!” on the dugout wall. Later, around the 17th, Daric Barton borrowed my camera for a few minutes to snap some shots as we talked about this and that (and yeah, I mentioned seeing him using a camera with a huge lens once in Detroit, which led into him talking about his own photography hobby).
Finally, in the 18th inning and with a PCL curfew looming in which no inning can start past 12:50 AM (else the game would be suspended and completed later), position player Scott Savastano entered to pitch for Tacoma. Michael Taylor, who ended up 0-for-8 in the game, crushed one to deep left-center but Ford ran it down. I thought for sure it was an easy double or even more.
Then in the bottom of the 18th, after Shane Peterson (another position player) came on to throw for Sacramento, Savastano destroyed a pitch to left, over the bullpen and a building behind it to mercifully end the game. So, the “pitcher” won it with a walkoff homer.
It was the longest game in River Cats history, both in innings and length (5 hours, 32 minutes). I didn’t have anywhere special to be last night, so by the time it reached 11 PM and was in the 12th inning or so I figured I might as well stay to the end. Turns out I saw a little history as far as these things go.
It’s been a very busy week for me, but that’s the way I like it when it means being around baseball.
I rented a 200-400mm f4 Nikon lens and, determined to make the most out of it, I’ve done something I’m not even sure A’s Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman has. In consecutive days, I covered games in Sacramento, Stockton and Midland, the three highest levels in Oakland’s minor league structure. The one in Stockton was simulcast on MLB Network, which was fun in its own right, but I went to Midland to shoot this year’s Double-A Texas League All-Star Game.
For starters, it’s quite a change going from taking a 150-seat 757 to Denver’s airport, which has somewhere in the area of 150 gates spanning three terminals, to a 50-seat Canadair jet to Midland, which has all of five gates at their airport. A rental car, a few miles and about 15 minutes later (thanks to a little unfamiliarity with the highways and side roads in Texas), I was checked in at the Residence Inn bordering the Scharbauer Sports Complex that consists of both Citibank Ballpark (baseball) and Grande Communications Stadium (football). As far as sports goes, the Midland/Odessa area is probably most famous for being the basis of the Friday Night Lights movie.
I caught a quick lunch at Osaka, a nice new sushi/hibachi/etc. place a couple blocks away that just recently opened. I don’t know how popular sushi and teppanyaki will end up being in that area but they’re probably in the right place to draw business from people in town for football and baseball. As a little sign of how foreign the concept is there, it took a few minutes for them to understand that pot stickers, or gyoza, are dumplings to them. Hey, at least they were good, and so was the sushi I had.
A little while later I strolled into Citibank Ballpark and added to my A’s minor league hat collection with a RockHounds cap (next year, Kane County?), then walked the concourse to see what the place looked like from different spots. This is something I like to do any time I go to a place for the first time. I’m into the design of the places, the architecture, and I enjoy getting a view from different angles. The concourse is open to take advantage of the wind, and their bullpens and outfield wall (at least in left) are arranged a little abnormally. It seems to fit without feeling too contrived.
Then it was down to the field for the Home Run Derby. The big story was Roger Clemens being there to throw at…I mean, pitch to the hitters. Among them was his son Koby, who plays for Corpus Christi in the Houston Astros organization. The Derby wasn’t much to write about, as very few balls were hit out. That was mostly because of a strong wind that blew in from left and, though it blew out to right, most of the hitters were right-handed and had some trouble going the opposite way. For the record, the father shut out the son, though Koby did line a couple back up the middle.
While I’ve never been a big Clemens fan (I think my favorite moment was his ejection in Oakland in the 1990 ALCS), I’d be lying if I didn’t say I enjoyed being around something like this. As a baseball fan it’s fun and as a photographer it’s nice to get some good pictures of. My personal feelings don’t really matter when I’m there to push the little button on the camera a few hundred times.
What about the game? First, a link to both galleries (totaling 150 photos) and my very brief summary:
The South Division won, 5-4. Luis Martinez of San Antonio singled in the go-ahead run in the 4th and the South held the lead, aided by a diving catch by Top Star J.B. Shuck of Corpus Christi to save a run in the 6th. Shuck did it again to end it, throwing out a runner at the plate after a base hit. Clint Robinson of Northwest Arkansas homered for the North and Alex Valdez of Midland tripled for the South. Jordan Lyles of Corpus Christi was credited with the win, Blake King of Springfield took the loss, and Jared Lansford of Midland got the save in spite of allowing singles to all three hitters he faced.
That’s the quick and dirty version, though it covers the main points. In truth, I think the South was fortunate to hang on for the win when you consider they allowed 14 hits and only picked up 6 of their own. It came down to limiting damage and getting out of jams as the North went 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on as a team. The South was 3-for-10 but made the most of the chances they did have, leaving just 4 on base.
After the game a few of the special All-Star jerseys were autographed and auctioned off. Jeff Baisley’s bagged about $700. Archie Gilbert’s? Around $2,000 or so. What about the Roger Clemens one? $5,000. Yes, it went for that much. Someone wondered why, that it wasn’t even a Houston Astros jersey. I figured since it was worn by him and a true one-of-a-kind, that helped account for it. It was worth that much to somebody, and at least some of that money is going to a charity.
The crowd was good and aside from a brief bit of rain early, it only lasted about an inning and it was great the rest of the night. There was even a rainbow beyond right field just before the first pitch. My main goal was to get at least one usable shot of every player I could and I came close. I think there were only a handful I didn’t get something of, which isn’t bad. I also got a few plays in the field, mainly a stolen base, a sliding triple into third, and a couple shots to first and third basemen (one foul, one a hit). Other than that, it was a lot of typical pitcher/hitter shots, but those are the easiest to get quickly at something like this.
If anything, the overcast skies helped me get some of the best photos I’ve taken yet at a game. Given the way it looks like the sun sets there, the infield would have been in shadow early on while the outfield would have stayed sunny and bright, which would be really difficult to shoot in until the sun went down. Instead, I had no real shadows to contend with until the lights took effect and I got some stuff I’m very happy with. Hopefully the people who write for the various team pages on Scout.com can make good use of it all.
As for me, it was another chance to get out and do something I enjoy and do it at a place I hadn’t been to before. Hard to find anything wrong with that. Most importantly, I’ve used the 200-400mm lens enough to know that one of these days I should buy one of my own. It’s far and away the best lens I’ve used yet and still gives me the flexibility I want without being locked in to one set length.
To wrap up, here are the other galleries from earlier in the week:
From Raley Field in Sacramento. The River Cats won, 7-5. Dallas McPherson’s 3-run homer in the bottom of the 8th put Sacramento in front and they held on for the win. McPherson, Josh Donaldson, Steve Tolleson & Matt Carson all went deep for the River Cats. Tacoma took an early lead when Matt Tuiasosopo hit a 2-run homer in the 1st off Graham Godfrey, but they didn’t get much after that. Godfrey pitched 6 innings, allowing 3 runs, 2 hits, 4 walks and 6 strikeouts. Tacoma’s Michael Pineda also went 6, giving up 3 runs on 7 hits, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts and 2 homers.
From Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton. The Ports won, 8-6. David Thomas, Grant Green & Jeremy Barfield homered for Stockton as they came back from an early 3-0 deficit to win, Green’s breaking a 5-5 tie in the 7th. The Blaze also showed the power with homers by Chris Gradoville, Mike Bianucci & Johnny Whittleman. David Paisano doubled and tripled for Bakersfield while Stephen Parker and Ryan Ortiz both had a single and a double for Stockton. Neither starter, Ben Hornbeck of the Ports & Carlos Pimentel of the Blaze, figured in the decision.
I’ve had a lot to keep me busy so far this season, covering ten games in the first two months. I’m keeping it to an average of about one a week but there will be times where it picks up. One of those will be the end of the month to coincide with maximizing the rental of a 200-400mm, f4 lens. I’m strongly considering buying a used one after that because I believe it will really help me get even closer to the action. You get to see the end result but there’s some cropping that goes into it first and the closer I can start with, the better the overall quality should be.
That week I’ll be at least covering a mid-morning game in Stockton that MLB Network will be showing, then flying the next morning to Midland for the Texas League All-Star Game. Around that I may do a game in Sacramento as well. Definitely looking forward to that week.
A few more games to point to since the last entry:
From Raley Field in Sacramento. The River Cats won, 8-3. Steve Tolleson went 3-for-4 with two solo homers while Chris Carter also went deep to go along with a double. Matt Carson, Josh Donaldson and Adrian Cardenas also had two hits apiece for Sacramento. Brett Anderson worked 3 innings in an injury rehab appearance (6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 SO before Travis Blackley went 3 more (2 H, 1 BB, 3 SO) for the win. Nashville’s Chris Waters didn’t make it out of the 4th, giving up 8 R (7 ER) on 8 H and 5 BB.
From Raley Field in Sacramento. The Rainiers won, 9-7. Sacramento blew a 6-3 lead late thanks to home runs by Tacoma’s Mike Carp and Jack Hannahan. Carp had 3 RBI while Hannahan and Brad Nelson had 2 each. Chris Carter homered for Sacramento and Matt Watson drove in a pair with a double. Neither Tacoma starter Andrew Baldwin nor Sacramento starter Graham Godfrey factored into the decision. Henry Rodriguez took the loss, allowing Carp’s homer.
From Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton. The Ports won, 9-8. Tyler Ladendorf capped a 4-for-4 night with a game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth after the Ports blew a 3-0 lead but came back from 6-3 and 8-5 deficits late. Grant Green and Stephen Parker homered on consecutive pitches in the first and Ryan Ortiz also went deep in the seventh. Mike Bianucci and John Whittleman homered for the Blaze. Neither Paul Oseguera nor Michael Schlact figured in the decision. Schlact made his first start since coming back from shoulder surgery and rehab.
Michael Schlact is an interesting story that kind of helps justify the use of social sites like Twitter, which he’s active in along with Facebook. Through a writer I know with Scout.com (Jason Cole, who covers the Texas Rangers organization), I ended up following Schlact during the latter stages of rehabbing from shoulder surgery. As it happened, this game in Stockton was his first since returning to starting so I figured it’d be fun to go watch and shoot the game.
The truth is, thanks to Twitter I’ve ended up paying more attention to a player I wouldn’t have otherwise had much of a reason to think about, and it makes me more interested in watching how his career progresses. I’ve already done that in some cases with certain players I’ve seen play at lower levels and know they’ve got a shot at the bigs (such as Daric Barton, Kurt Suzuki, Ubaldo Jimenez, Andy Sonnanstine, Brandon Wood and more at the High-A level) but this is a little different. I never thought I’d use Twitter but it’s been great for keeping up on breaking baseball news along with following various baseball players to see what they’re talking about, and I also use it to try sharing my photography better.
I’ve been keeping busy but the lack of posts here probably suggests otherwise. Just in case anyone does follow this (you should see all the comments: spam, spam, spam), here’s what I’ve been up to with my photography since August:
From Raley Field in Sacramento. The River Cats won, 4-3 in 12 innings. A throwing error on a stolen base allowed Eric Patterson to score the winning run a few innings after the RedHawks tied it in the ninth. Earlier, Patterson hit a home run to become the second River Cat (Mark Bellhorn, 2000) with at least 10 homers, 10 doubles, 10 triples and 10 stolen bases in one season. Gregorio Petit had three hits for Sacramento and Travis Buck added a pair. Four RedHawks had two hits apiece and Chris Davis walked four times.
From Raley Field in Sacramento. The Grizzlies won, 6-3. Four Fresno hitters had two hits apiece, including two doubles by Joe Borchard. Buster Posey had 2 RBI for the Grizzlies, who scored four runs in the seventh to take the lead and make a winner out of Waldis Joaquin in relief of Matt Kinney. Dana Eveland worked six-plus innings but failed to get an out in the seventh, taking the loss. He allowed 9 hits and struck out 9. Matt Carson and Travis Buck hit solo homers for the River Cats, who struck out 17 times compared to 13 for the Grizzlies.
From Raley Field in Sacramento. The River Cats won, 9-5. First Sacramento honored the Oakland A’s World Series win in 1989, then they scored 7 runs in the 2nd inning to break it open early. Brett Wallace collected 3 hits and drove in a pair, Chris Carter, Adrian Cardenas (both doubles) and Gregorio Petit had 2 hits apiece, and Eric Munson knocked in 3. Clayton Mortensen made it through 7 innings though he allowed 11 hits and 5 runs (3 earned). Fresno’s Kevin Pucetas was hit hard to the tune of 9 runs on 8 hits, 2 walks and 2 hit batters while recording just 5 outs. Kevin Frandsen had 4 hits for the Grizzlies and Matt Downs had 3 RBI.
From Aces Ballpark in Reno. The River Cats won, 17-6. Chris Carter’s first 3 homers with Sacramento, along with 7 RBI, led a 20-hit attack as 7 River Cats had multiple hits, including 4 by Matt Carson and 3 each by Carter, Chris Denorfia and Brett Wallace. Carson and Tommy Everidge also hit home runs, Everidge’s hitting the top of the scoreboard. Josh Whitesell and Luke Carlin had 3 hits apiece for the Aces and Cole Gillespie homered. Reno’s Seth Etherton gave up 10 runs on 12 hits in 5 innings along with 4 homers, and Scott Dohmann allowed 7 more in the 9th. Chad Reineke pitched into the 6th for Sacramento, allowing 6 runs on 9 hits with 3 walks and 3 strikeouts.
From Aces Ballpark in Reno. The Aces won, 8-6. Reno took an early 7-1 lead against James Simmons, who gave up 5 runs while getting only 5 outs, and held on for the win. Eric Byrnes, Cole Gillespie, Ed Rogers and Abraham Nunez each had a pair of hits for the Aces while Rogers and Agustin Murillo drove in 2 apiece to help Tony Barnette (6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 9 SO) to the win. Tommy Everidge hit two solo homers and drove in 3 runs for Sacramento and Daniel Haigwood pitched well in relief of Simmons, allowing 2 earned runs in 5 1/3 IP.
From Raley Field in Sacramento. The River Cats won, 13-2. In Game 3 of their best-of-five Pacific Coast League playoff series with the Rainiers, Sacramento poured it on early and late and rode a strong performance by Jerome Williams (7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO) to coast to the victory and a 2-1 series lead. Chris Carter, Matt Carson and Brett Wallace all went deep for the River Cats and Wallace had 4 RBI. Chris Denorfia and Adrian Cardenas both pitched in with 3 hits each and Cardenas also had 3 RBI. Tacoma’s Andrew Baldwin didn’t make it out of the 3rd, giving up 6 ER on 8 H before the River Cats added on in the 8th with 5 more runs against Robert Manuel, capped off by Wallace’s 3-run homer.
From Raley Field in Sacramento. The River Cats won, 13-8. In Game 4 of their Pacific Coast League playoff series Sacramento scored 6 times in the 1st and after Tacoma closed to within 7-5 the River Cats opened it back up with 6 more in the 7th, advancing to play Memphis for the PCL title. Tommy Everidge drove in 3 runs with a pair of hits, Chris Carter homered for the fifth straight game (1 regular season, 4 playoffs), Brett Wallace tripled in 2 in the big 1st inning and Aaron Cunningham had an important 2-run double in the 7th. Shawn Chacon lasted 5+ innings and allowed 4 runs for the win while Gaby Hernandez of the Rainers was lit up for 6 runs in just 2/3 innings and Justin Thomas later allowed 4 of his own in 1/3 innings. Chris Shelton and Matt Tuiasosopo both homered for Tacoma and drove in 3 runs apiece.
I’ll probably be covering at least one or two of the Sacramento/Memphis games at the end of the week then that might be it for me for the year unless I get out to any of the Arizona Fall League games, which would be fun.
Baseball isn’t all I’ve shot, though it does wind up being the majority of it during the season. While I was in Reno I came back through Virginia City so I took the chance to basically redo some photos I took a few years ago and get a few more of things I didn’t the first time around. Those can be seen here.
I also enjoyed having my brother visit not too long ago and he and some friends invited me out to see them do some power kiting on a sod farm in Lodi. That’s some pretty cool stuff but you definitely have to know what you’re doing. You can see a couple galleries here and I’m sure it won’t be the last time I take pictures of them doing it. It’s fun to shoot different things and play around with it.
The past couple months have been mostly taken up by finalizing a home purchase and moving and I’m getting settled in enough that I can go back out and do some games. Shooting a lot of stuff in Sacramento and Stockton is nice when I’m only about 20 minutes from Sacramento and 40 minutes from Stockton compared to about two hours and one hour respectively, depending on traffic.
I got back out to Sacramento on the 11th then did a game in Stockton on the 17th followed by another in Sacramento the next night as I work on getting more used to night games. After covering the first game I started thinking more about getting a little extra zoom. Before I got the new camera and lens for it, I’d been using one that went up to 300mm but the problem was its aperture settings were nowhere near good enough to shoot at night (about f5.6 when at full zoom). Now I have one that’s f2.8 but it’s only 200mm and I’ve been noticing it’s not quite enough for me when it comes to cropping to a larger part of the image for a better-looking result.
I started looking at 300-400mm lenses with f2.8 but they’re definitely expensive. Rather than plunking down a few thousand on one (I’ve been spending more than enough lately getting necessary items for the house) I decided to try a 1.4x teleconverter Nikon puts out. So far I’m pretty happy with it, though having to go down a full stop to f4.0 does make for some differences in how I can shoot once night sets in. It’s a fair tradeoff, though.
Before getting into the next bit of news, three galleries:
6/11/09: Tacoma Rainiers at Sacramento River Cats: From Raley Field in Sacramento. The Rainiers won, 6-4. Brad Nelson tied the game with a 3-run homer in the 8th inning and two-out singles in the 9th by Mike Carp and Mike Morse was enough to overcome an early 4-1 deficit. Travis Buck hit a solo homer and had a sacrifice fly and Danny Putnam had a 2-run homer to account for Sacramento’s runs. Andrew Baldwin went 7 innings for Tacoma and pitched well aside from the homers while James Simmons worked 5 for the River Cats before leaving with tightness in his back.
6/17/09: Modesto Nuts at Stockton Ports: From Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton. The Nuts won, 6-2. Connor Graham pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings for the win, allowing just 4 hits while walking 4 and striking out 7. Tyson Ross was undone by a 5-run 6th, giving up 6 runs on 9 hits with a walk and 4 strikeouts in 5 1/3. Home runs were hit by Modesto’s Jay Cox and Stockton’s Jemile Weeks, who has at least one hit in all 18 games so far this season. Brian Rike drove in 3 of Modesto’s 6 runs.
6/18/09: Salt Lake Bees at Sacramento River Cats: From Raley Field in Sacramento. The River Cats won, 9-0. Cliff Pennington’s 3-run triple in the 7th broke open a 1-0 game and the River Cats scored a total of 8 runs in the last 2 innings to turn it into a blowout. Gio Gonzalez worked 5 1/3 innings, allowing just 4 hits and a walk while striking out 10. Dan Denham pitched 6+ for the Bees but left with the bases loaded before the bullpen failed to limit the damage. Eric Munson’s solo homer was the only run until late in the game. Pennington finished with 4 RBI while Travis Buck, Munson and Aaron Cunningham had 2 hits apiece for Sacramento. Brandon Wood was the only Salt Lake batter with multiple hits, also getting a pair.
Something else I’ve started playing around with are animated gifs. Of course they’re nothing like video with 30-60 frames per second, but with a camera that lets me shoot about 10 fps it can be fun messing around with throwing a sequence together and seeing how it comes out to get a better look at someone’s pitching motion or a stolen base. Here are a few examples:
* Salt Lake’s Howie Kendrick tags out Sacramento’s Cliff Pennington
* Sacramento’s Gio Gonzalez from the first base side
* Sacramento’s Gio Gonzalez from behind the plate
* Salt Lake’s Dan Denham from the third base side
* Stockton’s Tyson Ross from the third base side
Some talk has surfaced among A’s fans about the delivery Ross has ever since he was drafted last year and just looking at one or two still shots doesn’t tell the story the same as a video or animation like this does. With the camera what it is, I can play around with things like this a lot more and turn it into another part of what I do.
As for the actual news, I’ve got credentials lined up for three minor league All-Star Games in the next month:
* June 23: High-A All-Star Game in Lake Elsinore, CA (California League vs. Carolina League)
* July 1: Double-A All-Star Game in Frisco, TX (Texas League North vs. Texas League South)
* July 15: Triple-A All-Star Game in Portland, OR (Pacific Coast League vs. International League)
The opportunity to cover a few of these is a good one, especially with the chance for some of the photos to see further exposure online and in print. It’s also just a lot of fun to be around things like this. I’ve been to both ballparks in Lake Elsinore and Portland but the one in Frisco will be a first and from everything I’ve seen it’s a beautiful ballpark. You’ll see what I mean. I’ll also be close enough to go watch a game or two in Arlington and knock one more MLB ballpark off my list. Midland (the Oakland affiliate in the Texas League) is too far to go to this time around but about 10 players from the team will be in the All-Star Game anyway.
The next month will be pretty busy but that’s just fine with me.