THURSDAY, MARCH 4th
This morning was the visitation for my grandfather before the funeral tomorrow, so it wasn't really a baseball day -- even if I had time to make it up to Ft. Myers afterwards I don't think it was in me to make the trip.
Thankfully it was a night game to kick off the season for the Twins so I was able to relax most of the afternoon before we made the trip up Tamiami Trail to City of Palms Park. I felt this kind of nervous giddiness the whole way -- this wasn't just a baseball game, this was the first game of the season. True it was about as meaningless as you could imagine (unless you really really want the Mayor's Cup), but there's just something exciting about baseball season starting, and the fact that it was outdoor night baseball is just magical.
But it makes my pictures blurry.... I need a new camera
We had four standing room only tickets, and so I drove up with my brother and two of my cousins to stand around in the cold and watch baseball. Thankfully, I remembered to bring a jacket. Unfortunately this time I wore shorts and sandals. One of these days I'll put all the puzzle pieces together on the same day.
By now you all know that the Red Sox won 2-1. This obviously means absolutely nothing. Half our starting lineup didn't touch the field, and we held the lead when we subbed in all our AAA players while the Red Sox kept most of their starters on the field until they took the lead.
Jacoby Ellsbury got way too much applause. So did Pedroia.
I really don't have much animosity towards Red Sox fans. For the most part they're all pretty nice and they're too obsessed with hating the Yankees to really have any vitriole towards my team so they're OK.
So, if you want to know play-by-play I'm sure you'll check out the boxscore, and my pictures aren't going to much of anything because I've just got a silly little camera, so I'll just give you my impressions from what I saw:
1. Our first five innings were dominant. The pitchers who pitched our first five innings were Blackburn, Slowey, and Neshek. When things went downhill was the 6th inning when Mike Maroth entered. So the important thing to me here is that our pitchers vying for an actual spot on the roster all were in top form tonight.
2. Blackburn was solid. There's not much to speak about there, he went about his pitches effectively and efficiently. Slowey seemed to take his time a little bit. He let the hitter get ahead of him a few more times than I would have liked but this can easily be attributed to plain rust. He was fooling hitters and working the strike zone which was what I wanted to see.
3. Neshek was quick and effective. It was great seeing that funky delivery out on the mound again. He had good velocity and good movement on his pitches and he was able to keep the hitters off balance. While they did connect their hits were primarily weak pop-ups.
4. Brendan Harris was manning the hot corner to start off the game. Unfortunately the first ball that came his way made its way through his glove. Sure he had to do a diving slide for it but he could have come up with that ball. It was the first inning of the first game so I'll cut him some slack, but it looked a little slow and lazy. We got out of the inning so it didn't matter in the longrun, but for someone battling for that 3rd base job it was a knock.
That's Harris. My zoom sucks.
5. Casilla and Tolbert were both up the middle, and neither are guaranteed a spot on the roster. They both were fine in the field so I can't really speak much to my impressions of them. They had a pretty light day the few innings that they were in. The guy who made a couple nice plays was Jacque Jones. He really showed some wheels out in left and took great routes (something I haven't seen in left for a couple years...). I really like the guy and I'd love for him to make the roster, but hopefully at least he sticks around in Rochester and can be a September call-up for us or something.
6. Ben Revere is a stud. A pure stud. When he trotted out onto the field I was so excited to see him play. I was telling my cousins all about him and how much potential Revere has. Then the announcer said that "Zack Davis" was entering the game for the Twins and I stopped and for the life of me I felt like such a fool that here I was talking about Ben Revere and it was this guy named Zack Davis who I had never heard of! Two batters later the announcer corrected himself and I was justified. Revere can cover some ground. I can see what the worry is about his arm. The ball doesn't really zip from his hand the way it does from Cuddyer or Young, it seems to float a little bit longer. Not really going to speculate how that happens, maybe his wrist is a little loose when he throws? I know he's not a power hitter either, but he sure drove the ball to the warning track in what looked like a sure home run until he was robbed at the track.
Those are the main things that stick out to me from the game.
Oh and cotton candy.
One thing that really sticks out is how many people leave the game after the 5th or so when all the starters get pulled.
It's a veritable exodus.
The stadium was so packed there was no room to stand along the wall for our standing room only tickets, but by the 5th there were seats and tons of spots along the wall opened because everyone had streamed out. We were able to stand right behind home plate!
But we were still standing. And it was still cold.
Here's a couple other random pictures that I took which I couldn't work into this entry but also kind of came out non-blurry:
I'll hopefully have some better shots during Saturday's game. I'm going to be sitting in the first row along the Twins' side of the field so check back for that post. Friday is the funeral and reception and a family dinner at the Naples Yacht Club so it will be baseball-less. But stop by later to find out about Saturday's game (I believe Liriano is starting?!?!?!).
Random shot of me in my lucky Aguilera jersey, my new Facebook profile picture to get me through Spring: