How Long Can You Wait for Fireworks? Thousands Got the Chance to Find Out

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, July 5.

In minor league cities which are fortunate enough to host games on July 4, fireworks and large crowds are a given.  Fans circle the date when they see their team will be in town.  In some cases, like the Yankees’ AA Trenton’s 2-0 win over Reading, the games are concluded rapidly.  Trenton won in an unheard-of 2 hours and 5 minutes.  Some pitchers take that long between pitches.  On the other hand, almost 7,000 people in St. Lucie, Florida saw the St. Lucie Mets lose in 11 innings. In Chattanooga the Lookouts’ supporters waited through 14 innings and were rewarded with a walk-off win and fireworks.   In the latest start of the night, the crowd in Eugene, Oregon saw their team lose in 20 innings before the aerial barrage could be unleashed.

In Port St. Lucie, the home town fans turned out as much to see Tim Tebow as the fireworks. They saw him get a hit and a walk in 5 atbats and ultimately leave the game for a pinch-runner in the 11th, by which time the game was gone.  The foe, the Charlotte Stone Crabs (Rays) thought they’d have an early night, knocking out 6 runs by the 4th inning-usually more than ample runs to win a Florida State League game. But the Mets, down 6-2 at stretch time put up a run in the 7th and tied it with 3 in the 8th before falling to their opponent from Port Charlotte. That small town is closer to Fort Myers than to St. Lucie, so no reporter made the trek in spite of Tebow’s presence. The crowd of 6974 was the second largest since the Mets moved from St. Pete to St. Lucie in 1987.

In the AA Southern League, the Chattanooga Lookouts have been a fixture since  before anybody can remember-1885 to be exact. Their name comes from a local landmark-Lookout Mountain.  This is their third year as the Twins AA team after the Twins fled controversy in New Britain, CT. Last night, in spite of a 45-minute delay over 6300 witnessed their home team take a 6-5 win in 14 innings over the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs.)  The Smokies, who play in Knoxville are also a Tennessee fixture, beginning play in 1897 and for the past decade the Cubs’ AA players have summered there. Chattanooga has featured the same broadcaster-Larry Ward-since 1990, an amazing tenure for  a minor league broadcaster.  Their stadium opened in 2000 after the team had played for 70 years at Engel Stadium. This year’s version of the Lookouts have an outstanding 53-29 record following last night’s win. They had swept 6 straight on the road as play began in what will be a 5-game series with the Smokies.   The home team put up 5 runs in the first 5 innings but didn’t score again until the game winner in the 14th. For their part the Smokies, down 5-1 registered 2 runs in the 6th and two more in the 8th to square things and force extra innings. The hero of the day was Jonathan Rodriguez, a .290 hitter overall who notched 4 hits in 6 tries with 2 doubles, a home run and 3 RBIs including the game winner.

From faraway Eugene, Oregon comes what Cheech Marin would call “the topper of all the toppers,” as he said in a routine called “Up His Nose.”  The Northwest League game between the host Eugene Emeralds and the visiting Boise Hawks lasted almost 6 hours and took 20 innings to decide a winner.  Boise came out ahead 7-5 when the dust had settled and the fireworks were finally allowed to go off. The Emeralds also happen to be a Cubs’ team and have been since 2015. In their past Reggie Jackson and Mike Schmidt began their road to Cooperstown in Eugene. Last night’s game brought a record crowd of 5,097 to their home, PK Park-a college facility only built to hold 4,000. The throng got its money’s worth and then some. Early on it was a low-scoring affair, tied at 2 through 9 before each team scored in the 11th.  It would remain a 3-3 deadlock until the top of the 20th. Amazingly, neither team resorted to using position players as often happens in minor league games that stretch out as far as this one did. The teams are an even match-the Emeralds at 11-9 and the Hawks (Rockies) 10-10. Each team put up 14 hits but 5 Eugene errors made all the difference. The only home run was in the 20th and was a 2-run shot hit by J.B. Moss of Boise in his only atbat. The Hawks put up 4 in the 20th and a 2-run Eugene rally fell short.  Boise’s Daniel Jipping didn’t get jipped out of his swings, going 0 for 9 with 6 K’s-the kryptonite sombrero. He accounted for 6 of 20 Boise strikeouts. Eugene’s Miguel Amaya went 2 for 8 with a triple and 4 strikeouts while Gustavo Polanco, who followed him in the batting order had 2 hits in 9 tries with 5 K’s. Tolly Filotei had a hit and 4 of Eugene’s 24 strikeouts. That’s 13 K’s among 3 men while the rest of the team struck out 11 times. Boise almost got away using only 2 pitchers.  After 4 innings from their starter, the second pitcher Ryan Luna pitched one-run ball and went to the home 11th with a one-run lead.  He couldn’t hold it however and 6 more Hawks pitchers would be needed before the game was won. 7 Emeralds’ pitchers took the bump in a losing effort.

Luckily, the teams in today’s earliest game didn’t go extras last night.  The earliest start in the minors is a 12:35 Eastern start in a South Atlantic League game where West Virginia faces Lexington, KY. In the majors where no team went overtime yesterday, the Yankees host the earliest start, at 1 PM against the Blue Jays. The Yankees seem to be fading fast and today’s starter Michael Pineda gives more hope to Boston fans than to Yankees’ supporters. The Jays hammered Pineda when they saw him a month ago. The Rays face the Cubs at 2:20 this afternoon at Wrigley Field. At 3:30 PM the White Sox play a day game in Oakland. From there, all the games are at night.  The Mets turn to Jacob DeGrom, who along with Seth Lugo and Steven Matz are all that remains of a once dominant staff. He’s won his last 4 starts with an ERA under 1. If the Mets look to sell, they’ll get better value for him than anybody else they own. Tonight he faces Tanner Roark who didn’t see the 4th inning in his last start. The Pirates’ Gerrit Cole couldn’t have done worse last time.  Facing arguably the game’s worst offense, the Giants, Cole gave up 10 hits and 7 runs-about what the Giants get in an average week. He faces the Phillies’ Ben Lively, who has “ben livelier” than the rest of their pitchers. Sorry Ben Colder, I stole your joke. When Houston faces the Braves, both starters Joe Musgrove of Houston and Atlanta’s Jaime Garcia have ERA’s north of 10 in their last few outings. That can’t be good news in the new Atlanta ball park which plays much more like their 1966–96 home than pitcher-friendly Turner Field. The D-Backs visit the Dodgers and the Mariners host the Royals in the latest games tonight.



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