Kleven Takes Down Dunedin, Threshers Trounce Jays 8-1

Colin Kleven put together his best performance of the season so far as he lead the Threshers to an 8-1 win over the rival Dunedin Blue Jays.

Colin Kleven
Colin Kleven

Willians Astudillo, who caught tonight, and first baseman Zachary Green each had two RBIs to aid in the run total. Also key to the win were three base hit for both second baseman Drew Staniewicz and center fielder Chase Harris.

The key to the game was the stellar performance of Kleven. Kleven was solid over his six innings and had a no hitter going for 4 2/3 of those six innings. He also held the Jays to a run on three hits over six innings while striking out six.

Coming in the seventh was LHP Harold Guerrero, who pitched two innings with two strike outs, two hits no runs. Will Morris, LHP,  came in to close in the ninth giving up one hit and had one strike out.

 

Advertisements

Threshers Win First Game of 2015

Clearwater Threshers:

After only two games, I walked away from tonight’s Threshers game with a quote from one of my favorite movies, “Major League” stuck in my head. I quote Manager Lou Brown, “it’s starting to come together, Pepper, it’s starting to come together!”

Last night, we had a triple play, (Walding to Stankiewicz to Green) today a  sharp double play (Lohman to Stankiewicz to Green).

This team really has some spirit, when things have gotten tough, they seem to dig deep and push through, something last year’s team could not do. Last year the Threshers ended the season 40 games under .500.

Tonight, David Whitehead started on the mound. He would go on 6IP, 4H, 0R, 1W 8Ks. He looked really sharp as he collected the win.

David Whitehead
David Whitehead

Also of note, Domonic Brown made his second rehab appearance. First at bat, he flies out and he struck out during the second.

 

Dominic Brown strikes out.
Dominic Brown strikes out.

The first scoring play came when Mitch Walding was caught in a rundown. Drew Stankiewicz hit a screamer right at the pitcher, who lost his glove trying to field the ball. He threw the ball home, cutting off Walding. The catcher threw the ball to third and Walding started for home…the pitcher, now without his glove failed to cover home,  so Walding was able to score as the Jays tied unsuccessfully to get the out at second.

Lee "Rocket Arm" Ridenhour
Lee “Rocket Arm” Ridenhour

Lee “Rocket Arm”  came in in relief of Whitehead. Ridenhour went 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0W and 2Ks to hold the game. He hit 93 on the gun and struck out both on his curve.

Ulises Joaquin
Ulises Joaquin

Ulises Joaquin came in to close. He struggled a little, but buckeled down to secure the win.

With the win, the Threshers move to .500.

 

 

 

Opening Night in Clearwater-the Good, The Bad and the Ugly

It was another beautiful night in Clearwater. Perfect weather and everyone was excite to start the season on a good note after last year’s fiasco of a season.

While the final score was not what the crowd wanted, a 5-2 loss to the rival Dunedin Blue Jays, there was a lot of good to take away, a little bad, and some ugly.

The Good:

  • The highlight of the night and likely of the year, was a rare (first I’ve ever seen in person) TRIPLE PLAY! Mitch Walding to Drew Stankiewicz to Zack Green, a 5-4-3 triple play. To see this on the first night really gives me hope. For this to come together on the first night is even more amazing than if it was at the end of a season
  • Andrew Knapp went 3 for 4, including an RBI single.
  • Aaron Brown and Andrew Pullin both had hard-hit doubles.
  • No errors.
  • Mark Leiter, Jr., making his debut as a reliever with two strike outs, including rehabbing Toronto Blue Jay, Michael Saunders.
  • Edubray Ramos got Michael Saunders on a broken bat ground out to Mitch Walding, who threw out Saunders at first.

The Bad:

  • The game was lost on three home runs, with each pitcher, Matt Imhoff, Mark Leiter, Jr. and Edubray Ramos giving up one home run.
  • The Threshers were 1-8 with runners in scoring position. 

The Ugly:

  • Domonic Brown striking out during  both of his plate appearances.

  

Here is Matt Imhoff:

  

Mark Leiter, Jr.

  

I’d also like to give a shout out to Threshers’ General Manager John Timberlake for a moving rendition of “God Bless America” in dedication to Chuck Murphy, former Florida State League President who passed away a month ago. It was a truly heartfelt tribute.

There’s a New Love in my Life–The Dunedin Blue Jays

There’s a new love in my life, but let me start a different way…

I was born in Central Pennsylvania, I’m a Phillies fan at heart and always will be, but since we moved to Florida there’s been someone else. Well, may be I should say, someones else.

You see, I live three blocks from the Dunedin Blue Jays’ stadium. At first, I went there just when the Phillies or Threshers were there, like you’d expect, but the more I went, the more I was hooked. You see, there is something different about Dunedin, you feel like you belong. Go to a few games and they get to know you. There’s a smile as you walk through the gates, a wave from the ladies at the concession stand (even if you don’t need anything) and a real sense of community. It doesn’t feel like a big corporation, it feels like a team that belongs to the town, you feel like you’re part of something.

Every game a local charity holds their 50/50 drawing, there’s a toy drive for the local children’s Christmas charity, there’s the annual charity bowling tournament, sponsorship of little league teams, you name it, the Blue Jays are there for the community.

That’s why when I saw this article in the paper today, I smiled because OF COURSE they’d support TJ…

Boy with Famous Lemonade Stand Takes Pitch to Dunedin Blue Jays Playoff Game

In case you missed the original story: Dunedin neighbor is sour on boy’s lemonade stand

Then there was this: Dunedin boy with lemonade stand reaps windfall; neighbor under city review

So, now you know why, I’m seeing someone else…at least some of the time. So if you’re looking for me tomorrow night, you’ll know where I’ll be…

photo

The Long, Hot Summer and My Favorites From It

I’ll admit it, I’ve slacked off a bit this summer. It’s hard not to. This has been one of the hottest summers in recent history and definitely the hottest since Baseball Ross and I moved to Florida full-time.  Almost every day for over a week has had “feels like” temperatures over 100, with one day being 110!

With the heat like that, going to Gulf Coast League games at noon is brutal. At the Carpenter Complex, there is a trade off: if you want shade-you get no breeze, if you want a breeze-you get no shade. Regardless of where you sit, every available space for spectators is covered in heat-absorbing concrete.

Couple all the heat with a severe case of elbow tendinitis in my right elbow that kept me from being able to take pictures with anything heavier than an iPhone and you have a recipe for a long summer.

That being said, I have gotten to see a fair bit of baseball and a few things that helped me to love baseball again.

So I will list them here (in no particular order):

1. Winning a jersey in an auction that was worn by my favorite Williamsport Crosscutter. Ross and I have been good friends with Feliberto Sanchez since last year when he spent the year here in GCL and the Fall Instructional League. He’s a great kid and I just had to have the jersey. OK, the auction was for their “Ugly Christmas Sweater” promotion, but still, it was Sanchez’s jersey. There was only one problem. The Cutters never responded to my inquiry about proxy phone bidding. Luckily, Tim Luzier (@20schmidtfan) saw my plea and helped me out. I’m so grateful for his help.

Sanchez Jersey

2. Our crazy marathon trip to see every team in the Phillies minor league system–IN ONE WEEK. (You can read it and see the pictures in this post.) 3,200 miles (1,200 by car) and it was a blast. That being said, I’m not sure I’d do it again! It was very draining.

3. Seeing pitchers overcome difficulties and succeed. Colin Kleven had a back injury that prematurely ended his season in Clearwater last year. Seeing him come back and steadily progress has been great. As difficult of a season that Clearwater had, I always looked forward and went out of my way to see him pitch and was often rewarded by a strong performance.

Colin Kleven
Colin Kleven at the preseason “Meet the Players” picnic

I was also glad to see Jesse Biddle roar back in a rehab appearance here in Clearwater. Jesse’s difficulties this year, starting with a concussion caused by a hail stone, have been well documented. To see him tear it up in his first rehab appearance was just great. (You can read my blog about Jesse here.)

Jesse Biddle
Jesse Biddle

3. Seeing Aaron Nola’s first and second professional starts. That could be one of those things that in 10 years I’ll be bragging about it. You can read about his first start HERE and the second start HERE.

Aaron Nola
Aaron Nola

4. Getting to know Frank Viola III and learning about the knuckle ball. I had written a story about Frank’s return to baseball and one night, while Ross and I were at dinner the waiter came up to me and asked, “Would you happen to be Baseball Betsy?” I replied that I was and he smiled and said, “The gentleman at that table over there would like to buy you dessert.” (Now there’s a guy who knows the way to my heart!) I looked over and it was Frank and his mother. He had read the story and liked it. Ross and I ended up joining them and had a great time. I learned so much about the “mindset of the knuckleball”.  If you’ve read my blog this summer, about a third of the posts were about knuckleballs.

Frank Viola III

After that, I followed his progress through the Blue Jays minor league system including a stop in Dunedin, where I got to see him pitch.

Sadly, my heart was broken at the end of July when he was released. On the plus side, I made a new friend and that is amazing by itself.

5. Helping the Threshers mascot, Phinley win the Mascot Mania Challenge to be the best mascot in ALL of minor league baseball. It was a hard push, but after hundreds of tweets, retweets, online votes and my followers retweeting my tweets helped to make Phinley a winner. It was a matter of time since he was second last year.

photo photo

 

I know looking at the picture above you can hear “You’re the Best Around” playing in your head.

6. Bark in the Park/Yappy Hour. To me, this is the best trend in all of baseball. Pay a few dollars to an animal charity for a “ticket” for your dog and they can join you at the game. We have two small shih tzus and over the years we have taken them to several BitPs. Sadly, Maggie our 14 year old, cannot endure the Florida heat so she was not able to attend this year, but Veronica our youngest, LOVES to go. I wrote a story about her game.

Veronica LOVES baseball
Veronica LOVES baseball

Just look at that face, you can tell she’s having a blast.

So there are the things I loved most about the summer of 2014, I couldn’t really even rank them because they were all pretty stellar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Knuckleballer comes to Dunedin

If you have been reading my blog, you will remember my story from May where I talked about meeting Frank Viola III, who is making a comeback to baseball through a conversion to a knuckleball pitcher. You can read it HERE

After Extended Spring Training, Viola was sent to the Lansing Lugnuts in the Blue Jays’ farm system. After barely a month there, he was promoted to High-A Dunedin on Wednesday. Last night, he made his first start as a Dunedin Blue Jay.

Viola first game Dunedin Line up

I really enjoyed watching him pitch, he did well, especially for the first time with a new team, in a new town and in the blistering heat and humidity of Florida after a month in the cool of Lansing.

IMG_9445

IMG_9457

Frank Viola Distance

Looking at the line for a knuckleball pitcher is much different than the line of a “normal” pitcher. As Viola told me, “I pitch to soft-contact.” This means that a knuckleballer doesn’t throw for strike outs, but more for pop-ups and easily fielded balls.

Viola had  6IP, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 4BB, 0SO, 0HR, 1.5ERA

As Baseball Ross would put it, “It was a Quality Start.”

Baseball Ross and I like to sit in the front row and in Dunedin, a row that is exceptionally close to the action. With taking pictures if I can get close to the net, then I can use the camera to focus “past” it so that it doesn’t show up in the pictures. (As you can see above.) I am learning to take video with my Nikon. It’s a little different to focus so I was leaning a little closer to the net than I usually do. I was so engrossed in videoing, that I didn’t react in time…then THIS happened. Lesson learned.

Dunedin is a small town and as such, the Fourth of July is a “big deal”. They had their “Hometown Fourth” party, tickets to the game were free, leading to an attendance of 4,173.  After the game there was a concert until dark when there was a twenty minute fireworks display.

Life doesn’t get much better than this, good pitching, good baseball and a small hometown celebration. America the Beautiful.

 

Why I Love Baseball in Dunedin

While my first love will always be the Phillies, I must admit that my new hometown Dunedin Blue Jays have stolen a piece of my heart.

While Dunedin is surrounded by Clearwater and it’s sprawl, Dunedin has managed to keep the feel of a small town. There are no chain stores or restaurants down town and everything is walkable…including the ballpark. Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is just five blocks from the center of downtown.

It’s a small stadium but it does fill a good part of what makes my hometown special. Where I live, just a few blocks from the stadium, there are Dunedin Blue Jays banners.

20140410-194032.jpg

It just ties the stadium into the surrounding neighborhoods. I love living where I do, I can sit on my front porch and listen to the game, not on the radio, but wafting on the warm Florida breeze. When there are fireworks, I don’t have to move from my easy chair in the living room, I can see them from there.

With Dunedin being so much smaller, you also get the benefit of knowing the staff, having them welcome you back as you pass through the gates or come up to the concession stand. It’s almost like the old TV show, “Cheers” it’s a place where “everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came.”

Ross and I found our house because we got lost on the way to a Phillies and Jays spring training game. Not only did we find our home because of baseball in Dunedin, we fell in love with our new hometown because of baseball.

There’s no other place I’d rather live.