Took my son and second daughter to Brooklyn and met up with my father-in-law to watch the Ironbirds for the third time in five days. The Coney Island section of Brooklyn is a great place for a stadium with an old retired, well-lit roller coaster in the right field foul territory background and newer, active amusement park rides in the left field background. The Coney Island boardwalk and the ocean are behind center and right field. The stadium is a relatively modern mass of concrete. Attendance has really fallen off since the place opened about 10+ years ago and there were only about 300-500 folks in attendance. We picked up seats right in the first row behind the Aberdeen dugout.
We noticed two things when the lineup was announced – Austin Hays was still with the team and Jean Carmona would be making his Orioles debut (and pushing Adam Hall to the bench).
Carmona hit left-handed all night and swung at the first pitch of the game and lined a clean single into the right center field gap. It was not deep in the gap, but Carmona tried to make it a double and was out fairly easily at second. Carmona was HBP in his second at-bat. His only other noticeable at bat was in the ninth in a tie game and he put a long fly ball opposite field to the warning track in LF. The ball just kept carrying and wasn’t so far from going out. Carmona has a very wide stance in the batter’s box. I know he struck out a lot with the Brewers Rookie-ball team, but he did not appear to be a free, aggressive swinger in the handful of ABs that I saw. Carmona made a nice catch and throw on the double play in the first inning, but misplayed a critical ground ball in the eighth.
Os starter Jim Murphy gave up some walks and hits in the first. He was having trouble finding the strike zone, pushing a number of low balls across the plate, and nearly got out of the inning giving up one run, but then balked home the second run. He must have been uncomfortable with his windup with runners on first and third and never threw the pitch as he fell off the mound. Balk. There was no radar gun postings, but I did not think Murphy was throwing too hard – maybe high 80s perhaps low 90s. He was pretty effective once he settled down after the first inning. The Os picked up their second and third runs of the second inning when the first basemen dropped the third out on the throw from the second baseman.
The Os squandered numerous opportunities to take a commanding lead and the box score shows they were 1 for 14 with RISP – the winning run in the tenth was courtesy of a wild pitch. This was our third time this week watching the IronBirds and the best showing by Thorburn – hit and two walks – matched by Torres – as well as Neustrom. His HR was a shot to RF. Hopefully, he is starting to heat up – the ball makes a nice sound coming off his bat.
The eighth was a crazy inning. Os RP Tyler Joyner started the inning with a K and then gave up two clean singles. The Cyclones fifth hitter Dirocie had a two strike check swing. Given my angle behind the dugout and that Dirocie was a righty hitter, it was pretty easy to see the bat come across the body and then the plate. There were four Ironbirds in the dugout with the same view as me and they all raised their hands, but the home plate ump deferred to the second ump. The second ump was stationed to the SS side behind the pitcher and so he had no real angle to make an informed call, and called it a ball. Dirocie then walked. The games biggest play came three batters later – after a single and a K – with the bases loaded and a 4-3 Ironbird lead in the balance. The Cyclones hitter knocked a lazy bouncer to shortstop. I thought Carmona was slow to get to the ball and then running toward first seemed to hesitate or double clutch his throw and then bounced a soft throw to Escarra. Escarra fielded the ball cleanly, but the batter was safe. Carmona seemed to be afraid of throwing the ball away in my opinion. Everyone seemed upset with the play – especially Carmona. I think Adam Hall and most NYP league shortstops make that play. Oh, well, Carmona is 18 and will probably make that play the next time.
Matsun was the winning pitcher tossing a scoreless ninth. The first Cyclones batter put the ball on the warning track right in front of the fence and almost ended the game there. I see Matsun had a rough four run outing about 10 days ago, but has since thrown three hitless innings with a BB and seven Ks. I like his stuff.
In extras in the NYP, each team starts the inning with a runner on 2B. As mentioned, the Os scored on a wild pitch in the top of the 10th. The Brooklyn lead-off hitter bunted the runner to 3B. That ball was fielded by the pitcher Conroy who threw a ball that tailed away from the second baseman Torres who was covering first. Torres had to dive for the ball, tag first and avoid getting run over by the batter – which he did. The next batter hit a ball to Yahn at 3B and the Cyclones runner, who was heading home on contact, was out easily at the plate.
Other thoughts – Thorburn cut down twice on the basepaths. Catcher Gonzalez gave up two SBs – he seems a bit slow to stand up and then fire the ball to second – not very fluid or fast in my non-scout opinion.
I can’t say enough about how nice the players were to my son. Several recognized him from earlier in the week and chatted with him before the game – including Hays, Ringhofer and Escarra – who gave an inning ending ball to my son. Adam Hall warmed up and then gave fist bump while walking by. Separately, my son complimented nice defensive plays by Yahn and Escarra while they were in the dugout and each politely turned and said words like, ‘thanks, man. Appreciate that.” Upon request, Carmona came out of the locker room and signed a ball for my son who told him – welcome to the Os. My son asked Austin Hays what he was still doing with the Ironbirds and Hays said that he was expecting a plane ticket to Bowie Friday morning, but nope and here he was. Fenter was charting pitches and my son walked over and had a picture taken. We saw the Ironbirds bus outside the stadium after the game and my son stood outside and just fist-bumped the guys onto the bus – telling them he would see them next week in Hudson Valley.
I will repeat my offer from earlier in the week – all the Os have to do to insure victory is get tickets to my son and I for a game. That’s five wins in five games. Without us in attendance, Aberdeen is 16-26 and the Os are 31-77. Someone can do the math of the chances of us catching five wins in five games from those two teams. I have to imagine it is something approaching 1 in 50..