The Memphis Redbirds have won the first two games in their current series against the Oklahoma City Redhawks, and I was in heaven there at the ballpark this weekend for all the baby bird fun. The two games were very different experiences, both wonderful in their own way. The first game, Saturday, was an evening game with the family – the kiddos, Hubby, me and my Mom. We laughed and chatted about the players, cheered on our boys and enjoyed each other’s company. With Memphis the visiting team, it was auditorily obviously we were in the minority cheering for the Redbirds – just the crickets and us!
Memphis had a big game, winning 8-4. Adam Ottavino pitched well, into the 7th inning. Both Pete Kozma and Andrew Brown smacked homeruns. Aaron Luna stole 2nd. Kozma kicked off an adrenaline packed 6-4-3 double play. A balk was called on OKC’s pitcher (I missed it, as usual…. Balks continue to mystify me.) Donovan Solano was on base all night, going 4 for 5 at the plate. And Cory Rauschenberger, Chuckie Fick and Raul Valdes all pitched in relief for Memphis (some better than others). ;)
And bonus! There was a new Baby Bird making his AAA debut! Jose Garcia was a fresh call-up from Springfield during the shuffle that sent both Matt Carpenter and Mark Hamilton up to St. Louis and brought Pete Kozma back down to AAA. Garcia had an applause-worthy game both defensively (playing 2nd) and at the plate with a walk, a double, a single and 2 runs batted in. A .500 AAA batting average!… for the moment.
Sunday’s game was night-and-day different, both literally and figuratively. Bright (hot) sunshine and a smaller crowd. I was on my own (with my camera) for this one since the kiddos (and Hubby) had ball practice and a date with the swimming pool. I grabbed a seat in the shade – first row seats were open all around the park, and I moved around a few times to catch a better camera angle here and there. It was a shame really, to see the park so empty. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was Sunday… it sure wasn’t because the baseball was disappointing! I enjoyed the peace and quiet that afternoon. There is something almost magical about watching a ballgame by yourself, with no distractions. Don’t get me wrong, I love the experience of sharing a game with friends and family. But for just those few hours, I had the gift of a baseball game to which I could give 100% of my attention and it was a wonderful reprieve from a crazy last couple of weeks.
PJ Walters started for Memphis and threw 7 innings, walking 2 and striking out 6. He also managed to hit two batters. Nothing serious, but the Memphis play-by-play announcer mentioned PJ has hit 9 batters so far this year. (yikes?!)
Memphis’ top of the 6th kept what few fans were in attendance on the edge of their seats. After Pete Kozma lined out, Andrew Brown reached 1st on a throwing error. Nick Stavinoha struck out, but then OKC walked the next two batters. The bases were loaded with Redbirds and a wild pitch scored Brown from 3rd. Bryan Anderson then struck out, stranding two, but after four innings with only one baby bird making it to base, it was nice to finally see some action. There were more thrills in the top of the 8th (but not the rah-rah kind) when Freddie Bynum lined into an unassisted double play at first which caught Stavinoha off the bag and abruptly ended the inning for Memphis.
Jess Todd, Raul Valdes and Victor Marte all pitched in relief. Marte had an impressive 9th inning, and the game ended with Donovan Solano’s glove being in just the right place at the right time to catch a smoked line drive towards 3rd. Solano smiled, looking surprised to see he had caught it, and the baby birds celebrated on the field for the 2nd time, winning 3-2.
An aside: There is one thing I am embarrassed to report. We may need to take up a collection for our baby birds clothing fund. It was painfully obvious their travel-gray uniforms are getting old and being pieced together with replacements. For some of the boys, the gray in their shirts mismatched their gray pants. OKC fans around us were making fun, and I had to agree it looked, well… odd.
I’d keep a closer eye on stuff like that for them if they lived closer. Dress to impress, boys! ;)
It’s been nice to read/hear that our Cardinals had a monstrous weekend, sweeping the Cubs in exciting fashion while my attention was focused on the farm boys. Albert Pujols heating up?? Well, it’s about time!
The Cardinals have the day off today. Memphis plays at 7:05. If you’re in town, I recommend some baby bird watching! ;)