Last night some friends and I took advantage of being close to the home of the Kane County Cougars, Elfstrom Stadium. The team recently completed a renovation and expansion of their stadium and they did a nice job.
The Cougars are the Class A Midwest League affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.
It was a great night for minor league baseball, particularly since the visiting team for the night was the Quad Cities River Bandits, Midwest League affiliate for YOUR St Louis Cardinals.
I should note that we arrived a bit late, getting to our seats while the Bandits were batting in the bottom of the second inning. My mess of a scorecard is below, don’t ask about the teams being on the wrong ends of the sheet (Yes, I missed a couple of hitters over the course of the game. They were probably while I was tapping away on Twitter):
Tapia was rather unimpressive, struggling with his command (five walks) and not showing much velocity during his five innings. The organization apparently felt the same, as it was announced Tapia will be moving to the bullpen.
Ramirez was sharper, going six and one-third, with the only blemish on his sheet being a home run by Bandits catcher Jack Cawley in the top of the third inning that just cleared the left-field fence.
Cawley’s shot would be the only run for Quad Cities all night, the only other time they threatened was in the seventh, when Cawley lined out to the shortstop and second baseman Guillermo Toribio struck out with runners on second and third.
Kane County then put the game away in the bottom of the seventh thanks to some poor defense by the Bandits. QC pitcher Adam Veres surrendered a walk to Cougars center fielder Chris Berroa who was subsequently caught stealing. Veres followed that with another walk, this one to second baseman Nino Leyja. Cougars first baseman Steve Parker, easily the offensive player of the game, hit a rocket on the ground that went between the wickets of Bandits first baseman Xavier Scruggs that could’ve been an inning ending double play. Instead, the inning went on with shortstop Tyler Ladendorf smoking a ball toward the right-field corner. Bandits right fielder Ryde Rodriguez made a poor diving effort at the ball, coming up about six feet short and turning what could’ve been a long single into a triple, scoring two runs.
The seventh inning ended on a questionable call at first base on a long throw from third base. That served as a bit of a precursor to one of the most entertaining exchanges of the evening when, in the top of the eighth inning, Cougars catcher Petey Paramore scorched a ball down the first base line. In a bang-bang call, the umpire ruled it was foul. Paramore proceeded to stand on first base in disbelief before starting to yell at the ump. The umpire gave Paramore what I thought was more than enough rope, really letting him get some steam out before finally tossing him. Paramore responded by continuing to yell on his way back to the dugout and throwing his batting gloves onto the field. Awesome. Cougars manager Steve Scarsone made a short visit with the ump (photo below), but quickly returned to the dugout.
Cougars reliever Dan Thomas came into the ninth inning throwing serious gas that the Bandits hitters could not catch up to and that was ballgame.
Some random thoughts
Thomas was bringing gas in the 94-mph range. That appeared to be a bit more gas than the Bandits hitters were prepared for. Pretty much the only time they were making contact was on Thomas’ few breaking balls in the 85-mph zone. Ironically, Thomas was drafted by the Cards in the 44th round of the 2007 draft. Not sure how he wound up with the A’s organization.
Nick McCully was the most impressive Bandits pitcher of the night, but it may only be because he threw the fewest walks.
All of the Quad Cities pitchers really struggled with command.
Rich “The Rock” Rocobaldo, a new favorite of the Hyperventilating Prospect Geek Fraternity, was impressive at the plate, really putting a sting into the two balls I saw him hit between the lines. He seemed overmatched by Cougars reliever Jose Guzman in the eighth, striking out looking. Rocobaldo at the dish, below:
Rodriguez’ play in the bottom of the seventh was really, really bad. He laid out as far as he could and still didn’t come close to catching the ball. Defense like that won’t get you anywhere near the big leagues.
The Bandits’ Toribio and shortstop Domnit Bolivar turned a really nifty double play on Cougars designated hitter Dusty Napoleon (who hit into the only two DP’s of the evening) in the bottom of the fourth. Napoleon hit a stung ground ball up the middle that Toribio, ranging to his right, snagged with a diving play, shoveled straight from the glove to Bolivar, who caught it bare-handed while dragging across the bag and fired to first to ring up both. Apparently the folks who frequent Elfstrom Stadium don’t appreciate defense as much as I do, got some strange looks when I jumped out of my seat clapping and yelling.
I wore my “vintage” 2006 Scott Rolen jersey and a Cards cap. Must’ve been some other Cardinal fans in attendance, as I heard more than one “Go Cards!”
Wish I had more to report for you folks, but it was a really slow baseball night in Kane County. Look forward to getting to some more minor league games soon, it’s really an enjoyable time.