I’d be a very vain man if I believed that anything I wrote on this website was insightful or knowledgable enough to make the Vancouver Canadians players smarten up their game and march harder towards victory, but I’m very much confident enough to suggest that on the bus from Salem-Kaizer to Boise last night, the coaches of this team would have been harping on some very specific issues.
1) Get the fundamentals right. Catch, throw, back-up, play smart.
2) Never believe you have the game won, until you’re in the showers with a tick in the win column.
3) Never - ever - take a Boise girl back to the hotel room. Seriously, those Idaho girls are renowned for being the reason their state is named what it is. Think it through - I-da-ho. Mm-hmm, you know what I’m talking about. And no, they don’t give change for twentys.
I can’t say whether or not the C’s listened to the third rule, but looking at the way today’s game against the Boise Hawks went down, it seems the first two might just have stuck in some heads.Joe Newby was on the mound for the Canadians, fresh off the kind of game last Friday that cause pitchers to wake up screaming. Especially if there are Boise girls in the room. 7 Earned runs in 0.2 of an inning is not a good performance, and with Newby having been touched for a couple of runs in the game before that, it was safe to say that today’s outing meant more than just a potential victory for the Canadians.
Today’s game meant Joe Newby (seen above) would either maintain his spot in the rotation, or be shoved back into the bullpen, where second year pitchers go to await their release.On the hill for the bad guys, Boise pitcher Darin Downs, a hurler playing a level below where he should be, by virtue of having been shredded playing for the Peoria Chiefs earlier in the season in Low-A ball. In the Midwest League, Downs has an ERA of 18.47, which rates him somewhere between a bowl full of goldfish and a block of dill havarti in terms of fearsome reputation.
But in the Northwest League, ‘Double’ Downs is a ferocious competitor, having racked up a record of 3-2 and a 2.46 ERA, not to mention 33 strikeouts in 33 innings.So would ‘Total’ Newby have the gunpowder to keep up with a Low-A standard fireballer?
Would he cave under the pressure of last week’s pounding and put his career on shaky ground?
And would Anthony Recker beat his scrawny ass for daring to suggest that he doesn’t shower before bus trips?
Top of the 1st, ‘Michiro’ Massaro faces down the Double Down, and strikes out looking.Next batter, Chalon Tietje comes to the plate, and he too strikes out looking.1st round draft pick, Travis Buck takes his stance, and sheesh! He also strikes out looking.3 up, 3 down, and Downs is en fuego.
Which means it’s time for The Newby to show what he’s got.Now, I’ve got to admit to you, after watching Newby’s beatdown last week, I was really dreading tonight. Say what you will about the kid, but he’s an absolute gamer, he throws determined heat, and even when he was being shelled and his teammates were blowing plays, he said nothing, wound up and fired with everything he had. But another outing like that… wow, that would be tough to get through.First batter, Johnny Defendis, smashes a comebacker at Newby who takes the ball in glove and rams it to 1st to make the out.Second batter, Carlos Quinones, swings at Newby’s stuff with everything he has, but the Newby nukes blow right through him. Strikeout, two away.Third batter, Chris Gaskin, grounds weakly to Newby who reels it in and hurls to 1st in time for the third out.He didn’t strike out the side, but he didn’t need to - Newby OWNS Boise.…Or maybe I’m just getting ahead of myself.
2nd inning, and Jeff Baisley singles to center, before straying too far off 2nd and being picked off in a rundown. Of course, Jeff Bieker then singles, but nobody is there to benefit from The Beak’s line drive.
Boise, on the other hand, sticks to the fundamentals and generate some interest in the bottom of the 2nd, as Newby dishes up a hittable pitch to Jesus Valdez with one on the bags, and watches it zoom back over his head… and back over the wall. A two-run home run for Boise, and Newby is surely thinking deja vu.Immediately after, Mark Reed singled, then got pushed around in a ground-out, and then scored on a single from Johnny Mota. As Newby fought back and ended the inning, the score sat at 3-0 Boise, and the question that was on all C’s fans’ lips was "is Newby folding?"The easy answer is no. No, he’s not. Nope, not a chance, no freaking way, don’t even think about it, smart guy. For Joe Newby, read my lips, is a GAMER.
3rd inning, he faces four hitters.4th inning, he faces three and strikes out two.5th inning, he faces three and draws them all into ground-outs.6th inning, he faces three and they’re falling like Gordon Campbell at an inebriation test.7th inning, he’s STILL throwing, and they go down quickly.No, friends, Joe Newby would not go down easily this day. He would fight his way back from the brink and pitch some seriously smoking hardball, against a team that threw everything at him but the 3rd base hot dog wagon.
Meanwhile, the good guys were moving some pieces around the board themselves. In the 5th inning, the plucky Wilber Perez knocked a single through to center to make his way to 1st base, but a pick-off attempt saw him suddenly stuck in a rundown. Perez ducked and weaved like Ali on the ropes against Foreman, eventually giving Boise enough of a panic as to draw them into a throwing error at 1st. When Justin Sellers grounded him around to 3rd base and Mike Massaro drew a walk, the Canadians were beginning to show Boise that confident ball can rattle any pitcher, even one who should be playing at another level.
Up to the plate comes ‘Sweet Chal O’ Mine’, Chalon Tietje, who I’ve been hyping for weeks as the guy you want at the plate with men on base, and what does he do?He singles to right and brings the runner home, narrowing the score to 3-1 and sending the starting pitcher to the showers. Nice work, Teej.
Just as Vancouver was cleaning up it’s act and giving their pitcher every chance to keep innings clean with solid error-free play, the Boise camp were beginning to cave. The 6th inning saw another Hawks fielding error, which reliever Andy Santana had to work very hard to neutralize, and the 7th saw yet another mistake by the Boise kids, which the C’s just couldn’t capitalize on.
In agonizing fashion, the C’s were doing all the right things, playing hard and forcing the error out of their opponents, but just not having the luck needed to turn those errors into runs. That said, when you know your opponents are coming back at you hard, you either collapse or knuckle down, and Boise did the latter, getting a walk off reliever Long John Herrera, then drawing him into a balk, then stealing 3rd on his next pitch.Can I say to you all right now that I have sincere man-love for Lefty Lefferts after today’s game, because rather than leave Herrera hanging out there when he was clearly not at his best, Lefty gave him the early hook and brought in The Killer to keep the game tight.
And that’s exactly what Brad Kilby did, because Brad Kilby has the power of cheese.Kyle Reynolds: Strikes out swinging.Elvin Puello: Strikes out swinging.End of inning - give that man a beer!
So the top of the 9th and Vancouver trails by two, and who do Boise bring in to close the game out? Jeff Teasley, with a record of 0-0, and a 9.49 ERA. If EVER there was a guy you want to have come in when you’re mounting a comeback, ‘Tee-Ball’ Teasley is that guy. He’d already surrendered three dingers in previous action this season, and his K:BB ratio isn’t intimidating at 7:4, so as The Beak stood at the plate, you could have been forgiven for feeling the C’s were right in this thing.
And then The Beak struck out swinging.Shawn Callahan then came up to the plate, with an 0-3 game to his name and a .176 average on the year. All of which looks pretty crap, but don’t let that fool you - ‘Dirty Harry’ has a set of pipes on him that can make a ball go away very fast.And Tee-Ball Teasley found that out real quick as he felt the cool breeze of his pitch zoom back past his right ear on its way over the left field wall.
Canadians trail 3-2, with one out, and Tee-Ball is looking very hittable. That is, if he could just keep the ball over the plate. Wilber Perez takes a wild swing at a third strike that is nowhere near the plate, the ball whizzes past the catcher, and Perez takes off for first, getting there in a trot.HERE! WE! COME!And there Justin Sellers goes, popping up for the second out.
But it’s okay, because Mike Massaro is at the plate, and he’s just money right now. Massaro dragged his average, kicking and screaming, from .118 to .320 in barely more than a week of hard-hitting, walk-drawing, speed demon action, and if you ever wanted a guy facing a shaky pitcher in a pressure situation (and Chalon Tietje was sick that day), the guy you want is MICHIRO!As Massaro faced down Tee-Ball, suddenly Wilber Perez took off for 2nd. It was a good call from Juan Navarette, because a man on second not only means you’re one base hit from tying the game, it also means the pitcher is more likely to surrender a walk, and who is coming up after Michiro?Tietje. Buck. Baisley - each one more dangerous than the next.
So Navarrete, knowing Perez is quicker down the middle than a Nat Bailey chili dog, risked it all and called for the steal. Now the pressure was really on Boise. Now they had to make a decision - do we throw to Massaro? Do we put him on and throw to Tietje? Do we risk Buck getting in on the action?Crisis time for Boise, time for Vancouver fans to stand up and yell.Massaro takes his stance, Tee-Ball wipes sweat from his brow, and the pitch comes in… AND PEREZ STEALS FOR 3RD!
Why, oh why would you try to steal 3rd in a two-out situation with the tying run just dying to be hit? What possible percentage is there in having a man on 3rd instead of 2nd - you need a base hit either way to score the guy!Perez zipped and zoomed, Boise catcher Mark Reed took the ball and threw, and Elvin Puello made the tag.
Game over. Boise wins 3-2, and instead of yelling at the players for their errors, tonight’s yelling will be reserved for coach Navarrete.
What the hell?
|July 27, 2005|
| Final || 1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 || 6 || 7 || 8 || 9 || || R || H || E |
| Vancouver|| 0 || 0 || 0 || 0 || 1 || 0 || 0 || 0 || 1 || || 2 || 9 || 0 |
| Boise|| 0 || 3 || 0 || 0 || 0 || 0 || 0 || 0 || X || || 3 || 6 || 3 |wrap
W: D. Downs (4-2, 1.88); L: J. Newby (2-4, 5.73); SV: J. Teasley (1)HR: VAN: S. Callahan (1). BOI: J. Valdez (1).
* This game, though it goes in the loss column, is by no means a poor result for the Vancouver team. In fact, it might be just one of the ballsiest displays they’ve shown in a long time. From ‘Dirty Harry’ Callahan’s solo bomb to Newby getting his act together and gutsing out five innings of scoreless ball after his 2nd inning struggles, to Killer Kilby’s outright dominance in the closing stages, to the error-free defensive display as Boise threw ball after ball in the dirt, this was a performance that is worthy of applause for all. In fact, only Sellers, at the #9 slot, failed to register a hit today. Good job, lads.
* Respect to the pitching coach for pulling Long John Herrera in a situation many would have left him in. Lefty Lefferts loves a win as much as anyone, and with Vancouver coming home hard, he did the right thing for his team and made sure that their 8th inning resurgence was well and truly shut down. All too often the pitch count comes before managerial moves, but tonight the big guy showed his nous and made the perfect decision to keep the ballgame tight.
* Mike Massaro - I’m sounding like a broken record, but 1-2 with 2 walks is seriously smokin’, and he does it seemingly every game.Helpful hint for those who like to watch the games rather than listen to them - Boise pipes streaming video of their games through their website - for free - although I haven’t been able to connect to their site for two days now. Take a look yourself tomorrow - http://www.boisehawks.com, and if the service is up, enjoy!