I was able to make it to my first game of the season finally. I took some time off from work and despite the rainy forecast this week, I wanted to see if I could fit in a game. I saw that Reading was home on Tuesday, May 15 with a 10:45 game and since that coincided with a break in the rain, I thought it was a good option. Then I looked a little closer and saw that it was actually a doubleheader being played. I initially missed it because the second game was listed as a Portland home game as it was the result of a game with the Fightin Phils that was postponed in April and rescheduled from Portland to Reading. So I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to get to a doubleheader and attend my first game where it was originally scheduled for another location and the game in Reading would feature the Fightin Phils as the away team. I had also seen 45 Eastern League games before this one and none involved the Portland Sea Dogs. That’s mainly a coincidence since I really don’t choose games based on opponents, but I also haven’t made it up to Portland yet. I also haven’t see the Bowie Baysox as a road team, but I saw them as the home team 4 times, as another coincidence. Although now I will have seen Portland as the road team and home team without going to Portland.
Normally, I try to get to games about an hour before first pitch, but I saw that they weren’t opening gates until 10:30 for the 10:45 pitch. I arrived at 10:15 with intent of getting in as soon as gates opened, but to my surprise, they were already open when I got there. This did benefit my autograph seeking, but I will talk to that in another post. I was also surprised to find out that Phillies pitcher Jerad Eickhoff was making a rehab appearance as the day’s starting pitcher. It was a special school kids game that was moved an hour earlier to accommodate the doubleheader and with my general admission ticket that I bought, I was told that I only had two sections to choose from. I chose a seat directly behind home plate in the second row of the green general admission section, which happened to be right behind three of the Sea Dogs pitchers who were charting the game. I never did figure out which ones though, and I have to think that it would have been impolite to ask who they were, right?
In the first game, Portland put up two runs in the top of the first and Reading took a 3-2 lead in the 2nd via a 3-run home run by catcher Deivi Grullon. Portland bat around and put up 5 in the top of the 4th with 3 doubles and a home run by their catcher Austin Rei giving them a 7-3 lead. Reading 2B Brandon Bednar hit his first home run of the season in the bottom of the 5th and Portland 3B Jantzen Witte finished his 3-3 day with a home run following his earlier two doubles to go 7 for 12 with the team after joining them from Pawtucket. I know it’s only 12 at bats in 3 games, but it’s still cool to have a slugging percentage of over 1.000 (actually 1.083) at any point.
So going into the bottom of the 7th (the final inning since it is a minor league doubleheader despite having two different home teams in the same venue), the Fightin Phils were down 8-4. They managed to load the bases on Sea Dogs starting pitcher Matthew Kent with no outs, so they brought in their closer, Trevor Kelley. He shut them down with two strikeouts and a flyout to earn the save.
The second game was pretty much going the Sea Dogs’ way as they went up 7-0 after five innings. Reading sent their #7 prospect Franklyn Kilome to the mound as the starter, but he was not sharp giving up those 7 runs (only 3 earned) in 4 innings allowing 8 hits and 5 walks along the way. But in the top of the 6th, the Fightins decided it was their turn for the rally. It started with a home run by catcher Austin Bossart. As a quick aside, so that’s home runs for three of the catchers now, but unfortunately Portland’s other catcher Jhon Nunez didn’t hit a home run but took a very painful shot to the groin that a caused a small delay. Anyway, the rally ended with the second home run of the day for Brandon Bednar, who didn’t start the second game, which made the score 7-7. At this point, I was noticing that the game was dragging on quite a bit and I’m getting nervous as the storm clouds seemed to get closer and the wind was picking up, but the game kept going. After 7 innings, it was still 7-7, so my hope of leaving at a decent time had pretty much ended, but I had to stick around for the finish.
I got to experience the new extra innings rule in the minors this year where a player starts the inning on second base for the first time also. The 8th inning didn’t lead to any runs, but in top of the 9th inning (and remember Reading is the away team in this game), Fightin Phils CF Cord Sandberg hit a two-run home run with two outs to give them a 9-7 lead. And right after the third out was made, they announced that because of the impending storm they were delaying the game and asked everyone to leave the seating bowl to take cover. I knew the storms were going to be bad and later found out they were under a tornado warning, so I decided that it was best if I started on my over an hour trek home rather than try to wait it out. Luckily, I stayed on the front edge of the storm the entire way and made it safe inside before the worst part hit.
I looked up the game’s status after I got home and saw that they had suspended the game with the intention of finishing it up before the next day’s game with an 11:45 AM start. So it’s definitely good that I didn’t wait it out because the drive would have been very rough. I also looked at the box score (because that’s what everyone does after watching a game, I’m sure) and saw that for Sandberg’s home run that Sea Dogs pitcher Jake Cosart was charged with two earned runs. I was thinking that couldn’t be right because the extra man starting at second isn’t supposed to count as an earned run. I checked the rules and saw that it was in error, although I couldn’t figure out how I could point out this mistake. I know it’s really not a big deal, but it should be correct. However, I did see that it was fixed the following day, so all is good.
And in case you were wondering, after a rain delay to complete the game the following day, the Sea Dogs scored a single run in the bottom of the 9th and the Fightin Phils won, 9-8 in 9 innings of that second game of the 7 inning doubleheader.