JULY 27, 2009: Syracuse, NY: The Syracuse Chiefs were the Toronto Blue Jays' AAA affiliate for 31 years. That ended last fall, in the latest round of minor league musical chairs. I never heard what led to the breakup. Money? Desire for newer facilities? I can't imagine the Jays were happy to have to move their AAA team to Las Vegas; it's quite a schlepp to Toronto from there.
I'm kind of surprised the Mets didn't hook up with Syracuse. It would be closer than Buffalo, where they ended up. In any case, it was the Nats who ended up with Syracuse. Local businesses have "Welcome, Nationals" signs posted. Though the team has a red uniform reminiscent of Washington's, they also still wear a baby blue uni that looks very Jays. And the Canadian flag still flies over Alliance Bank Stadium.Chris Valaika and Drew Stubbs warm up before the game.
Valaika tosses a warmup throw.
Starting for the Chiefs was one of the Nats' top prospects, Shairon Martis. He's a honkballer, born in the Dutch Antilles. Known for his changeup, he made his major league debut at age 21 last year.
Going for the Bats was Matt Maloney.
Old pal Corey Patterson was in the starting lineup. He was batting fifth and playing left field.
He ended up being released two days after this game. I was kind of surprised. He played well enough for the Chiefs, and I thought the Nats could never get enough outfielders. In any case, he's preparing for the future. According to Wikipedia, he bought a dairy farm in Georgia last fall, with a thousand cows, as well as emus and a giraffe. I guess we know what he did with the $3 million the Reds gave him last year.
Still not sure what that "HM" patch is about. Wikipedia says the Chiefs are wearing a "HB" patch, in memory of former member of the Chiefs' Board of Directors Harold Berman. But nothing about "HM."
Drew Stubbs played CF and led off, as usual.
Danny Dorn played LF and batted 7th.
Kevin Barker, since called up to the big club, had a big night.
Maloney singled in the 3rd inning, but ended up being picked off 3B by Gustavo Molina. I guess he doesn't have a lot of experience on the basepaths.
That ended up costing the Bats. Darnell McDonald singled, and Maloney would have scored easily from 3B.
Instead, Eric Eymann, on 2B via a double, tried to to come home.
He signals "safe," but Martis, Molina, and most importantly, the umpire, disagree. He's out!
The fourth inning was a disaster for the Bats. Maloney got the first two outs, then gave up a double. The next batter should have been the third out, but Wes Bankston's throwing error allowed the runner to reach. Maloney kind of fell apart, giving up a single, then a wild pitch, then a HBP. Corey Patterson came to bat with the bases loaded.
The Chiefs have a deal with Denny's:
I was kind of rooting for C-Pat then. I didn't bother getting my free taco when Drew Stubbs struck out and turned all the ticket stubs into free taco coupons. But breakfast at Denny's - that I could go for.
Alas, no rally-killer for Patterson. It was almost as bad, though. He hit a 2-RBI single, then stole 2B. Before the inning was over, 4 runs scored, all unearned. (Thanks, Wankston. That was his 12th error of the season. Not good.)
That made it 7-0. Things did not look good for our heroes.
Gustavo Molina nearly killed the third base coach with a hard-hit foul ball.
It was kinda scary, but he was fine, and stayed in the game.
Molina hit a leadoff homer the 5th. Darnell leaps at the wall, but he'd have to be 30 ft. tall to get this one.
After Martis singled to center field, Matt Maloney got the hook.
Rough outing for Maloney. 4.0 IP, 11 hits, 8 runs, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 1 home run. And two hit batsmen and a wild pitch. (The unearned runs were on Bankston's throwing error, and on a passed ball by Corky Miller in the 2nd.)
Ramon Ramirez took over.
Martis pitched 7 shutout innings.
Drew Stubbs uses his psychokinetic powers to levitate a bat:
Valaika spits out his gum as he leaves the field.
(Eyeww. A-Rod always does that, too. Do the grounds crew or the bat boys have to pick it up? I can't imagine they just leave it there. The entire field would be pink before long.)
Ian Desmond was 2 for 4 with a double.
Eric Eymann catches a Desmond popup.
Elijah Dukes pinch-hit for Martis in the 7th. He singled, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Darnell got it back in quickly, and Valaika was there with the tag.
Dave Williams pitched the 8th.
Darnell McDonald singled.
Kevin Barker came to bat with the bases loaded. He let two balls go by, then smacked a home run over the right field fence.
That drove Williams from the game. Zack Segovia took over.
Logan Ondrusek pitched the 9th inning. He was just promoted from AA.
He made short work of the top of the order.
The Bats mounted a two-out rally in the 9th.
After Dorn struck out and Valaika grounded out, Corky Miller got things started with a clutch HBP. Miller took 2B on defensive indifference, then got to third on a Luis Bolivar single.
Stubbs singled, scoring Miller.
Though Darnell had a good night, going 3 for 5, he couldn't come through this time. He grounded into a forceout, ending the game.
The Chiefs celebrate their victory.
I was bemused to see Mike Vento (#26). He came up in the Yankees system, and got only a cup of coffee with the big club. I never would have guessed he'd still be playing baseball when more celebrated prospects like Bubba Crosby, Kevin Thompson, Kevin Reese, and Bronson Sardinha had hung 'em up.
Final score: Bats 5, Syracuse 8.