Why does this man not want people to have free tacos?
Syracuse, NY (June 8, 2011) - The Syracuse Chiefs have a long-standing promotion in partnership with Taco Bell. They choose one player on the opposing team: the K-Man of the Night (or Day, if it's a day game). If that player strikes out during the game, everyone in the stands gets a free taco. (There's a charming story here about a game in 2002 when Brandon Phillips was the K-Man.)
Yesterday, Jeremy Hermida was the K-Man. That seemed grossly unfair. The guy's batting .350 and OPSing .950. Not surprisingly, he did not provide the good people of Syracuse with any tacos.
They don't always pick players unlikely to strike out. Drew Stubbs was the K-Man once a couple of years ago, and yes, the result was free tacos for all. Today's K-Man was Juan Francisco. He's been hitting almost as well as Hermida, but, being the free-swinger that he is, strikes out more. The taco forecast was looking up.
Zack Cozart warming up before the game.
Chris Valaika, striking a "Valaika the Barbarian" pose.
The starting pitcher for the Bats was Brandon Hynick.
Hynick was acquired from the White Sox for "cash considerations." Drafted in the 8th round by the Rockies, he was happy to be traded to Chicago a couple of years ago. He's an Ohio boy (from the Cleveland area), and wanted to be closer to home.
The Reds may be hoping he can contribute in Cincinnati this year. His pitching has been pretty screwed up the past year or so, but maybe they can straighten him out.
JD Martin was on the mound for the Chiefs.
Jeff Frazier, Todd's brother, was coaching first base.
Cozart waited until the second pitch to single this time. But Martin, the crafty veteran, caught him flatfooted.
Cozart returns to the dugout after being picked off. By the "dirty uniform" index, he's an all-star.
Valaika flied out. Juan Francisco came to bat, and the fans started yelling, "Taco! Taco!" He disappointed them, flying out.
Left fielder Michael Aubrey made the catch.
Cozart doubled in the 3rd. (He was stranded when Valaika grounded out.)
Juan Francisco disappointed the home crowd again when he came to bat in the 4th. He walked. It was only his fifth walk of the year.
He was doubled off when Hermida flied out. I guess he didn't think it would be caught. It was.
Jesus Flores homered in the fifth.
Francisco homered in the 7th.
Todd Frazier gave the first base coach's hat and timer to the D-Train, and came in to pinch-hit in the 8th. He singled.
He stole 2B, then Cozart walked. But Valaika grounded into a double play to end the threat.
Chris Mobley pitched the 8th.
Francisco came to bat in the 9th, and the crowd got loud. It was their last chance for a free taco. But he didn't strike out. He doubled.
The throw was on time, but it drew Matt Antonelli off the bag.
At this point, the Chiefs chief cheerleader began yelling. I had been wondering what happened to him. He was there, yelling insults and encouragement throughout each game I'd been to previous years. Had the economy gotten to him, forcing him to give up his season tickets? Apparently not. He was back, and in fine form. (I don't know where he was yesterday, or why he was silent until the last inning.) "Easy out Dorn!" he yelled. Then looked at Danny's average, displayed on the scoreboard, and amended it to "Even good hitters strike out!" When Brent Clevlen came to bat, it was "You used to be a prospect. Now you're a suspect!"
The Bats went down quietly, leaving Francisco stranded on 2B. (With his two hits, a flyout, and a walk, the fans were once again taco-less.) Final score: Bats 1, Chiefs 2.
The first base coach heads back to the dugout.