After getting swept by last place St. George last night (which was also St. George's first series sweep of any team this year), the Sox are now tied with them for a position they have never been in before--last place in the Golden Baseball League.
Bullpen implosions and key errors led to our team being in this position and last night was no exception. The scoring for St. George started in the second with Mike Done overthrowing 1st base from about 35 feet away. This allowed the inning to continue and ultimately cost the Sox 2 runs on 2 hits.
Starting Pitcher James Johnson was not overpowering but he kept the Sox in the game and even left with a lead.
He turned the game over to newcomer Joe Walentin. Joe looked great over 2-2/3 innings as he retired 8 of 9 batters including 4 by strike out.
But then, what every Sox fan felt was going to happen but didn't want to admit finally did. With 2 down in the ninth, Ryan Stevenson blasted a shot to right center. Knowing he had to get to third, Stevenson ran hard but looked like he has running out of steam halfway there. Done, receiving the relay, tried to nail him at 3rd but instead threw the ball into the St. George dugout allowing the run to score on Done's 20th error on the season and 3rd in two nights.
Of course, then the bullpen curse was in full effect as Walentin would allow two baseruns to reach safely and then, in a St. George fairy tale ending, former Silver Sox player Cody Nowlin hit what would turn out to be the game winning single, loudly clapping his hands as he reached first. Walentin would finally get the last out but not before surrendering 3 hits, 2 walks, 2 runs, and, most importantly, the lead.
The Sox would threaten loading the bases for Victor Hall in the bottom of the ninth. Victor would take the count to 3-2 and then, in a controversial play, Victor struck out. Hall, telling the umpire he was hit by the pitch on the calf, was told he went too far on his check swing and was called out.
I am going to be very direct and say I think the umpires are suspect at times and need help calling balls and strikes. I've been watching baseball for years and I know that where the catcher's glove is when the ball is caught doesn't determine if it is a ball or strike. So I am not one of those fans who boos every ball. However, I have spent this series in the area behind homeplate and I will say there is not a lot of consistency in what was called. And I am not the only one who felt this way as the umpire got complaints from both dugouts even going to the extent of raising his hand to the Sox dugout, removing his mask, and shouting "that's enough". I would love to have a camera in the outfield with the computer drawn box showing just how far they are off.
With that said, the Victor Hall call was the right call no matter how much the fans booed it. Here is the rule (editted for length):
A batter is out when:
(f) He attempts to hit a third strike and the ball touches him;
So good job to the umpire who made a call that most people in the stands didn't seem to understand. However, the fact that Les didn't come out should have been an indicator that the right call was made.
Now it is off to SOCAL for a two game series (I will just do one blog on FRI to wrap up the series) and then it is back to Reno to finish out the season. As promised, I will write a blog for each game of the final homestand and then will post a year end wrap up the next week to close out my blog until next season. Hope you enjoy reading!