Minor League Odyssey – Day Fifteen – Rochester (Game Nine)
by, 08-15-2012 at 07:45 AM (1114 Views)
By late afternoon I am wondering if the game tonight is going to happen. A series of strong afternoon thunderstorms has come through the area and the rain has been heavy. The Red Wings do a good job, though, of keeping the public informed on their website of the game’s status, updating it regularly (are you listening, Twins?) and at 5:30 it is announced that the game is definitively on; the gates will open at 6pm, rain or no rain! Putting on my jeans (I have been wearing shorts the entire trip) and digging out my fleece sweater-jacket, just in case, I head out for Frontier Field.
The stadium is in downtown Rochester, on the west edge of town and facing the center of the city (although you can’t quite see the downtown skyline). Looking over to left field you see the Kodak Tower, headquarters of Eastman Kodak and once the tallest building in Rochester. Parking is right next to the stadium in the Kodak company lots ($6, unless it is a weekday afternoon game, in which case the lots are reserved for Kodak employees and fans are on their own). Railroad tracks pass down the south side of the stadium, and periodically throughout the night locomotives will chug by, blowing their whistles (each time I manage to resist the urge to yell out “Train!”). The stadium itself has a capacity slightly over 10,000 and was opened in 1996, which is surprising as it somehow feels older than that. Perhaps it is the emptiness of the seats – announced attendance is 4,700, but I don’t believe it; I would have guessed half that, probably weather related.
Getting to the ticket window I resignedly ask if they have any seats that are dry. To my pleasant surprise the answer is yes, and I get my $8 reserved seat ticket to one of the two areas in the stadium covered by a roof overhang. I will not have to sit three hours watching baseball in wet blue jeans! The downside is that the seat is near the top of the stadium, and for the first time on the trip I am watching the game from a distance instead of being right near the action. Wandering through the stadium to survey the food choices I opt for the double-sized roast beef sandwich, promising myself to sample the specialty mac-n-cheese the next evening. The stadium has several plazas with tables and benches at which to sit while dining, so I avail myself of one and flip through my souvenir program. Before I know it, time has flown and they are playing the national anthem, so I hurry to my seat before the first pitch, managing to bob and weave like a professional boxer around an army of mascots (it is mascot night here at Frontier Field) all trying to make physical contact.
P.J. Walters is making a rehab start, and he begins slowly with seven straight balls. He gets a sarcastic cheer from the crowd when he finally gets one over for a strike, but he ends up walking the batter anyway and gives up a single to the next. That turns out to be the extant of the damage, though, as after that he seems to settle down, getting out of the inning and working efficiently into the third. I am a bit surprised when they pull him after only ten batters (and after just giving up his second hit); hopefully it’s just he was on a pitch count and not a re-injury. David Bromberg comes in and pitches quite well for another four-plus innings before starting to fade in the seventh and giving way to Daniel Turpen. Put them all together and you have five hits and two walks scattered across eight innings and a shutout going into the ninth.
Meanwhile, Rochester has been scratching their way ahead, run by run. In the third Michael Chang leads off with a grounder to the third baseman. It looks to be an out, but the first baseman casually steps off the bag moments before the ball hits his glove. I half expect the umpire to call Chang out anyway, as I’ve seen that before, but he calls it straight and Chang is safe. It turns out to be an important call. Lehmann moves him over to third on a nice double down the left field line, and two batters later Dinkelman hits a weak grounder to the right side of the infield, being thrown out but also scoring the first run of the game. In the fourth Matt Carson leads off with a fly that just clears the fence in straight-away center. Then, in the seventh, Parmelee and Carson hit consecutive doubles deep in the park, and Rochester is up 3-0. Turpen struggles in the ninth and is pulled after giving up two consecutive hits and a walk, putting the tying run on first, but Anthony Slama comes in (with the crowd making as much noise as I’ve heard in about three innings) and strikes out the final batter, sealing the Red Wings 3-1 win.
Not much interesting in the promotion/contest department, but one nice touch was in the middle of the seventh when they played “God Bless America” while on the video screen pictures of those serving in the armed forces, with names and ranks, were displayed. It was nicely done.
Getting into Rochester late yesterday pays off in having two full days to see sites in the area, as both games are night games. I take advantage of this today by driving west about seventy miles to Niagara Falls. I have been there before, but they are impressive nonetheless. I pay my $10 parking fee (which I considered quite reasonable, actually, all things considered) and look around the site. I consider going on the Maid of the Mist boat trip and taking the Cave of the Winds hike at the base of the falls, but decide I am not in the mood to get wet today, so I pass on both. Instead, I take the walking path around the perimeter of Goat Island, which separates the American falls from the Canadian falls. I am about half-way around (and at the farthest point from my car, of course) when it starts to rain. *sigh*