It may have taken me all of Saturday to arrive in Surprise, Arizona, but I am here (and now have a room with a working air conditioner).
Today, I spent the day on the backfields in Surprise, checking out the Double-A and Triple-A games. I will be honest, I spent more time watching the Triple-A game, mainly because a certain Texas ace pitched for the Rangers and Christian Binford was starting for the KC Royals..
That ace would be lefty Cole Hamels.
In the first, Binford induced a ground out, but then a pop up on the infield was called off by Cheslor Cuthbert and was missed (he plays third base and it was just past the mound between first and second). Up came big leaguer Chris Gimenez, who lined out up the middle on a nice play by Angel Franco. Binford then walked Jordan Danks, before striking out the final batter of the inning.
In the second, Binford allowed two singles, but escaped any damage with three fly outs. In the third, Binford allowed a one out single to Danks.
The Rangers scored their line run against Binford in the fourth after he walked a batter with two outs, before an RBI double.
Now to Hamels.
Humberto Arteaga struck out looking in the bottom of the first, but then Hunter Dozier homered to dead left field. Jose Martinez grounded out before Balbino Fuenmayor lined out.
In the second, Cuthbert struck out looking and Ryan O’Hearn struck out swinging. Elier Hernandez singled before Zane Evans struck out swinging. Evans hit a home run just foul prior to striking out.
Hamels struck out the side in the third (Edward Salcedo, Franco, and Dozier), but Arteaga singled. In the 4th inning, Martinez grounded out, as did Fuenmayor. Cuthbert singled and came around to score on O’Hearn’s home run to left field (he is a left-handed hitter). Hernandez then struck out looking.
Hamels was still on for the fifth and struck out Evans again. Salcedo grounded out to shortstop on a nice play. Franco lined out before Arteaga grounded out on a nice diving play down the third base line. Yes, Hamels recorded four outs in the 5th inning.
After Binford, lefty Jonanthan Dziedzic came on in relief. In the fifth, Gimenez singled to start the inning, but Dziedzic induced a double play out of Danks. Dziedzic then got a fly out to end the inning. I missed most of the sixth, but Dziedzic did pick off a base runner at first base.
O’Hearn went opposite field again with a double off the left-center field wall in the seventh. He then struck out against Michael Roth in the tenth. Of course, I only have video of the two strikeouts.
Dominique Taylor doubled off the center field wall in the eighth. It’s 400 feet and the wall is more than 30 feet high.
The two teams played ten innings to get both Roth and Royals lefty Sam Selman an inning of action. Selman walked the first batter of the tenth and the game ended on a sac fly (Royals won 3-2).
Frank Schwindel even caught a few innings and looked pretty good back there.
I did catch the end of the Double-A game, which the Royals won 5-4. Mark Peterson earned the save, working a 1-2-3 ninth. Peterson struck out the first batter he faced, induced a ground out, and a line out to end the game.
Erik Skolgund had started and I did catch some of Ashton Goudeau‘s inning (he was knocked around a bit).
Most of the Double-A position players are guys who played in Lexington last season (with a sprinkling of Bubba Starling, Ramon Torres, Jorge Bonifacio, and Alfredo Escalera).
*The Royals have off on Monday, so I’m heading to Goodyear to check out Cleveland. I’ll be back on the backfields of Surprise on Tuesday, as Brooks Pounders told me he is supposed to pitch.