Well, the post-game show didn’t provide the only fireworks for the evening at Louisville Slugger Field Friday night. Right fielder Jeremy Hermida was tossed from the game in the 8th inning after arguing a called strike. When Hermida was ejected, the 3rd base coach Rick Sweet came to his defense and was also ejected after a long and heated shouting match went on for several minutes.
Players were very friendly and lively during pre-game warm-ups. Devin Mesoraco and pitcher Brad Boxberger were signing a few autographs before starting their pre-game routines. The first 1,500 fans or so had gotten a box set of trading cards featuring all of the Louisville Bats. Players Chris Valaika and Denis Phipps chatted with some friends in the crowd down the 3rd base line. Turns out, the friends were a host family from Cincinnati with whom Valaika and Phipps had met when staying at their home during stints in Cincinnati.
The atmosphere was excited and the weather was perfect for baseball. Edinson Volquez was set to be the starting pitcher for the Bats and looked very strong during his bullpen session.
With a couple of quick strikeouts in the first, the Bats were off and running. Offensively, catcher Devin Mesoraco put a “Bats Blast” over the left field seats and out of the park in the bottom of the 2nd inning to take a 1-0 lead for the home team.
Volquez was in and out of jams throughout the first half of the game and had 5 K’s through his first 4 innings pitched. It’s a wonder to me that the Cincinnati Reds are continuing to allocate Volquez’s arm to their farm team in Louisville as he has one of the most impressive combination of pitches I’ve ever seen. During Volquez’s 6 full innings pitched on Friday night, I saw him throw breaking balls as low as 76 mph and fast balls as high as 97 mph. It’s no wonder that he managed to wave 8 of the Indian’s batters.
Chris Valaika and Juan Francisco brought the Bats’ offense back to life in the bottom of the 6th with back-to-back doubles, scoring a run and making it 2-0. Unfortunately, the Indians began catching up and locking in on Volquez’s pitches in the 7th. After a couple of walks and a couple of well-placed singles, the Indians managed to tie the game at 2-2. Volquez managed to get the Bats out of the 7th inning without any further damage.
To my surprise, Volquez was left in to pitch the top of the 8th inning. Not so much to my surprise, Volquez gave up a lead-off solo homerun that gave the Indians a 3-2 lead. Volquez was promptly pulled to bring in Brad Boxberger. Boxberger retired the side, giving the Bats an opportunity to get back in it.
As previously mentioned, the bottom of the 8th inning is where Hermida and Sweet got the boot. The crowd was riled up and pulling for the Bats to put something together. Even Buddy the Bat had “the wave” going around the ballpark. To the fans’ dismay the 8th and 9th came and went without any more good news.
In the bottom of the ninth, Costanzo struck out on a 103 mph fastball from Indian Justin Wilson to lead. David Cook and Mike Griffin represented the final two outs on ground balls.
All in all, it was an exciting start to the home series with TWO fireworks displays to be enjoyed by fans. Join the Bats at Slugger Field for part two of the series at 6:05 pm tonight. The promotion for Saturday’s game is $2 Shock Top Beer on the Overlook Deck from 5:00 - 6:30 and a special guest appearance from Quick Change – the self-proclaimed “most exciting, magnetic and innovative magic-dance-transformation act in the world today.”
Photo courtesy of: batsbaseball.com
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