Every year when I was a child, my siblings and I came to Syracuse to visit our grandparents. My dad grew up here and his mother still lives here. A week and a half ago my mother sent me an email saying they were thinking of heading up to visit her over this weekend – would I like to join them? Sure thing – the New York State Fair is going on, we have dear family friends who live nearby that I don’t get to see nearly often enough, and when I checked the schedule, I noticed that the Syracuse Chiefs (Triple-A Affiliate of the Nationals) would be in town. I told Ashley that I was going out of town, and she replied back saying, “I hear that Strasburg might be making a rehab start on Saturday – you should get tickets!” I saw one more rumor on Twitter and thought, “Heck – if he doesn’t start, the tickets are still cheap enough that it won’t be a big deal.”
It turned out that I was very lucky. I snagged two 4th row from the field seats to see one of Strasburg’s best starts yet since coming back from Tommy John surgery. 7 strikeouts, 64 pitches, 47 of them for strikes, and a fastball that topped out around 98 (according to the most-likely broken Alliance Bank Stadium scoreboard). Strasburg knew he did well too – his quote from after the game was “The numbers did the talking.”
After five innings of no runs, no hits, no errors, Strasburg proved he was human by allowing two singles (only one of whom would go on to score). The Chiefs would go on to win the game 4-3…though they did it in dramatic fashion in the ninth with two runners on before getting the third out.
Not only did we get to see the spectacular pitching by Strasburg, we got a sneak preview of some of the other guys who will likely be called up in September – Roger “The Shark” Bernadina (who is already a Natstown favorite) who had a homerun and a double which provided the bulk of the Chiefs’ offense…
…Steve Lombardozzi Jr. who made a couple of amazing plays, as well as helping the offense with a hit and a stolen base, and Matt Antonelli who made the most incredible diving catch you’ve ever seen to end the painful 6th inning.
Chins up Natstown…September looks bright from Syracuse.
The rest of the pictures from this game can be seen here.
Game: #050 – Syracuse Chiefs vs. Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees
Starting Pitchers: Stephen Strasburg (#37, 3-1, 1.27) vs. Tim Redding (#23, 0-0, 3.86)
Final Score: Chiefs: 2, Yankees: 3
Chiefs New Record: 28-20
Play of the Game: Chase Lambin, Chiefs second baseman, slides home hoping to beat a throw from the outfield. Instead of sliding in directly, he comes in behind the Yankees catcher and reaches behind to tag home plate. The crowd goes WILD!
Player of the Game: What can I say – despite this being his first AAA loss, Strasburg was great. He got up to at LEAST 99mph, and was impressive up until the 6th inning when he just fell apart.
Favorite Non-baseball Moment: Watching a couple fratty guys in the front row talk smack with the 8th grader sitting near them.
Who was there: Maggie (and more than 13,000 – a full house – other fans hoping to get a glimpse of the wunderkind)
Her Record: Maggie – 2-7
Where did she sit: Section 112, row C. This is just to the left of the home dugout, a great area for getting player signatures, and watching ballplayers come and go before and after innings. These are also some of the most “expensive” seats in the house – purchased online, my total came to $13.50 (a real steal if you’re used to DC prices).
What did we eat: A hot dog and a Saranac pale ale. The beer was good, the hot dog was pathetic (a little burned, the bun all squished up and split down the middle).
- During the top of the fourth, I was filming the at-bat. All of a sudden, a foul ball comes screaming at us! If the ball hadn’t bounced on the dugout railing, it would have probably hit me.
- I sat next to a guy who hates the wave. WHO HATES THE WAVE???
- Syracuse has a train that runs behind the outfield. Not a kiddie train – a real-deal functioning diesel train. It’s awesome to watch it chug and toot in the middle of the game.
- Strasburg had a balk in the 6th. I didn’t see it happen, and I still don’t really know what it means to balk.
- He did not seem happy to be taken out after walking a dude and generally having a bad inning. Syracuse fans gave him a standing ovation, but one drunk dude two rows in front of me got a little obnoxious about the fact that Strassy didn’t tip his cap. One of the security guys in the dugout got into it with the drunk dude, and security was eventually called. If this guy hadn’t insisted on being so loud with his displeasure at Stras not tipping his cap, nothing would have happened. He wasn’t kicked out, but he got a warning.
- Jason Bergman was lip-singing along with the Outfield’s “Your Love”. It was kind of awesome to witness. He later watched the game, staring lovingly – as if he wanted to be in there (which I’m sure he did).
- According to the people sitting near me, I’m a “creepy stalker chick” because I happen to know things about Strasburg (I remembered his birthday because it’s 3 days before mine, I know where he went to school because I’m a Nationals fan, and he was THE NEWS last summer, and I know what kind of car he drives because it was in the Syracuse newspaper article I read that afternoon). I didn’t hound him for an autograph (didn’t stick around after the game), and I know quite a bit about the other players too. I think I proved I was a legit fan (and not a Strasburg stalker) by being able to talk about the OTHER Syracuse players that were being sent up/down (JD Martin, Justin Maxwell).
(full album from this game can be seen here)
(more videos from other games can be seen here)