3:00-Struggling from exhaustion an hour out of Louisville, I made a pit stop to get coffee. The exit I took gave me bad vibes, like I was on the Cahulawassee River in Georgia back country.
3:00:05-I’m back on the interstate, sans coffee, but at least nobody complemented me on my "purty mouth."
4:00-I arrived at Louisville Slugger Field, home of the Cincinnati Reds’ AAA affiliate, full of opportunist thoughts. There was only one small problem. I beat the ticket sales reps to the stadium.
4:20-After I wandered around the Bats’ stadium looking at pictures of past Louisville greats (Andy Van Slyke, Ken Hill, Brandon Larson) I was finally able to find a Bat employee. He led me on a few goose chases before making a call to a media relations employee to help me get situated.
4:35-With my press credentials dangling around my neck, I was lost in a tunnel under the stadium.
4:45-After a few detours, I finally found my way onto the field.
5:00-I introduced myself to the Bulls’ public relations director. He said interviewing Delmon Young should not be a problem. He told me to go find him in the locker room.
5:05-Hesitantly tiptoeing into the locker room like the first time I was forced to shower with other guys in gym class, I felt as welcome as George W. Bush during a European tour. Darnell McDonald, the Bulls’ centerfielder and the first person I ran into, shot my interview request down immediately.
5:07-Trying to regroup and look like I know what I’m doing, I begin to copiously take notes. McDonald walks past and asks if he can help me find someone else. I said, “Sure, I’m also looking for Young.” As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I could feel I now had an audience. McDonald told me he’d get him in a way that made me feel nervous.
5:09-I finally spotted Young. I nervously approached him and awkwardly asked him for a few minutes of his time. Without turning around to face me, he emphatically said, “no.” I could hear Young’s teammates giggling.
5:09:43-Trying to save face, I started talking to the closest Bull, Luis Ordaz, the often injured utility fielder on rehab assignment from Tampa Bay. Still flustered by my encounter with Young, I told him congratulations on the great year he was having. Ordaz recently returned from a knee injury that had sidelined him the entire season. He literally has had only 22 at-bats this year. I knew that I had to cut my losses. This wasn’t going to get any better. After asking a few mundane questions, I got out of the locker room before my head exploded all over the wall. This was definitely my most embarrassing moment in my writing career.
5:30-In the bathroom, splashing water on my face, I repeatedly told myself, “You are good enough, you have done this before, have faith in yourself.”
5:45-As soon as I walked into the Bats’ locker room, to my relief, I spotted Chris Denorfia. Denorfia also agreed to an interview. Things were starting to turn around.
6:00-I’m back in the press box. The Louisville clubhouse was very friendly and welcoming. Every player that walked past said “Hi.” This was the exact opposite of the Bulls’ locker room.
6:19-Bats’ southpaw Mike Gosling struck out Ordaz, McDonald, and Young.
6:25-The Bats’ also go down in order in the first.
6:29-Gosling has now fanned the first four batters.
6:31-After retiring the first five batters, Gosling gave up a single to first baseman Wes Bankston.
6:42-Former Devil Ray Doug Waechter is cruising along. He has retired the first six Bats.
6:54-Bats’ right fielder Matt Kata breaks up the no-hitter with a bunt single. He reaches second on a throwing error by third baseman Rodney Nye.
6:57-With runners on first and third with no outs, second baseman William Bergolla was caught stealing.
6:59-Bats’ catcher Ryan Jorgensen knocked Kata in on a sacrifice fly to right field. Young’s throw was way up the line. I think his bad start could have been avoided if he had just spent a few minutes talking to me.
7:05-Gosling is flawless allowing one hit and striking out six through four innings.
7:12-Dewayne Wise, running on the pitch, tried to score from first on a Brendan Harris single to right field. Wise was controversially called out on the Young to second baseman Luis Rivas to catcher Shawn Riggans relay.
7:21-Gosling retires the Bulls on six pitches in the fifth. It was his third 1-2-3 of the game.
7:26-This is proving to be a pitcher’s duel. Waechter has also been very impressive on the night. Like Gosling, he has three 1-2-3 innings on the night, allowing only three hits and one unearned run.
7:32-After leading off the inning with a double, Bulls’ third baseman Rodney Nye was thrown out at home by Wise on an Ordez single. It looked like Bats’ catcher Ryan Jorgensen whiffed on the tagged.
7:34-Gosling appears to be losing his stuff. He allowed a lead off double, followed by a single and a walk.
7:37-My boy Young lined out with runners on first and third to end the inning. Young is 0-for-3 with a strike out on the night.
7:44-Waechter induced a Ray Olmedo double play to get out of the sixth inning unscathed.
7:46-It’s already the top of the seventh after an hour-and-a-half. You’ve got to like that.
7:50-Gosling exited after 6 1/3 innings, 5 hits, no runs, 6 strikeouts, and 1 walk. That’s his second straight impressive outing. Can you say the fifth starter for the Cincinnati Reds?
7:56-After giving up a single, Brad Salmon retired the next two batters to end the seventh.
7:58-I think the umpire has nine o’clock dinner reservations. If the ball is within a foot of home plate, it is called a strike.
8:03-Andy Abad, the 25th man on the Cincinnati Reds’ opening day roster, doubled in third baseman Brendan Harris to make it a 2-0 game. A good throw by the cutoff man, Luis Rivas, and Harris is nailed at the plate.
8:06-At the end of the seventh, it looks like Waechter’s night is over. Waechter has been surprisingly impressive tonight. He came into the game with a 1-9 record and a super-sized ERA of 8.76.
8:14-It’s the middle of the seventh, and Salmon has retired five straight Bulls.
8:16-Al Reyes relieved Waechter to begin the eighth. Waechter’s line is 7 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 1 strikeout, and 1 walk.
8:18-The camera guy is sitting next to me, laughing like Beavis the entire time. I still haven’t heard him talk, just giggle.
8:22-Scott Chiasson started the ninth, looking for his 27th save.
8:23-Young gets his first hit of the night, a lead off double off of Chiasson.
8:26-Chiasson earned his 27th save with little doubt and the Bats’ won their fourth in a row 2-0.
8:45-I’m back from the Bats’ clubhouse. I feel like I redeemed myself from my nightmare pre-game reporting. I felt much more comfortable and confident. Knowing the Bats system so well made it that much easier. After Young and Waechter, my personnel knowledge fell off considerably, and I think that was the major reason that went so poorly.
With the win, the Bats remained one game back of the Indianapolis Indians in the International League West Division (and tied with the Toledo Mud Hens). They are also 3.5 games back of the IL Wild Card. I asked Bats second baseman William Bergolla what it felt like to be in a playoff hunt.
“It’s been great," Bergolla said. "I was in one at Billings [Reds’ rookie league] and in winter ball last year in Venezuela.”
I asked if he thought he would be called up to the Reds in September and he told me he didn’t think so. He said, “They took me off the 40-man roster.”
M.D.: “Did the Reds tell you they were going to do that?”
“No, they just made the transaction.”
*I also spoke with last night’s hero Dewayne Wise. I asked him about the controversial call at home plate, where he appeared safe.
“I thought I was in," Wise said. "My hand swiped home plate before I was tagged. The ump said that I missed the plate.”
M.D.: “Did you say anything to the umpire?”
“I told him that my hand hit home plate, but I let [Bats’ manager Rick] Sweet do the arguing for me.”Powered by Sidelines