(Portland ME) Quite the pregame show!
Set up close to the wall in centerfield was a cornfield arranged in the, “Field of Dreams,” mode.
The sellout crowd was addressed and thanked for twenty years of baseball following at Hadlock Field.
Then suddenly players appeared on our side of the cornfield. They came out wearing 1926 Portland Eskimos uniforms and looked around in wonder at Hadlock Field.
The players then strolled in toward the foul lines getting a thunderous, standing ovation from the delighted crowd.
The players then applauded the fans and went up into the stands to greet as many in the crowd as they could get to.
It was terrific stuff. Media boss Chris Cameron had told me, on a previous visit, that it was his favorite promotion of the summer. Now I knew why. Fan involvement in most minor league games is quite subdued but this show had everyone stirred up.
Then there was the game that you thought this write-up was about!
Portland lost the game, 9-4, on a cloudy/rainy/sunny Sunday afternoon. The rain hit just at game time but fortunately was soon gone. It turned out to be a delightful day for a game.
Going into Friday, the Portland Sea Dogs had a chance to get to second and make the Eastern League (AA) playoffs. “All” they had to do was finish the regular season with five straight wins over second-place Trenton.
They got past Friday but not Saturday. The home team dropped both ends of last night’s double-header and the first loss sealed the doom of the Sea Dogs. That result made this game irrelevant in the overall scheme of things.
But there were prospects to be seen. My main reason for doing this game was to get Sea Dog pitcher Henry Owens. The 20-year-old was the starter today. I was also hoping to get a look at shortstop Deven Marrero in the field. Missions accomplished!
The Trenton Yankees have their top three prospects (Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams, and Tyler Austin) on their roster. Mason, however, was injured Saturday night so he was unavailable. I flat out messed up on Tyler. I think that the Trenton online roster had him with a different number. But I did really well with Gary Sanchez. He cooperated for a nice shot in the Trenton dugout.
Gary is a 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic who signed a $3 million contract with the Yankees as a 16-year-old. He has the size (6-2/220 pounds) to catch and plenty of power. The eerie thing about Gary is that on first glance he looks like Alex Rodriguez!
Speaking of catchers, Portland’s Christian Vazquez was called up to AAA Pawtucket today. Christian had been cited for his defense in the past. This year his hitting improved tremendously.
Many of us were on hand to see Henry Owens. What most of us didn’t expect was for him to get taken deep twice (Ramon Flores and Gary Sanchez) in the first inning. The tall lefty ended up going 5 2/3 innings giving up six hits, 3 runs, and had eight strikeouts. He should be a good one. I suspect that he’ll at least start at Portland next season. I doubt that he’ll stay there too long.
Lefty Nik Turley started for Trenton and got the win. He went five innings and left leading 3-2. Nik is not related to former Yankee ace Bob Turley although Bob did call Nik’s father after the 2008 draft to welcome Nik to the Yankees.
A 3-2 game got away from the Sea Dogs in the 8th inning when the Thunder put up a five-spot on reliever Miguel Celestino.
Trenton, which hosts Binghamton in the EL playoffs on Wednesday, had thirteen hits against Portland. Ben Gamel led the way with three hits including a home run. Ramon Flores (Yankees #16 prospect) had two hits including a homer. Reegie Corono had a home run as well.
Portland had eleven hits. Garin Cecchini, Travis Shaw, and Deven Marrero each had two of them.
Another embarrassing effort by Slugger. He raced against a 4-year-old (?) from Oxford today. The youngster headed for rightfield after first but it didn’t matter. Slugger should have built up a big lead with the confusion but instead fell flat near second. Slugger recovered but just when he had a great chance for the win went down again just short of home. I’m beginning to wonder if he’s really trying.
Again thanks to media relations director Chris Cameron for setting up my visit.
(All of the pictures above and below enlarge considerably if you click on them.)