Entering the friendly confines of Dow Diamond on Tuesday May, 24th, I couldn’t help but feel -for a brief moment- like I had been transported to Southern California’s Iconic Chavez Ravine, Where the Los Angeles Dodgers play their MLB games. A quick glimpse of the perfectly groomed green grass, contrasted by the Loons players in their brilliantly bright “Dodger Blue” Uniforms, along with legendary Dodger Pitcher, Ramon Martinez throwing out the 1st pitch, are what had me “California Dreaming.”
The “Dodger Blue” Uniforms and Roman Martinez’ appearance were part of the “Dodgers Route of Champions.” The Loons will pay tribute to their Major League affiliate along with various Dodger greats on select days throughout the 2011 season. As it would turn out on Tuesday evening, the Loons could’ve used some help from some of the great Dodger hitters of years past. I would’ve settled for current Dodger and former Loon, Jerry Sands, who hit his 2nd career MLB home run for the Dodgers on Tuesday. Sands’ home run turned out to be a grand slam that put the Dodgers up 5-0 en route to a 5-4 Dodger win. Sands’ “dinger” traveled over 420 feet! It was a great day for former Loons in “The Show.” Former Loon pitcher, Ruby De La Rosa made his Major League debut in the very same game. De La Rosa made a stunning debut, as he came on in the 8th to face the heart of the Houston Astros order. He threw 13 pitches to 3 different batters. De La Rosa struck out 2, and forced a ground out to the 3rd batter, retiring the side. There is a good chance that De La Rosa would’ve continued into the 9th and recorded his 1st MLB save, if his turn hadn’t come up in the batting order. Never the less, De La Rosa becomes the 7th former Great Lakes Loons player to make his debut for a Major League Baseball team.
The Loons lost to the Dayton Dragons 6-0 in a game where the score did not reflect the great pitching battle that took place between 2 of Minor League Baseballs best young pitchers.
Dayton’s young pitcher, Daniel Tuttle allowed zero runs as he faced 27 batters through 7 innings. Tuttle gave up 5 hits and walked 4, while striking out 5 batters.
The Loons young pitcher was even better. Loon’s pitcher, Ryan Christenson was virtually unstoppable. Christenson also allowed zero runs while facing 21 batters through 7 and 1/3 innings. Christenson struck out 9 of those 21 batters, allowing only 3 base runners on Tuesday night. Christenson only gave up 2 hits, (a single in the 3rd, and a single in the 6th). Christenson’s only “base on balls” of the night would come as he faced his 21st and final batter.
Great Lakes relief pitcher, Pete Budkevics came in and struck out the 1st batter he faced, David Vidal for out #2 in the 7th inning. It was the final 1/3rd of the 7th inning that would be the nightmare for the Great Lakes Loons as they gave up 6 unearned runs in the 7th inning alone, all with 2 outs.
The Loons had plenty of opportunities to score some runs throughout the game. Mental mistakes would prove to be the theme on offense as well as defense. In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Christian Lara walked to start the inning. Casio Grider followed Lara’s walk with a single, putting runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs. What happened next could be considered either base running mistake by Lara, or a mistake at the plate by Leon Landry. Or, it could’ve just been some mixed signals. Landry squared to bunt, and it looked like both runners were “on the run,” but Landry did not make contact with the ball, and Dayton Catcher, Tucker Barnhart gunned Lara down at 2nd base as he tried to make it back to the bag. If I were to wager a guess, I would say that Landry needed to make contact on that pitch to protect his base runners. The inning ended with no runs for the Loons.
With 1 out in the bottom of the 5th, Lara worked Dragon Pitcher, Daniel Tuttle to a 3-1 count and ripped a double to Right Field. Casio Grider followed with a single, moving Lara to 3rd base. With Blake Dean batting, and Lara on 3rd, Grider took off to steal 2nd base. Dayton’s Catcher, Tucker Barnhart promptly popped up and gunned Grider out at 2nd, while Lara (who was frozen on 3rd base) somehow failed to run home. Dean popped out for out #3, ending the Loons threat on the next pitch.
With 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th (and Leon Landry on 1st base) Loons Catcher Mike Pericht hit a very hard ground ball that was “GUARANTEED” to be a base hit, as the ball was out of reach between both, the 1st AND 2nd basemen of the Dayton Dragons. Unfortunately, when things go bad, they go REALLY bad. We’re talking, “Bad News Bears” BAD! As Landry took off to run to 2nd on the Pericht hit, the ball skipped once and hit Landry in the ankle while he was still “in play” and running to 2nd base. Getting hit by a ball that is hit by a member of your own team is a “dead ball” and Landry was called out, ending the 8th inning.
Jon Garcia and Casio Grider went 2 for 4 respectively for the Loons, while Christian Lara went 1 for 2 with a “base on balls.”
The Loons lost to the Dragons on Wednesday night by a score of 7-1 for their longest losing streak (4 games) of the season. The Loons will be at Dow Diamond on Thursday May, 26th at 10:35 a.m. for a “School Kids Day.” Let’s hope the losing streak stops at 4 games. We will see you at “The Dow!” (Diamond, that is)…