Saturday, April 16, 2011

Home Opener

Last night was the Oklahoma Redhawks 2011 home opener. It was also their first home game as the Houston Astros AAA franchise and their first under the ownership of Mandalay Baseball Properties, which was obvious by the number of suits walking around the stadium concourse (SRLSY). With temperatures dropping into the low 50s and a high winds, it was a chilly night and my wife prevailed on me to leave after 5 innings. But, it was an enjoyable game nonetheless with a Redhawks win over the visiting Albuquerque Isotopes.

OKC starter Fernando Nieve got off to a rough start, tagged for three runs in the top of the first. The first run was scored by hot Dodger prospect Dee Gordon, who looks to me, at 5'11" and a scant 150 pounds, to have made the jump to AAA right from the high school junior varsity. But, you can't argue with his hitting (.298 through the start of his now fourth minor league season) and speed. The top of the first also featured invocation of the infield fly rule. It was so windy (gusting up to 40 mph) that pop ups were extremely difficult to judge. When the wind took a Isotopes pop up and it dropped in, the runner on first ended up being forced out at second. The umpires gave him the bag and sent the hitter, now at first, back to the bench.

The Redhawks came back in the bottom of the frame, scoring three runs capped by the Koby Clemens home run seen above.

Things settled in after that, with Nieve keeping the Isotopes off the board and mostly off base in the remainder of his 5 1/3 inning outing. Isotopes starter John Ely, down on a rehab stint from the Dodgers also shut down the Redhawks until the fifth inning when a J.B Shuck double, a Brian Bogusevic triple, and a Clemens double brought the score to 5-3 and gave the home team the lead for good. At that point, we baled out in search of warmth and missed the rest of the 7-4 Redhawks win.

The next game in our 7 game mini-season tickets package will by the Friday, May 13 contest against the Round Rock Express. That game will be something of a homecoming, as Round Rock replaced the Redhawks as the top Rangers farm club this season. The Express coaches, and some of the players, were here last year. It will also be somewhat interesting for me, as well. The previous Sunday (May 8) I have tickets for the Rangers-Yankees game down in Arlington. After the game, my wife will need to drop me off at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, so I can fly out for a 3 day business meeting being held at a company facility in France. My return flight from Paris leaves Friday morning local time and I get back to OKC at 7:50 PM, in time to go right from the airport to the ballpark and catch the last few innings. Can't think of a better way to sandwich a trip to a furrin land than with two baseball games.

Note added later: Koby Clemens is the son of the now-disgraced pitching great, Roger Clemens.

Any of the pictures can be clicked for larger versions

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