After struggling to generate some offense in the first week until the seventh inning of yesterday’s 9-5 win, the Rockies used the future regulars to knock out the Reds 9-3 at Goodyear Ballpark. It should be noted that the Reds had a no-name lineup today full of organizational fillers even though they were at home. The Rockies went with mostly NRIs and veterans. However, the Rockies sent future SPs (Jeff Hoffman and Kyle Freeland) today which was cause enough for my excitement attending today’s game.
Raimel Tapia got things started immediately with a infield hit. Then his friends keep the pedal to the metal the rest of the way until the final pitch. D.J. LeMahieu had this familiar inside out swing to weakly loop out to RF and he adjusted by pulling the ball in his next two ABs. Good, I didn’t want to see him loop out to RF the majority of the time like he did the last couple of years.
David Dahl played the entire game going 2-5 with a 2-run HR to opposite field with no Ks. His home run was very impressive; very few moving parts in his swing and squared up the ball without effort. Two of his two outs were on long fly balls; one to warning track in dead CF and the other off the end of the bat a little bit short of RF warning track.
Trevor Story hit his second homer of the Cactus League season with an easy swing to right center field. Story’s swing is nowhere near as violent as Tulo’s swing. If Story can take the same swing to the majors, I can expect to see Story do better than Tulo in late and close situations.
I watched the offensive side of the ball carefully today. I am pleased to report that the team struck out only six times with five of them between Ryan McMahon (2) and Dan Descalso (3). The base running was fundamentally excellent except in the base stealing category. The Rockies need to follow the Royals’ strategy of always putting balls in play especially when playing at Coors. I don’t know if spring training is the reason, but I saw excellent base running going station to station when it was safe to do so and TOOTBLAN was nowhere to be found. The Rockies have a lot of work to do with base stealing, both steal attempts and throwing out base thieves. I saw the games yesterday and today and the Rox look bad.
The feature of the game today was watching Hoffman and Freeland make their two-inning appearances. Christian Bergman made the start throwing two scoreless innings. I have always loved Bergman even though he doesn’t have a high ceiling. My reasons are that he is a strike thrower, doesn’t waste time walking around overthinking between pitches, and is unfazed if and when he gets hit hard. In other words, beat me but I’m not beating myself.
All eyes were on Hoffman in the third and fourth inning. His fastballs averaged 97 and he gave up only one hit to go with his two Ks. Freeland took over the next two innings. He also gave up a hit which happened to be a HR to go with three Ks and no walks. NRI Nelson Gonzalez tossed the 7th giving up a leadoff double which was followed by a long ball before settling down to get the next three batters. Jason Gurka scuffled loading up the bases but came away unscathed. Then the veteran Justin Miller came in and quickly dismissed the three batters he faced with a strikeout to close out the game.
I also watched the pitchers carefully cuz I’m obsessed with keeping walks to a minimum while getting a fair amount of Ks to avoid being BABIP’ed to death at Coors Field. I was very happy to note that only one free pass was issued while the pitchers sat down ten batters. Another observation by me was that after each big fly by the other team, the pitchers (Freeland & Gonzalez) who served the gopher balls shut down the inning 1-2-3 to keep the damage to a minimum.
Walt Weiss’ emphasis this spring is “win the inning.” The Rockies took that to heart today, going 4-0-5 in the innings record department.
Now for my personal write up of the ball park. You can skip reading the rest of the story if I get boring. Goodyear Ballpark is the best spring training facility for the fans in the Cactus League. This year was my second straight year I went to Goodyear Ballpark and I loved it both times. The tickets are a tad bit cheaper than most other ballparks. I bought my best available seat for $30 which was Row 2 on the field on the infield dirt meet RF area. Their souvenir store is the best souvenir store without a doubt in my opinion. They had giveaway souvenir day at the gate today. What? Spring training game? Wow, I got a Cincinnati Reds bobblehead. Two people sitting next to me left the game early and abandoned the bobbleheads so I took them and I have three of them!
For the second year in a row, a display of autographed gear were up for sale via the silent auction (unless you pay the “buy it now” price similar to eBay). Last year I thought long and hard about buying a Mike Trout autographed jersey inside a case. Trout is by far and away my favorite player in the majors and he happens to wear my favorite number (27) which is my birthday number. It was about $650 or so last year. I regretted passing that up big time. Then another Mike Trout jersey up for sale today via the silent auction. Buy it now $850 or bid starting at $700. I was the first one to put my name down and bid $725. Silent auction ended after the fifth inning. I went to the table expecting someone to outbid me. What??? No Mike Trout fan? No other bidder? Oh my, I gladly shelled out $725 and it made my day.
After the game, I stayed along the first base line to collect autographs as the players headed to the clubhouse in RF. I got about five autographs to go along with a few I got at RockieFest. The prized autographs were Kyle Freeland and Ryan McMahon. Although I’m in my early 50s, I’m giddy as a kid today getting the bobbleheads, Mike Trout jersey, and autographs.
I will be at all Rockies game this week through Friday. When the Rockies are home, the RWOers (RoxWalkOff bloggers) usually meet at Tavern Grille Scottsdale which is about five minutes from SRF@TS. This week’s home games are Monday, Thursday, and Friday. I will be there Monday at 11:00 am earlier than usual as the Cubs are playing Monday and SRF@TS will be overrun with Cubs fans. EdtheUmp, a RWO reader (and he answers all baseball rules questions) will be in Scottsdale all month. If you are in town later on this month, come and meet EdtheUmp there. He’s the real deal guy.