My job takes me on the road to large cities throughout the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana region. For the first time since I’ve had this gig, I’ve been able to take in a couple of minor league games.
First stop was the Louisville Bats vs. the Pawtucket Red Sox. I arrived at the game when the gates opened, which allowed me to park a couple blocks away on the street for free (sweet). Tickets were cheap, just $6 for a seat down the line in right two rows up. It was $1 beer tailgate night ($1 beers from the time the gates open until game time). So, the after work 20-something crowd was out in full force. As I lingered in the outfield watching BP, the guy working with the PawSox pitchers looked vaguely familiar. So, I did some digging. Turns out the PawSox pitching coach is none other than former Pirates pitcher Rich Sauveur. I wanted to watch their starter (Michael Bowden) warm up. So, I headed toward the PawSox bullpen. A few minutes later Mr. Sauveur was there conversing with someone he knew in the stands, a mere two seats away from me. During a break in their conversation, I looked over and casually said, “Hey, you’re Rich Sauveur, right?” I think I blew him a way a little. I told him I was a big Pirates fan (I happened to be wearing a circa 1990 Andy Van Slyke jersey t-shirt). I also happened to casually know a guy he played with in the minors and mentioned his name, telling him that the gentleman resided here in Louisville.
Onto the game. Neither Bowden nor Reds starter Homer Bailey were impressive. Bailey especially got hit hard. His fastball topped out at 94 and the PawSox hit several balls on the nose. They had three runners thrown out at home, saving the game. Bailey struck out only one hitter. But the Bats prevailed.
Last night (and this morning) I’m in Indianapolis. Lucky me, I just picked up Indiana and will get a chance to see the Buccos AAA team play. Low and behold, the PawSox are in town. I got a ticket from a customer (20 rows up, behind the plate – nice). But there is no on the street parking. So, despite arriving 90 minutes before game time, I’m paying $5. But it was $1 hot dog night.
I wanted to see their starter (Charlie Zink) warm up, mostly because he tosses a knuckleball. So, once again I lingered by the visitors bullpen. Mr. Sauveur came out, looked at me and said, “Hey, how are you?” I told him I was fine and returned the question. He told me he was dead tired and moved on. I don’t think he quite put it all together that I had seen him last Thursday in Louisville. Zink’s knuckler looked pretty good.
About the second inning, I’m looking around the area, checking out the guys who are obvious scouts. Among them is none other than Dave Littlefield. So, between innings a little while later, I saunter over, extend my hand and say, “Mr. Littlefield, I’m a huge Pirates fan.” We talked for a few moments. He said he was working for the Cubs and was in town doing some scouting. He asked me what I did and I told him that I sold paper, kind of like the the TV show “The Office”. He said he didn’t catch much TV. But asked if my industry was hurt by newspapers and the like not selling as much. I told him that my market was primarily affected by foreign imports. The inning was getting ready to start again, so I let him get back to work. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy. Later in the game, I noted he was talking with the Indians GM, Cal Burleson.
On with the game, Ty Taubenheim and Zink both pitched pretty well. Jason Davis, not so much. He was wild and was hurt by a Steve Pearce error. After giving up two runs in the 8th, Davis let the first three runners on in the 9th before giving way to Chris Bootcheck. The Pirates escaped damage when Bootcheck whiffed Paul McAnulty on a 96 mph heater and then got a 6-4-3 DP to end the inning. Bootcheck tossed it like a man making a case for another chance at the majors.Very impressed.
Andrew McCutchen had three hits and threw a runner out at second trying to stretch a single into a double. It was the first time I’ve had a chance to see him play. I was impressed with his speed. He looks like a guy who doesn’t have much left to prove in the minors. His body build reminds me of Raghib Ismail. Not sure if that is good or bad. I look at him and think that he can’t possibly hold up over 150+ starts in the Majors. Hopefully, I’m wrong.