Conor and I braved the beginning of both Seattle’s and Everett’s afternoon rush hours to get to Everett Memorial prior to gates open. We arrived to a packed press booth in which I felt more than slightly out of my element, as it was full of baseball guys. I am not a baseball guy. I was also ridiculously overdressed for baseball, as I’d just come from work, but that is beside the point. Despite the overly crowded situation, everything was eventually worked out, and I managed to find a place to put my stuff and set it up for writing and watching. The Vancouver Canadians were just finishing up BP as we arrived. Note the distinct lack of looting or setting things on fire.
The weather had gone from the 72F we were promised and to something that felt more like low 60s to maybe even high 50s. After managing to chow down two corn dogs and a cup of chowder (both of which were ace, incidentally, but that may have been because I was starving), I was ready for the game to start, and the Aquasox were out on the field warming up.
Around 6.48PM PST, the Seattle Mariners fell to the Washington Nationals in Washington for the second time in as many nights, and I became distinctly aware that I was far happier to be at this game tonight than I would have been watching that one at home. Boy did I call this series wrong. Then again, I’d say it was a safe bet that a lot of us did.
Opening lineups were called before both the Canadian and US national anthems were played. I have officially heard the Canadian anthem so much, I could probably sing it by heart now. Afterwards, the game started with Stephen Landazuri on the hill for the Sox. Landazuri had a little trouble with Canadians SS Shane Opitz, who took a lot of low foul shots and eventually obtained a base hit up the middle, but all for naught, and Landazuri retired the side. Nathan Melendres started off the bottom of the 1st with a single, then a steal of second on the first pitch of Marcus Littlewood’s at-bat. Littlewood popped to left field, and last-minute replacement Danny Lopez was up next. Lopez fouled out along the first baseline, but Opitz was advanced. The inning ended scorelessly.
It was at this point in the game that I realized that my perch in the second row afforded me a nice view of the support beam in the press box, but absolutely no view of anything happening at first base. I know there was an overthrow from Landazuri in the second inning, but only because I saw the ball leave his hand and come out on the other side of the beam. I did see Landazuri give up an RBI single to 3B Randy Schwartz, however, as the Canadians drew first blood. Undaunted, Landazuri kept working until Jonathan Jones was out to end the second inning after allowing two runs.
The Canadians’ lead did not last long. With two out and two on, ‘Sox CF Jarrett Burgess struck a 2-RBI single for the ‘Sox fourth hit of the game. Leadoff hitter and new right fielder (but really, everyone up here is new now) Nathan Melendres was hit by a pitch and took his base, but Marcus Littlewood turned out to be the last out of the inning, grounding out to first base. Score tied 2-2.
Stephen Landazuri slowed down a bit in the top of the 4th, hovering in the mid-to-high 80s, touching 91MPH once. His inning was clean, and he got some run support in the bottom of that inning. Check that, a lot of run support. A 2-RBI double from Burgess (who was 2 for 2 with 4 RBI at that point), and another RBI from Nathan Melendres, who batted Burgess in.
Landazuri seemed to be even more comfortable in the 5th, varying his pitches and speed anywhere between 75-92MPH. The Canadians side didn’t seem to give him much trouble at all. In the bottom 5th, James Wood hit a nice shot to left field past the AquaSox bullpen, which Canadians LF Eli Boike fumbled long enough for Wood to get to settle in at second base. Jorge Agudelo took a walk, and Canadians pitcher Zack Breault got a bit of a talking to on the mound. All things considered, he wasn’t doing too badly for his professional baseball debut, but he got pulled anyway in favor of Nick Purdy, who obtained the last out.
Tim Griffin came into the 6th to relieve Landazuri, which makes this whole thing a little easier for me, because Lanadazuri is a bit of a finger full of typing. Griffin pitched easily and slowly, but maybe a little too easily – Pierce Rankin took him yard for a solo homer, much to the delight of an entire section in the stands. I guess Rankin is from the area, so a lot of friends and family were here to support him. Jarrett Burgess returned the favor in the AquaSox’s part of the inning with a single home run over the left field wall. For those of you keeping track at home, this means Burgess was 3 for 3 in the game. Not knowing a lot about any of these guys, I have no idea if this was a fluke, or if Jarrett Burgess really is someone to watch in the future. Danny Lopez followed it up with an RBI double, and all of this was giving the poor kid behind the manual scoreboard quite a workout. Jabari Blash hit another double, sending runner Lopez home, score now 8-3.
The next few innings went by without much incident, some fly balls, some inter-inning entertainment, and me not having to put any socks on (seriously, this is an accomplishment). Steve McQuali, pinch hitting for Nick Baligod hit a Griffin pitch off the scoreboard which I initially thought was a double, but was called a home run by the umps. Pierce Rankin took a single from him and was relieved of his running duties by Yeico Aponte. Right about here…
The next thing Griffin did was give a single to first baseman Randy Schwartz, then an off-the-wall double to Jonathan Berti, and as a mound conference was had. Mr Griffin was sent to the dugout with a pat on the back and a small ovation from the crowd.
Matt Bischoff replaced him, and dealt with his batters easily, obtaining his last out on a Shane Opitz pop up. Victory, cheering, Aquasox home opener win with a final score of 8-5!
This is going to be a bit of a learning curve for me, this new roster. There is literally nobody here from lats year. Well, maybe LHP Bennett Whitmore, but really, everyone is new, and it’s going to take me a bit to get it all down. For now, however, it was nice to see the small team win, especially after the Mariners took such a nose dive. I’d rather just not think about that. Another game tomorrow in DC before the boys come back here and do the National League rule thing with the Florida Marlins. For now, I gotta go, because fireworks are being set up on the field, and I like watching things explode.
EDIT: Fixed title due to having 8-3 on the brain for whatever reason. Oops. Bed now.