Snappers & Hermsen get the sweep… and then some

They say, “You can’t go home again.” Boy are ‘they’ wrong.

The pride of West Delaware (IA) HS, BJ Hermsen

BJ Hermsen returned home (or as close to home as he can get and be playing professional baseball) to Cedar Rapids and took the mound for the Beloit Snappers tonight in front of a near-sellout crowd. If you were inclined to rob a small town bank, picking one in Delaware County Iowa tonight would have been a good idea. Nobody was home. They were filling Memorial Stadium to watch Hermsen face the local Kernels on Perfect Game Field.

Snappers 3B Anderson Hidalgo

Some guys tend to press a bit in those situations (how long did it take before Morneau had a good game in Toronto?), but not Hermsen. All he did was shut down the Kernels completely through 7 and 2/3 innings of no-hit ball and finish with a complete game 1-hitter. The Kernels’ Justin Bass lined a solid single to right field with two out and nobody on base in the 8th inning, but that’s the only hit Hermsen gave up as he led the Snappers to a 3 game sweep of the Division leading Kernels. (Cedar Rapids’ magic number is 1, so the loss kept them from clinching the first half Division title.)

Daniel Santana, Snappers LF

He had help. There were no fewer than four extraordinary defensive plays behind him, a fact he was quick to point out in post-game interviews with local media after the game. In addition, Anderson Hidalgo supported Hermsen with three hits while Aaron Hicks and Daniel Santana added two hits each. Hermsen was also treated to the traditional “shaving cream in the face” treatment by team mates during one interview (see video below).

Snappers CF Aaron Hicks held on 1B by the Kernels' Casey Haerther

Memorial Stadium seats a bit over 5,000 fans and just under 4,700 paid their way in tonight. Of course, it didn’t hurt that it was “Thirsty Thursday”, with beers $1.50 all evening (if this post is a bit incoherent, you now know why). I think it’s pretty safe to say the Snappers have never had support like that on the road before as it was probably pretty close to a 50-50 split in terms of fan support between the local Kernels and Hermsen and his Snappers.

The Kernels organization made a call to Beloit after Hermsen was promoted to the Snappers and specifically requested that, if possible, their rotation could be set up to allow for Hermsen to get a start in Cedar Rapids. To their credit, the Snappers obliged. I’d like to hope we’ll get another opportunity to see him pitch in Cedar Rapids when the Snappers return to town in August, but with the way players bounce up and down the organizational ladder, you just never know if that opportunity will present itself. But if this ends up being the only chance that BJ’s family and friends get to watch him pitch locally, at least he gave them a night to remember. – JC

Can the Snappers get the sweep that the Twins couldn’t?

Well we already know the Twins phoned it in on yet another sweep opportunity, but how about their Midwest League (low-A) affiliate, the Beloit Snappers? The Snappers took the first two games of a 3-game series with MWL-West Division leaders, the Cedar Rapids Kernels, on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon. That sets up Thursday night’s opportunity to get out the brooms.

I sat through the 3.5 hour game Tuesday night, mostly because the Snappers seemed to fall asleep after putting up 6 runs in the second inning, allowing the Kernels to sneak back to within a run heading in to the final couple of innings. The Snappers added a couple of late runs, however, for an 8-5 win.

Michael Gonzales works out during Spring Training under the watchful eye of Tom Kelly

The Snappers’ big first baseman, Michael Gonzales, hit one of the longest, hardest, home runs I’ve seen in the 30+ years I’ve been going to minor league games here. The 6’6″ 245# Gonzales entered the game hitting only about .170 but he had 7 home runs and wasted no time racking up #8, hitting the first pitch he saw way beyond the RF wall. It would be an exaggeration to say the ball was still on the rise when it cleared the fence, but the ball WAS still nearly the height of the RF foul pole (40-45 feet up) as it cleared. The sound of the ball on the bat is just different with some guys when they connect. That was the case with Gonzales’ HR.

As a consolation prize, the Kernels clinched a MWL playoff spot when 3rd place Clinton lost their game Tuesday night.

Wednesday’s game was a noontime matinee game and I hoped to get to see 3-4 innings or so over my lunch hour. It was not to be. For the second consecutive game, the Snappers put a 6-spot on the board in the second inning. This time it was infielder Anderson Hidalgo and catcher Danny Rams who went yard for the Snappers. I was happy for Rams, in particular. He had a tough night Tuesday night, hitting in to a bases-loaded, inning-ending double play once and leaving runners in scoring position in at least a couple of other plate appearances (which makes you wonder a bit if the Twins are starting to TEACH that crap in the lower levels, doesn’t it?).

There was a bit of a scare early when CF Aaron Hicks fouled a ball off of his back foot. He stayed in the game but definitely favored that ankle. In the end, this time the Snappers kept the pedal to the metal and came away with an 11-2 win.

I’d like to have a few pictures to share, but I discovered something about photography the hard way, Tuesday night. Apparently, rechargeable AA batteries have to actually be recharged after they’ve been used up in order for them to pr0vide enough power for a camera to operate properly… or at all, for that matter. Ah well, live and learn, right?

Which brings us to tonight’s game. BJ Hermsen (an Iowa kid out of West Delaware HS) is pitching for the Snappers as they go for the sweep. Check back later for results and, hopefully, a few pictures from the game (both sets of batteries have been recharged).

No word yet on whether the Snappers will be following what has become the parent Twins’ standard procedure of resting many of their regulars in an excessively sportsmanlike attempt to avoid hurting the feelings of an opponent by sweeping them. – JC

GameChat – Rockies @ Twins #3, 12:10 pm

Today makes me a little … nervous.  Maybe more anxious?  Not sure what the right term is and that in itself is probably proof of my discombobulated emotional status.  It’s a day game…  we haven’t had such a great track record with day games this year.  But we have Frankie on the mound and that makes me optimistic!  But the anxiety returns when I remember we’re facing Ubaldo… *wince* 

May the Record Reflect:  I think that is a fantastic name for baseball and he should be one of those people that just goes by one name – like Cher or Madonna.  Why are the examples alway women?

The weather is turning hot and humid here in Minnesota with lots of bright sunshine – you know the kind of weather in which they keep saying the ball might start carrying more.  So we’ll leave the emotional rollercoaster there and hope for a great game of baseball.  Win Twins!

Colorado @ Minnesota
Gonzalez, C, CF   Span, CF
Helton, 1B   Tolbert, 2B
Tulowitzki, SS   Morneau, 1B
Spilborghs, LF   Kubel, DH
Olivo, C   Cuddyer, RF
Mora, 3B   Young, D, LF
Hawpe, RF   Valencia, 3B
Iannetta, DH   Punto, SS
Barmes, 2B   Butera, C
  Jimenez, U, P     Liriano, P


  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Colorado 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 5 8 0
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 8 0


Keep your eyes open for a possible upcoming rant about day games/getaway games.