I took a lot of pictures and shot several videos during my trip to Arizona to catch a few AFL games last week, so I figured I would put up a post to share some of them. I’ll split things up a little bit and start with the videos in this post.
I saw Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, Jake Reed and Zach Jones in game action during the three games I saw in Arizona.
I’m in Arizona this week catching a few Arizona Fall League games. This afternoon, I shot a couple of videos of Twins prospects Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler.
First, we have Eddie Rosario beating out a swinging bunt, followed by an RBI double.
Ignore the umpire calling Rosario out at second base. The call was overturned on appeal to video.
Here’s Max Kepler beating the Desert Dogs pitcher to 1B to reach on an E3. Kepler had a stand up triple later in the game but I was not shooting video at the time. There’s a picture after the video of his triple swing anyway.
Couple of other things.
Salt River won the game 14-2, yet the game was completed in less than three hours. We may not like to admit it, but the speed-of-play rules may be working.
Over the Labor Day Weekend, John Bonnes (aka TwinsGeek) over at TwinsDaily.com issued an ALS Icebucket Challenge to all of the TwinsDaily writers. Since I write a weekly Cedar Rapids Kernles report (most weeks anyway) at TD, I assumed this included me. Maybe I should have clarified that to make sure, but I didn’t.
Besides, John pledged $50 to ALS for each of the TD writers who accepted his challenge and, if nothing else, I like the idea of dipping in to Geek’s pocketbook.
With that said, here’s my challenge video:
As you heard, assuming you played the video, I’ve challenged each of my fellow Knuckleballs bloggers (Eric, Kristie and Babs) to follow suit.
In hindsight, I realized that perhaps Eric was included in the TwinsDaily challenge, since he, too, contributes at TD.
In any event, as John did, I’m pledging $50 to the ALS Foundation for each of my fellow Knuckleballs bloggers that follows through on the challenge.
In the event any/all of them have already done the challenge, all I’ll need is video evidence of such and I’ll make good on the pledge.
Monday was supposed to be a noon start for the Kernels, but the storms that rolled through Cedar Rapids did a little number on the ballpark. They lost electricity for quite some time and there was some damage to signage and one of the picnic areas in left field. The infield tarp didn’t exactly end the night in the same position it started it, either.
Nonetheless, the Kernels’ staff worked their butts off and the final game of the team’s series with the Kane County Cougars got started about 1:30. Personally, that worked out great for me, since I couldn’t shake myself loose from the office until after 1:00, but there were several busloads of youngsters from schools that only got to see a couple of innings of baseball before having to get back on their buses.
The Kernels ended up winning the game 8-7 and claiming three out of four games in the series against the Cubs’ MWL affiliate.
Byron Buxton and Travis Harrison each hit their seventh home run of the season this afternoon. I have no video of either home run. (Sorry guys, but I can’t capture every at-bat on video. I have to put my camera down to drink a beer every once in a while, after all.)
But I did catch a couple of things I thought you all might enjoy seeing.
First… here’s a video of Niko Goodrum’s bases clearing triple in the sixth inning.
Goodrum is just one Kernels player with serious wheels.
As I said, I didn’t get a video of Travis Harrison’s home run, which exited the entire ballpark and landed on 8th Avenue. Byron Buxton has hit a few out on to the same street, but his home run today merely cleared the LCF wall (borrrrrrring) and I didn’t get a video of that, either.
But Buck doesn’t just score on home runs.
Here’s a series of videos that I think demonstrates how capable the Kernels are of manufacturing runs. It happens to involve Buxton, but honestly, it could just as easily feature any number of Kernels hitters.
Buxton leads off the fifth inning with a chopper up the middle. It was ruled an error on the shortstop and I understand that… but it’s highly unlikely that Buxton gets thrown out at 1B even if the guy fields the ball cleanly. Every infielder in the league knows that they have to play every infield ground ball perfectly to throw out at least half of the Kernels hitters.
Buxton takes a modest lead off of 1B, but that doesn’t stop the Cougars from throwing over to keep him close. Nor does it keep Buxton from stealing 2B. The catcher, again knowing he has to hurry, doesn’t come up with the pitch cleanly and can’t even make a throw.
Candido Pimentel expertly hits behind Buxton and moves him to 3B.
With one out, Niko Goodrum makes contact and drives Buxton in with a ground ball.
It’s not as flashy as a home run, but it’s an example of how Buxton and his team mates have used their speed to intimidate and ultimately beat their opponents through the first several weeks of the season.
For the second consecutive night, the Cedar Rapids Kernels won a game in dramatic fashion when third baseman Travis Harrison hit a walkoff single down the left field line in the bottom of the 12th inning to beat the Cubs affiliate in the Midwest League, the Kane County Cougars.
The video below captures Harrison’s apparent attempt to hit manager Jake Mauer with a foul ball just before driving in the winning run. Failing to do so, he settled for a single down the left field line to score Jorge Polanco with the game winning run. Polanco had walked to start the inning and advanced to second base via a sacrifice bunt by cleanup hitter Dalton Hicks.
Thursday night, Twins prospect Byron Buxton came to the plate with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, the bases loaded, and his Kernels team trailing the Burlington Bees 6-3.
Again, pardon the photography. I had to take this video from the second row of the Kernels pressbox, behind the Mediacom “MC22” broadcasters who were televising the game. The bonus, I guess, is that you can hear their call of what happens next.
Please note, unlike when Travis Harrison launched a walkoff grand slam a couple of weeks ago, the Kernels bench did not chase Buxton around the basepaths, but waited for him to reach home plate before mobbing him. It’s nice to know that particular lesson has been learned!
After the game, Buxton got the traditional shaving cream to the face during a television interview.
You might expect that a superstar-in-the-making like Buxton would rush straight from the TV interview to the clubhouse to join his team mates in their celebration. But not Buxton. He signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans for several minutes before making his way up the tunnel to the clubhouse.
I spent Wednesday evening watching a doubleheader between the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the Burlington Bees (the Angels MWL affiliate). The two clubs split the two games with the Kernels winning the first game 6-5 and the Bees taking the nightcap 6-4.
In the first game, the Kernels came from behind and scored four runs in the third inning to take the lead. They fell behind again, but tied the game back up in the fifth inning with a Jorge Polanco triple, followed by a Dalton Hicks double. Here, if you will pardon the shaky video photography, are Polanco’s triple and Hicks’ RBI double.
Two of the newest members of the Kernels combined to contribute the ultimate game winning run as new catcher Michael Quesada beat out an infield single and pinch runner Jeremias Pineda stole second, advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a wild pitch. Josue Montanez, who just returned to the Cedar Rapids from Extended Spring Training, pitched the final two innings to earn the win for the Kernels.
In the second game, Kernels fans had very little to get excited about. However, Tyler Grimes did give fans an opportunity to cheer with this two-run home run, driving in Travis Harrison ahead of him.
The Bees and Kernels finish up their four-game series Thursday night and host the Kane County Cougars (the Cubs MWL affiliate) for four games Friday through Monday.