Another more relaxed day on the Fort as the big league team was in Orlando playing the Braves. The lower level clubs (Salem, Greenville, Lowell) hosted the Twins lower clubs and the Double-A and Triple-A squads spent the afternoon playing at the Twins complex about six miles west in Lee County.
The Twins actually were hosting the Yankees at Hammond Stadium, about 300 yards away from the back fields, so it created a bit of a mess with all the Yankee fans running around the parking lot. But, nonetheless, we managed to weave through the parking maze to get to the PawSox/Rochester game.
Pawtucket would beat Rochester 3-0 thanks to five doubles (they had six total hits) and a pitching performance that allowed just four hits.
Chris Hernandez started for Pawtucket and pitched well, as he has for the better part of the spring. His final line was 4 IP, 0 Runs, 0 Hits, 1 BB and 3 strikeouts. But, he was efficient. He threw just 68 pitches, 43 for strikes. He was down in the zone. His curve ball had good bite and his cutter carved up righties. He did not allow a hit until the 4th and was able to pitch around a pair of errors which forced him to throw a couple extra pitches. Solid effort from the PawSox lefty.
Chris Balcom-Miller tossed a perfect 5th striking out one and getting two groundouts to earn the win. He threw 13 pitches, 11 for strikes, and his changeup/split finger was nasty.
Matty Ott, who finished 2013 in Portland, looked sharp as well firing two more scoreless innings. He allowed a seeing eye single to center and walked one. His 3/4 delivery also helped to induce a double play to end his outing. He threw 29 pitches, 17 strikes. Ott, more than likely will be in the Sea Dogs bullpen to start the year.
Jose Valdez finished off the game for the PawSox throwing two run-free innings allowing a double and walking one while striking out three. He should start the year in the PawSox bullpen.
As for the offense, they amassed three runs on six hits, again with five of those six knocks going for doubles.
They started the scoring in the 2nd where Alex Hassan and Heiker Meneses had back to back doubles to make it 1-0. After a fly out, Scott Cousins doubled to left center to score Meneses to make it 2-0.
No more hits for the PawSox until the 7th when Garin Cecchini doubled into deep right center field and Brandon Snyder followed suit doubling into the same alley making it 3-0.
Prior to Snyder's double, the 1st/3rd baseman had struck out twice and looked to PawSox hitting coach Dave Joppie, who was in attendance at the game because the Red Sox were on the road, for counsel. Not sure what was said between the two or if an adjustment was made, but the result was the RBI double the opposite way. The comment of the day came afterwards when Joppie said, "And that's why they call me the guru." All it take is just a little tweak sometimes to get a hitter going.
The only other hit recorded by Pawtucket was an 8th inning single by Mike Brenly, son of former catcher and Arizona Diamondbacks Manager Bob Brenly.
A swift two hour 30 minute game for the final spring contest that I'll see in Florida. The next game action for me will come on April 3rd when the PawSox open up the 2014 season at McCoy Stadium against Lehigh Valley. Only 12 days away!!!
My broadcast partner this year, Josh Maurer, will be on the Fort starting on Monday. He has been occupied with the UMass basketball team which suffered a tough loss in the second round (really the first round since it's the round of 64) of the NCAA tournament to Tennessee (co-worker A.J. Lewis is a happy camper). But, after the loss, Josh will have his focus solely on the PawSox. I know he'll get some great info and have even better stories from Ft. Myers in the final week before the regular season starts.
It's been a great week to say the least. The warmth has been welcomed, the baseball has been plentiful and I can't thank the PawSox and the Red Sox enough for allowing me to come down for the week to work. Another terrific experience and a fantastic way to signal the beginning of the season!
Travel day tomorrow, back to grind at McCoy on Monday!