Oh, how time flies. We're quickly approaching one year since the last Hatfield's Corner post. We'll have to check the spreadsheets, but I believe that's roughly the same writing frequency as former masthead stalwart, rglass44. Today in the Corner, we'll be discussing Saturday's trip to Bradenton to see Rays/Pirates.
Mrs. Hatfield and I made the trek in the morning, arriving early enough to catch some batting practice. While I paraded around my bride, I was lucky enough to MEAT UP with some DRaysBay users. First, I met GomesSweetGomes out in the left field bleachers. He occasionally took breaks from shagging Will Myers BP home run balls to chat about baseball and general DRaysBay hijinks. We waxed poetic about the OTTOTD (RIP) and the glory days of DRB while Mrs. Hatfield looked around for some way to escape. Luckily she was saved by GSG's wife and daughter's arrival. Mrs. Gomes was a delight and Little Gomes was something to behold as well. Decked out in Rays gear from her shoes to her pony tail band, she even had a pint-sized Rays jersey covered in autographs. Ever the wily one, GomesSweetGomes is notorious for handing over his baby to collect autographs from Rays players. My heart was pounding as he dangled his sweet daughter over the outfield fence and screamed "Brandon Guyer! Sign my baby!" repeatedly. Luckily the Rays Top Prospect complied and she was returned to safety.
After hanging out with GSG, I met up with Mulva on the right field boardwalk. Mulva and I discussed the magnum opus that he has been preparing for DRaysBay since 2006. Unable to work, eat or even post in the comments during this time, Mulva was a ghost of his former, rambunctious self. (Author's note: I did not meet Mulva. No one has. The Mulva enigma has never been explained. Never forget. He's DRaysBay’s Area 51.)
At this point, we settled into our seats for baseball. As David Price walked out from the clubhouse to the dugout, the crowd erupted in cheers. A lengthy standing ovation. A pretty cool moment, as we’re all quite pleased to have our ace remain in the fold. Who wants to compete in 2017 anyway?
Wandy Rodriguez, best friend and late night Skype buddy of Dane De La Rosa, trotted out to the mound first for the Pirates to face Sean Rodriguez. He wasted no time before retaliating against the Rays’ bully for their Durham brawl and pegged him hard with a pitch. Wandy then proceeded to strike out Matt Joyce and bearded ginger Logan Forsythe with ease. Wil Myers poked a BABIP through the legs of Robert Andino but was left stranded by a Ryan Hanigan pop-up. I liked Hanigan’s approach all game long. He looked comfortable at the plate and just got under this pitch. His double later in the game was solid contact. I think we’ll be very pleased to get some offense from the catcher position that we haven’t seen since Jaso and Navi (once).
David Price took the mound to a rousing ovation and had a nice couple of innings. He allowed a hit to Andrew McCutchen and hit Jordy Mercer with a pitch. His motion looked solid, Price is obviously a beauty to see pitch, but there was no publicly shown radar gun in the park so velocity was difficult to determine. Boring Beliveau took over for Price in the second and allowed boring runs and boring Clint Barmes extra base hits.
In the 3rd, Russell Martin took a Mark Lowe pitch out of the park to right. McGee pitched next. We walked around some at this point, grabbed a Maxwell’s Scottish Ale from the Rivertowne Brewing stand, and noticed the ever-delightful SRQman and his super cute fiancé in the cheap seats as we passed by. I looked at him with sympathy, as hard times and wedding expenses have clearly befallen our pal and rendered him unable to purchase seats as close to the field as the ones we had. Hang in there, friend. It gets better. Later in the game, I waved to him and with a little squinting I could just barely see him waving back.
As we took our seats, we got to see Best Defensive Player in the Minor Leagues by WARPfxFIPacon, Kevin Kiermaier, hit a single and advance to 3rd on an error. Later in the 5th, I got to catch a little of Brad Boxberger. And by little, I mean really little. He seems to be a very small man.
In the 6th, we ventured back to the outfield boardwalk to meet a friend and caught some of Alex Colome warming up in the bullpen. As we passed by, I noticed GomesSweetGomes at it again. This time stalking Rays Team President Matt Silverman near the jumbo hot dog stand and insisting that he, too, sign his baby.
One of my favorite moments of the game was in the 7th. I’d been curious to see new Rays acquisition Matt Andriese. I not only got to see him, I got to see him face mega-prospect Gregory Polanco. I liked what I saw. Andriese has a modest leg kick with a compact delivery and he peppered batters with a combination of sinkers and four-seamers. He got Polanco to ground into a double play and finished the inning with a strikeout. Nice.
By the 8th, it was getting to be about time for Team Hatfield to make their exit, but this inning had too much to pass up. We stuck around to see a Jerry Sands double, a Curt Casali walk, and a couple of woeful outs from the Bust Brothers - Richie Shaffer and Jake Hager. We took this to mean it was time to hit the road.
As we drove out of the parking lot of the auto garage where we parked and began heading back to the paradise of Lakeland, I looked back longingly at McKechnie Field. Due to a packed month of travel, this will probably be the last time we see the Rays before the regular season begins. "It’s all Tigers from here on out", I remarked. "Until April", Mrs. Hatfield responded.