When I saw the Charlotte Stone Crabs announcement on Twitter of a crazy good special going on for their Tuesday double header, I realized I had never been to see the Rays single A team in person yet. I checked my calendar immediately. Work? Off. Honey-do list? It can wait. Appointments or kid stuff? Clear. Chores? Done...ish. The whole family had the day off. We loaded up and took off.
We sat about 15 rows behind home plate for $6. Total. For a family of 4. The place was nearly empty and we quickly figured out why. Because of the DH, we got there around 4:45 for the first game while the sun was still relentlessly melting humans through their clothes. I’m not gonna lie, it was brutal for the first hour or so. Luckily, Jesus Sanchez briefly kept my mind off the heat.
Sanchez was the highlight of the night for me, and not for the heralded bat. He immediately set the tone for the evening by making a truly great grab at the warning track in the CF-RF gap for the second out of the game, and then followed that up with another ovation worthy snag in the gap one inning later. Though he’s become primarily a RFer, he looked like he could easily fill in at CF without worry. Lakeland also shifted on him every at bat. He smoked a ball at the 2B positioned in short RF that went down as an error, even though it was stung hard enough to forgive anyone of a misplay. His .322 batting average didn’t seem to care.
Josh Lowe put his wheels on display early in the game as well, though not on defense. He knocked a grounder up the middle that was scooped up by the opposing shortstop, and beat the throw by a good half step at least. Sadly, I don’t recall seeing him tested with any difficult plays on defense.
2015 6th round pick righty Benton Moss started on the mound for the first game of the double header. I didn’t catch any readings, but there was some pop on the catcher’s mitt. He didn’t appear to throw a whole lot of bendy stuff, and unfortunately couldn’t stop giving up hard contact all night (I don’t know if he missed a single bat until the third inning). He ended up with the luck dragons on his side as his defense made some nice plays behind him and kept runs off the board.
That said, the rehabbing major leaguer Daniel Robertson was oddly enough the one to make multiple errors, throwing wide of the 1B on a potential double play and then getting caught in a run down between 3B and home. He did, however, show his innate leadership when he instinctively called for the trailing runner’s attention and the waved him to take the extra base as he was being tagged out.
I noticed Brent Honeywell in the dugout around the 5th inning, which prompted conversation with the season ticket holders in front of me. They said he’s at every game, even though he doesn’t have to be. They also mentioned that D Rob would be buying dinner for the team tonight, as all MLB rehabbers usually do. This led to them noting that when David Price was called up mid-game once, he left his credit card with the team to cover dinner that night. What a guy!
The double header was enticing, but the kids weren’t going to cooperate for the second game (specially after meeting and being frightened by Clawford). I would miss seeing Kevin Padlo and Jesus Sanchez knock three doubles in the second game, but I am happy to be writing this from the comfort of my air conditioned breakfast nook. 7 innings of 95+ degree heat was enough. I tip my cap to those that play through that often, but next time I will opt for the evening game (or an air conditioned dome). Not even the free tickets on Sundays will convince me to get out there for a 12:30pm first pitch. Not in June anyway.