Downs to the Show

DOWNS TO THE SHOW: I have met some really good guys over the years, but today I get the satisfaction of saying that Darin Downs has made it to the Big Leagues.  The former Cubs farmhand played three different seasons in Boise, helping the 2004 team to the NWL title and helping the 2006 team to a division title.  Always a class act, Downs career was derailed in 2009 when pitching at AA Montgomery, he was struck in the head by a line drive and nearly died.  The lefty made a miraculous recovery and after signing this spring with the Detroit Tigers, posted a 0-2 record and a 2.21 ERA out of AAA Toledo’s bullpen – earning the promotion today.  Downs will become the 95th former Boise Hawk to play in MLB when he makes his debut.

LAST NIGHT: The Northwest League never ceases to provide the baseball fan the strangest of games and situations – especially over the last 72 hours.  From a night in Boise in which Spokane committed an error on four straight plays (realistically could have been five errors on five swings), to last night, when the Hawks allowed just four hits, but a season-high 10 walks doomed the team to their sixth-straight road loss and NWL worst 6-13 record.

THE GOOD: I was pleased by the way Tayler Scott pitched last night – even though he walked four men.  The youngster attacked the zone, and when he missed it was down – which is a good sign.  He also got ground balls, with the only hit he gave up being a bad-hop single.  Another positive was the velocity of Hayden Simpson’s fastball, as the radar gun at the stadium (which is about as accurate as one in the NWL) flashed 90 on two occasions – a much better sign that what we saw last week in Spokane.  Gioskar Amaya continued to swing a hot bat in the leadoff spot – a pair of singles, his league leading fifth triple, and a pair of RBI.  Also – the sunshade (pictured left) worked awesome as always.

THE BAD: The obvious – 10 walks.  There wasn’t much that Mark Johnson and his staff could do, as the bullpen was short-staffed, with the promotion of Joe Zeller (who didn’t learn about it until after the game).  Zeller was unavailable as he will start tonight in Peoria (he was supposed to follow Simpson last night), which left just Su-Min Jung and Bryce Shafer – and MJ wasn’t going to burn his closer in the seventh inning of a July 1st game.  Jung looked solid in the seventh, but in the eighth, the struggles from the 2011 returned – no feel for the fastball, and the walks eventually caught up to him.  Another negative was the defensive struggles from Stephen Bruno.  Bruno has bounced from each infield position – and hasn’t entirely looked comfortable at third, with his six errors this season proving that.  However, he is a tireless worker and will improve as the season goes on.

OBSERVATIONS: Fans in Boise will love watching Trey Martin play center field.  The second-year professional made a Big League catch last night in tracking down a warning track fly ball in the fourth inning to save a run, then made a tough catch in the gap look routine.  I have heard folks say that he reminds people of a young Bernie Williams, who had an outstanding career with the Yankees.

QUICK TAKE ON FOOD: Things here in the Tri-Cities are solid as always – the manager at the Applebee’s near the team hotel stayed open the last two nights past midnight to feed the players, which is always a plus.  At the ballpark, we have had more variety than in the past at Gesa Stadium – hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, and a solid pulled pork sandwich.  However, in my quest for the best condiment bar – Tri-City sits in the cellar so far.  Salem leads the pack (with jalapenos, fresh dill relish, and pickles), with Boise second.  Spokane had good relish and onions, plus sauerkraut, but Tri-City has just mustard and ketchup available for the fans (pictured right) – but they have good fries for the ketchup, so that is a plus.

Food Standings through 7/3 – Chicken Sandwich (3), Hot Dogs (3), Turkey Sandwich (2), Smoked Sausage (2), Pizza (2), No Food (2), Pulled Pork Sandwich (2), Meatball Sandwich (1), Hamburger (1), Chicken Caesar Wrap (1).

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