The Northwest League is off and running – with the Boise Hawks off to a 3-3 start to the season…which is an interesting number in itself. Since the 2004 season, the Hawks have recorded a 3-3 start to a season only three times during that stretch (failing to reach the postseason in either of the seasons).
HOMESTAND #1: It was great to be home, back in the cozy confines of Memorial Stadium. What was interesting to me, and it really hit me after Opening Night on Monday, was that the Hawks now have the smallest stadium in the league. I can already hear the Boise media clamoring when the team draws 2,400 or 2,500 or 2,600 a game this season – saying that fans don’t want to come to the yard. But when you have the smallest stadium in the league, that’s not a bad crowd – as we do not have the ability to put 5,000 fans in the park like Vancouver, Spokane, Hillsboro, and Salem-Keizer, or even 4,000 fans like Everett, Eugene, and Tri-City can. I was really pleased with the new hats that the Hawks will wear at home – and even more excited when I saw a boatload of fans wearing the hats in the crowd. In talking with fans, they are fans of the batting practice tops, with the new home whites coming in second.
STRANGE NUMBERS: A couple of anomalies during the series – including the Hawks woes with runners in scoring position. Boise recorded just two hits in their first 22 at bats at home with men in scoring position, and were 9-for-64 through their first five games. The other was the “wild pitch fest” on Tuesday, as the Hawks combined for seven wild pitches in the contest, joining the 2008 Tri-City Dust Devils as the only teams in the last decade to achieve the dubious feat. Trey Lang recorded six of the WP’s, two off a 30-year Northwest League record.
FAIR OR FOUL: David Bote’s home run on Tuesday night down the left field line drew Salem-Keizer manager Gary Davenport out of the dugout, thinking it was a foul ball. The Hawks were discussing the play on the trip to Spokane and asked skipper Gary Van Tol, who said he thought the ball hit the screen of the foul pole, hit the top of the fence, and bounced onto the field of play. Hitting coach Bill Buckner had a different view – he said he thought it was foul, but that didn’t matter, he said “It was a home run!”
PUTTING UP ZEROS: James Pugliese started the season with nine and two-thirds innings of scoreless baseball (before an inside the park home run put a crooked number in his ERA line). The righty has allowed just six hits, walked two, and struck out 11. Corbin Hoffner has retired 18 of the 19 men he has faced over the span of two games – with just one walk and five strikeouts. Mike Hamann tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning and has retired 11 of 12 men out of the pen.
COLD, COLD NIGHT: Thankfully, Memorial Stadium has a tarp – and thankfully it was on the field at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, as a rare June rainstorm hit the Treasure Valley. The tarp saved the contest that evening, thought the game-time temperature of 57 degrees was the coldest start to a Hawks game at home in at least a decade. I can say, I have never worn a sweater, and a sweatshirt during a home game.
FOOD UPDATE: Six games into the season and there has been no changes to the pregame meal routine…three times hamburgers have been delivered, twice hot dogs came to the booth, and once I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (gave up another hamburger to the S-K radio crew so they could eat). Heading to Spokane – and have a feeling chicken sandwiches will have the lead when we return home.