It’s the first fireworks night of the season tonight at Frontier Field! The weather is going to be great so hopefully we will have a good crowd tonight.
The Wings could use a win, and Ryan Mullins will take the mound tonight trying to help provide it. The lefty from Nashville has done a great job filling in for Anthony Swarzak in the rotation posting a 2.81 ERA in three starts.
He will be going up against fellow southpaw Brian Mazone. The 33-year-old veteran has faced the Wings a ton over the last four or five seasons. In 2006, Mazone was on his way to earning IL Most Valuable Pitcher honors when the Phillies called him up for a spot start in the first week in September. Keep in mind, Mazone had spent a decade in pro baseball and had been released several times while also pitching in the independent league ranks and he still had never pitched in the bigs. Unfortunately, Mazone never got to pitch for the Phils. The Phillies game the night before his scheduled start got rained out and the Phillies were able to bump that starter to the next night. Mazone was sent back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in what had to be a disappointing moment. His very next start for the Red Barons came in the first round of the IL Playoffs at Frontier Field, and the Wings pounded him on their way to advancing to the Governors Cup Championship Series. I’m sure Mazone’s mind was still partially at Citizens Bank Park instead of Frontier Field that night…and understandably so. I hope the Wings win tonight, but I also hope that Brian Mazone someday gets to pitch in the big leagues as he came so close to doing in 2006.
Did you hear about former Red Wings knuckleballer R.A. Dickey? He tossed a one-hit shutout over Durham last night in Buffalo. R.A. gave up a single on an 0-2 pitch to the first batter of the game Fernando Perez. It was 27 up, 27 down after that. Gametime: 1:45. Amazing. R.A. has now gone eight or nine innings in four consecutive starts for the Bisons.
Finally, Happy Birthday to one of the greatest singer/songwriters of all time…Willie Nelson! The Red Headed Stranger is 77 today. Here is my one Willie Nelson story. Every word is true…I swear.
In the late 1990s, I was broadcasting games in the Carolina League for the Kinston Indians. We were playing a four game set in Wilmington, Delaware and came back to our motel after an afternoon game to one of the most surreal sights I have ever seen.
In a grassy area right behind our motel, stood Willie Nelson, former heavyweight tin can Randall “Tex” Cobb along with another man and a woman. We wordlessly filed off of our bus not thirty feet away from the four of them and watched as Tex Cobb threw the other man (whom we didn’t recognize) all over the place like some sort of rag doll. It quickly became evident that the man Tex was throwing around was a stunt man who was portraying Willie Nelson. Tex and the stunt man were practicing a fight scene for a film that Tex and Willie were getting ready to shoot.
We watched for about five minutes until they stopped and acknowledged our presence. It turns out that Willie was getting ready to do a show nearby and he was staying at our motel…yes…motel. Tex was traveling around with him as they rehearsed for this movie. The two of them couldn’t have been nicer chatting with our ballclub and posing for pictures and signing autographs. I’ll never forget Scott Morgan shouting out one-liners from Ace Ventura to Tex Cobb (he was in the opening scene of that movie with Jim Carrey.) Tex loved it. I also remember Jared Camp also had a Willie Nelson CD with him and had Willie autograph it.
A Rochester connection to this story…our pitching coach told us that morning that Willie Nelson was staying at our motel and nobody believed him until our bus actually pulled up after the game. The pitching coach…former Red Wings reliever Ken Rowe who actually lived in Rochester during a few of his baseball offseasons working at Sibley’s downtown.
Unfortunately, you’ll just have to take my word for the story. I was too shy to ask Willie and Tex for a picture or an autograph.
In honor of Willie’s birthday, here is a Willie Nelson tune (with a little help from Merle Haggard) that is a favorite of Dan Mason and I.
Hope you enjoy the game tonight. Listen at 1280 WHTK or FM 107.3 Rochester’s Sports Talk or www.whtk.com.
The Wings homestand rolls on today with the third game of this four game series vs. Lehigh Valley. The Red Wings got a much-needed 5-4 victory yesterday. Jason Repko was terrific going 3 for 4 with a double and a homer; and Danny Valencia drove in Repko with what proved to be the winning run in the eighth inning with a double.
Charlie Zink wasn’t bad in his Red Wings debut. He had a little bit of a shaky first inning but battled through it and wound up giving the Wings five solid innings. In fact, he left the game in line for the win. I wondered how Zink would fare yesterday due to the windy conditions. He told me that he felt his spring training with St. Louis was adversely affected by the windy weather they encountered in Florida this spring. The elements mean more to a knuckleballer than most pitchers.
How about Luke Hughes? The Red Wings first position player to get called up this season homered last night in Detroit off Max Scherzer in his first MLB at bat. Here’s video of it:
Luke is the fifth Twin to hit a HR in his first big league at bat joining Rick Renick, Dave McKay, Gary Gaetti and Andre David who accomplished it most recently in 1984. Let’s hope Luke hits a few more HR than David…his HR off Jack Morris was the only long ball of his career.
As best as I can figure out, Luke is only the THIRD player to get promoted from Rochester and hit a HR in his first MLB at bat. The two others are Buster Narum—a pitcher—who homered in his 1st MLB at bat for the Cardinals in 1963 and pitched for the Wings in 1962-1963. The other is Wally Moon who homered in his first MLB at bat in 1954 for St. Louis after spending all of 1953 with the Wings.
There are others who homered in their 1st big league at bat and then later played for the Wings. That list follows:
Clyde Vollmer—HR in 1st AB for Cincinnati in 1942. Played for Rochester in 1946.
Benny Ayala—HR in 1st AB for the Mets in 1974. Played for Rochester in 1979.
Chris Richard–HR in 1st AB for St. Louis in 2000. Played for Rochester on rehab assignment in 2002.
Pitcher Esteban Yan also homered in his 1st MLB at bat in 2000 for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He had pitched for the Wings in 1996-1997.
Additionally, Dave Machemer homered in his first MLB at bat for the California Angels in 1978 and would later manage the Red Wings in 1999.
Now, for some big news. Stan Cliburn, who managed the Red Wings from 2006-2009, has landed another job. Stan is going to be the hitting coach for the Tucson Toros, an independent league team in the Golden League. The manager of the squad is former Toronto manager Tim Johnson.
Stan will certainly be visiting some interesting cities in his role with Tucson. Other teams in the Golden League are Calgary, Chico, Edmonton, St. George (Utah), Victoria (BC), Wailuku (Maui), Fullerton, Tijuana and Yuma.
Our best wishes to Stan in his new post!
Hope you can tune in to our broadcast tonight on 1280 WHTK or FM 107.3 Rochester’s Sports Talk. You can also listen online at www.whtk.com.
The Wings snapped their four game losing streak yesterday with a 9-6 win in Syracuse. The bats certainly came alive for the Wings in this game with Danny Valencia contributing four hits (including two doubles). Wilson Ramos and Brock Peterson each hit two-run HRs for the Wings too.
Valencia came up in the ninth inning with a chance at a fifth hit in the game. That got me to wondering who was the last Wings with five hits in one game. The answer: current Wing Matt Tolbert went 5 for 5 June 6, 2007 at Indianapolis.
The Red Wings start an eight game homestand today with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs coming to town, and the big news is the Wings’ addition of knuckleballer Charlie Zink. Charlie had his struggles last year with Pawtucket, but was phenomenal for the Paw Sox in 2008 when he was the IL’s Most Valuable Pitcher going 14-6 with a 2.84 ERA. He also is a great guy from what I understand from Pawtucket broadcasters Dan Hoard and Steve Hyder. Zink went to spring training this year with the Cardinals but apparently was cut before the season started. He should provide the Wings with some innings, which is exactly what the Red Wings pitching staff needs.
Tonight, Yoslan Herrera takes the hill for the Red Wings against Lehigh Valley’s Nate Bump. Game time is at 6:35 and our broadcast can be heard at 102.3 Sunny FM or online at www.radiosunny.com.
Your fun fact of the day: Six…that’s right…six no hitters have been thrown on this date—April 27—in the Major Leagues. Here they are with some notes from me:
-1944-Jim Tobin for Boston Braves vs. Brooklyn. “Butterfly” also hit a HR in the game. The knuckleballer is the only pitcher to ever hit THREE HRs in one game.
-1971 Steve Busby for Kansas City vs. Detroit. He will also throw a no-no in 1972 becoming the only pitcher to ever throw no-hitters in each of his 1st two seasons.
-1967-Tom Phoebus for Baltimore vs. Boston. Phoebus is third on the Red Wings All Time Strikeout List.
-1994 Scott Erickson for Minnesota vs. Milwaukee. It’s the first 9 inning no-hitter in Twins history. Erickson gave up the most hits in the big leagues the previous year.
-2002 Derek Lowe for Boston vs. Tampa Bay. Former Red Wing Brent Abernathy is the only Ray to reach base (via walk) and former Red Wing Jason Tyner makes the final out.
-2003 Kevin Millwood for Philadelphia vs. San Francisco. The same day St. Louis beats the Marlins 7-6 in 20 innings. That was the only time a no hitter and 20 inning game happened on the same day…until this year. Ubaldo Jimenez’s no hitter over Atlanta this April 17 came on the same day as St. Louis’s 20 inning loss to the Mets.
Now, here are a couple of interesting links regarding former Red Wings catchers:
Gregg Zaun: Mackey Sasser-like http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/Juussst-a-bit-outside-Zaun-struggles-with-retur?urn=mlb,236974
Kevin Kennedy: future Air Marshall
The Wings play their first Business Person’s Special today at 1:05 against the Buffalo Bisons. Last night, the Wings played their best game of the season in the 6-1 win over the Bisons in the first meeting this season between the Thruway rivals.
The margin would have been even more impressive for the Wings had ex-Red Wing Jason Pridie not caught virtually everything hit in the air last night. Pridie made a particularly impressive grab in the 6th inning when he went up against the fence in left center to take extra bases away from Jason Repko. I suggested during the broadcast that Bisons manager Ken Oberkfell should consider playing the rest of the game with six infielders and just let Pridie handle everything hit to the outfield.
(In case you are wondering how Pridie wound up with the Bisons…the Mets claimed him off waivers from the Twins in the offseason when Minnesota needed to clear roster space for Orlando Hudson. Otherwise, Pridie would be back in center for the Wings this season.)
A couple of quick notes for you…Jacque Jones should be out for another two or three days with a strained left quad. Jones strained the quad coming to third on a Matt Tolbert single on Tuesday night against Pawtucket. That came in the fifth inning right after Jones had ended Adam Mills’ no-hit bid with a double. At least—that’s how it looked in the scorebook. In reality, Jones drove one to right center that was originally ruled a home run by first base umpire Mark Lollo. The umpires met after that, however, and Lollo’s original call was overturned with the umps contended Jacque’s drive actually hit the fence below the yellow line. I honestly thought at the time that the umpires got the call right, but the video replays seemed to show otherwise. Plus, all the Wings relievers in the bullpen—who had good views of the shot—said the ball actually cleared the fence. Soooo…Jacque got robbed of a home run and—ultimately—wound up getting hurt afterwards running the bases.
Another note…Buffalo manager Ken Oberkfell goes way back with Wings skipper Tom Nieto and hitting coach Floyd Rayford. Oberkfell and Nieto played together briefly with the Cardinals in the mid-80s. Also, when the Mets let go manager Willie Randolph during the 2008 season and Tom lost his job as Mets first base coach, he was replaced in that role by Oberkfell who was promoted from his job as the Mets Triple A manager. As for Rayf, Floyd was Oberkfell’s hitting coach one year in Kannapolis, NC back when both men worked in the Phillies organization. They also played together in the big leagues for the 1983 St. Louis club. Oberkfell is very complimentary of the Wings coaching staff ,telling me yesterday that he thinks Tom Nieto “will be a big league manager someday.”
Today, Yoslan Herrera goes against Dillon Gee for Buffalo. Hope you can join us for the broadcast on News 1040 WYSL or FM Talk 92.1. You can also tune in online at www.wysl1040.com.
The Wings almost completed a fantastic comeback last night but ultimately came up short in a 9-8 Pawtucket win. The Wings trailed 9-1 after four and a half innings but had closed the gap to within a run by the end of six. However, Pawtucket held on.
Last night’s near comeback reminded me a little bit of one of the best Wings comebacks I have ever seen. In 2006, the Wings gave up six first inning runs in Ottawa to fall behind 6-0. Eventually, the Wings came back to win that one 12-10…just one of a number of great come-from-behind victories for the Wings in that playoff season.
One of the oddities of last night’s game is the fact that all three Wings outfielders (Jason Repko, Brian Dinkelman and Dustin Martin) hit home runs. Wings PR guru Chuck Hinkel dug into the archives and discovered that the last time all three Wings outfielders homered in the same game was May 2, 2003 in Charlotte. On a night when the ball was flying at Knights Castle, Lew Ford, Michael Restovich and Michael Ryan all went deep. The Wings won the game 16-6 and hit seven total homers in the game. Ford and Resto each hit two apiece and Justin Morneau—in his second Triple A game—went 5 for 5 with two homers. Charlotte’s starting pitcher in the game was none other than Jon Rauch who is filling for Joe Nathan as the Twins closer right now.
Dustin Martin has homered now in two straight games. If he goes deep tonight, he will be the first Wing to homer in three straight games since Randy Ruiz June 3-4-5, 2008.
Today marks the 36th anniversary of the only Opening Day no hitter in International League history. April 20, 1974 the Wings Wayne Garland tossed a no-no at Watt Powell Park in Charleston, WV. Not only is that the only Opening Day no hitter in league history, it is also the last nine inning no hitter thrown by a Red Wings pitcher. There have been 18 nine-inning no hitters since (including five by Pawtucket) but not a one by a Wing.
Garland, by the way, nearly no hit the eventual world champion Oakland A’s about three months later for the Orioles, but lost his no hit bid—and the game—in the ninth inning on July 15, 1974. It was just his third big league start.
Tonight the Wings end their four game set with Pawtucket at Frontier Field. Ryan Mullins—like Wayne Garland, a product of Nashville, TN—makes the start for the Wings against Paw Sox righty Adam Mills.
Hope you can tune us in on 1280 WHTK or FM 107.3 Rochester’s Sports Talk or online at www.whtk.com.
The Red Wings’ first homestand of the season rolls on today at Frontier Field with Pawtucket still in town. The Wings uncharacteristically committed four errors in yesterday’s game helping Pawtucket to a 6-3 win. The Wings had only made two errors in the first nine games of the season prior to yesterday! That’s just the way it goes.
Yesterday also marked the anniversary of the Longest Game In Professional Baseball history. April 18, 1981 the Red Wings played in Pawtucket in a game that kept going and going and going and…Eventually play was suspended after 4:00 in the morning before being finally being completed in June. When the dust settled, the two teams had played 33 innings and etched themselves into baseball history. (Pawtucket won the game BTW.) Red Wings hitting coach Floyd Rayford played in the game (along with Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr and Wade Boggs) and caught the last couple of innings after Dave Huppert caught the first 31 for the Wings. As Floyd tells it, Wings manager Doc Edwards told him “Floyd, why don’t you go back there and catch. I think Hup has had enough.” To which Floyd responded, “Hup had enough 13 innings ago!”
The Wings and Paw Sox have a bit of a history when it comes to long games. In April 2006, the Wings and Paw Sox went 16 innings at McCoy Stadium before the Wings finally prevailed…and that was after the Paw Sox had used TWO position players to pitch. Rodney Nye, who was normally a third baseman, pitched two scoreless innings against the Wings followed by utility man Trent Durrington. The Wings got a run off Durrington in the top of the 14th inning, but the Wings’ Beau Kemp gave up a run in the bottom of the inning and the game rolled on. Finally—after Durrington had worked a scoreless 15th—the Wings got another run in off in the 16th and won the game.
Then there was the game at Frontier Field in 2002 when Pawtucket beat the Wings in 15 innings, and a position player got the WIN for the Paw Sox. Shane Andrews (who would be the Wings regular third baseman in 2003) picked up the victory after Pawtucket had exhausted the rest of their staff. I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Red Wings lost 89 games that year.
Here are some notes on the current Wings:
-Brian Dinkelman has reached by a hit or a walk in all ten games. His .488 on base percentage ranks 4th in the league.
-Dustin Martin, who later today will be named the Salvatore’s/Donuts Delite Player of the Week, has two home runs…both off lefties. Last year, Martin homered Opening Day and didn’t go deep again until August. Plus, all five of his HRs were off RHP.
-Matt Fox has not allowed a run in three of his first four appearances out of the Red Wings bullpen.
-7 of Luke Hughes’ 8 hits have been doubles.
Glen Perkins takes the mound for the Wings tonight. Game time is 6:35. Hope you can tune us in on 1280 WHTK or FM 107.3, Rochester’s Sports Talk. As always, you can find a list of audio webcast dates and links in the Schedule section of RedWingsBaseball.com – why not book mark it right here, right now? .
….That should be the Red Wings’ attitude after the 11-3 Opening Night loss last night in Pawtucket.
Not a lot went right for the Wings Thursday night as the Paw Sox posted a pair of four-run innings. Much of their damage was done by former Red Wings outfielder Darnell McDonald who went 4 for 5 with a double, HR and 5 RBIs. Maybe it is my imagination, but it sure seems like former Red Wings tend to fare well against the Wings when they are in the other dugout.
In that vein, here is a list of former Red Wings who are on other IL teams’ Opening Day rosters:
Columbus–Brian Buscher, Mike Gosling, Yohan Pino, Luis Rodriguez
Lehigh valley–Luis Maza
Pawtucket–Darnell and Chad Paronto (who pitched two shutout innings last night)
I pointed out yesterday that an amazing 19 of 24 players on the Wings Opening Day roster were originally drafted and signed by Minnesota. To take that point a step further, of the 13 players who saw action for the Wings last night, all but Jacque Jones have spent their ENTIRE CAREER in the Twins system. That just doesn’t happen in Triple-A in this era.
Incidentally, the Wings’ 8 run margin of defeat yesterday was their widest in an opening day game since that 23-1 loss to Tidewater on a frigid April day in 1982. It was not the worst loss yesterday though for a Twins affiliate. The Class A Fort Myers Miracle took it on the chin 18-3 last night from Bradenton. The Twins top pitching prospect, Kyle Gibson, had a rough pro debut allowing five runs in 3.2 innings. I don’t think it’s anything to worry about with Gibson. In fact, it’s not outside the realm of possibilities to think that Gibson could reach the Wings this season. If so, he would follow the likes of Jesse Crain, Scott Baker and Matt Garza in going from Class A to Double-A to Triple-A in the same season during the Wings/Twins era.
It is raining today in Pawtucket, but I am cautiously optimistic about our chances of playing tonight. It looks like the rain should be moving out of here for the most part, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to keep your fingers crossed.
Guess I was wrong about the weather tonight. This rain just isn’t
moving out of Pawtucket so tonight’s Game Two of the season got rained
out. We have our first doubleheader of the season tomorrow starting at
1:05. Daisuke Matsuzaka makes a rehab start for the Paw Sox in Game
One against Jeff Manship. Game Two will match Glen Perkins for the
Wings vs. Adam Mills. Our broadcast will be on 1280 WHTK and 107.3
Rochester’s Sports Talk or you can listen online at http://www.whtk.com.
Should be a fun atmosphere at McCoy with Daisuke on the mound.
Regular Season Schedule | Spring Training Schedule and Results
Promotions Schedule | Ticket Information
Group, Picnic & Outdoor Suite Information
Knot Hole Gang Kids’ Club | Ballpark Birthdays
Well…it is finally here…Opening Day 2010. Thankfully, we have great weather tonight in New England. Right now it is sunny and in the 70s for the Wings first opener in Pawtucket since 1992. (The Wings won that one 18-1!)
Regular Season Schedule | Spring Training Schedule and Results
Promotions Schedule | Ticket Information
Group, Picnic & Outdoor Suite Information
Knot Hole Gang Kids’ Club | Ballpark Birthdays