In the New York Penn League, there are games that go smoothly and those that do not. Saturday night at LeLacheur Park, at least for the home team, smooth was not the outcome. As manager Luke Montz said afterward: “when you lose the error column and don’t take care of the baseball you do not deserve to win”. Such was the case for the Lowell Spinners (1-1) as they would commit five errors on the night and lose a lead in the process. The Connecticut Tigers (1-1) get their first win of the season 12-7 over the Spinners.
As was the case on opening night, the parent club, the Boston Red Sox, used the home game in Lowell to get a rehab outing in. Hector Velazquez made the trip down to Lowell to get some work in. He would get the start and pitch one perfect inning. From there he went back to the bullpen to get a little more work in before his night was done.
The key moment of the game occurred in the sixth inning. The Spinners were leading four to two. Connecticut bats came alive vs Yasel Santana who up to that point of the ballgame, was pitching well. However, in the sixth, he began to tire and the Tigers took advantage. Santana would face four batters in the frame with all hitters reaching base (three hits and a walk). Montz went to the mound to get him from the game and his replacement, Hildermaro Requena, came on to face Alexis Garcia with the bases loaded and no one out. Garcia won the battle as he would launch a grand slam home run to right field. That changed the scoreboard in the Tigers favor to seven to four. Santana’s (0-1) line looked worse than he pitched (four IP. seven hits, six runs, five earned, one walk, and four strikeouts). His manager said he “thought Santana competed well”. He just tired toward the end of his outing.
The Garcia blast forced Lowell to play catch up for the rest of the night. They would give themselves chances to get back into the ballgame, but every time it looked like the Spinners would climb the hill and retake the lead The Tigers had an answer. Connecticut would plate runs from the fifth inning on. A combination of hits (the Tigers had twelve of them) and Spinners physical mistakes would put this game on the losing side for the home team. Kory Behenna (1-0) would benefit from his team’s big inning.
The Spinners offense was led by the four and five hitters in the order. Juan Carlos Abreu had a 4-5 night with a RBI, and Nick Northcut was 2-4 with another double (already four on the season) and a run batted in. Nick Decker had a three-RBI game on two sac-flies and a run-scoring walk. Lowell heads out on the road for the first time this season when they play at Hudson Valley for the next two.
If there is another part to short-season baseball that might get overlooked, it’s that for some of these players it is the first time they have played in front of a good crowd. Abreu commented, “it was awesome”. When asked how many times he had played in front of a lot of people, his answer was once. So far the players have all said the same thing, “this is a grind, and they are looking forward to it”. Time will tell if they can handle what is in front of them.