Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?
April 15, 2007: Louisville Bats 8, Columbus Clippers 2
Truly amazing game last night. The kind of win you only get in baseball. Homer Bailey pitched well enough, leaving the game after five innings with a 2-1 lead. The Bats couldn't hold it, though. A 7th-inning error by Hopper in left field let the tying run score, and the game was 2-2 going into the ninth. But the Bats scored six runs in the top of the ninth for the win.
It was not a great night for Bubba, though it ended well. He is struggling at the plate these days, and the Bats radio announcers talked about it quite a bit. It's been awhile since our boy has gotten a hit.
Bubba, in the two-hole again, came to bat in the first with Hopper on 1B and no outs. Called strike, foul, foul, ball, ball, four...then a pop out to SS. At least it wasn't a DP.
In the bottom of first, Bubba made a nice catch in right field, and a strong throw in to hold the runner.
Third inning, one on, one out. Bubba swung at the first pitch, flying out to right field.
Fifth inning, none on, one out. Ball, swining strike, ball, called strike, foul...then a fly out to center field.
Seventh inning: two outs, Machado on 1B. The first pitch was a ball in the dirt; Machado stole 2B. The next pitch, Bubba smoked down the right field line, but it was just foul. Another ball, then a swinging strike, ball, foul, foul, foul...then a hard-hit groundout to 2B. Nice battle by Bubba, though it didn't end in his favor. He saw nine pitches.
The ninth inning was a stunner. Machado grounded out, and Conway flew out. Two outs, none on. It looked like the game was heading for extra innings for sure.
But Hopper, up next, had a terrific at-bat. He saw nine pitches, and finally won the battle with an infield single.
Bubba was up next. Ball, ball, called strike, ball, ball. He walks!
So it's up to Votto. He works the count full. Runners go, and Votto hits a triple to center. Crosby and Hopper score easily. 4-2 Louisville.
Norfolk manager Gary Allenson was furious. He complained vociferously to the umpire that several of the balls he called should have been strikes. Allenson was of course ejected.
The Bats weren't done yet. They ended up batting around, and scored six runs off three different pitchers. All with two outs!
What a rally. Single, walk, triple, single, HBP, walk, wild pitch, single, single. Conway finally popped out to end the inning.
Salmon came in to pitch the ninth; it was three up, three down. Bats win, 8-2. You'd never guess from that score that this game was razor close for eight innings.
While Votto had the big blow - the two-RBI triple - I credit Hopper for starting the offensive explosion. With none on and two outs, it would have been easy to give up, especially since he's not a home run hitter. But he really battled, and his hard-won single ended up sparking the rally. It's never too late in baseball!
And Bubba showed his clutch-itude again. He only got on base once all night, but he picked the right time for it.
Though Bubba's numbers for the night were not pretty, I think he's coming out of his slump. Hard to tell since I'm only listening to the games, but it sounds like he's hitting 'em hard, and only just missing.
Looking at his stats...it's a small sample size, but he's striking out a lot more than he usually does. Trying too hard to hit for power, maybe?
Today's game has been rained out. The Bats will play Richmond tomorrow night...weather permitting.
Meanwhile, on the west coast...the Yanks had their second extra-inning game in a row last night. They're flat out of pitchers. And Andy Pettitte is supposedly on a strict pitch count, so today's game could be interesting.
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