The Miners have been on the road for a long, long time. I live in Palmer and haven’t had a good enough excuse to go in to Anchorage lately, so you can imagine my excitement that I can finally attend a game here in my own ‘hood. And it couldn’t have been a better day for a game: mid-70′s temperature, not a cloud in the sky, and the gentlest breeze blowing in from right field.
This game started out as a pitching duel and ended up a blowout, with the Miners topping the Fire by a final score of 10-1. Brock Simon was awesome for the Miners, carrying a shutout into the 9th inning. He did give up 7 hits and 2 walks but that’s not too shabby over a nine inning game and the Fire weren’t able to string much of anything together until the last frame. He pitched the complete game, though the shutout was broken up by a Fire rally in the 9th. I jinxed him by tweeting about his shutout and sure enough, the Fire loaded the bases. Marshall McDonald drove in the lone run but did it on a double play which killed the team’s rally.
Believe it or not, Taylor Aikenhead was not bad for the Fire, at least to start. He cruised through the first five innings. The Miners small-balled two runs across but I think that was more a credit to their ability to scratch out some runs rather than a black mark on Aikenhead’s pitching. In fact, I was pretty impressed with his ability to locate the ball down in the zone. That is, until the 6th. Seems like he was just left out there too long and imploded in that inning, getting dinged for a total of 7 earned runs on the night. Ouch. But, like I said, he got the hook too late and I think he just didn’t have it in the tank to go the distance.
On the offensive side, I was impressed with a few players. One recent addition to the Miners that I really like is Wesley Jones. He seems like he’s got a nice aggressive approach to the game. He jumped all over one pitch to reach base and then advanced to second and third with some heads-up base running. His next at-bat he got a stand-up triple on the strength of a drive all the way to the right-field wall, pounding it the other way. He really hit the ball with authority to all fields tonight. Adam Martin — the home run derby champ — also drilled one into the right field gap, showing that his strength is not all pull power. Stephen Branca really impressed me with his glove (or lack thereof), charging in to bare-hand an infield ball and making a strong throw across the diamond, off balance, that was right on the money to retire the runner.
Obviously the Fire didn’t have as much offense going, so it’s hard to really evaluate them as well. But I have a defensive-oriented comment on one of their guys: I thought Ryan Miller’s arm from left field looked really good, launching the ball back to the infield from deep out there.
This was the last time I’ll see the Fire this season, so I really wish I could write more. But this was another game where I took all three of the kids, including my two-year-old twins, to the park with me. That means that for most of the game I literally had no idea what was going on because I had to make sure they weren’t getting kidnapped or run over by the Miners golf cart or eating someone else’s food. Or, chase one of them down when I discover that they’re running through the stands with no pants on (this actually happened). But I’m glad that I was able to see this team one last time, even if I didn’t get to focus too much on them, and it’s been a pleasure to cover them this season.
I did get some good photos from both teams. You know the deal: if you want to use the photos for something, please feel welcome. However, if you reprint them on a blog, website, etc. give me a link back to 49thstatehardball.com. Otherwise, go nuts. My Picasa Album for the game has a ton of pictures but below are some of my favorites: