Since I started writing this blog, I had not been to an Oilers home game in Kenai. Naturally I was pretty stoked to finally be down on the peninsula and checking out their ballpark for the first time. This was the first game of two that I saw while I was down in the area.
J.D. Salles got the start for the Oilers on the mound. He gave up a run in the first when Scott Kalamar advanced from first to score on an Adam Humes double, but settled in nicely. He completed 7 innings and the only other run he gave up occurred when Kristopher Kwak drove in Tyler Shyrock in the 6th.
The starter for the Chinooks was Mike Jeffreys, who made it through 5.0 innings pitched and gave up seven earned runs. Despite his dismal stat line, Jeffreys was mostly lit up in the first two innings. After he made adjustments he did well through the fifth. Staeheley, Koch, Hein and Richardson came together for a two-out rally in the first to push two across; Nootbaar, Delph, Hein and Staehely put two across again in the second, and Koch knocked Staehely in, again, in the fifth.
Things really started to unravel for the Chinooks in the sixth, when Josh Miller reached on a dropped third strike and Nigel Nootbaar walked. Jeffreys was yanked in favor of Tommy Kister, who allowed the two of Jeffrey’s leftover runners to score, plus Jake Alvarez. Again, Hein and Delph played a part in the rally. The Oilers would score again when Delph batted in Alvarez, but by that time they had amassed a large bunch of runs.
Mark Garcia was trusted to nail the game down for Salles in the 8th and 9th innings. After hitting Shryock, he pulled it together and sat the next three down in order in his first inning of work. In the final frame the Chinooks attempted to rally back on Garcia; Humes led off with a double, with Gum coming in to pinch run. Karkenny, Drew Turbin, and Taylor kept the rally alive. But ultimately Garcia knuckled down and sealed the deal. The Oilers clenched victory by a 9-5 margin.
The marginally-related-to-baseball moment came when the question happened upon me: what the hell is Scoop? Scoop is the Oilers’ mascot, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what a red, furry alien-looking creature named Scoop could have to do with the Oilers. I mean, seriously:
I got an answer to my question (kind of) at game 2…so be sure to check out my next game notes for the dramatic answer to this question.
Mike Jeffreys has been one of my “follows” and a guy I’ve seen several times already. His curveball seems like his best pitch; it’s a big, slow bender that he can locate for a strike on the corners or use for a chase pitch downstairs. During the first inning or two he looked like he was trying to lean on his fastball, and he got lit up. He did better in the third and fourth by mixing in more offspeed, breaking stuff. As usual, he got a lot of strikeouts and had a good strike ratio. Based on all the observations I’ve made this season, I’d say he doesn’t have the type of fastball to go up there and throw; he needs to pitch. He is deceptive and successful when he uses all of his pitches thoughtfully.
I’ve seen Adam Humes a few times but I got the best look of the season at him during this game. He sprays line drives all over the field, using the whole plot of land, with authority. He banged them off the wall last time I saw him and he kept driving them to the track this time. Defensively, he has a good move to second base; 2.0s or less on the throwdown. In this game he didn’t look like he was right on the money but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. It was sprinkling on and off during the game, and all his throws were on the correct side of the bag if they were high or low. I have to say, though, that there were a lot of dirt-balls that he couldn’t quite corrall and the Oilers capitalized on them.
Steven Karkenny was the DH in this game and really, one piece at a time, has shown that he has versatility at the plate. He’s already shown that he can bunt well and that he can hit for power; in this game he had a good pull line drive. Overall he showed good hustle as well. Tyler Shryock showed good speed to first base — 4.13s — and jumped on a first pitch for a line drive to left field, that he stretched for a double. One interesting thing about Tommy Kister is that he always pitches from the stretch, regardless of the situation. He has a curveball that he kept low for a chase pitch. Kristopher Kwak used the opposite field for a line-drive hit. Stockton Taylor drove one all the way to the center field wall.
J.D. Salles looks like a fastball pitcher all the way and he looked like he was throwing hard. I would really like to see the radar on him. He went 7 complete without really stumbling, except early on. He looked a little wild in the first frames, but he settled in nicely. In addition to his fastball he looked like he was routinely cutting in a change to keep batters off balance. Occasionaly I thought I saw a curve that he used to draw a chase but he didn’t go to it frequently.
Jordon Hein is a guy I’ve wanted to see more of and I’m glad I did. The way I see it, a guy with his build has to have certain requisite tools. Speed, glove, contact. There have been five-tool little guys (Willy Mays?) but I’d say its rare, and the three above had better be plus. Hein definitely has the speed, running a 4.0 to first (from the left-hand side). His speed plays well enough to give him center-field range and he handled that position well from what I saw. He’s got a contact approach, and can put an authoritative drive on a ball; with the infield in on him he flared one right past Kwak’s outstretched glove and into the outfield. He’s drawn some good walks this season. The dude can play.
Mark Garcia looked exactly like he did last time I saw him. He went right after batters with a good hard fastball, and if he couldn’t blow it by them for three strikes or get them to hit into an out, he’d go to a curveball. He kept both pitches down worked the corners nicely. He did give up three earned runs but they were all in the ninth inning. He could probably use another decent pitch if he were to go longer. As a reliever he’s looked effective.
Nigel Nootbaar showed decent speed down to first base out of the box. Based on one game each I’ve seen of him, I think I like him better as a pitcher. Josh Miller broke a hitless streak with a line drive to the right (opposite) field gap. He also reached base on a dropped third strike, which he hustled and outran. He made a lot of defensive plays at second base and handled them all adequately. Alex Staehely showed good baserunning abilities, swiping a base on a very quick Humes throwdown. He drove one to left field; he looks like a pull-power type hitter. Overall he just did an excellent job of putting himself in scoring position. Jimmie Koch had a line drive up the middle and took a two-out walk. He has been patient at the plate this season. Riley Heinzer drove one on a line to the opposite field.
My photos for the day came out kind of blah, as is the trend with these semi-rainy days where it’s kind of dark and dreary (we’re having a lot of those this “summer”). A few of them came out decently, though, and I managed to put up a gallery of 64 Oilers and Chinooks photos that turned out alright. Here are a few favorites: