Tonight was Felix Hernandez's first outing in a pitcher's dream park, Cheney Stadium. I was a bit dismayed at the turnout this evening (3,238 was the announced but that includes season ticket holders, many of which apparently didn't show up), but it was not going to ruin my evening.
After waiting what seemed like 7 hours in line to get a ticket, I met up with Lookout Landing reader Tim Ferguson (known as Cy Meche on our comment boards). Tim's a nice guy and we had a good time making fun of Jack Cust and Ramon Santiago. Also briefly spoke with Jeff Shaw and Christian (a commentor on USSM), both of whom are great guys.
Hernandez started out cold as Jermaine Clark drilled a 2-1 fastball to center for a single. Hernandez, obviously already flustered, then started to get a bit wild as he stuggled to get his curve and changeup across the plate. After a Matt Watson walk, Bobby Smith laced a single to center to load them up. Hernandez then walked Dan Johnson and a run home before recording an out as Shawn Garrett sacrifice flew to left.
Choo attempted to throw out Watson on the sacrifice but Watson was well ahead of the throw which Wiki Gonzalez watched go by the plate into Hernandez's glove. I'm serious, Gonzalez made no attempt to stop the ball, he just stood there and watched it sail by. L-A-Z-Y. Adam Morrison finally grounded into a double play to end the misery. Hernandez threw a quick fit at first base by throwing the ball hard into the bag after the out was recorded and proceeded to be dominant for the next four innings.
Dan Meyer was a lucky recipient of untimely hitting from the Rainiers tonight as he was in a jam in four of the five innings he pitched. He was wild and when he was in the zone he got hit quite hard but the Rainiers just couldn't put it all together.
Hernandez on the other had blew away Rivercats before getting a bit unstable in the 6th and getting the hook before the seventh started.
I went down behind the plate to get a gun readout and Hernandez was hitting 96 MPH consistently with his fastball and somewhere between 81-83 MPH with the curve, he also threw a 69 MPH changeup. Wicked. After the first, he had hitters absolutely flailing at that nasty curve, it was just too beautiful.
When I was down getting the gun readouts, I thought the guy running it was Dan Reichert, but since he was released today...well, I guess not. Tim even agreed he looked like Reichert, so I'm not crazy.
All in all, it wasn't a bad game (hell, even Leone homered) and it was good to meet with a few other rabid fans. Felix is going to be just fine and if any of you get the opportunity to check him out in Tacoma (or some other AAA park) don't you dare miss it.
Wrap-up coming a bit later.