Today’s game had a lot! No commentary, but piped-in crowd noise! Umpires in shorts! An Art Warren sighting! Jarred Kelenic hitting two bombs!
You might be focused on that last bit, but I repeat: UMPS IN SHORTS:
These were the lineups, with a couple tweaks:
Flip the two pitchers in that graphic, as the Steelheads hitters are the ones Taijuan Walker specifically requested to face. Also, Polcovich was replaced by Austin Shenton, showing off a little positional versatility. More on that later, and by later I mean the next paragraph.
Ljay Newsome, aka “The Silent Assassin”, was the first pitcher of the day. Known for his plus command and hatred of walking people, it’s perhaps a measure of where things are in the season that Ljay walked the first batter he sees, Shed Long. He wasn’t missing by much, but this is Ljay Newsome, who generally doesn’t miss. That situation is quickly remedied when Jake Fraley hit into a double play, nicely turned by J.P. Crawford and the aforementioned Austin Shenton:
Ljay finished up his opening salvo by doing Kyle Seager dirty on this slider, for which the fake crowd went wild:
Newsome’s second inning was not as quick, but still solid. He allowed some hard contact to Strong Man Tom Murphy, which nonetheless resulted in a middle-deep flyout to Kyle Lewis in center. Vogelbach beat Newsome and the shift, poking one down the left field line, and Dee Gordon tried to follow in his footsteps, aiming at left field, but also flew out softly to center. Juliooooooooo made his first intersquad plate appearance but got jammed on a well-located fastball by Newsome and grounded out harmlessly to third.
Taijuan Walker, facing his crew of hand-picked batters, started off his day by striking out J.P. Crawford looking, getting Evan White to roll one over to third, and sinking the previously unsinkable Kyle Lewis, who also grounds out harmlessly. You can hear Taijuan grunting with the effort of throwing each pitch; he was reportedly sitting 92-93 today.
Walker’s second inning has a rocky start, literally, when he tries to field a soft chop off the bat of Austin Nola but winds up getting bitten by the turf monster.
At least Tai has a sense of humor about it:
Aside from the changeup Walker was pleased with his work today. Said he dove for the ball because he feels every play needs to be full effort so they can get something out of it.— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) July 13, 2020
"I thought I recovered a little bit with the somersault, made it look good for YouTube."
Walker also got Kelenic to fly out, a feat that will look more impressive later in the game, and got Patrick Wisdom to swing over the top of a changeup. He walked Donnie Walton, who is a pesky little plate appearance, but froze Austin Shenton on a well-located fastball to end the “inning.”
Nestor Cortes took over in the third for the Pilots and got JP Crawford to pop up, but Kyle Seager couldn’t find it in the sun/from behind his mask. Seager would later be seen without the mask, so maybe he put it in time-out as punishment. Evan White also sent some balls straight up in the air before making weak contact on a half swing that functions essentially as a bunt, moving Crawford to second. Then birthday boy Kyle Lewis was gifted a hit as the ball went between Shed Long’s wickets, scoring Crawford from second for the first run of the day. With Nola batting, a ball squirted away from Tom Murphy and we got to see a little of Kyle Lewis’s speed as he nipped to third all the way from first and then...the inning sort of just ended? Intrasquad rules are harder to parse than one of those high-concept board games with a zillion pieces where the rulebook is translated from German.
Taylor Guilbeau is next up and has an all-lefty slate of Zach DeLoach, Shed Long, and Jake Fraley. Guilbeau gets ahead of DeLoach quickly 0-2 but DeLoach hangs in and works the count full before succumbing to a nasty slider. Shed Long is the next lefty up and suffers a similar fate, as does Fraley.
It might be just intrasquad, but you can’t tell me Guilbeau isn’t a little pumped up there.
Cortes gets roughed up in his next inning of work, starting with a bomb off the bat of Jarred “Left Turns” Kelenic.
Jarred Kelenic’s 2-run homer off of lefty Nestor Cortes. Good sound pic.twitter.com/tJGvPq7tfb— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) July 13, 2020
Patrick Wisdom follows by flipping a ball softly into left field, and then Donovan “Donnie” Walton does what is becoming a specialty of his, ripping a ball down the right field line for a double. Austin Shenton, who played in A ball last year, cannot solve the puzzle of an MLB-experienced pitcher and strikes out, but J.P. Crawford joins Wisdom in flipping a ball into left-center to drive in two runs. That does it for Cortes’s pitch count so it’s time for the inning to be over, please consult rulebook page 372 for further explanation.
I’m not exactly sure what happens in Guilbeau’s next inning, because it seems like Shed Long is on base without doing anything to get there. Guilbeau then hits Seager. Tom Murphy grounds it right to third, though, which the infielders gamely try to make a triple play out of. They got reasonably close, too! Guilbeau strikes out Vogelbach looking to end the “inning,” continuing his weird reverse-splits bayou devil magic.
Yohan Ramirez is up next and is greeted rather rudely by Evan White, who almost hits this out of T-Mobile.
Evan White checks in with a double to the gap off Ramirez. pic.twitter.com/Dkeed1jf9M— Lauren Smith (@smithlm12) July 13, 2020
Ramirez rebounds to strike out birthday boy Kyle Lewis on some nasty high cheese (99 per Shannon Drayer), but Austin Nola and Jarred Kelenic are both a bit more discerning and work walks off the erratic Ramirez, proving you can, in fact, Mess With the Yohan. The inning ends at that point, because innings are just constructs, and that’s how quaran-time works.
Next up is Taylor Williams, who, after getting an easy flyout from Dee, makes quick work of Julio Rodriguez and Zach DeLoach. He’s so efficient he actually gets two innings of work, and in his second inning freezes Shed Long on a perfect pitch on the outside corner of his own, then gets Fraley to pop up to Donovan Walton, Left Fielder, and strikes out Tom Murphy on a check swing. TWilly looked pretty nice today and I confess that although at the time I was sad to lose Phillips Valdez in exchange for TWilly, it is pretty cool to have a true Northwest kid who grew up going to games at Safeco on the roster, especially when he looks as good as Williams has.
Brandon Brennan is next out of the pen, and he dismisses Patrick Wisdom on a lineout and gets Donnie Walton to fly out to center on an...adventurous looking route from Jake Fraley. Austin Shenton is the final out of the inning, as he gets caught admiring a perfectly located pitch on the outside corner.
...or it would be, but because Brennan was so swiftly efficient he has to pitch some bunting practice, which he looks exactly as excited about as you would expect.
It’s the same pitching lineup as Friday’s intrasquad, so Carl Edwards Jr. is up next, and he gets White to fly out, an easy groundout from Dee, and then...Jarred happens.
Here is Jarred Kelenic’s second homer of the day — a line drive to right off a Carl Edwards Jr. fastball. pic.twitter.com/7DSlBidlbr— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) July 14, 2020
What’s funny about this home run was in his last AB Kelenic walked and looked visibly disgusted at Yohan Ramirez’s inability to get the ball into the strike zone, like he would take his medicine in the form of a walk but hate every second of it. As someone whose face reveals everything they’re thinking, I enjoy how Jarred also cannot keep what he’s feeling off his face, and also the fact that he refuses to get cheated. Jarred was definitely the kid at the birthday party measuring everyone’s slices of cake and making sure he got one of the bigger ones (before he got older and swore off all forms of refined sugar, I guess).
A break in the monotony as Art Warren emerges from the pen for his first intrasquad action. Warren starts out a little shaky, falling behind 3-0 to Kyle Seager before getting him to ground into the shift, and Vogey suffers the same fate. Dee Gordon hits a good old-fashioned Baltimore Chop and reaches, and then Warren has one get away from him and clips Julio on the hip. Julio declines the free pass and stays in the box before popping one up to Mercury, which Evan White catches because he’s Evan White, but not without some degree of effort and squinting. The sky seemed to give several players defensive fits today, which could be from lack of practice or could be because the sun has shone in Seattle exactly one (1) day this summer.
Back to Friday’s pitching crew with Sam Delaplane, who looks much sharper than either of his past two televised outings. Donnie Walton attempts to pull more of his right field line trickery, but Vogelbach ably fields the ball. Delaplane also collects two strikeouts, one of Austin Shenton, who definitely got away with a freebie before Delaplane froze Shenton right down the middle:
Delaplane also gave Patrick Wisdom fits, who got off three swings that looked exactly like this:
Delaplane’s inning extended with Cal Raleigh, batting from the left side, who of course put up the longest AB of the inning against his former Modesto teammate. And then the game is over! Because the intrasquad trains run on their own timetables, I guess, or maybe none of the remaining pitchers wanted to face Kelenic again on the day. The Steelheads and Pilots will be back in action tomorrow at the same time, this time with Aaron Goldsmith, Gary Hill, and MIKE BLOWERS on the call. Yes I recognize putting his name in all caps is antithetical to the very ethos of Mike Blowers, but I cannot help it, I am just so excited about hearing the soothing tone of Mike Blowers and maybe a well-placed “oh boy” here and there.