Monday, May 29, 2006

Cruceta Cruises

Francisco Cruceta pitched the game of the year so far for the Rainiers, as Tacoma blanked the Colorado Springs Sky Sox 1-0 today at Cheney. Cruceta struck out *11* and didn't walk anyone, though he did plunk Ryan Shealy. He gave up just two hits, one of which was an opposite field pop up that landed about 15 feet down the line behind first base. There simply weren't many hard-hit balls on the day - including by the Rainiers, who were largely shut down by Mike Esposito.

Cruceta used a well-located 91MPH fastball and a very effective slider (78-81) to neutralize the Sky Sox (who, to be fair, suck. A lot. But not THIS much). Cruceta's best pitch may have been his splitter, but he used it sparingly; he generally saved it for lefties. Since only Omar Quintanilla and Jorge Piedra batted lefty, he didn't have a lot of opportunities. But the important thing was his command of his FB. It wasn't perfect, mind you - many of his pitches (including the split-finger) were up in the zone. But he was able to disguise the pitches such that batters either swung way too late or popped the ball up harmlessly. It was, in many ways, like watching a right handed George Sherrill. Sure, the delivery is different, but the point is professional hitters (Jeff Baker, Quintanilla, Shealy) were swinging way late on a good-but-not-great FB, and had no chance at breaking balls.

Emiliano Fruto got the save after surrendering a lead-off bloop double to Quintanilla, getting two strikeouts along the way. He also got the best-looking K, with a truly unfair slider to Jeff Baker.

The Rainiers got their run on back-to-back doubles by Doyle and Greg Dobbs. Good to see Snelling snap out of his slump with three hard-hit balls (though he was only 1-3). Dobbs had 2 of the Rainiers 4 hits.

Good to see MM reader Oly Rainiers Fan, who had the scoop on Doyle's rough night last night. I left town on Friday night to go to the Sasquatch festival at the Gorge, which, by the way, is the only place you can get a sun burn and covered in ice in less than 1 hour. So I missed Doyle's 3 K performance on Sunday, which sounded rather nasty, and missed the fact that he was in an 3-23 slump before his double today.

However, I can tell you that Rogue Wave and the Shins were excellent, Neko Case was great until she was cut short by a freakish (and very painful) hail storm, and that what everyone says about the Flaming Lips' live show is true. On the other hand, the Ben Harper portion of the evening was interminable, and I found Gomez' famously varied output a bit difficult to take (yeah! We bend so many genres that it's impossible to enjoy everything we do unless you're in the band, but plenty of people give us credit for being 'challenging' and 'innovative'). I spent much of Ben Harper's set in the bar with News Tribune writer Ernest Jasmine and a procession of horrifically drunk people, who, for reasons I'm not clear on, all thought they had to come up and harangue us (there was something about the Tri-Cities - that's about all I caught). A bizarre cap to a bizarre day.


At 5/29/2006 9:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks for the reference. Good thing I related the info too, for immediately after I left the game, I stopped at the Tacoma Mall. Parked outside Macy's, 10 cars from the big glass doors, was inside for 50 minutes. Came back out to find that someone had broken into my car. And stolen my baseball bag (with radio, earphones, media guide, sharpies, baseballs, photos, umbrella, leftover peanuts, Old School sweatshirt (gray), and most importantly and distressingly - MY SCOREBOOK that I had just finished scoring the last game in today. Aaargh.

God that was a great game by Cruceta though. There were 3 guys over there watching him, taking copious notes and holding that radar gun steady: I kept hoping they wouldn't call him up or trade him away. I hope to see many more such performances like that this summer, and after the travesty they did upon my Livingston....I don't trust 'em.

At 5/29/2006 9:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and...

Agreed on Neko Case (she rocks), and Ben Harper (those sets don't actually LAST forever, they just SEEM like it).

At 5/30/2006 9:40 AM, Blogger marc w. said...

It sucked that Neko's set got called after only about 15 minutes. I saw her at the Woodland park zoo last year, and the skies opened up midway through her set that time too - she lost about half the crowd to an absolute August.

Hey, if you ever need to copy my scorebook for this Cruceta game, lemme know. I've got illegible chicken-scratch handwriting, but I can interpret the markings, if need be. Sorry to hear about the break-in... Tacoma, however far it's come in the past few years, still retains a bit of its menace.

There were more scouts there today (behind home plate) than I've seen in a long time. Put that together with the 3 guys over by you, and that's an awful lot of interest. You didn't happen to catch any radar gun readings, did you? I'm shocked that he was so 'slow' on the Tacoma gun; kinda want to corroborate that.

At 5/30/2006 11:51 AM, Blogger PositivePaul said...

What a weekend. Got caught up a bit at home, and wasn't able to do much else.

I hope Cruceta's still around Tacoma when they return to Cheney -- I need to get some pix for my collection.

Yeah, that Tacoma Mall parking lot is scary! Especially over by Macy's. Same thing with the South Hill Mall, too, from what I've heard.


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