I headed out to Reading last night to catch the AA team in action. It was a gorgeous day, and first-round pick Aaron Nola was scheduled to pitch–how they only had 3,900 fans there is beyond me. But, it was a school night, I suppose. I met up with our buddy Steve who is a season ticket holder for both the IronPigs and the Reading team. Before the game, I had a beverage with Ed, who is also a ticket holder on both ends of 222. I was beating myself up for not getting down there at all in the month of April, but their schedule had them home for only one home-stand last month.
Nola had a guy on base in the first inning, and promptly picked him off. The next guy up launched a home run over the center field wall. But from there on out, it was all Reading. Nola was in control, and a big 5th inning highlighted by Aaron Altherr’s grand slam home run, paced the former Reading Phillies to a 5-1 win. Big lefty Ethan Stewart came in to shut things down in the eighth and ninth inning.
I did take a bunch of pictures–even missed the home run in the first inning because I was fiddling with my camera. Thank goodness for Cheryl and Jim and Steve and Jack and others, who provide us with photos around here. I hate watching a game through a viewfinder. Plus, I’m not terribly good at it. Scroll down for some of the better shots I came up with last night.
Random Thoughts From My Night In Baseballtown:
- Nola is good. Really good. He’s a smart pitcher, too; he really knows how to mix his pitches and move the ball around to keep hitters off balance. I think he got like 6 or 7 pop-ups. He had an off-speed pitch which was devastating last night. It comes in 79-80 MPH and he positions it low. At one point I think he threw several of them in a row to a batter who obviously had now clue how to handle the pitch. Nola was adding and subtracting from his fastball as necessary. Sometimes it was 90-91, and others 92-93–I believe he touched 94 once. So why isn’t he with the IronPigs already? That’s a good question; I think he will be soon. Reading Beat Reporter Mike Drago tweeted this stat: Nola’s first-inning ERA: 10.80. All other innings combined: 0.67. If there’s something to work on, it’s coming out sharp to start the game and settling in quickly. Other than that, he’s good. Really good.
- Roman Quinn is fast. Really fast. OK, so I’m Captain Obvious up in here now. He’s an exciting player to watch, and really makes things happen on the field. I think they’ll probably keep him in Reading for the whole season, but we should get a look next year.
- Outfielders Aaron Altherr and Cameron Perkins looked good, too. Altherr of the grand slam and our old friend Perk with a 2-for-4 night with a double, to go along with an outfield assist. I think both should be in Allentown by July 1–at the latest.
- Don’t sleep on infielders KC Serna and Brock Stassi. Those guys aren’t usually mentioned as “prospects,” but you know I’ve got a soft-spot for gritty infielders who play the game “the right way.” Shortstop Serna’s hitting .304 and looking really good in the 2-hole, while 1B Stassi is hitting .301 in the cleanup spot. I don’t know if either of those guys will make it to Coca Cola Park this season, but I’ll welcome them if and when they get here.
- Fries. The best french fries in the world come from the fry stand under the grandstand in Reading. They changed their food service provider in the off-season, so I feared a change in the fries. Thankfully, no. Still the best. It was worth killing my diet to eat a big plate of them.
- New Seating Arrangement. They moved some seats around and re-numbered some rows and sections to make things a little easier to find. I thought it worked out well, and was easy to understand.
- Friendly and Relaxed. It’s just a different environment in Reading. Everyone’s friendly, of course, but also more laid back. The inning ends, and the players quietly exit the field. No blaring rock music the second the last out is made. It made for a relaxing evening.
See you at the park,