2011: A Chiefs Odyssey – Kevin’s Number 7

Jason – Vander Woude might try to eat the shaving cream pie, mistaking it for Scranton press box food.  I have a feeling I’ve seen that out for dessert once or twice…

#7 – Baby, You’re A Firework (x2)

There’s just something about ___ and ___.

No, I’m not talking about the Ben Stiller/Cameron Diaz/Brett Favre movie, I’m talking about that saying that always pops up.  For instance, “there’s just something about football and snow.”  Or, “there’s just something about reading outside on a nice day.”  Or even, “there’s just something about LeBron James and promising eight championships and then losing in the NBA Finals.”  OK, maybe no one’s ever said that until now.  (Sorry, are we past the point of making fun of the Heat Launch party and The Decision yet?  Is there even an end point to making fun of this?)

Anyway, it’s totally cliche’, but there’s just…something…about baseball and the fourth of July.  It’s an American tradition of sorts – before or after you fire up the grill at home, head to your local park to watch some baseball with some postgame fireworks sure to follow.  And sometimes…you even get fireworks of sorts during the game.  (Foreshadowing Meter Activated.)

The nice thing about the International League schedule is that every team gets a Third of July game or a Fourth of July game, providing a spectacular fireworks show for the home crowd after.  The nice thing about this year’s schedule was an Independence Day date for Syracuse, as the Chiefs hosted Buffalo.  Syracuse came into the game rather toasty, having won three straight games, six out of eight, and nine out of 12 – and they’d already taken the first two from Buffalo at Coca-Cola Field.  The odds were in Syracuse’s favor for a happy Independence Day celebration.

True to their then-recent form, things started well for the Chiefs.  Jesus Valdez’ third-inning sacrifice fly put Syracuse ahead 1-0, and Jesus Flores’ sixth-innning sac fly stretched the lead to two runs.  With starter Yunesky Maya cruising through six shutout innings, the Chiefs seemed well on their way to another solid, though unspectacular, win.

But as a certain College GameDay analyst often says – not so fast, my friends!  After a Val Pascucci walk and two strikeouts, Bubba Bell doubled Pascucci to third base.  Mike Nickeas then walked to load the bases for Luis Hernandez.

There are certain players in the International League who scared you more than others at the plate this season – Dayan Viciedo, Yonder Alonso, Devin Mesoraco, and Desmond Jennings, to name a few.  Luis Hernandez should not belong in this list.  Luis Hernandez hit just .240 with 6 home runs and 54 RBI in 121 games.  But against the Chiefs, Luis Hernandez turned into Babe Ruth.  Here’s his line against Syracuse in 2011:

13 games, 14-43 (.326), 5 R, 2 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 14 RBI, .333 OBP, .558 SLG

And that was after a few cold games at the end.  Hernandez was a Chief-killer for much of the season.  On the fourth, he obliged.  As a pinch-hitter for Pat Misch, Hernandez stroked a two-run single to center field, simultaneously putting Buffalo on the board for the first time and tying the game.

But it wouldn’t take long for the Chiefs to respond.  After a Jeff Frazier strikeout led off the bottom of the seventh, Corey Brown stepped up against Dale Thayer.  Thayer worked the count to 2-2 before firing a pitch that missed inside by a hair if it missed at all.  Home plate umpire Jeff Gosney called it a ball, bringing the count to 3-2.  And then, the payoff pitch:

But it wasn’t over…though Tim Teufel’s night was.  The enraged Buffalo manager soon found himself tossed out of the game after arguing the non-strike call.  Good thing Teufel didn’t stick around – because pinch-hitter Michael Aubrey did this.

Pretty good timing for your team’s first back-to-back homers of the season, eh?  Jeff Mandel and Zech Zinicola then closed the door on a 4-2 Fourth of July win.  It was a fireworks display before the actual fireworks display – and all done in a crisp 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Any happy holidays in your future, JB?

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