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2013: A Chiefs Odyssey – #10

Welcome back to “2013: A Chiefs Odyssey” – a countdown of our 12 most memorable moments of Syracuse’s 2013 season. You can find the first two posts here and here. Now for #10…

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10. Hit Me Two Times

Jim Morrison's rejected song title.

Jim Morrison’s rejected song title.

If you followed the Chiefs at all last year, you knew not to make any late-night plans – or at least to tell your friends they’d probably have to postpone any plans they might originally have. Syracuse tied for second in the International League with 21 extra-inning games in 2013, with the Chiefs actually leading all of professional baseball in extra-inning contests for a good chunk of the season before moving a little quicker toward year’s end. In that respect, May 31 through June 3 in Pawtucket was a typical Syracuse series, with bonus baseball bookending the four-game set.

(Quick author’s tangent: I felt like the Chiefs truly had it out for me in this series, as I was scheduled to miss the middle two games for my sister’s graduation. My goal was to scoot out of the park after game one and make the three-hour-plus drive to Baldwin, New York as quickly as possible – but Syracuse lost the lead, gained it back, and lost it again in a span of one-and-0ne-half innings before finally succumbing in 12 innings at 11:28 PM EST – four hours and 2o minutes after first pitch. I ended up with about three hours of sleep on Friday night, missed a pair of nine-inning games, and headed back Monday for the extravagance you’ll soon hear about.)

On Monday, June 3rd, the Chiefs were hoping to avoid a sweep at the hands of former Yankee Alfredo Aceves and the PawSox. They’d start strongly enough with a three-run second inning, thanks to a pair of left-handed long balls – a solo home run from Corey Brown, his eighth of the year, and a two-run shot from Mike Costanzo, his seventh.

The 3-0 lead wouldn’t last long, though, as Pawtucket struck for four runs in the next three innings, taking a lead into the seventh – when Costanzo struck again. Syracuse’s DH for the night punctuated his best game as a Chief by cracking another home run, his second of the game, to level the score at three. Pawtucket, however, would reclaim the lead in the bottom of the frame on an RBI single by Brandon Snyder, and after a scoreless eighth, the Chiefs moved into the ninth inning down a run.

Heading into the game, Syracuse was 0-26 when trailing after eight innings. The Chiefs finished the year a mere 2-55 when trailing after eight. This would be one of the two. Brown started the ninth inning with a home run tucked barely inside the left-field foul pole, good for his second homer of the game – and a 5-5 tie.

Brown, captured after a Syracuse smash.

Brown, captured after a Syracuse smash.

How rare was the multi-multi-homer show? The game marked the first time two Syracuse players homered twice on the same day since July 28, 2005, when Kevin Barker and Justin Singleton each hit two in a 16-3 win over Indianapolis – a game with a bit of a different tone than this particular affair at Pawtucket. This game was about as far from a 13-run affair as could be, heading into the 11th inning still tied when Chris Marrero drove in Will Rhymes with – gasp! – an RBI single, putting the Chiefs in front, 6-5.

They’d need one more bit of heroics, however, from Brown. With two outs and Snyder at first in the bottom of the inning, Bryce Brentz drove a ball to the gap in left-center field, with Snyder scurrying toward home in an attempt to even the score once more. But Brown cleanly back-handed the ball and fired a dart to Zach Walters, whose throw home nailed Snyder by a couple of steps – giving the Chiefs the win on a walkoff 7-6-2 putout.

11 innings, two players with two homers, 3 hours and 28 minutes and a bizarre walkoff – just about your run-of-the-mill 2013 Chiefs game. The only thing it was missing was rain – which our next entry on Friday won’t be missing. See you then.

Kevin Brown
kbrown@syracusechiefs.com
@ChiefsRadio

2013: A Chiefs Odyssey – #11

Welcome back to “2013: A Chiefs Odyssey” – a countdown of our 12 most memorable moments of Syracuse’s 2013 season. Today’s selection, strangely enough, has nothing to do with what happened on the field…unless you count the falling of rain drops onto the thick white tarp.

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#11: Prayers Answered

The 1948 Boston Braves featured a terrific one-two punch at the top of their rotation – Hall of Famer Warren Spahn (15-12, 3.71 ERA) and league wins leader Johnny Sain (24-15, 2.60). They’re not much known for those particular numbers, though – they’re known in baseball lore by a famous poem, written by Boston Post sports editor Gerald V. Hern:

First we’ll use Spahn
then we’ll use Sain
Then an off day
followed by rain
Back will come Spahn
followed by Sain
And followed
we hope
by two days of rain.

That’s Spahn on the left, with Sain on the right.

The poem (which, by the way, completely neglected the contributions of Bill Voiselle [13-13, 3.63] and Vern Bickford [11-5, 3.27]) has been condensed throughout the ages to “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain”, which is the format in which most of us have heard it. And if you’re a believer in delayed gratification, those prayers from 1948 Boston Braves fans were answered in the 2013 International League. And the 2013 Syracuse Chiefs may not consider themselves fans of delayed gratification.

As detailed on Thursday, the Chiefs’ bats raced out to a scorching start with an 11-2 win at Lehigh Valley. And the high scores kept piling in. 11-0. 8-6. 8-1. 8-2 (in five innings). Syracuse was pacing the International League – and just about all of baseball – with a whopping 50 runs in its first six games of the season – an average of more than eight runs per contest. The Chiefs’ offense was white-hot, a fire seemingly too voluminous to contain for any I.L. pitcher.

And then the rains came.

Luckily, most of us were ready.

Tuesday, April 9th – rain-shortened after five innings. Wednesday, April 10th – rained out at Buffalo. Thursday, April 11th – a scheduled off day (it rained anyway). Friday, April 12th – rained out vs. Lehigh Valley.

By the time the Chiefs got back on the field – Saturday, April 13th, vs. Lehigh Valley – they hadn’t stood in against live pitching in just over 90 hours. They were promptly shut out by the IronPigs, scored three runs or fewer in five consecutive games and went just 4-18 over the 22 games immediately following the three-and-a-half days off.

Is it too much of a drastic leap to associate the Chiefs’ failure to score runs with the rain? Perhaps – after all, other I.L. North teams missed equal time thanks to the drab and gloomy weather. But it’s one of the great “what if” moments in a season with “what ifs” aplenty. In our final interview with Tony Beasley, Syracuse’s manager didn’t dismiss the possibility, noting the difficulty of staying fresh without live pitching. Would we be talking about the I.L.-champion Chiefs with a sunnier season? Probably not – but I can’t help but wonder how April would have ended up with a little more Spahn and Sain.

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Weather permitting, we’ll have #10 on the countdown tomorrow. Until then, tell us your favorite moments in the comments below, or drop an email to kbrown@syracusechiefs.com, and maybe they’ll pop up…

2013: A Chiefs Odyssey – #12

Greetings, Chiefs fans, and welcome to the Third Annual “(Insert Year Here): A Chiefs Odyssey” Offseason Series! (Please hold your applause until the end.) In this series, we’ll count down the 12 most memorable moments from last year’s Chiefs campaign, as selected by our committee of one, with a new post every other weekday.

2013 was a little bit tricky compared to previous years, with only two moments jumping out off the top of my head…both of which you’ll find in the top two. A good chunk of the season has already blurred together in my mind, thanks to rainouts and extra-inning games and shutouts and whozits and whatzits galore. Our first game on the countdown, however, features precisely none of those things. Let’s begin…well, at the beginning…

Come to think of it, “Ironic Guy Fawkes”, or maybe “Not-At-All-Self-Aware Guy Fawkes”, or “Guy Fawkes Holding Up The Wrong Sign” could be a great Halloween costume, no?

#12: Eleventh Heaven

There were reasons to believe the Syracuse Chiefs could be a good offensive team in 2013. The Opening Day lineup featured five former major leaguers out of eight position players, a player claimed in the offseason’s Rule V Draft, the Chiefs’ offensive M.V.P. from 2012, two former first-round picks, an offseason World Baseball Classic champion and a pair of International League All-Stars from the previous season – with three former big-league hitters on the bench.

There were reasons to believe the Syracuse Chiefs would not be a good offensive team in 2013. The roster featured a plethora of free swingers, a cleanup hitter who missed the vast majority of 2012, a number-five hitter in his first season as a full-time position player, a number-two hitter in his Triple-A rookie campaign and a number-six hitter who struggled mightily in his only month with the team last year.

The offensive pendulum would swing in both directions throughout the course of the season, with the Chiefs ultimately finishing eighth in the 14-team International League in runs scored. After one week, though, the glass-half-full folks were sitting mighty pretty – not to mention after just one day.

The Chiefs’ 2013 season began at 7:08 PM on April 4th, with a first-pitch ball from reigning I.L. Pitcher of the Year Tyler Cloyd to Syracuse center fielder Eury Perez. The second pitch was lined into center field for a single, and the Chiefs didn’t stop hitting after that. Micah Owings drove in Perez with a first-inning single, Corey Brown doubled in Jeff Kobernus in the third, and two batters later, Owings displayed the rawest of raw power…


5-0 after 14 batters is a fun way to start the season. You know what else is fun? 6-0 after 15 batters.


In 2012, the Chiefs’ second home run didn’t come until the fifth game. In 2013, it came before game one’s fifth inning. The Chiefs would grab another five runs for an 11-2 Opening Day win, backed by six shutout innings from Ross Ohlendorf. That second-hitting rookie and struggling sixth-hitter, by the way? Those were Kobernus and Walters, arguably the Chiefs’ two best players last year – both of whom made their MLB debuts by season’s end. It’s good to see the glass half-full.

Monday, we’ll have #11 on the countdown. Until then, tell us your favorite moments in the comments below, or drop an email to kbrown@syracusechiefs.com, and maybe they’ll pop up…

Card Notes – June 3rd

The Chiefs are looking to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of Pawtucket today at McCoy Stadium. They’ll do so with this starting lineup…

1. Eury Perez CF

2. Anthony Rendon 2B

3. Will Rhymes 3B

4. Corey Brown LF

5. Chris Marrero 1B

6. Mike Costanzo DH

7. Zach Walters SS

8. Kris Watts C

9. Chris Rahl RF

Danny Rosenbaum SP

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Some news and notes…

1. Today’s Rendon’s third Syracuse game – and he’s started all three at second base, where he started just five times with Harrisburg.

2. Chris Marrero’s hitting fifth for just the second time this season. The other? April 9th at Buffalo.

3. Eury Perez is back in the leadoff spot after a leadoff home run – the first such homer of his career – in yesterday’s game.

4. Mike Costanzo gets the start at DH. He’s 8 for 45 (.178) as the DH this year, but does have two home runs.

5. Danny Rosenbaum’s won both of his starts after a loss this season, allowing one earned run in 14 innings combined over those games.

Chiefs and PawSox at 7:05 tonight. Hope you can join us on the Syracuse Chiefs Baseball Network.

KB

Stuff You’ll Like: May 24

Live from the Hyatt in Columbus, it’s today’s edition of Stuff You’ll Like…the first of which, for my allergies’ sake, is hopefully Claritin.

- In case you missed it yesterday: our first episode of Where Have You Been?, starring guest contestant Brent Axe.

- A look at the night Ted Turner managed the Braves.

- Why the Astros and Marlins are chasing history.

- For SNL fans: a comprehensive list of guests at Stefon’s wedding.

- The story behind some classic Arrested Development gags.

Song of the Day: British singer-songwriter Thea Gilmore’s acoustic take on “Bad Moon Rising”.

- And finally, today’s Chief of the Day is Kevin Brown!

No, not me.

And not that one either…

That’s the one! Kevin’s a former Chiefs catcher who played 141 games for Syracuse from 1998 to 2000. Some other fun facts…

  • He played parts of seven seasons in the major leagues, from 1996 to 2002, with Texas, Toronto, Milwaukee and Boston.
  • He ranked fifth on the 1999 SkyChiefs with 13 home runs. (Kevin Witt’s 24 led the team.)
  • He’s the highest draft pick ever from the University of Southern Indiana, as a second-rounder from 1994. (Darin Mastroianni, currently on the Twins, was a 2007 16th-rounder.)
  • He never actually faced pitcher Kevin Brown. That’s really sad.

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Chiefs and Clippers at 7:15 tonight. See you there.

KB

Card Notes: Monday, May 20 at Toledo

Good morning from the hot box known as the Toledo press box, where we are baking in anticipation of the Chiefs’ 10:30 game vs. the Mud Hens. Here’s a look at the lineup in today’s edition of Card Notes

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Chris Rahl RF

Jeff Kobernus LF

Will Rhymes 2B

Chris Marrero 1B

Corey Brown CF

Micah Owings DH

Mike Costanzo 3B

Brian Bocock SS

Brian Jeroloman C

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1. Zach Walters gets a rare day off, having played in 41 of the Chiefs’ first 43 games. He’s replaced at shortstop by Brian Bocock.

2. Today’s the 575th professional game for Bocock at shortstop – and his first as a Chief. That’s 502 more games than at his second-most-frequent position, second base (73).

3. Corey Brown’s now played center field in all five games since his return from the Disabled List.

4. After Chris Rahl in the leadoff spot, the Chiefs alternate left-handed batters and right-handers for every other batter, from Jeff Kobernus on.

5. Mud Hens starter Shawn Hill’s been a teammate of three Chiefs in today’s lineup: Bocock (2012 Las Vegas, Toronto’s AAA team), Jeroloman (2010 Las Vegas), and, for a grand total of three starts, Chris Marrero (2007-08 Potomac Nationals).

Card Notes: Syracuse vs Columbus 5-17-13

Chiefs/Clippers, series finale, 7:00 tonight. The Syracuse starting 10:

Chiefs Lineup 5-17-13

 

Some notes of, well, note:

1. Brian Bocock’s the #9 hitter today in his Syracuse debut. He’s a former San Francisco Giant (2008) and Philadelphia Phillie (2010).

2. Two Chiefs are working on hitting streaks of a week or more: leadoff hitter Chris Rahl (nine games) and cleanup hitter Chris Marrero (seven).

3. Jeff Kobernus bats second for the 36th time this season. That’s the most of any Chiefs player in one position. (Marrero’s second with 35 games in the cleanup spot.)

4. Carlos Rivero’s starting at first base for the first time this season.

5. Kris Watts has been a Chief for eight games. He’s started seven of them.

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Hope you can join us tonight at 6:45 on the Syracuse Chiefs Baseball Network or out at NBT Bank Stadium before the Chiefs hit the road for eight games.

KB

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