05/16/2018 10:44 AM
(Credit John Ellis Kansas City T-Bones)
Well I better get busy! Can it be that we open in 48 hours? Where did the offseason go?
Remember, this list includes the moments that stood out to me and is a matter of opinion from my seat. I am willing to bet your list may be totally different from mine, or you might agree. Regardless, hopefully it will jog your memory, and, most of all, get you ready for the great 2018 season.
#2 Walk-off no hitter
They say lighting never strikes the same place twice, although I am still trying to figure out who the mysterious “they” are. Personally, and for the T-Bones, too, both of us were involved in something about as rare as it comes in baseball. A walk-off no hitter.
The last time there was a walk-off no hitter was on the last day of the 2013 Major League Baseball season when Henderson Alvarez of the Miami Marlins, (who was standing on deck), tossed no hitter in walk-off fashion in the ninth over the Detroit Tigers. That game included a walk-off wild pitch to secure the win.
The last time it happened before in the “bigs” was in 1952. Virgil Trucks of the Tigers threw one on May 15, 1952 against Washington. They just don’t happen too often. In a day and age where there is still some debate about the merit of the no hitter, being involved in a walk-off no hitter is truly unique. But there is a crazy twist to this moment and for T-Bones and American Association history.
Following a rain out with the Texas Airhogs on the 26th of July, the two clubs set out for a Thursday early evening double header. T-Bones starter Matt Sergey retired the first seventeen batters he faced, but the T-Bones went to the last call inning actually trailing 1-0 despite the Florida native's no hit bid. The teams just could not muster any offense at all.
The game story, written by yours truly, sums it all up from here: “Texas would scratch out a run in the top of the seventh with Airhogs’ third baseman Casio Grider almost stealing the headlines. After he worked a leadoff walk, he then stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch with one out. Sergey would strike out the dangerous Denis Phipps for the second out of the inning. With Charley Thurber batting, Grider read the throw perfectly from T-Bones catcher Tony Caldwell back to Sergey and broke home and stole his way to the 1-0 lead for Texas.”
I remember the awe of the great steal of Grider and the pure agony that Sergey was going to get a loss after being a stud that first game of the pair. Well here is where it gets fun and why we always know it is never over until that final out.
Back to the game story: “When it looked as if the Airhogs would get the first win of the double-header, one of Kansas City’s most recent signees, center fielder Cedric Hunter had his biggest hit so far for Kansas City. Airhogs reliever Luis De La Cruz issued a leadoff walk to Jerome Pena, then the Airhogs could not retire Leo Rojas on a sac bunt on a bad throw from De La Cruz. Tony Caldwell then moved the runners with a sacrifice bunt up to second and third. Hunter then doubled to left field off the top of the mini monster, bringing in two runs and giving the T-Bones the game one victory by a 2-1 final.”
Sergey secured his first no-hitter with Kansas City, allowing just two walks and punching out 10 in the seven inning game. It was the T-Bones' first no hitter as members of the American Association and another great moment in the career of Sergey. It was his second “no/no” as his first was pretty historic for another league. He tossed the only perfect game in Frontier League history in 2014 while with the Washington Wild Things.
From an American Association standpoint, it also was historical. The last two no hitters for the league have been walk-off no hitters. In Major League Baseball it has happened just six times total, and yet the “association” has had two in a row. Those last two also featured the T-Bones in the final outcome.
From the game story of July 27, 2017: “Last June 2nd Kansas City was involved in one of the rarest of occurrences when Karl Triana of Gary SouthShore picked up a walk-off no hitter beating Kansas City 1-0. Fast forward to Thursday in game one of a doubleheader with the Texas Airhogs, the T-Bones once again found themselves in a walk-off no hitter script, but this time the team was on the opposite side in a 2-1 win over Texas.”
How was this moment unique to me personally? That June night in 2016, I was in attendance calling the game on the Gary SouthShore RailCats Network in Northwest Indiana. Not only were the T-Bones blanked in walk off fashion when Jarred Mederos had an RBI single to win the game, I had the joy of calling the happy news. Not once but twice!
Back to last season. I mentioned that neither offense could get going. Well in another bit of an odd twist, someone else also pitched pretty good that night for the Airhogs. Anyone remember lefty Billy Waltrip? The former Oklahoma Sooner was lighting it up down south last season, and that night he was charged with a no decision, tossing six innings of “goose eggs” and scattering four hits. Waltrip of course would come over to Kansas City less than a month later on August 11th via trade.
What lies ahead in 2018? The fun part for all of us that you never know what kind of moments we will look back on and reflect upon. There might not be another walk off no hitter with Kansas City the featured player or with your broadcaster calling the action for the 2018 season. Another one of those infamous quotes “they” say is – “It is why they play the games.”
#3 K Record
#4 Carroll Sold to the Cubs
#5 Sergey, the lefty
#6 Longest Game in AA history
#7: August 12
#8: St. Paul – Full throttle
#9: One crazy night on the lake!
#10: Opening Night: “How did we get that in?”