Decided to fly to Pittsburgh to take on Todd Ventresca’s Gamblers. Because Todd couldn’t make it to Chicago for the IAL Playoff & Draft weekend in March, it seemed like the thing to do. On Friday after Todd picked me up from the airport & I checked into the motel, we headed over to Damon’s for dinner, and to watch hockey at the bar. On Saturday Todd umpired a doubleheader then headed over to play shum APBA.
Game #1 featured Champs ace(?) Tim Lincecum matched up against C.C. Sabathia for Three Rivers. Maggs Orodonez hit a one out first inning solo shot to give the Gamblers an early lead. Matt Wieters for them & Gordon Beckham for us, traded late game 2-run blasts. C.C. went the distance for the complete game win over The Freak, whose record stands at 0-6.
Chicago scored seven runs, without the benefit of a longball off reliever Nate Robertson (Is that you Nate? That’s the punchline to a joke, but what’s the joke?) in the 10th inning of a 2-2 game to make a winner out of last year’s Cy Young Award winner Matt Cain.
Brett Myers left game #3 trailing 3-1 after six innings to John Lannon (my favorite Beetle). Each team added five spots over the last three innings and the Gamblers had the series lead 2-1 at home.
On the bump for the Champs in the fourth game was Mark Buehrle, who threw a 2-hit shutout. Gamblers rookie Jhoulys Chacin was the tough luck loser. El Caballo squeezed home the game winner in the 7th, 1-0 Good Guys. Tied at two games apiece.
A funny thing happened in the 7th inning of game five. With the Champs leading eight to zip, rookie lefthander Madison Bumgarner was due to hit in the top of the 7th. Manager Mallasch looked down his bench, looking for a pnch-hitter, one was announced, however Manager Ventresca was good enough to let the clueless Champs skipper know his pitcher had a no-hitter going. Todd let me call back my pinch-hitter. Of course Bumgarner gave up a base-knock before retiring another batter and was lifted to get pen workhorse Josh Beckett some work. Beckett only lasted 2/3 of an inning before giving way to closer Sergio Romo. Romo pitched the rest of the way and Chicago managed to hang on to an 8-6 victory.
Game #6: A rematch of Sabathia vs Lincecum ended in the bottom of the 12th when Carlos Lee nailed a three-run bomb off Gamblers lefty Andrew Laffey, for a walk-off dinger. Big Boy Jose Mijares picked up the win.
Gamblers batters staked Brian Matusz to a first inning four to nothing lead in the 7th game, tacked on a couple more runs, and Brian went the distance shutting out the Champs 6-0. Prince Fielder launched two solo drives, Adrian Beltre added one of his own, and Shane Victorino clubbed a 2-run shot to pace the attack.
Howie Kendrick broke a 1-1 tie with a 6th inning granny off Brett Myers, Chacin was masterful, and the Gamblers evened up the series at four, with a 6-1 win.
Frenchy Francoeur broke game #9 wide open with a three-run 6th inning longball, putting the Champs up 7-2. Mark Buehrle went the distance for the victory and series win.
On Sunday we went to PNC to see the Buccos play host to the Colorado Rockies. Todd rooted for the Pirates, despite the fact that one of his APBA hurlers, Jhoulys Chacin started for the Rox. Pittsburgh lost a close one to Colorado. The weather was perfect, 80 degrees in April, can’t beat that!
Todd drove me back to the airport after the game. Special thanks go out to Todd for everything, it was a great weekend, and I highly recommend a trip to the Burgh, lotsa funn!!!