Four hundred and fifty miles away from Minute Maid Park, in the heart of Oklahoma City, lies a place where an Astros fan can watch a baseball game without the weight of three straight 100+ loss seasons on their back. It doesn’t matter that you might not know all of the players’ names. It doesn’t matter who the other team is. It might not even matter the outcome of the game. Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, home of the Oklahoma City RedHawks — the Triple-A affiliate of Houston — is a little slice of baseball heaven.
For those that don’t know, my girlfriend lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Being a Houston (Baytown) native, and a soon-to-be-senior at Texas A&M in College Station, I only get to visit a few times a year. And although she is not the biggest baseball fan, she is a big enough fan of me to let me drag her two hours west to see a team of future (and sometimes past) Astros.
The 11:00 a.m. start of Tuesday, May 13th’s game was a bit earlier than I would have liked, but it was all worth it when a random guy in a suit approached me as I stood in line to buy tickets — and offered me two seats behind the home dugout for free. That $40 he saved me made it that much easier for me to justify dropping $75 on some sweet RedHawks merch later.
Jake Buchanan was on the hill for the RedHawks and he pitched an absolutely beautiful game: 7.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO, 85 pitches. Buchanan was taken in the 8th round of the 2010 draft by the Astros and has put together a great 2014 season so far. One week after I saw him, he tossed a complete game shutout — lowering his ERA to 2.63.
You may notice a certain someone behind Buchanan. That’s Jon Singleton, for the woefully uninformed. Although he finished the game 0-for-3 with a strikeout, he has looked unbelievable this year after struggling in Triple-A last season after serving a 50-game suspension. Singleton, 22, figures to be the next big prospect to be called up with his impressive minor league numbers this year: 12 HR, 9 2B, 35 RBI, 34 BB and only 44 K. His slash line is beautiful: .276/.403/.577, good for an OPS of .980.
The Astros return from their current 10-game road trip on May 29 against the Orioles and the front office has all but run out of reasons to not have him in the locker room waiting for them upon their arrival.
As for the game itself, it absolutely flew by — the game was over in one hour and 59 minutes. Which, according to OKC media relations manager Alex Freedman, is really fast.
Fastest nine-inning RedHawks game since 8/20/06 @ Iowa (1:54). Fastest at home since 8/3/06 vs. Vegas (1:52; R.A. Dickey 1-0 shutout.)
— Alex Freedman (@azfreedman) May 13, 2014
Speaking of, Alex was kind enough to meet me and talk for a few minutes after the game.
The only run scored in the RedHawks 1-0 win was on a Domingo Santana solo shot in the bottom of the sixth that I just so happened to get pictures of.
So, just like that, the game was over. It was so fast I didn’t even really have time to process what had just happened. I feel like that has been happening a lot in my life lately, which brings me to my final point.
Unfortunately, this is going to be my last post for Climbing Tal’s Hill. I have absolutely loved my time here, but between school and my new job as Sports Editor at Texas A&M’s student newspaper The Battalion, and the fact that I just found out I’m going to need shoulder surgery (read the super macho story here), I am just unable to commit the time I would like to here.
For the dozens of you that are concerned, no, this is not the end of me writing or being able to move my shoulder (hopefully) or me following the Astros or me tweeting stupid things. You can’t get rid of me that easily.
I can’t even begin to thank everyone who has read or followed along with me this past year. I started “Jeff Blogwell” last summer in a community college Biology class because I was bored and loved the Astros and I just wanted a place to talk about them. I honestly can’t fathom all of the connections and friends and memories I’ve made through twitter and writing here.
Like I said, I’m not going anywhere. Be sure to follow me on twitter and come say hi at Minute Maid one day.
Seriously guys, thank you for reading what I write. It means the world. Go ‘Stros.