|Gems fielder, er, starting pitcher Michael Tittle|
We knew the Gems were short on pitching, but it's always a bit shocking to see a position player start a game.
No idea if it factored into the decision or not, but Victoria's expected starter Connor Russell was pushed out of his spot as well in favour of lefty Will Ballowe. Russell was charting pitches all night, so looks like his start will be tomorrow.
The night started well for Victoria, and looked like a carbon copy of the night before: Gems go down in the first and Victoria gets on the sticks early, putting two on base with no outs. This time however, there was no clutch hit, no two-out rally, no runs scored. A squandered opportunity they would repeat in the second inning.
Ballowe struggled all night to shut down batters, and like the tap in the bathroom that you can't quite turn off all the way, the 'Cats kept giving up tack-on runs to the Gems. Klamath led off the second with a home run, pushed two more over in the third, and added one more on in the 4th. Ballowe was done, he left the game at 4-2 in favour of Scott Kuzminsky who gave up one more in the 4th.
The 'Cats did finally got to Tittle in the 4th, scoring on a bases loaded walk, and yet another wild pitch. The Gems then put in an actual staff pitcher, and the rally was snuffed again, leaving the bases loaded. Tittle finished his night giving up 4 hits, 4 walks, and a wild pitch.
Kuzminsky imploded in the 7th, surrendering 4 hits and 3 key runs, and gave up one more in the 8th. The 'Cats actually scored some runs in the 7th and 8th, but could only keep pace with what they were giving up. In the end, a 9-6 loss. With any kind of pitching, this should have been an easy win for Victoria.
With a chill in the air and the threat of rain, only 885 braved the first real "pants night" in a while to sit through the mess. Fans around where I were sitting were frustrated all night, many of them commenting on the low excitement level of the game, and the lack of enthusiasm from the players.
The one exception on the night was Brandon Smith. Brandon had an outstanding game, going 4-5 at the plate, and making some hustle plays in the field. He is seeing the ball really well this week, going 8-15 since the start of the Corvalis series. An excellent turnaround from his mid-month slump that saw him go 0-20.
Alex Real continues to slump, going 0-5 at the dish - only the 4th time this season he has not reached 1st base safely in a game. His average has dropped 30 points in the last 10 games, down to .361 and sinking him to 7th place in the batting race.