Spirits in Memphis are still high even though the ‘Topes are still looking for a win in this series after being held to four hits on each of last two nights. In fact, AutoZone Park is starting to become a house of horrors for the Isotopes, who have lost four straight games here, dating back to last season (including the playoffs). Overall, including last year’s post-season, Albuquerque has dropped five straight games to the ‘Birds.
For most of the players, Wednesday was a day to relax a little since it will be the team’s last night game of the trip. Tomorrow, the Isotopes will have to be at the ballpark early for a matinee that features a 1:05 PM first pitch local time so today was really their last chance to sleep in. Many enjoyed a late lunch at one of the many nearby restaurants before arriving at the ballpark in time for stretch at 4:00 PM.
Despite the offensive doldrums, batting practice was lively and spirited, with Jamie Hoffmann and John Lindsey both crushing the ball. Another highlight was hitting coach John Moses getting in the cage to take some cuts against Tim Wallach while the manager was throwing to his group. Moses did pretty well despite not getting a chance to warm up, dumping a couple of Wallach offerings into right field. Most of the talk around the cage centered around the enigma that is Wednesday night’s Redbirds starter Evan MacLane, who has flummoxed the Isotopes of late. It was MacLane who authored the shutout in game three of the PCL playoffs that sent the ‘Topes home after a 1-0 loss at AutoZone Park. As J.D. Closser mentioned during BP, “We owe this guy.” We’ll see if payback is in the offing.
Incidentally, with due respect to good folks at Ovations who provide the nightly press box meal at Isotopes Park, the food in the press box at AutoZone Park is by far the best in the Pacific Coast League. Tonight, visitors were treated to a traditional southern meal complete with fried chicken, fried catfish, mashed potatoes and gravy, and hush puppies. Combine that with the usual AutoZone press box snacks that include chips, dips, popcorn, pretzels, and the thickest, most delicious chocolate chip cookies you ever laid eyes on, and you have a gastrointestinal dream. It also means I’m going to have to increase the mileage on my daily run tomorrow morning.