Box Score: http://www.milb.com/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2015_08_04_altaax_nbraax_1&mode=gameday
Not only is August the last month of the season for the New Britain Rock Cats but it is their last season in general as next year they will become the Hartford Yard Goats, though they will still remain the Double A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies and play the same teams as they do now. This has made this season rather special in a lot of ways and I wasn't sure how many games we'd go to in August but I wanted to try and go to at least one game per series in their final month. (Though technically they have some games in early September just not at home) The original plan was to only go to the last game of this three game series with Altoona because it is the final day game for the Rock Cats but when I saw Shane Carle listed on the MiLB app as pitching this game I bought tickets. And then the MiLB app changed and Harrison Musgrave actually started this game, Shane Carle moved to the next night with Matt Flemer ending the series with the final Rock Cats week day-day game.
I wouldn't try going to a night game and then a day game back to back (I've done it before and it's not fun for my three year old) so I knew we wouldn't be seeing Shane Carle pitch live in the middle game of this series, so yeah, doing all three games of this series was definitely not happening either. That's okay though because I had yet to see Harrison Musgrave pitch but when we met him and Quentin asked him to sign his book he was very nice and was one of the few players to give Quentin a high five. Even though I knew Harrison Musgrave was 0-2 I figured that a) He was due for a win and b) The teams he previously lost to (He gave up an 8 run inning in Binghamton) were not the current Altoona Curve. Being that this is August so much is being shifted around I just hope that the Rock Cats can maintain their core line up until the end because it'd be sad to miss some of these players in the final week and days of the season.
So how has Altoona changed as a team? Well, last time we saw them play the Rock Cats both teams were in first place of their divisions and now neither are anymore. But back then, the Curve had three Top Prospects cards and though one of them had been gone for a while I was anticipating getting both Tyler Glasnow and Josh Bell to sign their cards. I actually was on eBay looking up things and found a Josh Bell card I thought was neat so I bought it in hopes of getting him to sign it. Yeah, then less than a week before the game Glasnow and Bell both got moved up to Triple A. So there went my chances of getting them to sign their cards (Which is funny because the one I ordered on eBay didn't even come in time for this game) Luckily though, I was able to get different cards of both Barrett Barnes and Adam Frazier- two of the Curve's top players- on eBay as well as find a card in my own personal collection of Tom Prince, former MLB player and current Curve manager.
We got to the game around 6:20 or so and I headed to the visiting dug out. Barrett Barnes had just finished signing for some guys and I missed him. He went on the field to warm up so I didn't want to bother him. Adam Frazier came out though, so I called him over and then after he signed for me he signed for everyone else waiting in the wings. I actually bought my Adam Frazier card in a lot of three on eBay because it was the least expensive way to go, and I figured I could give the other two cards to kids who might be there but I didn't see any kids this time around. The day game is probably going to be "Kids Day" so we'll see then what happens. Or I just won't worry about it and will just keep the other two cards unsigned. As Barrett Barnes came back from warming up he signed for a few other fans so I got in line and got him to sign my card as well. Now during most of this, Tom Prince came out and went to the opposite end of the dug out and just sat there. No one wanted to call him over and he didn't want to move (There were people there with multiple cards of his from his playing days) so I walked over to the other side of the dug out, called him Mr. Prince and he signed his card for me. I was pleased to get all of the autographs I wanted in the first game of the series.
The game itself was quite fun. Harrison Musgrave did not pitch like someone with an 0-2 record as he struck out multiple batters and just seemed to almost coast through the game with ease. He eventually walked a few batters and had a tough spot in his final inning but that's not really a big deal because he didn't give up any runs and it was just the sign that he needed to come out the next inning, which he did. Some pitchers when they begin to go down they'll give up a bunch of runs but not Musgrave. He did rather well and I was quite impressed by him. I hope to see him back next season, giving the Rock Cats the wins that they need, but if he moves up to Triple A I also wouldn't be surprised. The Altoona pitcher was all right but the Rock Cats just seemed to get out of their offensive slump from the weekend and so they put up some much needed runs to help the stellar pitching of Harrison Musgrave. If only every game could be like this.
The Rock Cats did get into some trouble at the end of the game though. For one thing, Shane Broyles had to come in and finish out the game as the Curve had bases loaded with two outs. It was a strange situation because a grand slam would have put the Curve within one run and you didn't want to have to go to extra innings here, after how hard the Rock Cats had worked all game. Funny enough though, in the bottom of the eighth with a runner on the Curve intentionally walked Zach Osborne because the pitcher was up next and they figured with two outs he'd end the inning. Nope. Tyler Ybarra hit an RBI single and did exactly what the Curve did not want him to do and that's why perhaps they should have just taken their chances and pitched to Osborne. It was just such a strange game though because I felt comfortable and happy with the Rock Cats lead up until the top of the ninth. People left even in the seventh and they assumed the win was obvious but they never got to feel the tension that I did in the top of the ninth and isn't that what baseball is all about-- the feels?
One thing that is making me nervous now is the possibility that I might not see Shane Carle or Ryan Carpenter pitch their final home games. It will haunt me if they pitch on the road the last week of August and not at home. They actually have a four game series- I believe- with Portland to end out the month of August and their home games in general and so I hope that for two of those four games we'll see Carle and Carpenter. Though they're actually home for three games before that as well against Bowie, so maybe we'll see everyone one last time. It's the week before that when they're not home, but for a seven game stretch at home to end out the season I am going to at least go to the Shane Carle and Ryan Carpenter games. Hopefully Shane Carle may even get to pitch twice as I would have him pitch the very last game. (But they'll probably pick Matt Flemer, which is also okay)