I drove up to the front gate today about 90 minutes before game time and noticed a line outside the front gate of at least 100 people. There could only be one reason for that — the Erik the Peanut Guy bobblehead promotion.
I have to say, I'm not surprised. Erik is the best on-field personality I've ever seen, and his ability to connect with the fans is second-to-none.
In fact, my mother is such a fan of Erik's that she asked for one of his bobbleheads for her upcoming birthday. Of course, the fans come first, so it might be tough to come by. Maybe I can pick one up online or something.
There's a good crowd here tonight, and the giveaway was for 500, so I'm sure they're all gone.
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Something else to get excited about is a terrific pitching matchup between two first-rounders. RHP Peter Tago — a supplemental first-rounder by the Colorado Rockies in 2010 — will go for Tri-City. He'll face Salem-Keizer RHP Chris Stratton, selected by the San Francisco Giants with the 20th overall pick in this year's draft.
Tago getting some help from shortstop Rosell Herrera, who starts two double plays in the first two innings and throws out five other runners over the first three frames. Herrera could have made it six, but he threw wide of first with no outs in the third. It didn't lead to anything, however.
The Dust Devils pick up two runs in the bottom of the third. Herrera starts things off with a one-out bloop single down the left field line. Tom Murphy then rifled a hard single to center, sending Herrera to third. Miguel De Leon brought both of them home with a line-drive double to the wall in left center field.
2-0 Tri-City after three innings.
Stratton, who was on a short pitch count, left after De Leon's double. He allowed two runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings.
Tago still going and getting stronger each inning, it seems.
It's now the eighth inning, and Tago still in there throwing low-to-mid 90s and dropping in a few nasty curveballs for good measure.
As soon as he retired the first batter in the eighth, it officially became his longest start as a professional since making his debut on May 20 of last season in Asheville, when he allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings in a 3-2 home win over Lexington (Ky.).
That was also his best start as a pro. But that could very well change tonight.
Tago gets through eight scoreless, but Salem-Keizer gets one back in the top of the ninth off closer Seth Willoughby, who gave up a one-out double to Joe Rapp and then an infield single to pinch-hitter Chuckie Jones to send Rapp to third.
A wild pitch by Willouby sends Jones to second. Then a groundout to Rosell Herrera at short scores Rapp and puts Jones at third with the tying run.
But Willoughby strikes out Andrew Cain for the final out, getting him to swing at a nasty 3-2 cutter on the outside part of the plate.
Dust Devils win it 2-1.