Sunday, July 4, 2010

Quick Summary of the Last Two Days

This will be a quick summary of the last two days.  Each day will get it's own blog post in the next few days.  It's been a busy last couple of days on our baseball trip.  Day two started out by leaving Cumberland and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and heading up the really beautiful and historic Route 40 to Pittsburgh.   It's very hilly and there seems to be a lot to do with Laurel Caverns and the such.  You can make a nice vacation out of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, Laurel Caverns and a Pirates game.

In Pittsburgh, we met up with my Uncle Elmer and Aunt Syl at an Eat and Park in Etna, PA.  It was good catching up with them and my Uncle Elmer was kind enough to show us Mount Washington which overlooks Pittsburgh.   Just terrific views from up there.

From, there it was on to PNC park, which is my favorite baseball park.  Just  look at the view to the left.  It's truly amazing.  And it's small and you can walk around most of the ball park.  Even better, it's right down by the water and there is a great walkway along the river.  In fact, they were setting up for a regatta there on Friday night.

As noted by my previous post,you know a team is playing well when it's fans show up in abundance on the road.  Well, a lot of Phillie fans took the trip from Philly to Pittsburgh.  It was a sea of red, as the majority of the fans were Phillie Fanatics.  In fact, when the Phillie fans started a "Let's Go Phillies!" chant, the Pirates fans could not drown them out.

As for the game itself, it was surprisingly another low scoring affair.  It was certainly surprising in that you had two starters entering the game with an ERA of over 4.00 with Jamie Moyer and Ross Ohlendorf.  So a 2-0 game was the last thing we expected. Ohlendorf struck out eight though and the Pirates scratched out two runs on an infield hit and a throwing error by Moyer.

The Phillies were without Chase Utley and Placido Polanco in their lineup, with both players having been recently placed on the DL. And it seemed their five through eight hitters in the lineup were unusually light hitting for them.  But the Phillies made up for it yesterday by scoring twelve runs.  Still the loss of Utley for eight weeks will hurt the Phils.

We left PNC and headed to Maumee, Ohio, which is right outside of Toledo to stay in another Fairfield hotel.  This was under renovation, so we quickly left in the morning.  Our original goal was to go to a shopping mall and spend the afternoon putzing around before we headed to Detroit.  But along our GPS guided way, we literally stumbled upon the Toledo Zoo!

It was a nice zoo and for the price ($11 adults, $8 children), you can't beat it.  We spent a good three hours there and there are lots of things for the kiddies to do especially.  And yes, it was fun for two forty four year old guys too.  I just wish I had my two young sons with me.  They would have enjoyed this greatly.

From there, we traveled the literally one hour drive to Detroit to Comerica Park. After eating at a very nice sports bar literally across the street, we made our way to the ball field.  Comerica is now the 15th MLB ballpark I have been to over the years (including the now extinct Shea and Old Yankee Stadium).  And number 15 may now be number one with me.

Comerica is sooo well done.  From the giant tiger at the entrance to the park, to the tiger carousel in the food court, to the ability to walk around the ENTIRE ballpark in an entire unobstructed route, and to the historic decade chronicling centerpieces in the walkway, it's just such a great ballpark to soak up and enjoy.

Just like our trip to the zoo, it was smouldering hot in Comerica.  And we had great seats, box seats, eight rows from the field down the third base line, in short left field.  And the sun was shining down right in our view of home plate for the first four innings, so I am glad we had our sunglasses.  Unlike our first two games, the opposing team's fans had no presence at  Comerica whatsoever  In fact, I don't remember seeing a Mariner fan there at all.

As for the game itself, well Justin Verlander was dealing against a very weak Seattle lineup.  When your cleanup hitter is hitting .234, you know your lineup is not so good.  And Verlander took advantage, striking out ten Mariners in seven innings.  The Tigers got to Jason Vargas for two runs in the fourth and four runs in the fifth.   It was the first time that Vargas had given up more than three earned runs in a start since his first start of the season, a span of 14 starts.  That's a pretty impressive streak. 

The Tigers are equally impressive though.   With Miguel Cabrera having a MVP season, Austin Jackson looking like a steal of a deal from the Yanks, and Brandon Boesch looking like the second coming of Mike Greenwell, but bigger in size, the Michigan Kitties could be the best team in the AL Central.  And if they keep getting the pitching from Verlander and Max Schwerzer the night before, they will be tough to beat.

We left after the sixth inning with the Tigers up 6-0 (they would win 6-1) so that we could make the four hour trip to Chicago.  Including a stop for gas and to clean off the windshield and the front of the car for all the bugs I hit in the highways of Michigan (god there were a lot of bugs flying on the highway), we made it in exactly four hours.

We made it to our hotel, the Omni, then proceeded to step out and walk around town, ending up in Pippin's on Rush Street till 2:00 am this morning.  I write this blog article from the very nice suite we are in the Omni.  Tieff is still sleeping as I write this.  Today it's Wrigley and tonight it's the fireworks show on Lake Michigan.  Not a bad way to spend the fourth.

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