The only thing missing from the summer of 2006, in which yours truly, a group of friends, and a chocolate cutie became part of the city’s long list of baseball characters was a season like this.
On Friday night, in front of 5,682 at Autozone Park, the Redbirds, who last hosted a game after Labor Day in 2000, swept the Isotopes to give them the PCL American Conference Championship (which is the equivalent of the AL or NL pennant in MLB).
David Freese, who had some big hits for the ‘Birds in the final weeks of the season, on the first pitch he sees cranks a home run to right field, almost in the same area that Albert Pujols’ blast landed ten years ago.
And the Isotopes, who blew a 3-run lead in the 9th inning Thursday, couldn’t get their bats going against Evan McLane, who was masterful on the mound last night for Memphis, striking out 6 and only allowing 5 hits and three batters past first base.
In the 9th inning, closer Pete Parise came in and shut it down, allowing no hits and giving the Redbirds their second American Conference title in franchise history and four days off until the beginning of the PCL championship series, which will be played on the 9th anniversary of Pujols’ homer.
With the way Sacramento played last night against Tacoma in their series, the RiverCats could close it out on tonight at Raley Field. The RiverCats pounded the Rainers 13-2 on the strength of home runs from Chris Carter, former Redbird Brett Wallace, and Mike Carson. Going to the mound tonight for the RiverCats will be Shawn Chacon and for the Rainers will be Gaby Hernandez. Game time is at 10:05 p.m. Memphis time.