Syracuse Chiefs: Opening Day Heroics

It wasn’t always pretty, but the Syracuse Chiefs improved their record to 5-2 with a win over the Norfolk Tides. It took extra innings the Chiefs got it done. From a rescheduled start time that pushed the game back due to weather to a rain-delayed first pitch, it seemed like Opening Day would never come. Though the team made some mental mistakes in the field, they were able to reward fans who stuck it out with a victory.

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The Good

Going 4/6 at the plate, 3B Adrian Sanchez was the hero of the game. Thanks to starting the 10th inning with a runner in scoring position, Sanchez’ base hit single in the bottom of the 10th would be the deciding factor. He led the Chiefs to victory pushing his batting average to .357 with 2 singles and 2 doubles. 

Opportunity was there for the Chiefs and they took advantage of it. Overall the team is batting .271 but batters would go 6/16 (.375) with runners in scoring position. Tallying 14 hits through the 10th, the Chiefs would compensate for the fielding errors and Tommy Milone’s now 6.10 ERA.

The new netting behind hope plate looks great! Stretching from home dug out to visitor dug out   you can barely tell its there while watching the game. The elimination of the overhead netting behind home plate allows foul balls into the stands to be caught no matter where you sit. 

The Bad

Andrew Stevenson’s struggles at the plate continued for the Syracuse Chiefs. While patient enough to work a walk in the fourth inning, it would be his only trip on base. After a second strike out looking in the bottom of the 6th, Stevenson would slam his bat down in frustration and promptly get tossed by Home Plate  Ump Charlie Ramos. Going 0-3 Stevenson’s average falls down to .115 as frustration begins to mount.

The Chiefs pitchers struggled with consistency. After Milone left after the 5th, reliever Jaron Long didn’t look much better. The duo would combine for 7 hits and 6 earned runs through 7 innings. Luckily for them there’s plenty of season left and while alarming on paper, cold weather games are never too kind to young pitchers. Plenty of good pitches came across the plate and the strikeouts were there. Hopefully “sun’s out, guns out” will change their fortune come midseason.

The Noteworthy

Catcher Spencer Kieboom, who’s fighting off a .167 batting average, might see a stretch of good luck. His average might not be enough to write home about, but twice he was able to come up big for the Chiefs. With a long double in the bottom of the third a hard hit fielders choice in the bottom of the 7th. A fielder’s choice doesn’t help the average but with a “glass half full” approach, his opening day minor victories could get him back on track at the plate.

Improving to 5-2 the Syracuse Chiefs will play their second home match up against the Norfolk Tides at 1:05 at NBT Bank Stadium. 

The Fan Experience (editor’s note)

One of the hardest parts about covering sports is not letting the fan in you sway your opinion. When it comes to the new extra innings base runner, the pitch clock (timer between pitches), and the between inning’s timer things seemed a little odd. Does it help speed up the pace of the game? Sure, but with the game starting at 7pm and finishing extra innings at 10:15 at night, it was still a 3+ hour game at the stadium.

Even the extra base runner changes the dynamic of the game. Seeing it first hand for, it’ll change the way teams strategize in extra innings. A perfectly placed bunt single by Alex Dunlap was enough to move the runner over in the 10th. From there a sac-fly could’ve won the game. Even without the bunt, two sac-fly balls would be deep enough to move the runner. Gone might be the days of 12, 13, or 14+ days of extra innings baseball. We’ll see just how much these rules effect close games down the stretch.

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