The last game of the minor league season is tonight in Durham, North Carolina. The PCL champion Reno Aces take on the International League champion Pawtucket Red Sox in a one-game, winner-take-all battle to claim supremacy of Triple-A Baseball.
The game will be televised live at 4:00 on the NBC Sports Channel (formerly Versus). Also, you can follow along online right here.
This is a game that feels like an exhibition when you are at it*: it’s played on a neutral field, in front of fans who don’t have a rooting interest. Because it is just one game and not a series, it is hard to really believe that a true champion is crowned.
All of that being said, the teams on the field are trying to win. Reno is taking it seriously: the Aces are trotting top prospect Trevor Bauer out there to make the start, and he’ll be free to work deep into the game if he is throwing well.
Pawtucket is starting veteran right-hander Nelson Figueroa, who went 12-5 with a 3.89 ERA as a swing-man for the PawSox this year.
I’ll be watching for sure – here are some things to look for:
- The game is played at Durham Athletic Park, one of the jewels of the International League. Look for the “Hit Bull, Win Steak” sign.
- Bauer has electric stuff and is fun to watch.
- Pawtucket’s top prospect is young power-hitting outfielder Bryce Brentz. His at-bats against Bauer should be interesting.
- Remember former Tacoma reliever Josh Fields, who was once a Mariners first round draft pick? He’s on the PawSox.
Obviously, I’m rooting for Reno today – and you should, too. Let’s show some PCL pride!
- There is a preview of the Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game on MiLB.com, and Baseball America has a preview as well. Reno manager Brett Butler clearly wants to win.
- Trevor Bauer has an unlikely connection to the Durham area due to his time with Team USA.
- The Mariners got roughed up by Baltimore last night, 10-4. Hector Noesi had an ugly start – any time the newspaper headline includes the word “meatballs” you know it was bad.
- Mariners reporter Shannon Drayer has a blog post regarding the Mariners 2013 starting rotation.
- The Mariners led all of baseball in best winning percentage in the minor leagues. Rainiers fans, I know what you are thinking: “Dang! Those lower-level teams must have been really, really good!”
- Well, I guess somebody has to be at the top of the list: according to this volcano expert, Cheney Stadium is the most likely ballpark to be wiped away by an erupting volcano in the USA. So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.**
- Former Rainiers slugger Bryan LaHair was a mid-season all-star, and now he’s just a pinch-hitter.
- Rob Neyer stuns us with an amazing bit of baseball trivia.
- In the PCL, the proposed move of the Tucson franchise to El Paso could hinge on a big city council vote tonight.
- It’s official: the Las Vegas 51s are the new Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets. The Toronto Blue Jays linked up with Buffalo.
I’ll have a recap of the title game for you on Wednesday or Thursday. Which would you rather have: a Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game trophy, or two Nine Game Mega Series trophies?
* Tacoma played in the game in 2010, when it was in Oklahoma City. The radio broadcast is a mess, as the broadcasters for the two teams are required to work together and send their joint broadcast out to both cities – and usually, they have never even met each other until the day of the game.
** in all seriousness, he notes that we would probably have months of advance warning if Rainier were to erupt. It’s not like we’ll get swept away by molten lava in the middle of the third inning or something.
I went to a game in Durham last season. Spectacular park that has transformed that part of Durham.