I got to the ballpark and had a simply terrific conversation with Manager Rodney Linares, just talking baseball. Then I did a couple of interviews with David Rollins, Brandon Meredith and Delino DeShields that I enjoyed immensely.
Before long it was getting close to time for the game and players started to filter out on the field. I hung out down by the dugout, getting some pictures and shooting the breeze with Jonas Dufek about our mutual midwestern roots.
Before you know it, it was time for the anthem and I took my seat ... front row and slightly to the left of home plate. And when I say I took my seat, that was a process that took a few minutes because of the blistering heat of the day. I don't know if that's where the phrase "hot seat" originated, but it might as well have.
But I was ready, slathered in sunscreen and wearing my floppy Panama hat and soon the action got started at about 2:01. It wasn't long before it became obvious that we were going to be treated to a pitchers' duel. Kyle Hallock was very impressive through the first few innings as was Stockton's Jake Brown. After three and a half innings, only three batters had reached base, all on errors and the scoreboard was looking like this. The time was 2:45.
In the bottom of the frame, Andrew Aplin led off with a double, ending Brown's shot at a no-hitter for the day.
Aplin then advanced on an M.P. Cokinos ground out ....
... and scored on a Preston Tucker sac fly.
Jake Brown's shot at a no-hitter might have been over, but Hallock's kept going, as he induced his last two outs of the fifth inning on a ground out and a line out.
After five innings, the scoreboard was looking like this. The time was 3:03.
Then lefty Luis Cruz came in for the sixth. Six minutes later, at 3:09, he had already retired his first three batters.
After seven innings, the scoreboard was looking like this. The time was 3:29 and Cruz had struck out his second and third batters of the day in the top of the frame.
Another six minutes elapsed and another "0." The time was 3:35.
In the bottom of the frame, Brandon Meredith singled, stole second base, and then motored around on a Matt Duffy ground out and a Delino DeShields sac bunt to score an insurance run.
I was a little wrapped up in the moment and forgot to take a scoreboard picture between innings, but this was taken at 3:53, just seconds before ...
... this happened. (I apologize for the screeching on the video.)
And then this happened ...
After the game, I headed to the clubhouse and caught up with Kyle Hallock who was as cool ...
... as Luis Cruz was excited.
I also found out it was Rodney Linares' 300th win as a Manager. A combined no-hitter, a team win (with sterling defense from Matt Duffy and Nolan Fontana, among others, and great catching from Ryan McCurdy) and a milestone for the skipper. It doesn't get much better than that.
My mother is no longer with me, and I have no children of my own. Since I think of all the Astros minor leaguers as my boys, I thought it was a fitting Mother's Day present. All I can say is ... it was a lovely day. Thank you.