2016 was the first season for the Hartford Yard Goats, the Eastern League’s AA affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. With Dunkin’ Donuts Park’s opening delayed and the team playing the entire 2016 season away from their real home, I wasn’t following the team as closely and did not make it to any games even when they played in New England – be it Norwich, CT or Manchester, NH. 2017 is a completely different story and that’s a good thing! DDP is open and one of Minor League Baseball’s newest gems. See my story from last month in which I wrote about the Dunkin’ Dounts Park Opening Night experience. I’ve already been to 4 Yard Goats games this year and expect to make several more. It’s a great atmosphere for any baseball lover and I encourage anyone to check out the new ballpark if you’re within driving distance.
Now that we’re a couple months into the season I started thinking about some of the different standout performances (either by a Yard Goats player or opponent) and even some of the hard-to-believe or crazy/rare moments. There’s so much going on in Hartford I wanted to do a quick rundown. Remember, #NoGoatsNoGlory!
I was in attendance on Tuesday, May 2nd when the Portland Sea Dogs were in town. My beloved Red Sox AA affiliate boasts their #1 prospect Rafael Devers. And boy did he go off and show us why he’s hopefully the heir apparent at 3B in Boston once the club decides he’s ready because Panda, Marco, Marrero and Co. are not cutting it at the hot corner. On this night Devers was 5-for-5 with 11 total bases, including 2 HR and 4 RBI. Just on that night he raised his average from .273 to .324. It was one of the best offensive performances I’ve seen in a long time.
On May 12 the 6,655 in attendance at DDP witnessed a thriller. I was not there but fans got an 8 inning pitchers duel between Hartford’s Jack Wynkoop and Erie’s Myles Jaye. Seawolves OF Mike Gerber hit a solo shot to put Detroit’s AA affiliate up 1-0 in the 9th inning, but then Yard Goat Dillon Thomas hit a dramatic walk-off HR to seal a 3-1 Yard Goats victory. That was probably what wrestling fans call the “biggest pop” of the season to date at that point.
On May 26 in Binghamton against the Rumble Ponies, Yard Goats Josh Fuentes had what appears to be one of the craziest strikeouts, at least one of the craziest I’ve ever seen. Pitcher Corey Burns seemed to have lost his footing and basically let the ball fall out of his hands. As the ball was on the ground and slowly rolling away, Fuentes who was still standing in the batter’s box actually swung the bat and guess what? The umpire called it strike three! If you haven’t seen it yet here’s the entire at bat. Fuentes drills a long drive to left, barely foul, on the previous pitch which makes the strikeout even harder to swallow if you’re a Yard Goats fan.
The Richmond Flying Squirrels (San Francisco Giants’ AA affiliate) were in Hartford recently and shortstop Rando Moreno was in the right place at the right time on June 1st. He didn’t have to do too much and was on the starting end of what is likely one of the easiest triple plays you’ll see in this great game we love.
These are just a few of the exciting moments our newly beloved Hartford Yard Goats have been involved in so far this season. How many more special moments will happen right in front of our eyes in 2017? I’m expecting several more and banking on seeing something wild next week when the Trenton Thunder (Yankees AA affiliate) come to town.
Article featured image of Yard Goats P Yency Almonte – photo credit Scott Greene (@Scotty_Ballgame)