Reese Kaplan -- El Paso Comeback 11-7 Win Over 51s


Sometimes the life of a reporter is a bit more challenging that you would think.  I was so looking forward to my post-game interview with the players and coaches in the locker room as the 51s were in town to play the El Paso Chihuahuas. I arrived about 90 minutes before game time and was greeted by the El Paso Chihuahuas personnel with “Yes, sir” and “Right this way, sir.” Apparently they take the media credentials seriously.  Of course, they were not aware that I was there to cover the visitors. 

I ascended to the press box level and passed all of the luxury suites on the way to the room for “Writing Media” as it says on the door. I took my place in the second level of the press tables, plugged in my laptop and prepared to cover the game. I gathered the printed press materials – rosters, game notes and empty box score form – and settled in for the experience.

I introduced myself to the assembled media personnel who, as I assumed, were all there to cover the Chihuahuas.  The El Paso Chihuahuas press room representative was very helpful and later presented me with a meal voucher to cover the cost of the ballpark food.

Just as happened last time, the reporters kind of leaned on me as a subject matter expert for the visiting Las Vegas 51s. I filled them in with details about several of the players, including starting pitcher P.J. Conlon who I was anxious to see live for the first time.

The game started off with the Las Vegas 51s rudely greeting starting pitcher Kyle Lloyd. The big righthander was leading the team in strikeouts but he was falling behind on hitters. The 51s started off with singles by Patrick Biondi and Ty Kelly, a walk to Dom Smith and then an RBI by Zach Borenstein. Lloyd recovered to fan both Bryce Brentz and Phi Evans, but Luis Guillorme delivered a single that plated two runs. Colton Plaia also fanned to end the inning, but although Lloyd struck out the side he surrendered three runs.

After P.J. Conlon manhandled the Chihuahuas in the bottom of the first, the 51s returned to tee off on Lloyd in the 2nd. Conlon himself led off with a single, followed by walks to both Biondi and Kelly, followed by a 2-run single to Dom Smith. Zach Borenstein then slugged a double driving in two more runs and the 51s were off to a 7-0 start.

It turned out that it was not the cakewalk that the Chihuahuas feared as they tied their record comeback by tying the game by the 4th inning after some defensive miscues by Dom Smith and Colton Plaia helped contribute to the onslaught.

Kevin McGowan followed Conlon and uncorked a wild pitch on his very first delivery. They then issued an intentional pass to rightfielder Franmil Reyes, setting up a 1-2-3 double play off the bat of Nick Schulz. Maybe it would turn into a good game after all.

Unfortunately for the 51s it was pretty much downhill from there with McGowan and Matt Purke tagged for runs putting the Chihuahuas ahead for good. In fact, the only highlights to follow were the stellar inning by Tim Peterson in which he fanned the side and the erratic but successful Drew Smith who lit up the radar gun. The final score was a losing one, 11-7.

Thinking that after a devastating loss the players and coaches would not be the most hospitable, I kind of scrambled for who I could interview that might be in a good mood. I was able to snag Tim Peterson for a few minutes of one-on-one time to discuss his outstanding 2017 season and his strong start to 2018.

Peterson attributed his success to two factors – pitching coach Glen Abbott’s confidence in him which in turn made trust his ability. “I went to the change-up more often which helped set up my other pitches,” said Peterson.

We talked about some of the other pitchers. Peterson opined, “I wish I had Drew Smith’s electric arm.” Indeed, Smith was impressive with high velocity and great movement. He also said he was impressed with how in command Corey Oswalt can be.

During the game it appeared that Dom Smith is perhaps a work in progress defensively. While he made a slick scoop of a Ty Kelly throw in the dirt that surprised and impressed everyone in the press box. However, he also missed a looper to shallow righthat the hometown scorer generously called a hit. He also nabbed a pickoff throw to 1st, throwing down to second to get the would-be base stealer but the throw went into left center field.

One final note – yesterday I’d said that the radar results for Corey Oswalt looked subpar. I asked the assembled media folks and they all chimed in that you should add about 4 mph to anything you see posted. That would indeed have had Oswalt’s actual numbers hitting the low 90s. (It also would have had Drew Smith threatening to hit triple digits.)


Mack Ade said...

Great stuff.

Everybody used to wonder why i started leaving the Sand Gnats game after the 3rd inning (after arriving at the stadium each day at 2pm for a 7pm start).

Writing and filing 800 words after a game that ended past 11pm takes it toll.

Thomas Brennan said...

Reese rocked it, and I was glad to see Oswalt was in the low 90s after all.

Peterson's envy of Drew Smith's high velocity is certainly understandable, but he is the best Tim in the organization, hands down.

Reese, how was the free food?

How can Smith, when drafted, be thought of as a potential Gold Glover, but afterwards 4 full years, not be a dazzling fielder at this point.

Reese Kaplan said...

In addition to the usual ballpark hot dogs and popcorn, the Chihuahuas worked with some local restaurants to provide better-than-average cuisine choices (if you have deep pockets). The signature Home Run Nachos are a huge hit, with somoked brisket, cheese, onions and jalapenos served in a plastic Chihuahuas dog dish :)

William Peterson said...

Reese, Thank you for the interview with my son Tim. He has really worked hard to get where he has and could throw harder but learned that command is much more important than speed.

Thomas Brennan said...

We all hope to see him in the Mets PEN in Queens this year, William. He certainly has been successful.

Reese Kaplan said...


It was a pleasure to spend a few minutes with him. He was personable and upbeat despite the team blowing a 7 run lead. He was flawless in his i inning of work and I complimented him on how everything finally clicked for him last year. This year, despite the pitching hell that is Las Vegas, he's picked right up where he left off. Hopefully I'll get some more time with the players today, though the Chihuahuas are off to a 2-0 lead after 2 innings.

bill metsiac said...

It's now 3-0, without the excuse of the Vegas air stopping the knuckler. 😨

Mack Ade said...

I always try to remind people here just how many players, and members of their families, read Mack's Mets.

This was a perfect example.

Thomas Brennan said...

I believe Bartolo Colon is perfect against the Astros thru 7. Jeez.

Thomas Brennan said...

Tim Peterson another perfect inning, two more Ks today. Wow. What a season start.

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