The last several years the Boss and I have been able to be at the Vic for opening night. While we were unable work that out this year, she was able to buy us tickets for the third game of the opening series against the Tribe’s old nemesis, the Toledo Mudhens. It was a lovely night —a clear sky with a spring chill in the air. The full moon was visible. The official attendance was 6,479. Texan Tyler Eppler was on the mound for the Tribe. In his first start for the Tribe. Tyler is 6’ 6” and weighs 220 pounds and a southpaw so he is hard to miss. The top of the first went smoothly for Eppler, three up three out for the Hens. The home team came up. Lead off batter, second baseman Max Moroff got hold of a Chad Bell fastball and knocked it out over the left field wall into a group of picnickers for a home run. This was Moroff’s third homer in as many games so he is a man for opposing pitchers to take note of and handle with care. Then it got down to a defensive battle and pitchers duel. The Indians had taken the first two games of the series, winning 7-4 on opening night, and 5-4 in game two so the Hens were out to redeem themselves. Eppler pitched strongly for five and half innings, but Angel Sanchez Leon came in to relieve Eppler and preserve the one run lead. It was in the 7th inning that the Hens found their groove and got two scores off of Sanchez to take the lead. The Toledo pitchers were able to keep the Indians at bay for the last two innings to preserve the one run lead and take the win.
Okay, so the Tribe lost. But that isn’t the point. The point is to be out there with the team and the other fans. You can feel the energy, share the joy, and commiserate the loss. The Boss was able to have her beer and popcorn. I did kind of break tradition just a bit. Instead of my usual foot long hot dog (the line at the hot dog stand was a mile long), I got a double cheeseburger and Tribe Tots. Apparently the concessions are selling tator tots rather than fries. I also got my Diet Pepsi in a souvenir cup. I was able to work out a 90 days same as cash payment plan. Anyway, it was fun just being there with the Boss, just her and I ….. and of course the 6,477 other fans.
Hinchcliffe wins the Long Beach Grand Prix
Canadian James Hinchcliffe took his Sam Schmidt Dallas Honda to his first IndyCar victory since 2015 last Sunday. It was Hinch’s first victory since his 2015 win at the NOLA Sports Park for the Louisiana Grand Prix. It was also his first since his nearly fatal crash at Indy later in the sprng of 2015.Hinch now has five career IndyCar wins on his resume. It was also the second victory in a row for the Honda engine, matching their 2015 season total. St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais finished second, giving him the series point lead after two races. Scott Dixon lead most of the first half of the race and held on for fourth.
Will Power continued his run of bad luck, tangling with Charlie Kimball on the first lap. Kimball was eliminated and Power’s time in the pits for repairs put him out of contention. Power accused Kimball of being the most dangerous driver on the track. They have tangled before. Pole winner Helio Castroneves finished 9th. Josef Newgarden held up Team Penske honors with a third. Defending Series champ Simon Pagnaud finished 5th.Rookie Ed Jones, driving for Dale Coyne, finished 6th. Jones is the series’ only rookie this year but he is handling himself very well.
Andretti Autosports had what you could charitably call an “off” day. In addition to Kimball, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Takumo Sato experienced mechanical difficulties. Marco Andretti had handling problems and finished 20th.Ed Carpenter’s lead driver J.R. Hildebrand made contact with the wall and broke his hand. He could be out for as many as six races, leaving Carpenter scrambling to find a capable replacement driver.
James Hinchcliffe is an extremely likable driver, and his Dancing With the Stars accomplishments have given him a high profile. Sam Schmidt is one of the really good people in IndyCar racing so it was a well received win for everyone. Next stop is the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 23 at the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.