Jitters are for rookies, and that’s one thing the Salt Lake Bees ain’t.
Tommy Field used to feel that nervous energy on Opening Day. He’s only 26, but he knows how to handle it now. And the Bees (1-0) played with composure in a 9-5 win Thursday night as the visiting Tucson Padres (0-1) had a seventh-inning meltdown.
“It’s way different than it used to be,” Field said. “I still get excited but also I know it’s a long season; I have an approach now and I let that get me through the games.”
The 8,781 fans who came to Spring Mobile Ballpark donned jackets instead of short sleeves, and the early afternoon sunshine had faded into overcast skies by first pitch.
But the baseball was worth sitting through, even bundled up under a blanket. The workmanlike Bees grabbed an early lead, provided a bit of drama late, then pulled away with runs to spare.
The Bees headed into the seventh-inning stretch tied at four runs apiece. A strong pitching start was neutralized by a swing from Rene Rivera off David Carpenter, a three-run homer off that barely flew past Trent Oeltjin’s glove as he reached over the left-field wall.
But with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, reliever Tommy Layne walked three straight batters to allow a run. Then Efren Navarro drove a ball into center that fell into Padres outfielder Daniel Robertson’s glove, then hopped out.
The Bees baserunners almost did a double-take, but three still scored.
“You see a fly ball hit like that, you expect a play to be made,” catcher Chris Snyder said. “I just kept going, and that was big.”
Navarro then scored after John Hester knocked back an RBI single, and Field reached base on another gaffe — a misjudged pop-up that was an inch away from being foul — before the Padres were able to end the inning with five runs and a bit of pride surrendered.
It was a notable flutter in an otherwise competitive game. The Bees didn’t let the Padres back in with mistakes, finishing with no errors on the night. The only other run came on a solo shot by Tuscon slugger Gregorio Petit.
“The way our guys went about their business, I was pleased,” manager Keith Johnson said. “We carried ourselves tonight. Regardless of the score, that’s all I care about as a manager: that our guys go out and compete on a nightly basis.”
It wasn’t just the 10 hits that spurred the Bees on. Starter Barry Enright struck out seven and walked one batter in just over five innings and gave up only one run on another homer. He missed the decision because of the late tie.
Storylines Bees 9, Padres 5
R A five-run seventh inning proves to be the difference for Salt Lake.
• Chris Snyder leads the team with 3 runs batted in on a single and a walk.
• Barry Enright strikes out seven, gives up only one run in the start.