I had been to Jacob’s Field back in 2002, but a lot had changed since then. They added a park behind the trees in centerfield celebrating Indians history and their stars. It is very well done and a really cool place. Didn’t think to snap any pictures of that.
They’ve also expanded the scoreboard making it the largest. But unlike the Comerica Park scoreboard which it surpassed, it displays a ton of information:
While Comerica Park does display more stats than it used to, it just never seems to effectively use all the real estate.
The other thing that was very different was the mix of fans. In 2002 the Indians were still relevant while the Tigers were still a joke. This time I saw just as much Detroit gear as Indians clothes. There were also a ton of empty seats – way more than you’d expect for a battle between the top 2 teams in the division. The announced attendance was over 30,000 but there weren’t nearly that many in the stands.
Our section was high above home plate, and it seemed that we were in Comerica Park given the mix of fans. It almost seemed like Ticketmaster gave everyone with a Michigan Ip address seats together. Despite taking over sections of the stadium, the Tribe fans we encountered were pretty friendly. I think the Cavs win over the Pistons helped to smooth any rough edges.
As for the game itself, Jeremy Bonderman was dealing. After a couple hard hit balls in the first inning, he didn’t allow another hit until the 7th. Any concerns about the blister seemed to have vanished. I did notice that Bonderman did throw at least a half dozen balls back to the umpire. There was theorizing that the stitches were higher this year, and I wonder if with returning so many balls if that’s what he was trying to avoid.
The offense continued to produce, and looking at the linescore you’d never know that the Tigers were missing 2 key components. Neifi Perez takes a lot of abuse, but he did a fine job filling in for the last week. He’s never going to hit a ton, or even a couple pounds, but that’s not really his job. He’s the last guy on the bench, and save for one error he turned in some solid defense. He also put together a few nice at-bats including a walk on Friday night well try to lay down a sac bunt. He also had an extended at-bat on Sunday where after falling behind 1-2 he saw 6 more pitches before hitting a grounder to short scoring a runner from third. He also knocked a few line drives that ended up in gloves.
Perez is the last guy on the bench and he’s getting playing time that reflects it this year. A big part of the problem last year was that Omar Infante was a better option and was left to languish on the bench due to one error while Perez continued to not produce. I’m not saying Perez is a good player, or that acquiring him was a good idea. But as the last guy on the bench, it really isn’t a big deal.