Surprise Saguaros

After checking in quickly at my Scottsdale hotel this morning, I drove to Surprise to attend a 12:35 PM ballgame. I arrived at Surprise Stadium about 10 minutes before the first pitch.

The Surprise Saguaros are 1 of 6 teams in the Arizona Fall League, which is a showcase for the top players in minor league baseball. All 6 teams in the Arizona Fall League are located in the Phoenix metro area. During my week in the Valley of the Sun, I’ll attend 1 game at each of the league’s 6 ballparks. This afternoon’s game featured the Mesa Solar Sox and the Surprise Saguaros. I’m an Oakland A’s fan, so I was interested in seeing the Mesa team play because the A’s players in this league were assigned to play for Mesa.

The game was a pitcher’s duel for 7 innings and then both team’s bats woke up for the last 2 innings. Mesa defeated Surprise by a final score of 8-5. Box Score

The fast pace of today’s game was refreshing. The Arizona Fall League uses a pitching clock. When the catcher throws the ball back to the pitcher, the pitcher must make his next pitch within 15 seconds. If a ball is put into play, the pitcher must make his next pitch within 30 seconds of the end of the previous play. The pitching clocks are located on the outfield scoreboard and on the backstop behind home plate, so everybody can see the countdown easily.

In today’s game, the two teams combined for 13 runs and 22 hits but the total game time was less than 3 hours. In the major leagues, where there is no pitching clock, a game with this many hits and runs and pitching changes would probably last 4 to 4.5 hours.

After the ballgame at Surprise, I drove back to my hotel in Scottsdale. I was back in my room at 5:00 PM to watch game 7 of the World Series. I fell asleep a couple of times but I saw most of Houston’s historic victory. Then, having been up since 2:00 AM, I crashed out for the night.