Focus On: I’m happy that happened early

Among the sold-out crowd at Memorial Stadium on Saturday was an unwelcome guest.

Some call it the first game jitters, but after a seven-error defensive performance that resulted in a 14-8 loss to Tri-City, it was more of a first-game seizure.

“I’m happy that happened early,” was what manager Franklin Font told me.

“For us, tonight was good. We saw some emotion. It was a poor defensive effort at times, as you could see in the final score. But they battled. This was their first time in front of 3,000 people. But for sure, we’re going to be all right.”

But my question is, how much does a crowd really play into it? Pitcher Jon Nagel had told me he thought the crowd was, “supportive and behind you the whole way. It was fun to pitch in front of them.”

But Font said it was more than just the attitude of the fans that may have encouraged some lax defense, it was the elements that come with pro baseball.

“You can’t always tell from the stands, but the game is coming at you real fast. But this is a smart group. They’re good players. They’ve never had seven errors in a game, and they will be good tomorrow. They were excited to see the fans, and had that excited rush. This is a different level.”

Different level for sure.

The day before, they were playing a team without matching jerseys, and they were the ones that looked defensively sound.

Nagel gave me his perspective, which was closer to the field than mine, and much more rooted in a knowledge of the guys he’s playing with.

“As a pitcher you just want to make pitches and let them handle the ball. You want to get in a groove and hope they’re staying on their toes. I mean, it’s about trust all the time. You can’t go out there and think you need to get everyone out at the plate. I know the guys behind me, and they’re all good. The only reason I’ll look good is if I trust everyone else.”

When your job is a nine-inning baseball game, and you have 75 more coming up, it makes sense to close the book after the game and start working on the next one.

I’m the lucky guy that starts his real work when the book closes, so those small notes become a lot bigger on the screen.

But the fact is, the Hawks are playing the Dust Devils for at least 27 innings this series, and after nine, the stats book have reset.

The seven errors are gone when they hit the field on Sunday, and a team without an excuse of jitters will be filling the lineup card.

“Four days ago these guys were not up here,” Font said. “Even I was somewhere else, and some of my guys were managing elsewhere. But it’s baseball. We’ll be ready tomorrow. We’re playing the same guys as we did tonight. Only, it’s going to be a different game.”

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