Focus On: Home sweet home
Depending on who you ask, Boise is a special place.
The Boise Hawks sure seem to like it. After beating the Eugene Emeralds 6-3 on Wednesday, they moved to 5-6 on the year at home.
That may not seem like something to brag about, but considering the 1-7 record on the road, two wins would be boast-worthy.
But, after talking to Casey Kopitzke last night, it seems that it may have less to do with playing at home, and more that home just happened to be where they played when they started winning.
“I don’t know if it’s different at home,” he said.
In fact, he explained that it may have more to do with the fact that pitching usually puts them out of games early in losses, and the three games they won this week were games they were never out of.
The team seems to go without hits completely until they’re needed.
They haven’t hit a home run at home since August 28th of 2008. That’s 104 consecutive innings at Memorial Stadium that has gone without the home crowd seeing what pleases them most.
Yet, Wednesday’s 3,802 crowd was a season high.
Who knows. Maybe there is something special about Boise. It may have nothing to do with what the players are seeing, it may have to do with what the crowd is becoming.
Is Boise suddenly a small-ball city? Has the home run left the park for good?
Garden Citi-Field, as I’ve begun to call the suddenly cavernous stadium, seems to have some sort of effect on the Hawks, whether they notice it or not.
Kopitzke was certain the team has had the same fire they have now, when they were losing.
But I didn’t see it. I saw players giving up.
Now I see players making good decisions on the basepaths. I see Jose Valdez at first and then running for third in the time it takes for me to look up.
I’m not suggesting they’re on a tear, but they are 5-3 in their last eight games at home. Clutch hits are beginning to come, and Hak-Ju Lee is starting to show more brilliance at shortstop than Keystone Cop.
So I guess we’ll see. Now they head to Canada and try to keep their solid playing.
Consistency has been a problem.
But if Kopitzke is right, it won’t take the friendly confines of home to keep the winning happening.
If he’s right, it’s going to follow them.
And as the GM of the Hawks, Todd Rahr, says, “They’re only two games out of second place.”