Simply put, it was a scorching day at Smith’s Ballpark. And while fans got to sit in the shade, for the most part, and enjoy some good baseball, the players had to compete in it.
Pitchers were seen constantly wiping sweat off of their hands with their uniforms, catchers couldn’t help themselves when they would take off their gear to swiftly clear their foreheads, and the rest of the players in the dugout could be seen with their hats off due to perspiration — yeah, it was that hot.
Luckily for the 8,086 Bee faithful in attendance, rehabbing starting pitcher Cory Rasmus shook off the piercing heat to throw two near-perfect innings to help the Bees grab an 8-6 win over the Albuquerque Isotopes.
Rasmus looked sharp on Saturday night, going 2⅓ innings with five strikeouts and giving up just two hits. Additionally, the soon-to-be Angel threw 31 pitches, 25 of them strikes. In fact, Rasmus was so good that the second he was taken out for another pitcher, the next three Albuquerque batters got on base via a walk, error and triple, respectively.
“I thought it was a good outing for (Rasmus) because he got two innings in, and plus one out for a third, so I thought it was a good outing. He felt great after the outing, so everything is positive,” said team manager Dave Andersen.
Leading the way at the plate for Salt Lake was former Ute C.J. Cron, whose home run in the sixth inning broke a 6-6 tie to give the Bees the lead for good. He also doubled home an additional run earlier in the game to bring his RBI total on the day to two.
Unfortunately for the players, this wasn’t the first day of the week where the thermometer neared its peak, and the team has been preparing for the blistering heat. By cutting down batting practices and limiting activities, the Bees are able to ready their bodies for the beating sun to stay as healthy as possible.
Though they do all they can, such as staying hydrated throughout a series, sometimes the players strike out against the sun. While second baseman Alex Yarbrough hasn’t had one of these days in a while, playing in this unfortunate weather can be exhausting at times.
“I’ve definitely been there before and you just kind of feel really sluggish, out of it and counting down the minutes until it’s over,” Yarbrough said with a laugh. “I haven’t had one of those in a while, it is tough when it gets to you a little bit.”
The reason why the 23-year-old hasn’t played victim to the heat thus far is largely due to his background. Hailing from Allen, Texas — a place where humidity reigns — Yarbrough is no stranger to those heat waves that can seemingly boil an egg on a sidewalk, and has grown accustomed to the routine required to stay on top of his game.
Additionally, after being drafted, the second baseman spent time in both the California and Texas leagues before making his way to the Beehive State, both of which have seen their fair share of high temperatures. Apparently these players have it made in Salt Lake City.
“This is nice. It’s a dry heat in most of the places we play at in the PCL, so it hasn’t been terrible yet,” Yarbrough said.
Luckily in the sport of baseball, it isn’t full of constant action, giving players time to recuperate in the dugout before getting back under the sun. However, there are instances where a team will go on a roll one inning, causing the defense to stay out there longer than expected.
“When both teams are going back and forth, scoring a lot of runs, you start to feel it a little bit,” Yarbrough admitted.
That happened twice in Saturday’s game — once when the Isotopes went for four runs in the third and once more when the Bees plated four of their own in the fifth. To the dismay of the players, the anticipated temperature for Sunday afternoon's game will be just a few ticks under 100 degree, and you can bet on it rising throughout the contest.
GAME NOTES: Six Bees registered two or more hits to total 15 for Salt Lake. … SS Ryan Jackson went 3-for-5 at the plate and scored a run. … The attendance was 8,086. … The Isotopes are the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.