HARTFORD, April 5 – As much as we want spring to arrive, it’s not here yet. Baseball, the game we enjoy on warm summer nights with a slight breeze slicing through Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford, is back for 2018 along with our Hartford Yard Goats.
It still didn’t stop the cold. The Yard Goats opened their second season at Dunkin’ Donuts Park Thursday night despite 39 degree temperatures and a 16 mile per hour gusts of wind that made it seem like it was in the mid 20s.
Yard Goats shortstop Brandon Rodgers wore a thermal winter mask for most of the game – one of those masks that covers your head, your nose and mouth. Some of his teammates had similar masks to cover their heads.
The New Hampshire Fisher Cats didn’t look much more comfortable, either. But they rapped out 11 hits and six Fisher Cats pitchers struck out 12 Hartford batters to lead the visiting Fisher Cats to a 6-0 win over the Yard Goats in the Eastern League opener for both teams.
The Yard Goats sold out the park but the cold kept many fans away. And there many fans that watched the game from the warmth of the Yard Goats Coliseum Club while they enjoyed some dinner and a few frosty beverages.
New Hampshire, the Double A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, scored the only run it would need in the fourth inning when highly-touted Blue Jay prospect Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., doubled and scored on a two-out double from teammate Lourdes Gurriel.
Guerrero’s father, Vladimir, played 16 seasons in Major League Baseball with Montreal, Anaheim and Texas. He was just elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in January and will be inducted this summer in Cooperstown.
Gurriel led the Cats with two hits, two doubles and two RBI. Cavan Biggio was 2-for-4 with a double, a single and two RBI for New Hampshire, which was beginning their 15th season in the Eastern League. Cavan is the son of former Houston Astros Hall of Fame second baseman Craig Biggio.
Hartford’s two best scoring chances came in the second and third innings but they left runners stranded on first and third base in both innings. Center fielder Yonathan Daza had two of the six hits for the Yard Goats in his Eastern League debut.
New Hampshire’s Francisco Rios, 22, struck out a team-high five batters in four innings of work. Justin Shafer, who pitched 1 1/3 innings, struck out another three batters and secured the victory.
For the Yard Goats, southpaw Jack Wynkoop had his first Opening Day start. He went four innings and allowed six hits and two runs. He walked one and didn’t have a strikeout. It is the second season for Wynkoop in Hartford. A year ago, he was 5-11 with a 4.44 ERA in 24 starts. The Yard Goats are the Double A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.
Weather permitting, game two of the four-game series will be Friday night at Dunkin’ Donuts Park beginning at 7:05 p.m. Ryan Castellani will make the start for Hartford while Jordan Roman will pitch for New Hampshire. A mix of snow and rain is predicted to fall in the central Connecticut area on Friday.
The game can be heard on News Radio 1410 AM and on the iHeart Radio app. The game will be televised by Vantage SportsNet and video stream of the game can be viewed on MiLB.tv.
NOTES: Hartford played in front of 41 sellout crowds a year ago. … The Fisher Cats are 10-5 in season opening contests. … This was the fifth time that New Hampshire opened the season in Connecticut. New Hampshire played their first-ever game at New Britain Stadium against the Rock Cats on April 8, 2004. … New Hampshire spoiled Hartford’s first game at Dunkin’ Donuts Park last April with a 7-2 victory on April 13. … The Fisher Cats won 11 of the 19 games the teams played a year ago. … Six players in Hartford’s Opening Day lineup last April have reached the major leagues.
New Hampshire 7, Hartford 0
New Hampshire (1-0) 001 130 100 – 6-11-2
Hartford (0-1) 000 000 000 – 0-6-2
Francisco Rios, Justin Shafer (5), Craig Breslow (6), Dusty Issac (7), Jose Fernandez (9) and Patrick Cantwell; Jack Wynkoop, Marc Magliano (5), Logan Cozart (7), Max Schuh (9) and Chris Rabago; WP: Shafer (1-0); LP: Wynkoop (0-1); 2B: Lourdes Gurriel (NH) 2, Cavan Biggio (NH); 3B: none; HR: none; A – 6,518 (sellout)