If you think the Angels' bullpen is bad, consider that of their Low-A Midwest League affiliate, the Burlington (Iowa) Bees. On Wednesday night, they helped blow a 17-1 lead in under four innings, ultimately losing to the Clinton (Iowa) LumberKings (a Mariners affiliate) 20-17 in 12 innings. The three-hour-and-28-minute game featured
horses, a man on fire, grand slams by both teams' catchers, a key homer by Burt Reynolds, five innings with at least five runs scored, and a save by Clinton's starting second baseman.
Box scores like this don't come around often. You may be surprised to learn that in a slugfest featuring 37 runs, 35 hits (five players with at least three, and 22 by the LumberKings), five homers and 12 pitchers, the wind was blowing out to centerfield at 18 mph at first pitch.
The mayhem, which took place in front of a paid attendance of 558 at Burlington's Community Field, began when the home team piled up seven runs in the second inning and one in the fourth against Clinton starter Jose Flores. Clinton got on the board with a run in the fifth, but that was answered by a nine-run outburst in the bottom of the frame, one that included catcher Cambric Moye's grand slam and a solo homer by Ranyelmy Mendoza (yes, these are real names and not leftover Scrabble tiles). Clinton's Tommy Burns was charged with six of those runs in one-third of an inning. That ran the score to 17-1.
Burlington starter Garret Nuss must have stiffened up during the rally, because he fell apart in the fifth, getting just one out while being charged with six runs, two of which came via a homer by Zach Shank, and two of which were unearned due to errors by third baseman Ismael Dionicio and rightfielder Exicardo Cayones. After a scoreless seventh, Clinton cut the lead to 17-12 with a five-run eighth against one Eswarlin Jimenez, keyed by a leadoff homer from Reynolds — not the actor but a 25-year-old ex-Rays and Yankees farmhand who grew up in Newark, N.J., with cousin Robinson Cano; via SB Nation's Eric Stephen, the Burlington PA greeted his at-bats with "Eastbound and Down."
Justin Seager, younger brother of the Mariners third baseman Kyle and Dodgers prospect Cory, kept things going by collecting the second of his four hits, three of which came amid rallies. In fact, Seager started the five-run rally in the ninth as well, collecting the first of five straight hits off relievers Ben Carlson and Alen Busenitz, the last of which was a game-tying grand slam by catcher Marcus Littlewood.
The game went into extra innings but remained knotted until the top of the 12th, when Clinton loaded the bases and Seager drove in the tie-breaking run with a groundout. Second baseman Lonnie Kauppila followed with a two-run single, and after the inning ended, manager Scott Steinmann, who had used five pitchers to that point, asked him to pitch, something he hadn't done since high school five years earlier; he had first been asked to warm up in the 11th inning. Throwing fastballs and changeups, he retired the Bees 1-2-3 to preserve the win, the occasion of which moved the Lumberkings' official Twitter feed to go all-caps: