The Cubs scored five runs in the 11th and improved to 8-1 against the Brewers (who are 38-19 against everyone else).

eagles_087The Cubs also became the first team to beat the Brewers this year in a game Josh Hader pitched. Chicago tied the game with a run off Hader in the eighth.

Not to be confused with Jack Bauer: Jake Bauers has been one of my favorite sleeper prospects in the minors. He has put up solid, if unspectacular numbers as he has progressed, but he has always been young for his league. He’s still just 22 and in his fifth major league game cracked his first home run while adding a double and two walks in an 8-4 win over the Blue Jays:

Miracle Mariners: The Mariners began their tough stretch of 13 games against the Angels, Red Sox and Yankees with a 5-3 win over the Angels as Nelson Cruz swatted two home runs.

So when I heard back in early March that the Syracuse Chiefs the Triple-A affiliate of MLB’s Washington Nationals had added a Brannock Device Night to their 2018 promotional calendar, I knew I had to get in touch with their GM, Jason Smorol. By the time we were done talking, I’d convinced him that the team should go all-in by doing one of those one-game rebrandings that minor league theme nights sometimes entail, and he had invited me to come up and throw out the first pitch.

This is a story about how a minor league team goes through all the steps and approvals needed to do one of those one-game makeovers, from changing the team name to designing special uniforms. It’s also a story about how local culture and local businesses intersect with minor league baseball. And yes, it’s also a story about how my compulsive preoccupation with a metal foot-measuring gizmo led me to throw out the first pitch at a Triple-A ballgame.

Jason Smorol thought he was done with minor league baseball. He had worked for a variety of Single-A teams in the 1990s and early 2000s before leaving the industry so he could spend more time with his young children. He’d been working for a construction equipment company for about a decade when the Syracuse Chiefs came calling in 2014.

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