Right before the top of the ninth inning, representatives from the Huntsman Cancer Institute stood on the field at Spring Mobile Ballpark, happily accepting a check for $7,030 from the Salt Lake Bees and team sponsors, all clad in bright pink.
Looking back on Saturday night's Bees game, that's part of what will be most memorable: the donations to help eradicate breast cancer, thousands of fans supporting the cause with their admission and bubble-gum-colored shirts, and cancer survivors standing shoulder to shoulder, singing the national anthem.
The baseball will likely be fairly forgettable. And that's all the better for the Bees (15-15), who would probably like to forget the 9-3 loss to the Tuscon Padres (12-17) pretty quickly. A night of iffy bullpen performances and not enough production at the plate added to a painfully long contest for Salt Lake.
"It's just one of those nights," manager Keith Johnson said. "We've been playing good ball, and we had a little good streak after a not-so-good streak. There were a couple choppers that got over guys' heads, a couple broken bats that got in for hits. … The innings kind of got away from us a little bit.
Starter Kip Wells gave the Bees a solid first step, getting out of a few jams to allow only one run through four innings. But he tired in the fifth, and ended up giving up two more runs. Reliever Rob Delaney gave up another.
But the game would have been manageable if not for a back-breaking sixth, when relievers Elvin Ramirez and David Carpenter combined to give up two hits, four walks and four runs. The Bees struggled to find a steady answer in the bullpen until Jeremy Berg stepped in during the seventh, and even he gave up six hits.
That, paired with underperforming bats, undid the Bees. The team scraped together seven hits, three of them in the bottom of the ninth when the game was all but out of reach. Trent Oeltjen led the team, going 2 for 3 with a single and a triple, while Jimmy Swift gave persistent fans a reason to cheer with a ninth-inning homer.
Johnson said he wasn't altogether worried about the result, and had faith that his players would be prepared for the early Sunday turnaround.
For him, being a part of the night's greater event was meaningful, even if it didn't include a victory.
"Obviously we would've liked to make a better showing and win the game give them something to cheer about late," he said. "But that being said, it's just a great opportunity for people to share their story and for us to possibly provide a little bit of relief for whatever baseball does for someone."
Padres 9, Bees 3
R The Bees donate $7,030 for breast cancer research, and players and coaches wear pink jerseys that are auctioned off for charity.