Lackey gets lots of support in Salt Lake
Bees tie PCL record with two grand slams in one inning
When Brad Coon stepped into the batter's box for the Salt Lake Bees with the bases loaded in the fourth inning Tuesday, he wanted to get the ball in the air and at least bring in a run with a sacrifice fly.
Over in the Salt Lake dugout, Coon's roommate, Bobby Wilson, was thinking, "Pop one over their heads and see what happens." Coon did more than that, driving a slider that caught too much of the plate over the right-field fence for a grand slam.
Later in the inning, Wilson came to the plate with the bases reloaded.
"Hit another grand slam," a fan yelled from the stands at Spring Mobile Ballpark.
Wilson tried to block out any thoughts of duplicating his friend's performance. Like Coon, he just wanted to drive in a run.
Now it was Coon's turn to watch as Wilson hit a grand slam to left field, providing a pair of pivotal highlights in a game that saw John Lackey combine with four relievers on a one-hitter in the Bees' 13-0 rout of the Tacoma Rainiers.
"Bobby, he showed me up a little bit," joked Coon. "He took a little bit of my thunder away. We were joking around. I've always tried to hit more home runs than Bob, and everyone knows that's not going to happen."
The roommates tied a Pacific Coast League record for grand slams in a inning, joining Sacramento's Sixto Lezcano and Tommie Reynolds, who accomplished the feat on May 17, 1974, and Calgary's David Cochrane and Charles Jackson, who matched it on May 16, 1991.
The moment meant more than statistics and records for the friends, who are still trying to cope with the loss of former teammate Nick Adenhart, who was killed by a drunken driver on April 9.
"We were both teammates with Nick and it just kind of seems like Nick's been watching over us the whole time," Wilson said. "It's special."
"After we lost Nick, we became even closer because we realized how short life is sometimes," Coon added.
As for trying to outslug Wilson, Coon can't even finish the statement without chuckling.
"Me hitting a home run, period, is pretty lucky," he said. "That doesn't happen very often."
With Lackey on the mound as part of a rehab assignment, the intensity among the players picked up. Both Coon and Wilson, who hit .167 in seven games with the Angels last season, said it felt like they were playing in a big league game.
"Anytime you're playing up there with a superstar like that you want to raise your own game," Coon said. "These are some of your chances to play behind an All-Star. It definitely intensifies your game."
Lackey retired the first nine batters before walking Jerry Owens to open the fourth inning. The former American League All-Star lost his no-hit bid when Michael Saunders doubled to center field with one out in the fifth. It turned out to be the Rainiers' lone hit.
"I've been able to be around John a lot, get to know him," said Wilson, who caught the game. "Obviously, he's an All-Star, one of the premier pitchers in the game, but I just looked at it as another game. Every game, you go out there and try to prove that you're worthy to play.
"He threw everything for strikes. He threw all four of his pitches for strikes. He located. He looked good to me. I didn't see him getting tired. I didn't see his ball creeping up at all. I thought he threw the ball down in the zone and threw the ball well the whole day."
After two grand slams and a one-hitter, the only thing that could have made the night better for Coon and Wilson would have been the chance to share it with Adenhart.
"We're never going to get over it," Wilson said. "It's still tough for us, but we're going on with it and we're looking at it as Nick's watching out for us. Even early in the season I can remember a line drive and the guy lost it in the lights and I ended up getting a triple. I just feel like even though Nick's not here, he's still with us."
Mason Kelley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.