Bullpen Falters As Indians Lose Late

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When Charlie Morton left the game after 6 innings (76 pitches, 56 strikes), he had a 3-0 lead.� The Indians had not been getting many more runners on base than the Bats did, but they were making them count.� With one out in the bottom of the 1st, Mitch Jones skipped a grounder down the third base line, just fair as it went over the bag, and into the Indians’ bullpen.� Bats’ LF Todd Frazier dug the ball out from under the bullpen bench, but Jones was already into second base with a double.� CF Alex Presley singled up the middle, with the ball glancing off 2B Wilkin Castillo’s glove to slow it down a bit.� That gave Jones plenty of time to round third and score on the play.� Presley tried to steal second base, but was thrown out, and a pop up ended the inning.

John Bowker (photo) added a run in the 2nd inning, with a lead off homer.� His blast just barely cleared the right field wall at the 362′ sign.

IMG_4474After Bowker’s homer, the Indians’ bats were quiet for four innings.� The next 7 batters were retired in order, until RF Brandon Moss worked a walk in the 4th inning.� Moss did successfully steal second base, but he was left stranded at the end of the inning.� The Tribe went down in order again in the 5th.� Then LF Kevin Melillo rocketed another home run over the right field wall, a little to the right of where Bowker’s had landed.

Corey Hamman came on to relieve Charlie Morton to begin the 7th inning.� Hamman began his inning by giving up back-to-back singles to Wladimir Balentien and 3B Juan Francisco.� He struck out Todd Frazier for the first out of the inning. With Wilkin Castillo at the plate, Balentien stole thrid base, but Francisco did not try for second base when Jason Jaramillo threw to third base (too late to get Balentien).� That was a mistake, because it left Francisco in a position vulnerable to the double play.� Sure enough, Hamman got Castillo to ground to third base, and the infield stepped up again, with the Indians’ third double play of the game (Jones to Friday to Bowker).� Francisco’s lack of stealing second base probably cost the Bats a run.

Steven Jackson was next out of the bullpen to begin the 8th, and that’s when the trouble began.� Jackson began the inning by giving up three hard smashes into center field.� Bats’ C Corky Miller led off the inning with a huge home run to straight-away center field.� CF Alex Presley tried to leap for the ball, but he would have had to be 9 feet tall to have had any hope of making that catch.� Pinch-hitter Daniel Dorn followed the homer with a long hard fly ball over Presley’s head and to the wall, for a double.� Back to the top of the order, Dave Sappelt also hit a hard fly ball to center, but Presley was able to get to this one, for the first out of the inning.� Jackson struck out Chris Valaika next, and for a moment, it looked like he might get out of the inning without too much damage.� But the first pitch to Yonder Alonso sailed over the right field wall for the second home run of the inning, this one for 2 runs, and the game was tied at 3-3.� Wladimire Balentien also doubled, but a ground out ended the inning.

Bats’ relievers Enerio Del Rosario and Phillippe Valiquette both retired the Indians in order in their innings (7th and 8th respectively), and the score was still tied when Jean Machi took the mound to begin the top of the 9th.� Machi worked the count full, plus at least one more pitch fouled off, on each of the first three batters he faced.� He walked Todd Frazier, then Wilkin Castillo grounded to deep behind third base.� Mitch Jones came up with the ball, but Castillo was too fast down the first base line and he beat out the throw.� Corky Miller doubled down the left field line, over Jones’ head, and barely fair, and that brought in both Frazier and Castillo with the go-ahead runs.� Miller tagged up and moved to third base on a fly out, then Machi walked Dave Sappelt to put runners on the corners.� Chris Valaika hit a long fly ball to centeer field, which brought in Miller from third base.� Then Yonder Alonso grounded to deep behind second base and though Brian Friday kept another run from scoring by making a diving stop, he was not able to get the ball to first base fast enough to beat out Alonso.

That was all for Machi, who had thrown 40 pitches (23 strikes) in facing 7 batters.� Anthony Claggett, just returned from Altoona, came on to finish the inning.� He needed only 3 pitches to strike out Balentien, but the Bats had taken a 6-3 lead.

Ace reliever Arnoldis Chapman came on to finish the game for the Bats.� He was again all that he has been advertised to be, throwing most of his pitches in the 97 -99 mph range.� He struck out both Mitch Jones and Alex Presley, then got Brandon Moss to ground to second base to end the game.

The Indians’ record falls to 65- 65 with this loss.� They remain in third place in the International League West Division, 8.5 games back.� Louisville remains half a game ahead of Columbus for the lead.� Both Buffalo and Columbus won their games today, while Syracuse was off.� Columbus is leading the wild card race, with Buffalo 2 games back, Syracuse 7 games back, and the Indians 8 games back.

Photos:

Charlie Morton had two plate appearances and struck out twice;� Jean Machi and Brad Lincoln were happier before the game.

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IMG_4483Indians’ Hitting Gems of the Game:� Solo home runs by both John Bowker and Kevin Melillo.� Bowkers, in the 2nd, was his 3rd with the Indians (and 17th of the season).� Melillo’s, in the 6th, was his 9th of the season (photo).

Indians’ Defensive� Gems of the Game:� Three double plays turned by the infield, erasing troublesome base runners.� The one in the 1st (Ciraco to Friday to Bowker) was the most dramatic, in that Ciriaco had to dive for the ball, then throw back and to his side to get the ball to second base.� Those in the 4th and 7th were both around the horn (Jones to Friday to Bowker) and kept runs from scoring.

NOTES:

Reliever Justin Thomas was called up to the Pirates, and reliever Anthony Claggett was in turn promoted from AA Altoona to take his roster spot.

Radio Broadcaster Howard Kellmann interviewed Pirates’ Director of Player Development Kyle Stark in the pre-game show.� Stark had a few things to say about:

LHP Rudy Owens – Owens has been doing very well with AA Altoona, throwing very well and very efficiently.� He has been having his innings cut back (much to his dismay) but the Pirates want to be careful about his workload.� Owens has responded well to each challenge he’s been presented with this season, and the Pirates are very pleased with what he’s done this year.

Latin American scouting — The Pirates have been an increasingly consisten presence in this area of scouting, and they are very pleased with the recent signing of Luis Heredia.� Heredia is reporting to Bradenton, and Stark expects that his age (16) and cultural changes will present a unique set of challenges for both the team and for Heredia.

C Tony Sanchez has been doing well in his rehab after having jaw surgery (he was hit by a pitch and broke his jaw).� He is back to baseball activities and will be rechecked by the team’s doctors in another week or so.� The Pirates are still trying to decide whether they should have Sanchez rejoin the Bradenton Marauders and get in a week’s worth of at-bats in the final week of the season, or just hold him out that last week and focus on working in the fall leagues.

Go Tribe!

(photos by Nancy)

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Nancy Zinni

Nancy grew up in Rochester, NY, where her father indoctrinated her to the love of baseball as a small child. He taught her to keep score at the age of 5, and she hasn't stopped since. She now lives in the Indianapolis area with her husband and two sons. Nancy has followed the Indians on both the Most Valuable Network and the Bloguin group, before joining Pirates Prospects in 2011. She provides daily game recaps from Indianapolis, plus player analysis from the guys she sees live at the games.

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