Indianapolis Indians 2, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs 0
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Brian Burres earned his 5th win of the season tonight, but his first of the season at Victory Field, as the Indians beat the Iron Pigs, despite being out-hit 6-5.
Burres came into the game with a 4-9 record, but just happened to have earned all four of those wins on the road. He pitched a season-high 8 shutout innings and struck out a season-best 9 batters to earn that elusive home win.
Burres’ toughest inning was the top of the 1st. Former Indy Indian CF Rich Thompson began the game with a line out right to Tribe 2B Jordy Mercer. 2B Josh Barfield ripped the first pitch he saw down the left field line and into the Indians’ bullpen for a double. LF Domonic Brown lifted a fly ball into center field. CF Alex Presley came charging in, but the ball hit his outstretched glove, then fell out of the webbing and to the ground. That gave the Iron Pigs runners on the corners and one out — after just 4 pitches. Burres got himself settled down, then struck out former Indy Indian RF Brandon Moss for the second out of the inning. He got out of the jam when yet another former Indy Indian 3B Tagg Bozied bounced to second base, for a force out at second base.
Burres scattered four more hits over the next three innings. 1B Cody Overbeck slipped a low liner back up the middle with one out in the 2nd inning, but was left on base when Burres struck out the next two batters. Domonic Brown faced an overshifted infield in the 3rd inning, with 3B Pedro Alvarez moved way over to where a shortstop would usually play. So Brown smacked a grounder about 10 feet off the third base line and into the outfield, well out of Alvarez’s reach, for a double. Brown stole second base, but was left stranded on third base. Overbeck and SS Freddie Galvis hit back-to-back singles with two outs in the 4th. A strikeout to Iron Pigs’ starter Ryan Edell ended that threat.
Over the next four innings, Burres did not allow a hit, and had only two batters reach base. He walked Bozied in the 6th, but eliminated him when former Indy Indian C Erik Kratz bounced into a double play. Domonic Brown reached base in the 8th, on a throwing error by 1B Matt Hague when he fielded a grounder wide of first, but his throw to Burres was in the dirt. But Brown was again left stranded, when Burres ended the inning with a strikeout. Moss ran the count full, then fouled off more pitches, before being caught looking for strike three. As the Indians headed back to the dugout, Moss argued heatedly with home plate umpire David Soucy, and it didn’t take Soucy long to eject Moss from the game.
The Indians’ batters had a little more success with their early-inning rally. After going down in order in the bottom of the 1st, RF John Bowker led off the bottom of the 2nd with a double to the base of the right field wall. Hague grounded to third, but 3B Bozied’s throw to first bounced in the dirt and got past 1B Overbeck. That gave Bowker the chance to advance to third, and Hague was safe at first. With runners on the corners and no outs, Alvarez struck out. C Dusty Brown came through with a double rocketed off the wall in the left-center gap, just to the right of the Jackie Robinson “42”. Both Bowker and Hague scored easily, and the Indians had a 2-0 lead. LF Pedro Ciriaco nearly had another RBI double, but an amazing leaping horizontally-laid-out dive and catch by CF Thompson turned that double into a stunning out. Burres grounded to second to end the inning.
Tribe batters managed only three hits over the rest of the game. Alex Presley lined a single into left-center to lead off the bottom of the 3rd inning, but he was stranded, and the next 9 batters were retired in order. Mercer also singled into left-center in the 6th, and he too was left on base. Seven more Tribe batters went down in order after Mercer’s hit. Presley singled again in the 8th, the only Indians’ batter to have more than one hit in the game. But Presley was picked off first and tagged out in the middle of the basepath.
Burres finished after 8 innings with 116 pitches (84 strikes). He allowed 5 hits over those 8 shutout innings, with one walk and 9 strikeouts. Justin Wilson came on to pitch the 9th to earn his second Save of the season. He gave up a tw0-0ut single to Overbeck (Overbeck’s third single of the game). The game ended the same way it began — with a line out right to the Indians’ second baseman, this time Ciriaco, who had moved to second base on an earlier defensive switch.
Indians’ Hitting Gem of the Game: Dusty Brown’s clutch 2-RBI double, which brought in both of the Indians’ runs.
Indians’ Defensive Gem of the Game: Brian Burres’ 8 scoreless innings of work, including 9 strikeouts. He struck out Brandon Moss and Rich Thompson twice.
Pedro Ciriaco played left field again tonight. It was only his fourth time (third start) playing outfield in his entire career.
Pedro Alvarez went 0-for-3, with a strikeout.
The Pirates have signed RHP Aaron Heilman to a minor league contract. He should be reporting to the Indians soon, giving the Indians some help after losing both Tim Wood (traded) and Tony Watson and Ross Ohlendorf (promoted). Heilman is an Indiana native (Logansport) who attended the University of Notre Dame, before being drafted by the Mets in the first round of the 2001 draft. He pitched for the Mets for 6 seasons, first as a starter, then out of the bullpen for the later seasons. He was traded by the Mets to the Mariners in December 2008, then the Mariners traded him to the Cubs less than two months later — for Garrett Olson and Ronny Cedeno. Heilman made 70 relief appearances for the Cubs in 2009, with a 4-4 record, one Save, and a 4.11 ERA. The Cubs traded him to the Diamondbacks after the 2009 season, where he made another 70 appearances out of the bullpen in 2010. In Arizona, he earned a 5-8 record with 6 Saves, and a 4.50 ERA. The righty became a free agent after the 2010 season and resigned with the D’backs. By mid-July, though, Heilman had given up 48 hits and 28 runs in 35.1 innings (32 appearances), for a 6.88 ERA and a 4-1 inning. He was released by the D’backs on July 19th. Heilman was picked up by the Phillies and assigned to the Iron Pigs, where he made another 9 relief appearances over the next month. Six of the 9 appearances went well, but the other three did not — he gave up 9 runs on 10 hits in those three appearances. He was released on Saturday, after the last of those tough outings, and then was picked up by the Pirates’ organization.
Garrett Olson has been activated off the Disabled List.
Reliever Chris Leroux was recalled to the Pirates, to take the roster spot opened up when Kevin Correia was placed on the DL.
Steve Pearce left today’s Pirates’ game due to a finger injury.
(photos by Nancy)