Game #111 at Arizona

Chase Field | 9:40 | Snell vs. Doug Davis | Box After the first inning, it was all Doug Davis. He yielded a two run homer to Jason Bay in the first and that was about it. The Bucs hit into three double plays to help kill off whatever chance they had. The good news is that Ian Snell was effective. He struck out seven and allowed only two runs in six innings pitched. The Bucs dropped two of three to Arizona, but when I take a step back,...

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Pirate Minor Leaguers are a Welcome Diversion

I’m having a hard time getting excited about the 2007 version of the Pittsburgh Baseball Club.  The shine that came from a winning second half in 2006 wore off long ago, and our marginal players are being exposed as weak spots in a rebuilding franchise. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been pulling double duty—writing both here and at Sandlot Swashbucklers.  The minor-league blogging makes it a little easier to...

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Pirate Affiliates Have Interesting Outfielders

As I did for the Pirates’ catchers and fielders on Tuesday, I’m here to provide an update of sorts on the progression of our outfield prospects.
Last time, I went position by position listing the most interesting sandlot swashbucklers. Today, I’m going to sort each section by affiliate: Starting with Indianapolis and ending with State College, I’ll list the starting outfielders and try to separate the legitimate talent from the veteran filler.
As I said Tuesday, I’ve only included stats for interesting players; that is, if you?re 30 years old and still in Double-A, I didn?t bother looking up your numbers.
I’ll be back for a look at the pitching staffs later in the week.


Indianapolis

Pos.

AB

AVG

HR

RBI

BB

K

Michael Ryan

LF

306

.265

15

44

26

75

Nyjer Morgan

CF

130

.308

0

9

13

22

Brad Eldred

RF

232

.211

11

35

17

66

Luis Matos

OF

324

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Ryan is the most likely candidate to get a call from Indianapolis before September, as he hit well in the month of July. Still, he’s nothing more than veteran filler at this point in his career.
Morgan, like Rajai Davis, is a speedster who won’t hit for power. He hit the disabled list earlier in the year, losing precious development time. He hasn’t played since May 14; he’ll likely need to start next year at Triple-A before ever getting a shot as a fourth outfielder.
Eldred is the minor-league flop of the 2007 season. After a white-hot spring training, Big Country has gone ice cold. Steven Pearce is the new Eldred, being shuffled between first base and right field in Indianapolis with the hope that adding a little versatility will help him earn a promotion to Pittsburgh.
Luis Matos and Chris Aguila have seen time in Indy’s outfield—like Ryan, they’re just there to fill out a roster. Adam Boeve, a fan favorite at Altoona who’s been shuffled around a bit in his career, also fits into that category.


Altoona

Pos.

AB

AVG

HR

RBI

BB

K

Brett Roneberg

LF

176

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew McCutchen

CF

414

.251

9

46

42

78

Vic Buttler

RF

184

 

 

 

 

 

Roneberg and Buttler are non-prospects at this point. They’re joined by Peter Bergeron, a former Montreal Expo, in an outfield led by the gem of the system, McCutchen. After Pearce’s promotion to Indianapolis, Jason Delaney was shifted from the outfield to first base, his natural home.
McCutchen’s line is disheartening—especially considering how well he performed against big-league competition in March—but he still has the shine of a first-round pick. Reports are that he’s been more comfortable at the plate as the season’s gone on, and that’s reflected in his monthly batting average. McCutchen hit .309/.385/.404 in 109 July plate appearance.
Before his dismal April, I thought Andrew was a shoo-in for a September call-up, but whether the Pirates will (or should) give him a look this year is debatable.


Lynchburg

Pos.

AB

AVG

HR

RBI

BB

K

Jamie Romak

LF

220

.232

12

33

48

71

Pedro Powell

CF

388

.245

0

28

48

76

Brad Corley

RF

411

.277

11

74

9

81

James Boone

CF

192

.255

6

34

17

35

Where to start with this bunch?
There’s Romak, the quasi-prospect the Pirates picked up in the LaRoche-Gonzalez deal who has a terribly low batting average but an impressively high on-base percentage; there’s Powell, who WTM calls the fastest player in the Pirates system (and who’s swiped 55 bags this season); Corley, the corner outfielder who’s on pace to drive in 100 runs for the second straight year but who also has zero plate discipline (evidenced by his nine walks); and Boone, a third-round pick from the 2005 draft who can’t seem to stay healthy long enough to make a name for himself.
All four are intriguing, and yet all four have somewhat obvious flaws. Still, the Hillcats’ outfield is the most talented of the Pirates’ affiliates. If any of these four turns it on, there’s room for him at Altoona going forward.


Hickory

Pos.

AB

AVG

HR

RBI

BB

K

Jared Keel

LF

261

.284

16

52

42

54

Alex Presley

CF

398

.296

9

50

36

95

Jonel Pacheco

RF

370

 

 

 

 

 

Albert Laboy

CF

159

.270

5

24

12

21

If Jared Keel could field worth a darn, he’d be someone to keep an eye on. All he’s done since being selected in the 31st round of last year’s draft is hit. He started as a third baseman, moved to first and the corner outfield spots, and now is regularly slotted into the Crawdads’ lineup as a designated hitter. His .958 OPS is impressive, but he’ll need to figure out how to use his glove, too.
Presley, with an OPS near .800 and a little speed, seems like a Nate McLouth type to me. In the past that would’ve been a compliment, but it’s not any longer. The system is filled with four outfield candidates.
Laboy doesn’t bring much to the plate. The fact that Pacheco, a minor-league veteran from the Mets’ system, has stolen so many at bats from him doesn’t speak well for his standing within the Pirates’ organization.


State College

Pos.

AB

AVG

HR

RBI

BB

K

Marcus Davis

LF

106

.264

7

15

14

29

Austin McClune

CF

125

.312

0

14

5

23

Erik Huber

RF

107

.252

0

5

8

20

Keanon Simon

CF

97

.320

1

12

15

15

Miles Durham

OF

97

.268

1

10

10

24

Not too much to say here, as I haven’t been following these guys much.
McClune, Huber, Davis and Simon were drafted this year. McClune and Simon are likely center fielders; the other three are corner outfielders. From the numbers alone, it appears that the guys in center are the most impressive.
WTM says McClune is “a raw player with speed and power potential.” Huber has a good bit of size, but he hasn’t hit his stride yet professionally. Davis’ seven homers have him tied for third in the league, two off the leader’s pace despite having 70 fewer plate appearances.

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Indy Indians: Ka-BOOM!

boxscore (photos by NancyZ)
Don Kelly -- photo by NancyZ
Did you hear some booming noises tonight, when there were no thunderstorms in sight? And did those booms seem to come from the south (if you were in central Indiana)? That might have been the Indianapolis Indians, playing against the Louisville Bats, at Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, Kentucky. The Tribe put up 19 hits, including three homers, two triples, and five doubles, as they scored 13 runs, to beat the Bats by a score of 13-5. It was the third straight road win for the Indians, who have not won that many consecutive road games since the first week of May.
“We were struggling over the last couple weeks and it feels great to get on a roll on the road,” said Tribe first baseman Brad Eldred, who had two of the team’s three home runs. “Throwing 13 runs together always feels good and continuing to get wins on the road will help us down the stretch with getting into the playoffs. Every win counts and hopefully we can keep riding this streak.”
Michael Tejera  -- photo by NancyZ
The game did not start off with a boom. Neither starting pitcher, not lefty Michael Tejera (photo) of the Indians nor righty Elizardo Ramirez of the Bats, allowed a run in the first 2.5 innings of the game. Both pitchers put runners on base in the first inning, and both got out of the inning with a double play. Tejera initiated the Indians’ double play himself. The Indians posted singles by CF Matt Kata and SS Brian Bixler, and a double by 1B Brad Eldred, and Bixler also reached base on a throwing error in the first inning, but none of them could come around to score. Tejera gave up one single, to Bats’ CF Josh Hamilton, and one walk to Joey Votto, in the first inning, but they could not score either.
Louisville got on the board in the bottom of the 3rd inning. SS Paul Janish smashed a triple to the right field wall, and scored on Chris Dickerson’s sacrifice fly. An inning later, Louisville led off the inning with three consecutive line drive singles, by 1B Joey Votto, 3B Aaron Herr, and 2B Jorge Cantu, loading the bases. After a strikeout by RF Jay Bruce, a sacrifice fly by Ryan Jorgenson plated Votto, but that was all the Bats could get, as Tejera got Paul Janish to ground into a force out to end the inning. The Bats had the 2-0 lead.
Brad Eldred -- photo by NancyZ
The Indians came roaring back in the top of the 5th inning, on a 7-run rally that saw the line-up bat around and keep going. 2B Luis Ordaz got things started with a line drive into left field, and he made it to second base when LF Chris Dickerson fumbled while fielding the ball. C Carlos Maldonado and Michael Tejera both grounded out, and Ordaz was able to advance to third base on Tejera’s grounder. Then the fun really began. With two outs, the Tribe put up 7 consecutive hits. A double by Matt Kata scored Ordaz. A triple by Brian Bixler scored Kata. Don Kelly, who had entered the game in the 3rd inning, replacing LF Michael Ryan, singled to score Bixler. Steve Pearce’s single moved Kelly to third, and both Kelly and Pearce came in on 3B Yurendell de Caster’s double to center field. Bats’ CF Josh Hamilton froze as the ball was coming toward him, and so had to chase the ball, and he missed the cutoff men when he threw the ball back to the infield. Elizardo Ramirez headed to the showers, and Bats’ reliever Steven Kelly came into the game. But Steven Kelly didn’t fare any better, as his second pitch to Brad Eldred (photo) landed 439 feet away, a huge blast over the left-center field wall, over the lawn area, and into the first row of terrace seating, for a 2-run homer. Luis Ordaz added his second single of the inning, and then Carlos Maldonado grounded into a force out, ending the inning, with the Indians in the lead, 7-2.

The Bats did not give up. They got one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning. Relief pitcher Steven Kelly was up first, and he singled into center field. He moved to second base on a ground out, and scored on Joey Votto’s single. Tejera struck out Aaron Herr to end the inning. Score: Indians 7, Bats 3.
Michael Tejera would have been the first batter in the top of the 6th, but he was removed from the game, in favor of pinch hitter Adam Boeve. Tejera seemed to be tiring, as he did not have his usual amount of control, and also likely due to the extreme temperatures — 97 degrees at game time. He threw 73 pitches, 42 for strikes, and gave up 3 runs on 7 hits and one walk, with 3 strikeouts.
Steve Pearce  -- photo by NancyZ
The Tribe batted around again as they put up 6 more runs in the 6th inning. Adam Boeve walked to start the inning, but he was then thrown out trying to steal second base. Matt Kata singled up the middle, and that ended Steven Kelly’s night. Jon Coutlangus, just optioned down from the Cincinnati Reds, entered the game in relief, and he started by walking Brian Bixler. Both Bixler and Kata scored when Don Kelly grounded the ball up the right field line. The ball got past RF Jay Bruce and went all the way to the right field wall, which allowed Kelly to make it a triple. With still one out, Steve Pearce (photo) boomed a homer over the left field wall, bringing in Kelly. Yurendell de Caster wanted in on this fun too, and he singled on a grounder deep to shortstop. Bats’ SS Paul Janish dove and did come up with the ball, but his high and wide throw would not have been in time to get de Caster even if it had been on target. That set up things for Brad Eldred, who proceeded to smash his second homer of the game, and second in consecutive innings, over the left-center field wall, another 2-run homer. Jon Coutlangus, who had given up 5 earned runs without making an out, was removed in favor of righty reliever Brad Salmon. Salmon gave up a single to Luis Ordaz, before striking out Carlos Maldonado and getting Adam Boeve to ground into a force out to end the inning. Score: Indians 13, Bats 3.
Matt Kata -- photo by NancyZ
Louisville added two more runs in their half of the 6th inning. Jesse Chavez had entered the game in relief of Michael Tejera. Chavez gave up singles to Jorge Cantu and Jay Bruce. LF Anderson Machado, who had entered the game on a double switch, knocked a triple into right field, scoring both Cantu and Bruce. Indians 13, Bats 5.
Brad Salmon came back to pitch the top of the 7th inning for the Bats. He gave up a double to Matt Kata (photo) and hit Don Kelly with a pitch, and left the game with two outs in the inning. Tyler Pelland was the fourth Bats’ reliever to pitch. He ended the 7th inning by striking out Yurendell de Caster, and then returned to pitch a scoreless 8th inning, giving up only a double to Luis Ordaz. Ricky Stone, the fifth reliever for the Bats, pitched the 9th inning, and put the Tribe down in order.
Jonah Bayliss -- photo by NancyZ
Jesse Chavez pitched a perfect 7th inning for the Tribe, and then gave way to Jonah Bayliss (photo) for the 8th inning. In his first appearance since being optioned to the Indians from the Pirates, Bayliss set the Bats down in order.
Brian Rogers pitched the bottom of the 9th. He gave up a two -out single to pinch hitter Chad Moeller, but the game ended when Yurendell de Caster caught Jesse Gutierrez’s sharp line drive to third base.
Michael Tejera earned the win for the Indians, improving his record to 7-2. Elizardo Ramirez, who had given up the first 6 runs in the 5th inning, took the loss, putting his record at 2-3. Matt Kata and Luis Ordaz (photo below) led the Indians’ offense with 4 hits each, and Brad Eldred had 3 hits, two of which were homers. Steve Pearce also homered. Brian Bixler and Don Kelly both tripled, and Eldred, Kata (twice), Ordaz and Yurendell de Caster all doubled.
Luis Ordaz -- photo by NancyZ
Indians’ hitting gems of the game: Three home runs, each for two runs — two by Brad Eldred, in two consecutive innings (5 and 6), and one by Steve Pearce also in the 6th inning. Those were Brad Eldred’s 12th and 13th homers of the season with the Indians. Pearce’s homer was his 3rd with the Tribe and his 28th for the season. Said Brad Eldred after the game: “It feels great when you get an inside fastball and are able to square it up by getting your hands through the pitch. It is always nice to know you don’t have to sprint full speed out of the box.”
Indians’ defensive gems of the game: In the bottom of the first inning, starting pitcher Michael Tejera made two outstanding plays. The first batter, Chris Dickerson, dropped a bunt down on the first-base side, and Tejera made an excellent fielding play, scooping the ball and firing to first base in time to beat Dickerson. Minutes later, with men on first and second bases, Aaron Herr grounded a ball back to Tejera, who turned and threw to second base, starting an inning-ending double play.
NOTES:
Michael Ryan left the game in the 3rd inning, also with an unspecified injury.
Luis Ordaz extended his hitting streak to 8 games.
Adam Boeve walked and had a hit in the same inning as a pinch hitter in the 6th inning. When did that last happen? According to Howard Kellman and Scott McCauley, it happened on April 20th, when Rajai Davis pinch hit and walked and got a hit in the 8th Inning. Davis pinch hit for pitcher Kevin Gryboski, and led off the inning with a walk. Luis Matos singled, Brian Bixler reached on a fielding error, Chris Aguila and Nyjer Morgan singled (Aguila’s hit scored Davis), Russ Johnson walked, and Ryan Doumit singled. A throwing error and a sacrifice fly by Jose Hernandez scored more runs, followed by a ground out by Yurendell de Caster. Then Rajai Davis tripled in his second at-bat in the inning. Seven runs scored in that inning.
Steve Pearce started the game in right field tonight, for the first time in his 303 minor league games. His homer was his 28th of the season, and he increased his season RBI total to 102.
It was the first time Brad Eldred had hit two homers in one game in over a year.
The Indians now have 92 home runs for the season, with almost 3 weeks left in the season. The 2006 Indians hit a total of 88 home runs.
Go Tribe!

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Game #110 at Arizona

Chase Field | 9:40 | Maholm vs. Byung-Hyun Kim | Box 14 walks total in the game. Neither starter pitched well. Paul Maholm took the loss by giving up six runs. Only four of them were earned, but the error that allowed unearned runs was his own. He was staked to the lead twice, but couldn’t hold it. Salomon Torres gave up three runs in one inning to help the D-Backs put the game away. Franquelis Osoria made his Pirates debut and...

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Van Benschoten and Indians Earn the Win

boxscore (photos by NancyZ, except where otherwise specified)
Defense made the difference for the Indians tonight, as John Van Benschoten led the Tribe to victory tonight, beating the Louisville Bats 2-1 at Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, Kentucky. Van Benschoten struck out 6 batters while giving up only 6 hits, and he was assisted by diving catches in the outfield, an outfield assist, sharp infield play, and two double plays — all combined to hold the Bats to only one run.
The beginning of the game featured missed chances on the part of the Indians. 2B Don Kelly led off the first inning against Bats’ starter Johnny Cueto by smacking a single into right field. A grounder and three strikes produced two quick outs. A walk to Steve Pearce moved Kelly to second base, but before the Tribe batters had a chance to do something productive with the two baserunners, C Ryan Hanigan and SS Paul Janish picked Kelly off second base to end the inning.
Carlos Maldonado -- photo by NancyZ
The Indians failed to take advantage of a big opportunity in the top of the 2nd inning. RF Brad Eldred walked with one out, and CF Luis Matos lined a single into left field. When C Carlos Maldonado (photo) singled into right field, Brad Eldred rounded third and headed for the plate. Bats’ RF Jay Bruce’s throw to C Ryan Hanigan was not on target, but Eldred’s slide was a bit awkward, and Hanigan was able to swipe Eldred for the out at the plate. Matos advanced to third base and Maldonado to second base on the throw. Pitcher John Van Benschoten and his .200 batting average came to the plate — and he was hit by the pitch, to load the bases. The Tribe was not able to capitalize, as 2B Don Kelly lined into right field, where Bats’ RF Jay Bruce was just able to get to it with a running catch in an outstretched glove.
Once again in the 4th inning, the Indians left two runners on base. 3B Jose Hernandez singled and C Carlos Maldonado doubled off the wall in left field (shouldn’t they give him a box of White Castle burgers for hitting it off the White Castle sign?), but Cueto struck out John Van Benschoten to end the inning, once again without a run scoring.

Michael Ryan -- photo by EmilP
Tribe starter John Van Benschoten made sure the Bats couldn’t take advantage of him in the early innings. He gave up back-to-back singles to in the 2nd inning with two outs, to 2B Jorge Cantu and C Ryan Hanigan, but then got SS Paul Janish to ground into a force out, ending the threat. CF Josh Hamilton (with the Bats on a rehab assignment from the Cincinnati Reds) got a lone single in the 3rd inning, but was left stranded on base at the end of the inning. RF Jay Bruce doubled in the next inning, but was also left on base.
The Indians finally were productive with their hits in the 6th inning. With two out, LF Michael Ryan (photo, by EmilP)grounded a single up the middle, bouncing it off the pitching mound in the process. Steve Pearce (photo below) followed by blasting a rising line drive over the left field wall for a 2-run home run.
Steve Pearce -- photo by NancyZ
Tribe defensive plays kept the Bats from scoring in the 5th and 6th innings. The bottom of the 6th started with Paul Janish smacking a liner to right-center field, speared on a brilliant diving backhand catch by RF Brad Eldred. Pinch hitter Anderson Machado walked, but was erased when LF Chris Dickerson flied out to center field. Luis Matos chased all the way to the warning track to catch that fly ball, then fired it into the infield, where SS Brian Bixler quickly relayed to Steve Pearce at first base, easily doubling Machado off first.
One inning later, another double play ended the Bats’ hopes. CF Josh Hamilton singled, and 1B Joey Votto lined out to second base. Then 3B Aaron Herr grounded into a double play, with Brian Bixler (photo below) fielding the ball deep to the left field side of second base, then making a lateral-ish toss to Don Kelly at second base, and then Kelly throwing to first base for the third out.
Brian Bixler -- photo by NancyZ
Johnny Cueto pitched 5 innings for the Bats, giving up 2 runs on 7 hits, with two walks and 5 strikeouts. Brad Salmon relieved Cueto to pitch a scoreless 6th inning, and Bill Bray came in to pitch the 7th, giving up a double to Brian Bixler (his 20th of the season), but again keeping the Indians from scoring a run. Marcus McBeth was next in the relief parade, pitching the 8th inning. He gave up singles to Steve Pearce and Luis Matos, but ended the inning by getting Carlos Maldonado to hit into fielder’s choice for the force out. Tyler Pelland, the 4th relief pitcher used by the Bats, pitched the 9th inning. He walked Don Kelly, who was erased a few pitches later, thrown out trying to steal second base.
John Van Benschoten pitched 7 scoreless innings for the Tribe, giving up only 6 hits and one walk, while striking out 6 batters. Juan Perez entered the game to pitch the 8th inning, and he set the side down in order, earning a “hold”.
Don Kelly -- photo by NancyZ
(photo– Don Kelly in the infield)
Bret Prinz entered the game for the 9th inning, his 5th appearance with the Indians, and he let the Bats make things interesting. The first two batters, Joey Votto and Aaron Herr, both worked walks. Jay Bruce popped up to short left field, behind third base. LF Michael Ryan, playing deep, was not close enough to reach the ball. SS Brian Bixler ran over behind third, to the foul line, where his foot slipped out from under him as he tried to change directions at the last second. Bixler fell down, sprawled on his back with his arms outstretched — and his left hand, with his glove, right under the spot where the ball came down, to make the first out. (No, of course it wasn’t luck — he did it on purpose!) Jorge Cantu was up next, and he also gave Bixler an opportunity to show why he is an All-Star — he grounded a ball deep to short, sending Bixler scrambling again, fielding the ball in time to throw to third base and force out the lead runner Votto. Ryan Hanigan then dropped a single into left field, to score Herr, for Louisville’s first and only run of the game. Prinz held on, and got Paul Janish to pop up to second base to end the game, giving the Tribe the win, and Prinz his second save with the Indians.
John Van Benschoten earned the win, his 8th of the season. “I stayed low and away to just about every hitter tonight, he said, in an interview after the game. “Every now and then, I mixed in a curve ball to see if I could get a cheap out.” And what is different now, as opposed to his stint with the Pirates? “I’m not doing anything differently. (Pitching Coach) Jeff (Andrews) is getting me straightened out. We’ve worked on several things during my side sessions, and that has helped a lot.”
Louisville starter Johnny Cueto took the loss, his first with the Bats. The Indians put up 10 hits, with three players getting two hits apiece: Steve Pearce, Luis Matos, and Carlos Maldonado. Three batters had extra-base hits: a homer for Pearce, and doubles for Bixler and Maldonado.
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Steve Pearce’s 2-run homer in the 5th inning, the only runs scored by the Indians. Those two RBI’s also gave Pearce a total of 100 RBI’s for the 2007 season — 24 with Lynchburg, 72 with Altoona, and now 4 with Indianapolis. John Van Benschoten was relieved when Pearce knocked in those two runs: “I definitely exhaled when Pearce hit the two-run homer,” said Van Benschoten after the game. “Pearce was frustrated about a ball he missed in the third (Jeff Hamilton’s single that got under Pearce’s glove and into right field for a base hit), and I told him to make up for it at the plate. He stepped up and hit a rocket over the left-field wall. Pearce is a guy who really wants to win, and he showed it tonight.”
Indians’ defensive gems of the game: Two great outfield plays in the same inning: First, Brad Eldred’s diving catch in right-center field of a line drive by Paul Janish to begin the 5th inning. Matos took his turn on the next fly ball, when he caught a long fly ball off the bat of Chris Dickerson, then earned an assist when he threw in to the infield, relayed by Brian Bixler to Steve Pearce at first, to double off baserunner Anderson Machado.
NOTES:
Roster Moves:
P Jonah Bayliss, who was optioned to the Indians from the Pittsburgh Pirates, has joined the team today in Louisville.
Utility player Matt Kata has cleared waivers after being designated for assignment, and he is also now with the Tribe.
P Runelvys Hernandez has been released outright by the Pirates.
P Luis Munoz has been assigned back to Altoona.
And another roster move:
Former Indian (earlier this season) Jim Brower, who has been pitching for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, has been called up to the NY Yankees. Brower had earned 20 saves for the S/W-B Yankees, with a 1.65 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 43.2 innings.
In the second inning, John Van Benschoten was hit by a pitch. It looked like he was hit on the back just below the “3″ on his jersey (35), but after the game, Van Benschoten said the pitch had hit him on the outside of his shoulder blade, closer to his armpit, and he was not hurt.
Go Tribe!

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