Game #123 at Colorado

Coors Field | 9:05 | Morris vs. Ubaldo Jimenez | Box The Bucs did it again. Josh Phelps hit an 8th inning PH HR to tie the score at 2. The Bucs used Brian Fuentes wildness and an error to push two runs across in the 11th to win it. Fuentes walked Cesar Izturis and plunked Matt Kata. Freddy Sanchez blooped a single for the go ahead run and an error later in the inning from Garret Atkins scored Kata for the final tally. Matt Herges, who...

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Pirates Must Continue to Build Around Young Aces

“No matter what happens, this season is a success for the Yankees, in this respect: General manager Brian Cashman’s 2-year-old plan to rebuild the organization’s pitching has taken root, for the foreseeable future,” writes ESPN’s Buster Olney. As of late, I’ve found it hard to watch the Pirates night in and night out—even during this wacky hot streak the offense has been riding. MLB.TV has...

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Knights Top Indians

boxscore (photos by NancyZ)
Marty McLeary  -- photo by NancyZ
The Charlotte Knights hit two home runs, and starting pitcher Heath Phillips earned his 11th win of the season, as the Knights beat the Indianapolis Indians by a score of 7-1 in Charlotte this afternoon.
The Knights jumped right out to a good start against Tribe starter Marty McLeary (photo). Lead-off hitter CF Alex Sanchez opened the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run, putting the Knights on the board right away. 2B Jason Bourgeois walked and stole second base, and LF Ryan Sweeney also walked. 3B Earl Snyder singled, driving in Bourgeois, and a safety squeeze sacrifice bunt by SS Tomas Perez scored Sweeney. After 1B Casey Rogowski popped out, a single by DH Kevin Perez scored Snyder, giving the Knights a 4-run lead.
Two singles, by Tomas Perez and Casey Rogowski, followed by a home run by Kenny Perez gave the Knights 3 more runs in the 3rd inning. The single by Perez bounced off McLeary’s leg, but after a few practice pitches, he convinced manager Trent Jewett and trainer Jose Ministral that he was fine, and he continued to pitch. McLeary gave up only one more hit over the next three innings, exiting the game after 6 innings, and 92 pitches. He gave up 7 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks, with 6 strikeouts, and he took the loss, his 6th of the season with the Indians.
Steve Pearce -- photo by NancyZ
Knights’ starter Heath Phillips scattered three hits and two walks over the first four innings against the Indians’ batters, and at the end of four innings, the score was 7-0. DH Jose Hernandez and 1B Steve Pearce (photo) each doubled, and CF Andrew McCutchen singled. The Indians got on the board in the 5th inning, when McCutchen bashed a solo homer over the left field wall. Phillips went 7 innings, giving up only that home run, on 6 hits and 2 walks, with 4 strikeouts.
Josh Sharpless came in to pitch for McLeary in the 8th, and threw a perfect inning. Bret Prinz pitched the 9th inning. He gave up two singles, to Tomas Perez and pinch-hitter Adam Ricks. A fielder’s choice force out by Kenny Perez put runners on first and third bases, but a pop out and a fly out ended the inning without further runs scoring.

Don Kelly -- photo by NancyZ
Former Indian Jason Childers (2002-04) relieved Phillips to start the 8th inning, and he gave up a double to SS Don Kelly (photo) and a walk to Steve Pearce. Both runners were left stranded on base. Dewon Day pitched the 9th inning for the Knights, and easily got three fly outs to end the game.
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Andrew McCutchen’s home run, the only run the Tribe scored, in the 5th inning.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: In the 8th inning, Thomas Collaro hit a bloop into short right field, that looked like it was going to fall in for a hit, bringing in another run. But 2B Luis Ordaz (photo below) ran back, keeping his eye on the ball, and made an over-the-shoulder catch for the out, saving a run.
Luis Ordaz -- photo by NancyZ
NOTES:
Andrew McCutchen is having fun with the Indians: “I’ve really enjoyed my first three days at the Triple-A level, and I’m getting more comfortable each time I hit the field. This clubhouse has a lot of experienced guys, and that will only help me. A good percentage of my teammates have played in the big leagues, and I know there are a lot of things they can teach me.” His batting average after 3 days is .333 — that’s 12 at-bats with a homer, a double, and two singles. “Most of the pitchers at this level have been to the big leagues. That isn’t necessarily the case in Double-A. Triple-A pitchers do a much better job of hitting their spots, and exposing the batter’s weaknesses. You can be in trouble if they find a spot or pitch that you can’t hit.”
OF Nyjer Morgan has started a rehab assignment with the GCL (Bradenton) Pirates. In last night’s game, he started in center field, where he made two fly ball catches. He had three at-bats, with one ground out, and two strikeouts. Pirates’ centerfielder Chris Duffy, who is rehabbing a sprained ankle, also played in that game. As the DH, he had a double and two ground ball outs, and was hit by a pitch.
Carlos Maldonado -- photo by NancyZ
C Carlos Maldonado (photo) had his first 2007 start with the Pittsburgh Pirates today. He struck out in his first at-bat, then was intentionally walked. He was removed in favor of pinch-hitter Josh Phelps in the 7th inning, when the Pirates had their big 7-run rally. Two former Indians appeared in the game for Philadelphia: C Chris Coste (2004) went 0 for 2 with an intentional walk and was hit by a pitch; Wes Helms (2003-04) pinch hit and grounded into a double play.
Go Tribe!

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Not Enough Evidence to Flunk Moskos Just Yet

The Pirates were widely criticized when they selected Daniel Moskos, a left-handed pitcher from Clemson University, with the fourth overall selection in the 2007 Rule 4 Draft. Moskos, it was argued, projects in the major leagues as a relief pitcher, and therefore shouldn’t have even been under consideration when the Pirates were picking. He wasn’t a truly elite talent, not on the same level as Matt Wieters, taken fifth by the Baltimore Orioles. A one-inning guy can’t have the same impact as an everyday position player or a 200-innings per season starter.
In the roughly two months since the draft, Pirate Nation has soured even further on Moskos. It’s not the kid’s fault—I’m sure he’s a great person and an even better pitcher—but he was thrust into a no-win situation. Fail and it’s “I told you so.” Make it and you say sure, but how many other successful prospects did you pass on?
Fuel was added to the fire when, after a brief, three-inning stint with the Gulf Coast League Pirates following the signing of his contract, Moskos was assigned to State College, a short-season A-ball team. One of the few benefits of drafting a reliever in the first round is said to be major-league readiness; that is, Moskos should be on the fast track to the bigs because he needs just one or two pitches to be effective, rather than the three or four of a starter. Having him begin his professional career at such a low level can’t be viewed as a good sign, supposedly.
To me, though, it’s almost as if we’re looking for reasons to fail Moskos immediately rather than giving him a chance to pan out. After 15 years of losing, we’re fed up and angry at the organization, and every move the Pirates make is one to be criticized. That’s just not fair.
While I’d certainly like to see Moskos pitching in a more competitive environment, it’s not unreasonable to expect the Pirates to treat him with kid gloves. This is a franchise that has seen an unwieldy number of pitching prospects go under a surgeon’s knife after being drafted. And Moskos isn’t exactly a safe pick, either.
Originally a reliever at Clemson (he threw 16.2 innings in 2005 and 53.2 innings in 2006), Moskos was tried as a starting pitcher in 2007. Of his 27 appearances, 10 were starts. He ended up throwing 79.1 innings at the NCAA level this season—a modest increase over the year before. Typically, a 20-inning bump over the previous year’s total is viewed as a significant increase. Much more and you risk pushing an arm farther than it’s capable of going—and injuries result.
For State College, Moskos has appeared in four games—all in relief—and has thrown 6.1 innings. He hasn’t been effective, allowing 10 hits and four earned runs, but at the same time, he’s got to be running on fumes. Even given summer leagues he may have previously participated in, this is likely the most Moskos has ever pitched in one year.
As Jake at Bucco Blog wrote this morning, it might be best to hold off on the knee-jerk reactions. Allow Moskos to have the winter to rest, recover and strengthen his arm, and be ready to critique his full-effort work next spring.

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Game #122 vs. Phillies

PNC Park | 1:35 | Snell vs. Kyle Lohse | Box I’m confounded by the Pirates newly found ability to score runs late. It happened again and it led to a series win over the competitive Phillies. Kyle Lohse was on through six, having allowed no runs on just three hits. But with two gone and Xavier Nady on first, things went south in the 7th inning. Trailing 4-0, the Pirates scored seven times. Matt Kata delivered the first blow...

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Eldred and Hernandez Homer in Tribe Win

boxscore (Photos by NancyZ)
Michael Tejera -- photo by NancyZ
Brad Eldred and Jose Hernandez each homered tonight to provide the Indians with plenty of runs to stay ahead of the Charlotte Knights, winning by a score of 7-2 at Knights’ Stadium. Eldred’s two-run homer, and Hernandez’s grand slam gave Tribe starting pitcher Michael Tejera (photo) all the run support he needed, as he held the Knights to 3 hits for two runs over the first 6 innings, earning his 8th win of the season. Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger was the starter and the losing pitcher for the Knights, giving up only 3 runs (2 earned) on 3 hits over the 7 innings he pitched.
Knights’ starter, knuckleball-hurling Charlie Haeger, pitched 4 no-hit innings, and at the end of four innings, he was losing 1-0. The Indians scored the first run of the game in the 3rd inning, when Haeger walked 2B Yurendell de Caster and C Milver Reyes to lead off the inning. A passed ball allowed de Caster to advance to third base. CF Andrew McCutchen popped out, and then SS Brian Bixler hit a slow-rolling grounder to shortstop, for a force out at second base, and de Caster was able to score on the play.
Brad Eldred -- photo by NancyZ
Brad Eldred (photo), playing first base tonight, had the Indians’ first hit of the game in the 5th inning. DH Jose Hernandez had led off the inning by reaching first base safely when Knights’ RF Thomas Collaro dropped his fly ball. Eldred stepped to the plate and blasted a rising line drive over the left field wall, for a 2-run homer.
Indians’ starter Michael Tejera was also pitching a gem of a game. After 4 innings, he had given up only one hit, a single to DH Kenny Perez in the first inning, plus two walks and one batter hit by a pitch. Thomas Collaro answered Eldred’s homer in the top of the 5th by hitting a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 5th.

Steve Pearce -- photo by NancyZ
The Indians threatened in the 6th inning. With one out, Michael Ryan singled, and then was thrown out attempting to steal second base. RF Steve Pearce (photo) singled, and moved to second base on another passed ball. 3B Neil Walker was hit by a pitch, and both runners moved up another base when Haeger threw a wild pitch. But Haeger got Jose Hernandez to strike out to end the threat.
Michael Tejera pitched 6 innings, and started into the 7th inning. 2B Tomas Perez led off the 7th with a line drive single, and then Tejera hit 1B Casey Rogowski with a pitch. That gave Tejera 95 pitches for the night, with only 3 hits and 2 walks, plus 2 strikeouts. He was replaced by reliever Brian Rogers. Rogers first faced Thomas Collaro, who hit a grounder to deep shortstop. Tribe SS Brian Bixler was able to come up with it, but did not have a play, and the bases were loaded with no one out. 3B Adam Ricks grounded to Brad Eldred at first base, who threw the ball to Bixler covering second, and Bixler fired back to first base where Rogers was covering. One run scored on the double play, but there were two outs. Rogers struck out C Ryan Smith to end the inning, and the Tribe felt lucky to get out of the situation with only one run scored, and their lead intact.
Jose Hernandez -- photo by NancyZ
They were so happy that they held a little rally of their own in the top of the 8th inning. Reliever David Aardsma came in for Charlie Haeger, and Andrew McCutchen greeted Aardsma by smashing a liner up the right foul line that bounced under the fence for a ground rule double. This seemed like a lucky break for the Knights, as the speedy McCutchen would have had a triple out of it. Michael Ryan (photo below) was intentionally walked, and then Neil Walker took an unintentional walk to load the bases. Jose Hernandez (photo) took a 1-1 pitch for a long, deep ride, sailing over the left-center field fence for a grand slam. Score: Indians 7, Knights 2.
Shaun Babula pitched the 8th inning for Charlotte. He gave up a double to Yurendell de Caster, and de Caster moved to third base on a ground out. But de Caster was left on third base when two strikeouts ended the inning.
Michael Ryan -- photo by NancyZ
Lefty Juan Perez entered the game to pitch the last two innings for the Indians. He struck out four batters and gave up one hit in those two scoreless innings.
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: A two-run homer by Brad Eldred in the 5th inning, bringing in the winning run, and a grand slam by Jose Hernandez in the 8th inning, giving the Indians some insurance. “(RHP David Aardsma) was throwing hard, but he was kind of wild. He walked (Neil) Walker with four straight pitches,” said Hernandez in a post-game interview. “I was thinking I’d go to the plate and I’d try to relax. The first guy (pitcher Charlie Haeger)… he was really nasty today. He was moving the ball well today. He threw a fastball right at the middle…and then he threw me a slider in the dirt… Then I said, ‘I’m going to swing here, no matter what.’ He’s going to throw another fast ball here, and I’m going to swing no matter where. So, he threw it right there too, and I got the chance to hit the grand slam.”
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: The double play, Eldred to Bixler to Rogers (3-6-1) in the 7th inning. One run did score, but it gave the Tribe two outs, and enabled them to get out of a bases-loaded-no-outs situation with only one scored — not two or three or four, which would have surrendered the lead.
NOTES:
Masumi Kuwata will not be returning to Indianapolis. The Japanese pitching legend, who was with the Indians for about a week in June, has declined assignment to Indianapolis, and will be returning to Japan with his family. He will decide over the winter about whether or not he will pitch in 2008.
Go Tribe!

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