Game #92 vs. Rockies

PNC Park | 7:05 | Van Benschoten vs. Taylor Buchholz | Box It was just so predictable. John Van Benschoten threw like a rookie struggling with control problems, the Rockies jumped out to a 5-0 lead, and despite putting forth their best effort toward a comeback, the Pirates dropped their fourth straight, 10-8. You saw it coming a mile away.  If you didn’t see it in the pre-game matchups, then you saw it as soon as Van Benschoten...

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Relatively Unknown Pirate Farmhands Seeing Success

I’m tentatively planning on providing a minor-league update each Monday morning in an attempt to supplement Nancy’s coverage at Sandlot Swashbucklers. She does a great job covering the day-to-day operations of the Indy Indians, so I’ll try to focus the majority of my attention on the lower affiliates. It usually won’t be anything more than a few quick thoughts: We’ll be seeing Jesse Chavez in Pittsburgh...

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Bixler Gets Grand, Jewett Gets 900

boxscore (photos by NancyZ)
Indianapolis Indians’ manager Trent Jewett won his 900th game as a minor league manager this afternoon as the Indians took out their frustrations on the Rochester Red Wings, beating them by a score of 16-3, at Frontier Field in Rochester, NY. This is Jewett’s 10th year of managing in the minor leagues for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization. It was also Jewett’s 203rd victory as the manager of the Indianapolis Indians.
The Indians snapped a 6-game losing streak, and prevented the Red Wings from sweeping the 4-game series in their home park. The Indians and the Red Wings have split the season series 4 games apiece. The Tribe batters seemed intent on getting some sweet revenge, and broke out with 16 runs on 17 hits, with every batter in the line up getting at least one hit. 3B Russ Johnson led the hit parade with 3 singles.
Brian Bixler -- photo by NancyZ
The Indians led off the game the same way that they have started each game against the Red Wings at Frontier Field: with a lead-off single. Today it was Russ Johnson’s single that got the ball rolling for the Tribe. Johnson moved to second base on 2B Brian Bixler’s sacrifice bunt. DH Brad Eldred doubled on a line drive to left field, and that scored Johnson, to give the Indians a 1-0 lead.
The Tribe rocked Red Wings’ starter Dave Gassner in the second inning. With one out, Gassner gave up a walk to C Carlos Maldonado, singles to SS Luis Ordaz and RF Chris Aguila, and another walk to Russ Johnson, which scored Maldonado. Brian Bixler (photo) sealed the Red Wings’ fate with a towering blast over the left field wall, for a grand slam. Red Wings’ LF Trent Oeltjen didn’t even move — he just watched it sail over and out. After the game, Russ Johnson, who was on first base and scored on the grand slam, summed up his teammates’ thoughts about Bixler’s big shot: ” It makes it a much easier game when you jump out to an early 6-0 lead. It takes a lot of pressure off your pitching and defense. The only thing the pitchers have to do is throw strikes and the defense can relax because one mistake won’t lose the ball game.”

Russ Johnson -- photo by NancyZ
But the Indians had only just gotten started. In the 3rd inning, LF Michael Ryan singled, and Carlos Maldonado doubled. A sacrifice fly by Luis Ordaz scored Ryan, and a triple by Chris Aguila scored Maldonado. That was quite enough for Rochester’s Dave Gassner, who hit the showers in favor of reliever Brad Baker. Russ Johnson (photo) greeted Baker by lining a single into right field, scoring Aguila. Baker walked Brian Bixler before getting Yurendell de Caster to strike out, ending the inning, with the Indians ahead 9-0.
Baker pitched the next three innings for the Red Wings. He gave up singles to Luis Matos and Carlos Maldonado in the 4th, but left them stranded on base. He set the Tribe down in order in the 5th inning, one of only two innings in which that happened this afternoon. In the 6th inning, the Indians’ batters had Baker figured out. Yurendell de Caster led off with a solo homer over the right field wall. Michael Ryan hit a ground-rule double that bounced over the right-center-field wall. Ryan scored when Luis Matos also doubled. Luis Ordaz singled to score Matos. Three more runs for the Indians.
Kip Bouknight  -- photo by NancyZ
Meanwhile, Kip Bouknight (photo) made his third start for the Indians, and his third start on a Sunday afternoon. He allowed the Wings two singles in the first inning, but left both runners standing on base at the end of the inning. He pitched three perfect innings, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. In the 5th inning, Bouknight gave up a solo homer to Rochester’s SS Tommy Watkins.
In the bottom of the 6th, the Red Wings put up another run. Three singles, by 2B Alexi Casilla, 1B Matthew LeCroy, and C Chris Heintz, pushed Casilla across the plate. The singles alternated with outs, and the inning ended when DH Brian Buscher popped out. The score at the end of 6 innings: Indians 12, Red Wings 2.
Yurendell de Caster -- photo by NancyZ
The Tribe was not done yet, though. In the 7th inning, Red Wings’ Brad Baker got into trouble without an out being made. Russ Johnson singled to lead off another inning. Brian Bixler reached base on a fielding error by 2B Alexi Casilla. Yurendell de Caster (photo) also singled, loading the bases. Two back-to-back walks to Brad Eldred and Michael Ryan scored Johnson and Bixler, and removed Baker from the game. Julio DePaula entered the game for the Red Wings, and with the bases still loaded, hit Luis Matos with a pitch, scoring de Caster. Carlos Maldonado (photo below) grounded out, which allowed Eldred to score the 4th run of the inning, bringing the score to 16-2. After Matos was hit by the pitch, the umpires warned both pitchers and both benches against further retaliation.
Carlos Maldonado -- photo by NancyZ
Julio DePaula put the Indians down in order in the 8th inning, and also pitched a scoreless 9th, giving up only a walk to Brad Eldred.
The Red Wings managed one more run in the 8th inning. Gil Velazquez, who had started at 3B, but moved to SS, was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Because of the previous warnings, both Kip Bouknight and Trent Jewett were ejected from the game, even though it did not appear that Velazquez had been hit intentionally. Reliever Mark Corey, who had been already warming up in anticipation of coming in soon, entered the game. Corey got two ground outs, then gave up a single to Chris Heintz, which scored Velazquez. Corey walked the next two batters, but then struck out Trent Oeltjen to end the inning. Jesse Chavez pitched a perfect 9th inning to end the game for the Indians.
Kip Bouknight threw 94 pitches to earn the win, his first of the season with the Indians. He gave up 3 runs on 7 hits, while striking out 3 and walking no one.
Michael Ryan -- photo by NancyZ
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Of course, Brian Bixler’s grand slam in the second inning, which broke the game open for the Tribe. Rochester’s starter Dave Gassner took the loss, giving up 9 earned runs on 8 hits and 2 walks. It was his 10th loss of the season.
Indians’ defensive gems of the game: In the bottom of the 2nd inning, Luis Matos made an outstanding catch of a fly ball by Tommy Watkins, on the warning track in center field. That was followed by a beautiful diving back-handed catch by Michael Ryan (photo) of Trent Oeltjen’s fly ball along the left field line.
Roster Moves:
The Pittsburgh Pirates recalled relief pitcher Salomon Torres, and reinstated him from the disabled list.
Pirates infielder and former Indian Jose Bautista suffered lacerations on his left hand that occurred when he slid into third base yesterday, and he was placed on the DL. Infielder Don Kelly was recalled from the Indians to take Bautista’s place in the infield.
To make room on the roster, RHP John Wasdin was designated for assignment.
Big Blasts:
Brian Bixler’s grand slam in the second inning was his 5th homer of the season, and the Indians’ 4th grand slam of the season. Other grand slams in 2007:
Ryan Doumit — April 17th, at Norfolk
Nick Green — May 24th, at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
Yurendell de Caster — July 5th, at Norfolk
How about getting us one at home?
News from Dejan Kovacevic in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Starter Brad Lincoln, the Pirates’ first-round draft pick in 2006 who had reconstructive elbow surgery in April, has had no rehabilitation setbacks and remains on pace to take the mound for the first time in spring training and pitch next summer. Lincoln will not begin throwing until this fall.

Go Tribe!

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Pirates Need Another Bat, No Doubt About It

Two weeks are left until the trade deadline, and the rumors are heating up. Tim Dierkes revisits the stories surrounding Snell, Gorzelanny and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Dejan Kovacevic talks about the availability of Salomon Torres, Shawn Chacon and Damaso Marte. Jack Wilson’s name pops up as well. While I don’t think that the Pirates will be acquiring the pieces necessary to make a run in 2007, Dave Littlefield certainly...

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Game #91 at Atlanta

Turner Field | 1:05 | Maholm vs. Buddy Carlyle | Box The ball always finds the new guy. This afternoon, the new guy was Jose Castillo. He’d earned just six starts at the hot corner to date this season. His seventh wasn’t lucky. Castillo’s fifth-inning throwing error proved to provide the Braves’ winning run, and time and again he looked uncomfortable fielding the position. Since Jose Bautista will be out for...

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Red Wings Charge Back in the 8th to Beat Tribe

boxscore (photos by NancyZ)
Brad Eldred -- photo by NancyZ
The Indianapolis Indians lost their sixth consecutive game tonight, falling to the Rochester Red Wings tonight at Frontier Field in Rochester, NY. The Indians had a 4-0 lead, but then gave up 8 unanswered runs to the Red Wings, capped by a 5-run 8th inning. The Indians did not slip in the IL West Division standings, since the first-place Toledo Mud Hens and the Louisville Bats both lost their games also. But the Red Wings gained ground on the Indians in the Wild Card race, and now lead the Indians by two games.
Rain delayed the start of the game for 31 minutes. Even after the game started, the rain continued — sometimes harder, sometimes just a drizzle — for most of the game.
Don Kelly led off the first inning for the Indians with a single. Kelly was erased in a double play, and that was the only hit given up by either Indians’ starter Marty McLeary or Red Wings’ starter Nick Blackburn, until the top of the 5th inning. RF Brad Eldred (photo) blasted a solo homer over the left field wall in the top of the 5th, to give the Indians a 1-0 lead. “I had chased a couple of pitches in my first at bat, so I looked for a good pitch to hit during my second,” said Eldred after the game. “The pitcher [Nick Blackburn] left a cutter over the middle of the plate and I took a good whack at it.”
Marty McLeary -- photo by NancyZ
Marty McLeary(photo) did not give up a hit until the bottom of the 5th. With two outs, he gave up back-to-back singles to Red Wings’ 3b Brian Buscher and C Jose Morales. McLeary got out of the inning by getting LF Trent Oeltjen to ground out, and the score was still 1-0 in favor of the Indians.
The Indians broke through against Nick Blackburn in the 6th inning. CF Luis Matos led off with a double lined into left field. 2B Luis Ordaz’s sacrifice bunt advanced Matos to third base. A squeeze bunt, by 3B Don Kelly brought Matos across the plate, with Kelly reaching first base safely. LF Michael Ryan then homered over the right field wall to give the Indians a 3-0 lead.
Not to be outdone, the Red Wings came right back with three runs of their own in the bottom of the 6th inning. CF Denard Span led off with a triple that bounced off the right field wall. Three consecutive singles by SS Alexi Casilla, 2B Matt Tolbert, and RF Darnell McDonald first scored Span and then loaded the bases. Manager Trent Jewett called to the bullpen and brought in Juan Perez to relieve McLeary. McLeary exited having pitched 5 innings (73 pitches, 48 strikes), and giving up 6 hits and 3 runs, with one strikeout. The first batter Perez faced was DH Doug Deeds, who walked to score Casilla. 1B Glenn Williams grounded into a force out, allowing Tolbert to score. Perez then walked Brian Buscher to load the bases again, but followed with by striking out Jose Morales and then getting Trent Oeltjen to ground out, ending the inning. The Indians were still up by one run, 4-3.

Michael Ryan  -- photo by NancyZ
After giving up a single to Brad Eldred to start the 7th inning, Rochester starter Nick Blackburn left the game with an (unspecified) injury to his arm. Brian Bass entered the game, and set the Indians down in order to end the 7th, and returned to pitch a perfect 8th inning.
Josh Sharpless also pitched a perfect inning in the 7th for the Indians, but disaster struck in the 8th, as the Red Wings charged in to take the lead. The inning started with Darnell McDonald reaching base on an error by Tribe 3B Don Kelly, when he bobbled a ground ball. McDonald stole second base and moved to third base on Sharpless’s wild pitch. Doug Deeds struck out, and Glenn Williams walked, with pinch runner Tommy Watkins coming in to run for Williams. That was all for Sharpless, and Franquelis Osoria came in to pitch next. Brian Buscher greeted Osoria with a single grounded to right field, scoring McDonald to tie the score. Jose Morales brought the second out of the inning with a strikeout. Then Trent Oeltjen doubled, bringing in Watkins with the go-ahead run. Denard Span plated two insurance runs, Buscher and Oeltjen, with a single. Osoria then walked three consecutive batters, Alexi Casilla, Matt Tolbert, and Darnell McDonald (batting for the second time in the inning), to score Span with the 5th run of the inning. Finally, Doug Deeds grounded out to end the inning.
Brian Bass returned to pitch the 9th inning for Rochester. Michael Ryan (photo above) and Brad Eldred both singled, but Ryan was erased when Jose Hernandez grounded into a double play, and Eldred was stranded on base when Yurendell de Caster grounded out to end the game.
Bass earned the win for the Red Wings, his 3rd of the season. Josh Sharpless took the loss, his 3rd of the season, and Franquelis Osoria had his 4th blown save. Brad Eldred and Michael Ryan accounted for 5 of the 7 Indians’ hits. Eldred had three hits, including a solo homer, and Ryan went 2 for 4, with a 2-run homer. Don Kelly also had a single, and Luis Matos hit a double.
“I am ready to end this road trip,” said Eldred in a post-game interview. “We need to pick up a win tomorrow so we can carry that vibe home with us. We need to get home [Victory Field] and use it as a turnaround period, so we can have a good start to the second half of the season.”
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Two home runs, one by Brad Eldred and one by Michael Ryan.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: Marty McLeary’s four no-hit innings pitched.
Go Tribe!

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