Are You Worried About Baseball in Pittsburgh?

Are you worried about the future of baseball in Pittsburgh? Not whether or not games will be played, mind you; I’m more concerned with the quality of the on-field product. PNC Park ensures that we’ll have a team of some kind for the forseeable future, but will it produce any results? It’s not exactly a new question, but it’s one worth repeating. The Pirates are committed—for now, at least—to a core...

Read More

Game #75 at Los Angeles

Angel Stadium | 3:35 | Gorzelanny vs. Bartolo Colon | Box Five in a row.  No post-game thoughts.  What can you say?  The Angels won another one in extras. Read about the possibility of blowing the team up or acquiring Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  I really don’t feel like writing about another loss.  Think about the future. Recaps Pirates.com SI.com Pre-game Thoughts Lots of numbers: Gorzelanny is 7-4 with a 3.01 ERA. Bartolo Colon is...

Read More

Indians Lose the Game and Sole Claim to First Place

boxscore (photos by NancyZ)
Matt Kata  -- photo by NancyZ
The Indianapolis Indians and the Toledo Mud Hens played another see-sawing game tonight, with the score tied for quite a bit of the game. Unfortunately for the Indians, the game ended with a different kind of tie. The Mud Hens won by a score of 4-3 with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 9th, moving them into a tie with the Indians for first place in the International League West Division.
A suicide squeeze play produced the first run of the game. Toledo’s starter, Corey Hamman had retired the first six Tribe batters without much trouble in the first two innings. In the top of the 3rd inning, RF Michael Ryan led off with a double into center field. C Einar Diaz’s pop out moved Ryan to third base. Then LF Matt Kata (photo) put down a suicide squeeze bunt toward first base, allowing Ryan to score.
That was all the scoring there was until the bottom of the 6th inning. Corey Hamman allowed the Indians only 4 hits plus one walk and one hit batter (Don Kelly) over 6 innings, throwing 87 pitches (52 strikes), while striking out 4 batters. The run scored on the suicide squeeze was the only run he allowed.
Sean Burnett -- photo by NancyZ
Meanwhile, Indians’ starter Sean Burnett (photo) had an excellent start, his second start since coming off the disabled list. He pitched 4.1 innings, with 74 pitches (46 strikes). He allowed 6 hits and one walk, and struck out 2 while keeping the Mud Hens scoreless. Matt Corey entered the game in the fifth inning, with Toledo’s 3B Jack Hannahan on base after a single, and one out. Corey quickly got C Dane Sardinha to ground into a double play to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 6th, with Mark Corey still pitching, SS Ramon Santiago and 2B Kevin Hooper each singled to start the inning, putting runners on the corners. RF Timo Perez grounded a ball to Tribe 2B Brian Bixler, forcing Hooper out at second base. The relay from SS Don Kelly, covering second base, to 1B Yurendell de Caster was wide, though. Santiago was easily able to score on the play, tying up the score. The inning ended when CF Ryan Raburn grounded to Kelly, who started a successful double play.
Toledo reliever Anastacio Martinez came in to pitch in the top of the 7th inning, and he promptly retired the Tribe batters in order. The bottom of the 7th inning got scary for a moment, when 3B Mike Hessman hit a long high fly ball down the left field line…. which flew out just to the outside of the foul pole, and continued into the parking lot and into the street beyond — fortunately for the Indians, just a very very long strike. Mark Corey got Hessman to look at strike three, and then induced a ground out to end the inning.

Einar Diaz -- photo by NancyZ
The Indians threatened in the 8th inning. Mike Ryan led off with his second hit of the game, and C Einar Diaz (photo) followed by being hit on the back by a pitch. Don Kelly put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners over, and Matt Kata took the intentional walk to load the bases. But Hens’ reliever Martinez struck out Brian Bixler and Yurendell de Caster to end the inning with the bases loaded and no runs scored.
Mark Corey pitched 2.2 innings for the Tribe, giving up one run on two hits, while striking out one. He was relieved by Josh Sharpless, who started the 8th inning, with the score still tied. With one out, C Dane Sardinha and SS Ramon Santiago hit back-to-back singles. A wild pitch from Corey allowed both runners to advance to third and second bases. With the infield drawn in, Kevin Hooper bounced a grounder over the head of Tribe 3B Russ Johnson and into left field, scoring both base runners, and giving the Mud Hens a 3-1 lead. Hooper tried to steal second base but was thrown out by Tribe C Einar Diaz for the second out, and LF Timo Perez grounded out to end the inning.
Russ Johnson -- photo by NancyZ
The Indians were not going down without a fight, though. The Mud Hens brought in Vic Darensbourg to relieve Martinez in the top of the 9th inning. With one out, Russ Johnson (photo) singled and Luis Matos doubled, putting runners on third and second bases. Michael Ryan came through with his third hit of the game, a single through the hole into right field, to score both Johnson and Matos and tie the score at 3 runs each. With Einar Diaz at the plate, Michael Ryan was thrown out trying to steal third base. Diaz then put down the fourth hit in a row, a double into left field, keeping the inning going. Don Kelly flied out to end the inning, but the Indians had tied the game again.
Unfortunately, that tie didn’t last long. With one out in the bottom of the 9th inning, former Pirates’ farmhand Chris Shelton lifted a long fly ball over the wall in mid-center field for a game-winning walk off solo home run. Tribe reliever Josh Sharpless gave up the homer for the loss, his second this season. He gave up a total of 3 runs on 4 hits with one strikeout in 1.1 innings. Vic Darensbourg got the blown save and then the win for the Mud Hens.
The Mud Hens had 12 hits in the game, and all but Shelton’s homer were singles. Toledo’s Ramon Santiago had 4 of those singles. The Tribe put up 9 hits, including doubles by Michael Ryan, Luis Matos, and Einar Diaz. Ryan went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI, and Russ Johnson went 2 for 4. Don Kelly, in his first start with the Indians (he pinch ran yesterday), went to the plate 4 times: he sacrificed twice and was hit by a pitch once. That gave him only one official at-bat, which was a fly out.
Michael Ryan  -- photo by NancyZ
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Michael Ryan (photo) had three hits, including the double that started off the Tribe’s rally in the 3rd inning, and then scoring on the suicide squeeze bunt by Don Kelly. Ryan also singled in the rallies in the 8th and 9th innings. “I feel real good at the plate right now”, said Ryan after the game. “I’ve been swinging at strikes, and laying off bad pitches. I’ve also been staying back and trusting my hands.” Ryan is now 10 for 17 in his last 4 games.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: The Indians turned 4 double plays. Three of them were “traditional” infield DP’s — two were Don Kelly to Brian Bixler to Yurendell de Caster (6-4-3) and one was Bixler to Kelly to de Caster (4-6-3); one was with an outfield out: Michael Ryan caught a fly ball hit by Ryan Raburn to short right field, and threw in to the infield. Ramon Santiago did not initially try to tag up and score from third since the fly ball was short, but when the throw bounced off Einar Diaz’s glove, Santiago took off for home plate. Sean Burnett was in position to back up Diaz, though. Burnett caught the ball and tossed it to Diaz, who tagged out Santiago at the plate (9-2-1-2).
Bixler, Ordaz, and Eldred  -- photo by NancyZ
NOTES:
Roster moves:
When the Pittsburgh Pirates added Josh Phelps, who they picked up from the Yankees on waivers, they needed to take someone else off the active roster. That someone turned out to be Brad Eldred — who had just been called up and placed on the active roster. Both Phelps and Eldred are first basemen/outfielders, and it was unlikely that both would have been kept on the roster. Eldred was with the Pirates for one day. He was the designated hitter in yesterday’s game, and went 0 for 4 (a pop out to shortstop, fly outs to right and center field, and ground out to second). Eldred flew from Indy to Anaheim, where the Pirates were playing, on Friday, played Friday night, and will fly to Toledo to join the Indians tomorrow.
Go Tribe!

Read More

Game #74 at Los Angeles

Angel Stadium | 9:05 | Snell vs. Kelvim Escobar | Box Four in a row. Ian Snell got destroyed; I didn’t watch much of the game, so I can’t tell if his blister might’ve led to a lack of control. He allowed 13 baserunners and 5 runs in 6 innings, by far his worst outing of the year. Tony Armas was sent in to mop things up. In his two innings, five more Angels crossed home plate. Ryan Doumit is 0 for his last 15....

Read More

Indians Fall to Mud Hens in 11 Innings

boxscore (Photos by NancyZ)
Yurendell de Caster -- photo by NancyZ
The Indianapolis Indians battled back every step of the way tonight, tying and re-tying the score, but they couldn’t hang on in the bottom of the 11th, and the Toledo Mud Hens won in walk-off fashion, by a score of 6-5, at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, Ohio. The win by the Mud Hens keeps them in second place in the International League West Division, but now they are only one game behind the Indians in the standings.
The Indians jumped off to a good start in the first inning against Toledo starter Jonathan Connolly. LF Matt Kata doubled into left field to open the inning. SS Brian Bixler, playing before friends and family just 30 miles from his hometown of Sandusky, Ohio, followed with a walk. 1B Yurendell de Caster’s (photo) RBI single brought in Kata with the game’s first run, and sent Bixler to second base. C Humberto Cota grounded into a double play, and 3B Jose Hernandez struck out to end the inning with Bixler left standing at third base.
Toledo came right back in the bottom of the inning to tie up the score, when SS Ramon Santiago led off with a home run to right field. Indians’ starter John Wasdin (photo below) gave up a single to 2B Kevin Hooper, but then got the next three batters out, two with strikeouts, to end the inning. Wasdin also struck out two of the three batters he faced in the second inning.
John Wasdin -- photo by NancyZ
The Mud Hens added more runs in the 4th inning. Wasdin got the first two batters out, then gave up a double to 3B Mike Hessman. DH Jack Hannahan lifted a blast over the right-center field walk, for a 2-run home run.
The Indians rallied again in the 6th inning. 2B Luis Ordaz led off with a double down the left field line. Matt Kata laid down a sacrifice bunt to the left side of the pitcher’s mound, which Connolly fielded cleanly, but threw wide of first base. Ordaz scored easily as the ball sailed into the bullpen, and Kata reached second base on the error. That chased Connolly from the game, and brought in Preston Larrison to pitch for the Mud Hens. Larrison was able to ignore Kata perched on second base, and quickly retired the next three batters to end the Tribe’s rally.

Russ Johnson -- photo by NancyZ
The top of the 7th inning brought another rally from the Indians. With one out, DH Russ Johnson (photo) smacked a single into right field. CF Luis Matos laid down a perfect bunt that hugged the edge of the infield grass and declined to go foul, as the Mud Hens’ 3B Hessman hoped it would. Matos was safe at first and Johnson moved to second base. RF Michael Ryan doubled into right field to score Johnson and tie the game. 2B Luis Ordaz flied out, and LF Matt Kata walked to load the bases. SS Brian Bixler grounded out to end the inning with the bases loaded.
The score didn’t stay tied for long. Hens’ DH Jack Hannahan started the bottom of the 7th by lifting another bomb over the right field wall for his second home run of the game.
Jesse Chavez -- photo by NancyZ
But then, the Hens didn’t stay ahead for long, either. The Tribe tied it up again in the top of the 8th. Yurendell de Caster greeted Hens’ reliever Jeremy Johnson by lining a single into right field. Humberto Cota lined out, and Jose Hernandez also singled to right field, moving de Caster to third base. Russ Johnson grounded a ball that bounced off 3B Mike Hessman’s glove and was fielded by SS Ramon Santiago who threw to second for the fielder’s choice. It did allow de Caster to score, though, to tie the score.
John Wasdin pitched a scoreless 8th inning, allowing a double by LF Timo Perez, but stranding him on base. Wasdin was finished after the 8th inning, having given up 4 runs on 8 hits, with no walks and 9 strikeouts. Reliever Jesse Chavez (photo) came in for the 9th inning. He allowed a hit by former Pirate farm-hand 1B Chris Shelton, then got Hessman to line out and Hannahan to fly out, before Chavez and Cota caught Shelton trying to steal second. That ended the inning, and sent the game into extra innings.
Luis Matos and Bam Bam Meulens  -- photo by NancyZ
The tenth inning was scoreless for both teams. In the top of the 11th, with one out, the Indians had three straight hits. CF Luis Matos (photo) and RF Michael Ryan hit back-to-back singles, and Luis Ordaz followed with an RBI double, scoring Matos from third base to give the Indians the lead for the first time in the game. Don Kelly, just placed on the Tribe roster today, went in to pinch-run for Ryan at third base. Matt Kata was intentionally walked, but then Brian Bixler and Yurendell de Caster both struck out to end the inning.
Don Kelly stayed in the game in the bottom of the inning, replacing Ryan in right field, and Franquelis Osoria came in to relieve Jesse Chavez. Chavez had pitched two scoreless innings, giving up 2 harmless hits. Osoria gave up back-to-back singles to LF Timo Perez and CF Ryan Raburn. Chris Shelton hit a sacrifice bunt, which moved the runners to second and third bases. Mike Hessman then slapped a single into left field, allowing Perez and Raburn to score the tying and go-ahead runs, for the walk-off win. Osoria was given the blown save and the loss. The win went to Hens’ reliever Aquilino Lopez, who pitched the last 1.1 innings for the Hens, giving up one run on 3 hits, with one walk and 3 strikeouts.
The Indians had a total of 12 hits in the game, and all the starters but one had at least one hit. Four Indians had two hits: Yurendell de Caster, Luis Matos, Michael Ryan, and Luis Ordaz.
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Luis Ordaz’s RBI double in the top of the 11th, which knocked in the go-ahead run for the Indians.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: The Luises’ double play in the bottom of the 8th, which ended a Mud Hens’ rally. Timo Perez had doubled and was off and running when Ryan Raburn lined into center field, clearly expecting to score the go-ahead run. But Luis Matos made a running catch of the line drive, and then threw to Luis Ordaz at second base to double up Perez for the third out.
NOTES:
Brad Eldred -- photo by NancyZ
Roster moves:
The Pirates recalled Brad Eldred (photo) after last night’s game. He has played in 23 games with the Indians, dividing his time between first base, right field, and designated hitter duties. Eldred has a .205 average with one double, 6 homers, 14 RBI’s, 5 walks, and 31 strikeouts.
INF Don Kelly, who accepted assignment to the Indians, joined the team today, and entered tonight’s game as a pinch runner.
RHP Dan Kolb was designated for assignment by the Pirates yesterday. They now have 10 days to trade or release him, or see if another team will take him on waivers. If he is not claimed on waivers, then Kolb can either become a free agent or accept assignment to come back to Indianapolis. Kolb has been with the Pirates for 12 days since being recalled from Indianapolis, and he has not pitched well in three appearances.
The Pirates have signed C/1B Josh Phelps off waivers from the NY Yankees. He is expected to be added to the Pirates roster by tomorrow, and join the Pirates in Anaheim. That will mean that someone else has to come off the roster — Brad Eldred again? another reliever? Expect more roster moves probably tomorrow. It would seem cruel to call Eldred up just to send him back down a day later.

Read More

Game #73 at Los Angeles

Angel Stadium | 10:05 | Duke vs. Joe Saunders | Box I’m not a fan of the late, West Coast start times. I’m even less of a fan when the games go extras. And I’m certainly not a fan of losing those extra-inning games the way we did tonight. At one point, the Angels retired 19 Pittsburgh Pirates in a row. Los Angeles’ bullpen threw five innings of one-hit ball; after scoring four runs in the first three frames,...

Read More