Game #88 vs. Cubs

PNC Park | 1:35 | Youman vs. Carlos Zambrano | Box The Pirates finished out the first half with four series wins. They went 7-3 over their last 10, beating Ben Sheets and Carlos Zambrano in the process. They made up a little ground in the NL Central standings. Still, at 40-48, they’re on pace to finish the 2007 season with 73 wins. This afternoon, Shane Youman threw a quality start, Shawn Chacon and Matt Capps pitched three...

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Indians Fall to Tides

boxscore (photos by NancyZ)
The Indianapolis Indians could not hold on to keep the Norfolk Tides from scoring, and lost by a score of 5-1 at Victory Field last night. Tribe starter Marty McLeary gave up 5 hits and only one run in 6 innings, but the Tides came back in the late innings to take the lead and the win.
McLeary allowed Norfolk runners on base due to walks and a passed ball on a swinging third strike, but no hits for the first three innings. The Tides threatened in the 3rd inning, when lead-off batter CF Tike Redman walked, stole second base, and took third base on a sacrifice bunt by 2B Eider Torres. 1B Mike Cervenak bounced a grounder to Indians’ 3B Russ Johnson. Johnson showed why he leads all third basemen in the International League in fielding percentage: he was in the perfect position to catch the high hop, set himself perfectly, and made a perfect throw to C Humberto Cota, who caught the ball while squatting square in the base path and waited for Redman to start his slide, so that he could tag Redman out.
Russ Johnson and Marty McLeary  -- photo by NancyZ
(Photo: Russ Johnson and Marty McLeary discuss the situation)
The Tides put up their first two hits in the 4th inning. 3B Terry Tiffee hit one up the middle, but was forced out at second base on a fielder’s choice by RF Adam Stern. Stern stole second base, and moved to third base on a hit by C Alberto Castillo. Castillo’s liner glanced off the top of the leaping Russ Johnson’s glove, and would have meant extra bases, and possibly a run, but Indians’ SS Brian Bixler was behind Johnson to back him up, and kept the ball from going into the outfield. (And that is why Bixler is the starting shortstop on the IL All-Star Team).
The only run McLeary allowed came in the 6th inning, when Adam Stern lifted a long fly ball deep in the right field corner. RF Brad Eldred chased it, but the field ran out before the ball did, and Eldred stood with hands on the outfield wall as the ball finally came down right on the edge of the grass berm above the right field corner.

Adam Boeve -- photo by NancyZ
Norfolk starter Craig Anderson was not as successful at keeping the Indians’ batters from getting hits, but he was successful in keeping them from crossing the plate. LF Adam Boeve (photo) lined a single into left field to lead off the bottom of the first, but he was erased on a double play. C Humberto Cota led off the Tribe’s 2nd inning with a single up the middle, and he was also erased on a double play. Boeve and SS Brian Bixler each singled in the 4th inning, but were left stranded on base. The Indians got to the Australian Anderson in the 6th inning, without the benefit of a hit. With one out, Boeve walked. With Brian Bixler at the plate and an 0-2 count, Boeve stole second base, and took third base when the throw from Tides’ C Castillo went wide to the right side of second base. On the very next pitch, manager Trent Jewett called for one of his favorite tricks: As Boeve charged for home, Bixler laid down the perfect squeeze bunt, about a third of the way down the first base line, just where the lefty Anderson would need to take a couple of extra steps to get to it. Bixler actually backed away, out of the batter’s box and backwards toward the dugout after he hit the ball, so that he’d be out of Boeve’s way as he came across the plate. Only then did he start moving towards first, where Anderson easily tagged him out.
Anderson seemed to have strained his leg in making that play, and he came out of the game. Reliever Jim Hoey entered the game in relief, and he finished out the inning, and then pitched a perfect 7th inning. In the 8th inning, the Indians loaded the bases when 2B Luis Ordaz doubled into right field, and Boeve and Bixler both walked. Cory Doyne, who leads the International League with 24 saves, came in to relieve Hoey. He retired the next two Indians batters, plus three more in the 9th inning, in order to end the game.
Ricardo Rodriguez  -- photo by NancyZ
Marty McLeary was done after 6 innings, and newcomer Ricardo Rodriguez entered the game in relief. He allowed only a walk in the scoreless 7th inning. Then things fell apart for him in the 8th inning. Adam Stern hit a grounder right back at Rodriguez, but he couldn’t get his glove on it, and Stern was safe on the error. Alberto Castillo walked, and then SS Luis Hernandez bounced a bunt just to the 3rd base side of the pitching mound, and again Rodriguez couldn’t handle it. That loaded the bases with no outs. Tike Redmond singled into right field, scoring Stern. Eider Torres smacked a bouncer right back to Rodriguez, who threw it home, to force out Castillo at home for the first out off the inning. The bases were still loaded, and 1B Mike Cervenak, who is hitting over .500 against the Indians this season, sliced a 2-run single, scoring both Luis Hernandez and Redman. Rodriguez struck out Jon Knott on three straight fastballs to end the inning.
Mark Corey  -- photo by NancyZ
Reliever Mark Corey (photo) pitched the 9th inning for the Indians. The Tides got one more insurance run when DH Luis Montanez lifted a solo homer over the right field wall.
The loss drops the Indians to 2 games behind first place Toledo, with Louisville another 1.5 games back in 3rd place.
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Brian Bixler’s perfect sacrifice squeeze bunt in the 6th inning, which scored the Indians’ only run. No doubt why he’s on the All-Star team.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: Russ Johnson’s play on Tike Redman’s grounder in the 3rd inning, fielding the ball and throwing home to keep a run from scoring.
NOTES:
Brian Bixler extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a precisely placed bunt hit in the 4th inning. By the time the ball was fielded and fired to first, Bixler was already there.
Brian Bixler -- photo by NancyZ
Brian Bixler (photo) was also named the Indians’ Player of the Month for June, and he got his award before the game.
Go Tribe!

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Game #87 vs. Cubs

PNC Park | 7:05 | Van Benschoten vs. Ted Lilly | Box Nothing went right on Saturday night. Adam LaRoche was a late scratch, Xavier Nady and Jason Bay combined to go 0 for 7 in the middle of the order, and John Van Benschoten was out of control. The Cubs’ offense took advantage early, and Chicago held on to win, 7-1. JVB lasted only 2.2 innings, throwing 47 of his 73 pitches for strikes. He walked three and allowed seven hits....

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Game #86 vs. Cubs

PNC Park | 7:05 | Maholm vs. Jason Marquis | Box Adam LaRoche has visions of a pennant dancing through his head: The combination of the jump in offensive production and steady pitching has led the Bucs to a 6-2 start to this homestand, and given them some newfound confidence. “Going off the past, we hadn’t been doing so well,” LaRoche said. “So you go in thinking, ‘Well, if we can win five or six then,...

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Heads Will Roll: McClatchy to Step Down

Hat tip to Tony Ferrante of The Confluence of the Three Rivers and The Steel Tradition on this one. As Dejan Kovacevic just published in the Post-Gazette, “Kevin McClatchy will step down as the Pirates’ chief executive officer at the end of this season, the team will announce later today.” From Wikipedia: Kevin McClatchy was the leader and plurality investor in a group that paid $95 million for the Pittsburgh Pirates...

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New Pirate Blogs!

First, let me say that I realize this is a cop-out post, and I’ll have something more substantial up later this afternoon. But, I’ve been meaning to do this for awhile. It seems like new Pirate blogs are popping up every day—see how lovable our losers are?—and I figured I’d point you in their directions, should you not have noticed them yet. I know that when I was getting my start, I appreciated the links...

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