When Do I Get My Chance to See Pirate Greatness?

No offense to the rest of you old fogeys, but I’m in my prime. Early 20s, college student, all that jazz. No one’s going to call me a geezer. I have the whole world in front of me. My only question is this: Will the Pirates ever be a competitive baseball team in my lifetime? An entry in Dejan Kovacevic’s Post-Gazette Q&A hit home this morning: I am 22 and vaguely remember watching the Bucs vs. Braves at my...

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Pirates Sign Moskos; Kendall Traded to Chicago

Dejan Kovacevic is reporting in the Post-Gazette that the Pirates have come to terms with their first round draft pick, left-handed pitcher Daniel Moskos.  The official announcement will come later today, likely just before this evening’s game against the Rockies. KDKA speculates that Moskos will report to the State College Spikes, a short-season Single-A team.  Duke Welker and Matthew Foust, the Pirates’ second and sixth...

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Indians Let Opportunities Slip By

boxscore (photos by NancyZ)
Trent Jewett congratulates Luis Matos  -- photo by NancyZ
The Indianapolis Indians had the bases loaded four times in three innings, and could only bring one of those base runners home, as they left 13 runners on base in an 8-5 loss to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees at Victory Field tonight. The Yankees’ batters blasted three home runs, while CF Luis Matos homered for the Indians (photo — manager Trent Jewett congratulates Luis Matos). The loss drops the Indians to 5 games behind the first-place Toledo Mud Hens in the International League West Division.
Indians’ starting pitcher Bryan Bullington had a tough first inning. He struck out two batters, but gave up singles to Yankee’s RF Justin Christian, who then stole second base, DH Shelley Duncan, and SS Angel Chavez. Duncan’s single scored Christian, and Chavez’s scored Duncan, to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
After the first inning, Bullington settled down. He pitched four perfect innings, including three more strikeouts.
Luis Matos congratulated by teammates -- photo by NancyZ
Yankees’ starter Tyler Clippard held off the Indians for the first two innings, but the Indians got on the scoreboard in the 3rd inning. CF Luis Matos (photo) led off the inning by smashing a solo home run over the left field wall, over the grass berm, and all the way to the sidewalk beyond. DH Russ Johnson singled into center field and advanced to second base on a Clippard wild pitch. SS Brian Bixler’s ground out moved Johnson to third base. LF Michael Ryan lifted a lazy-looking single into center field, which scored Johnson. 1B Brad Eldred also singled, which advanced Ryan to third, and then Eldred went to second when Clippard threw a second wild pitch. A walk to 3B Jose Hernandez loaded the bases with two out. But the Indians couldn’t go any further than a 2-2 tie score, as RF Yurendell de Caster, who had a .364 batting average with the bases loaded, ended the inning by striking out.

Humberto Cota -- photo by NancyZ
In the 5th inning, the Tribe added two more runs. Yankees’ Tyler Clippard gave up back-to-back singles to Brian Bixler and Michael Ryan, then hit Brad Eldred in the left arm with a pitch to load the bases. Jose Hernandez struck out,and then Yurendell de Caster worked a walk, forcing in a run (Bixler). Clippard headed for the showers, and reliever Steven Jackson entered the game, with the bases still loaded and one out. C Humberto Cota (photo) lifted a long fly ball to the deepest part of left-center field (which would have been a grand slam in many other parks) for a sacrifice fly, scoring Ryan and moving Eldred to third base. Luis Matos was hit by a pitch, again loading the bases. A fielder’s choice grounder by 2B Luis Ordaz forced out Matos at second to end the inning.
Bryan Bullington  -- photo by NancyZ
With the Indians sending 8 batters to the plate in the bottom of the 5th, Bryan Bullington (photo) was forced to sit for quite a long time before going out to the mound again in the top of the 6th. Reliever Jonah Bayliss started to warm up in the bullpen as Bullington started the inning. Bullington walked CF Brett Gardner and then gave up a home run to RF Justin Christian, to tie up the score. Bayliss took over, and struck out LF Kevin Reese, but then gave up a solo home run to DH Shelley Duncan before ending the inning, with the Yankees ahead 5-4.
The Tribe tied it up again in the bottom of the 6th. With one out, Brian Bixler and Michael Ryan again hit consecutive singles — Bixler dropped down a perfect bunt and outran the fielders, and Ryan skipped one between infielders and behind Bixler into right field, moving Bixler to third base. Yankees’ Chris Britton came in to relieve Steven Jackson, and Britton faced Brad Eldred first. Eldred grounded to SS Angel Chavez, who tried to turn a double play. Ryan was out at second base, but the relay from 2B Andy Cannizaro to 1B Eric Duncan was not in time. Eldred was safe at first, and so Bixler’s run scored, and the score was tied 5-5. Eldred stole second base, his third stolen base of the season, with a head-first slide into second. He was left standing at second, though, when Jose Hernandez flied out.
Michael Ryan, Trent Jewett, and Brad Eldred -- photo by NancyZ
(photo: Michael Ryan, Trent Jewett, and Brad Eldred confer at third base)
Jonah Bayliss was the victim of a miscue in the 7th inning. Yankees’ 3B Chris Basak hit a short fly ball to center field. Luis Matos charged in, and got to the ball in time, but the ball hit the palm of his glove and bounced out again, allowing Basak to reach second base safely. Basak moved to third base on Andy Cannizaro’s sacrifice bunt, and scored when C Omir Santos smacked a single down the left field line, bouncing high over 3B Jose Hernandez’s head.
The Yankees scored two insurance runs in the 8th inning. Josh Sharpless entered the game in relief of Bayliss, and he was greeted by a long blast from LF Kevin Reese for a solo homer to right field. Shelley Duncan followed wtih a single, but was forced out at second base on Angel Chavez’s grounder to SS Brian Bixler. Bixler attempted to start a double play, but the relay from 2B Luis Ordaz to 1B Brad Eldred went wide and pulled Eldred off the base, and Chavez was safe at first. Eric Duncan hit a grounder sharply into right field, just between the first base bag and Brad Eldred, who made a dive to his left in an attempt to spear it. That moved Chavez to third base, where he could easily score on Chris Basak’s sacrifice fly.
Juan Perez pitched the 9th inning for the Indians, setting the Yankees down in order.
Yurendell de Caster -- photo by NancyZ
The Indians were not able to do any further damage in their last three innings. Chris Britton also pitched the 7th inning. He gave up a walk to Yurendell de Caster (photo), de Caster’s third walk of the game, and a bloop single to Luis Matos, and then ended the inning by inducing Luis Ordaz to hit into a double play.
Former Indianapolis Indian Jim Brower, now the All-Star closer for the Yankees, set his former teammates down in order in the 8th inning. With one out in the 9th, Brower walked Jose Hernandez, hit Yurendell de Caster in the back with a pitch, got Humberto Cota to fly out, and then hit Luis Matos on the hand with a pitch to load the bases. Once again, though, the Indians couldn’t capitalize, and Luis Ordaz hit a fly out to end the game.
Yankees’ reliever Chris Britton was charged with a blown save, but then later earned the win, his 3rd of the season. Jim Brower (photo below) got the save. Jonah Bayliss, who gave up the unearned run in the 7th inning, took the loss, his first with the Indians this season. Indians’ Michael Ryan went 3 for 5 on the night, while Brian Bixler went 2 for 5 and Luis Matos went 2 for 3. Yurendell de Caster walked three times and was hit by a pitch.
Jim Brower -- photo by NancyZ
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Luis Matos’ solo home run in the 3rd inning — all the way to the sidewalk.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: Bryan Bullington’s four perfect innings. That included a leaping catch of a high bounce, off an “oops” swing by Andy Cannizaro in the second inning. Bullington came out of his motion and had to twist and leap towards the third base side of the mound, ending with his back to home plate. Then he turned and threw to first for the out.
Luis Matos was hit by a pitch twice in today’s game and once in yesterday’s game. That makes 14 times this season he’s been hit, leading the league. Brian Bixler has been hit 12 times. In fact, the Indians lead the league with 66 times batters have been hit.
According to Howard Kellman and Scott McCauley, Jonah Bayliss has organized the relievers into a high-sock bullpen. They are all going to be wearing their socks high (or their pants-legs high, depending on how you look at it) until the bullpen as a group is doing a better job in relief.
Go Tribe!

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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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