1985 Pirates Retrospective – Part 1

The 1979 Fam-A-Lee was given all sorts of well deserved attention during the 25th anniversary of their magical run. Now it is time to celebrate a team that did nothing: the 1985 Pirates. Why? Because I was 14 during the 1985 season. When I was 14 I was innocent. I was devoid of cynicism. I used to wear my Pirates Fun Food pins on my jacket to school. Salaries and payrolls were somewhat modest. Steroids were for football players. The...

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Three Homers Lift Indians

boxscore (photos by NancyZ )
Rajai  Davis crosses the plate after his home run  -- photo by NancyZ
(photo: Rajai Davis crosses the plate after his home run )
Three Indianapolis Indians hit solo homers today to lift the Tribe to a 5-2 win over the Charlotte Knights at Victory Field this afternoon. Rajai Davis hit his 4th homer of the season, Brian Bixler hit his third, and Luis Ordaz hit his first homer of the season, all to left field, where the wind was blowing out. Starter John Van Benschoten got the win to put his record at 6-3, Franquelis Osoria earned his third save of the season.
In a display of the Indians’ players versatility, not one of the starting nine played in the same position as yesterday’s starting nine. There were some changes in personnel — C Einar Diaz and DH Michael Ryan did not play at all yesterday, and of course, there was a different pitcher. Today Jose Hernandez was playing first base instead of Brad Eldred, who was playing right field. Second baseman Luis Ordaz and shortstop Brian Bixler were back at their usual spots, as opposed to the swap they had yesterday (Ordaz at shortstop and Bixler at second ). Nick Green was at third base instead of right field. Yesterday Luis Matos was in center field and Rajai Davis was in left field; today they had swapped back to their more usual positions, with Davis in center and Matos in left.
Luis Ordaz crosses the plate after his home run -- photo by NancyZ
(photo: Luis Ordaz crosses the plate with his solo home run. )
Rajai Davis led off the bottom of the 1st inning in style for the Tribe, by taking Knights starter Vladimir Nunez’s fourth pitch over the left field wall and into the grass berm for a solo home run. “I didn’t want to do too much in my first at-bat”, said Davis after the game. “To be honest, I was just looking to put the ball in play. Fortunately, I was able to get the barrel of the bat through the strike zone on an inside fastball.”
That single run was looking very big for awhile — it was the only run scored for the first 4.5 innings. Nunez held the Indians in check after Davis’s homer, giving up only two more hits and one walk over the first 4 innings. He also struck out 5 Tribe batters in those 4 innings.
In the bottom of the 5th, Luis Ordaz and Brian Bixler got in on the home run fun. Ordaz led off the inning by hitting a long fly over the middle part of the left field wall, for his first homer of the season. When he got back to the dugout, of course, he was not greeted by high-fiving teammates. Everyone remained sitting quietly — until Ordaz had put his bat away and started to walk along the bench. Then his teammates all started laughing, and congratulated him.

Brian Bixler is congratulated by Trent Jewett on his home run -- photo by NancyZ )
(photo: Manager Trent Jewett congratulates Brian Bixler as he circles the bases on his homer. )
Einar Diaz was next to bat in the 5th inning, and he ripped a double into the gap in left-center field. With Rajai Davis at the plate, Knight’s C Wiki Gonzalez’s threw to second in an attempt to pick Diaz off base. But Diaz took off for third base as Gonzalez threw, and the throw was off target and into center field. Diaz made it to third on the stolen base, and then came home on the throwing error, for the Indians’ third run of the game. Davis flied out to short left field, bringing Brian Bixler to the plate. Bixler smashed a line drive into the grass berm above left field for the second home run of the inning.
Nunez lasted 6 innings, giving up those 4 earned runs on 6 hits, with 2 walks and 6 strikeouts. Andrew Sisco, a 6’10″ reliever, pitched a scoreless 7th for Charlotte. The Indians scored an insurance run off him in the 8th inning, though. Jose Hernandez proved that he had not used up all the hits in his bat last night, slamming a double to the 418 ft sign in left-center field. He scored on Nick Green’s single up the middle, for the Tribe’s 5th run.
Bixler steals second  -- photo by NancyZ
(photo: Brian Bixler steals second base in the first inning. )
Besides home runs from Davis and Ordaz, Brian Bixler went 3 for 4 in the game, with a homer and 2 singles. Einar Diaz went 2 for 3, with a single and a double.
Charlotte batters were not as fortunate. They posted only 6 hits, two each by 2B Jason Bourgeois and C Wiki Gonzalez, and one each by CF Ryan Sweeney and DH Ernie Young. Indians starter John Van Benschoten (photo below ) pitched 5 scoreless innings, while scattering 5 hits and striking out 5 batters. In the 6th inning, a walk to DH Ernie Young and a two-run homer by C Wiki Gonzalez scored the Knights’ only runs of the game.
John Van Benschoten  -- photo by NancyZ
CF Rajai Davis praised Van Benschoten after the game:
“‘Johnny V’ had great stuff today. He was throwing strikes, and challenging the Charlotte hitters. As a position player, that’s all you can ask of your starting pitcher. His ability to throw strikes always keeps the seven guys behind him in the game. ‘Johnny V’ had several quick innings today, and that helped our offense stay in a rhythm.
“We go out and try to win every game, but I think this team expects to win when ‘Johnny V’ is on the mound. We’re fortunate to have a lot of talented pitchers on this staff, and he’s no exception. We go through our pre-game routines with a lot of confidence when it’s John’s day to pitch. He’s given this team a lift at several points during the season, and that’s what he did again today.”
Franquelis Osoria  -- photo by NancyZ
After the homer by Gonzalez, Van Benschoten walked RF Kenny Kelly, and then made a wide throw to first in an attempt to pick off Kelly. The ball went all the way to the wall and appeared to get hung up in the rolled-up tarp or some other piece of equipment and was ruled unplayable, so Kelly was able to advance only to second base. Van Benschoten then threw three pitches to 3B Gustavo Molina — a strike, and then two balls, with the third pitch nearly getting away from C Einar Diaz. At that point, in the middle of the at-bat, manager Trent Jewett jumped up off his bench and had pitching coach Jeff Andrews signal to the bullpen as Jewett went out to the mound. Van Benschoten was relieved in the middle of the at-bat, in favor of Franquelis Osoria (photo ). Osoria threw two more pitches, and Molina ground out to third base. Osoria remained in the game and pitched three perfect innings, to finish the game and earn his 3rd save.
Brad Eldred's outfield catch I -- photo by NancyZ
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Once again, three homers, by Rajai Davis, Luis Ordaz, and Brian Bixler. Ordaz’s was the most fun, though, since it was his first of the year, and since his teammates teased him by pretending not to notice that he’d hit one. Ordaz also hit one home run in each of 2005 and 2006, with the Durham Bulls. In 2004, also with the Bulls, Ordaz hit 3 homers.
Indians’s defensive gem of the game: In the bottom of the second, Casey Rogowski lifted a long fly ball to right-center field. Brad Eldred, playing right field for the first time on this homestand, ran back and toward center field, and made the catch right in front of the wall, then ran into the wall and tumbled to the ground, but managed to hold onto the ball for the out. (see photos )
Brad Eldred's outfield catch II  -- photo by NancyZ
Rajai Davis extended his hitting streak to 21 games. Said Davis in the post-game interview: “I’ve really trusted my abilities over these past three weeks. I’ve gone to the batter’s box with the mentality that the opposing pitcher is not going to throw it by me. I’ve also been focused on consistently hitting the ball to right field. I’ve been trying to stay back on the breaking pitches, so I can take them the opposite way.”
Davis’s streak ties the record set by Eduardo Perez for the longest hitting streak by an Indians player in the Victory Field era. In 1996, from April 12th – May 9th, Perez had a hit in 21 straight games. In 1991, Todd Haney had a 20 game hitting streak with the Indians.
Einar Diaz extended his hitting streak to 8 games.
Columbus’s Brandon Watson also extended his hitting streak today to 31 games.
Brad Eldred's outfield catch III -- photo by NancyZ
The Indians have now hit 13 homers in the last 6 games. They only hit 9 home runs in the month of April.
This was the third time this season that the Indians have hit two home runs in the same inning (Ordaz and Bixler today ). It also happened just last week, on May 31st (Davis and Eldred ), and on May 14th (Aguila and Ryan, back-to-back ).
Masumi Kuwata has a bruise on his left arm/wrist where he got hit by a come-backer in his debut yesterday, but he is ok, and it should not interfere with future outings.
Yurendell de Caster, who came out of the game after 5 innings 3 days ago, has not played since. He has some back soreness.
Vote for your Indians to be on the International League All-Star team! Fan votes will count for 1/3 of the total vote. Media votes will also count for 1/3, and team managers, coaches, and general managers will have a 1/3 vote. You may vote a maximum of 25 times between now and June 22nd.
vote here
Go Tribe!

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1985 Pirates Retrospective – Part 2

Continuing the series of posts on the 1985 Pirates… Recapping 1984 The Pirates prospects for 1984 certainly weren’t strong. Following 1983 Dave Parker left for his hometown of Cincinnati after a couple of years of jeers and batteries being thrown at him in Pittsburgh. The Pirates also traded Mike Easler to Boston for John Tudor. The Pirates were hoping to replace some of that offense with Amos Otis, who was signed as a...

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Kuwata Makes His North American Debut

boxscore (photos by NancyZ )
Masumi  Kuwata  -- photo by NancyZ
more background information on Kuwata
Masumi Kuwata has seen the start of his dream: to pitch in the US. It wasn’t the major leagues, but it was the US, and it was baseball, and he went off the field with a big smile on his face.
Kuwata (photo ) pitched one inning, the 4th, in the Indianapolis Indians’ 9-5 win over the Charlotte Knights at Victory Field on Saturday night. John Wasdin, on a rehab assignment from the Pittsburgh Pirates after spraining his right thumb, started the game for the Indians. Wasdin pitched three innings, throwing 51 pitches. He started off with two scoreless innings, and gave up a lone double to former Pirate Craig Wilson in the second inning. There was a little trouble in the 3rd inning. With one out, Knights’ C Gustavo Molina blooped a single into short right field that fell in when there seemed to be some communication difficulties between the middle infielders and the outfielders. 2B Jason Bourgeois followed with a line drive double to center field, which moved Molina to third. A ground out to second base by SS Tomas Perez scored Molina. 3B Josh Fields smacked a single to left field to score Bourgeois. Wasdin ended the inning by striking out LF Craig Wilson, leaving the Knights with two runs, and a tied score.
Masumi Kuwata -- photo by  NancyZ
Masumi Kuwata (photo ) had been warming up in the bullpen as Wasdin was pitching in the third inning. His bullpen throws were quick, one right after another with very little pause between them. He strolled to the mound after the end of the 3rd inning, as if he were trying to be inconspicuous, and since the between-inning entertainment, a menagerie of team and corporate ‘mascots’, were dancing around on the dugouts and in the foul territories around home plate, many people in the park probably didn’t even see the change in pitchers. But when the mascots got out of the way, and the players were on the field, the stadium announcer, made sure everyone heard: this is Masumi Kuwata, and he’s a very big deal in Japan, and now he’s HERE, with our Indians.

Ministral and Jewett examine Kuwata's hand  --- photo by NancyZ
Kuwata threw 10 pitches. His first was a ball, then a called strike on Knights’ CF Ryan Sweeney. Sweeney hit the third pitch, a comebacker that bounced off Kuwata’s glove hand and rolled over towards second base, where no one could reach it, for an infield hit. Manager Trent Jewett and trainer Jose Ministral joined C David Parrish and Kuwata on the mound, to examine Kuwata’s left hand. Kuwata kept nodding — presumably saying that he was ok — and he was given the opportunity to throw a few pitches to see if he was going to have a problem. After just one pitch, he nodded again: yes, he was fine. Then he proved that he was indeed fine, by striking out DH Ernie Young, and then throwing to first base to catch Ryan Sweeney off base. 1B Casey Rogowski flied out to center field to end the inning.
Bixler congratulates Hernandez on his home run  -- photo by NancyZ
(Photo — Jose Hernandez is congratulated after his home run.)
Meanwhile, the Indians were working against Charlotte’s knuckleball starter, Charlie Haeger. The Indians’ hitters had looked at a few knuckleballs from manager Trent Jewett during batting practice before the game. So, despite the waggles and drops and shifts of Haeger’s pitches, they were able to get 5 hits and 5 runs, plus 4 walks from Haeger in his 5 innings. Jose Hernadez led the attack, getting on base 5 times in 5 at-bats, with a single, a double, a home run, a walk, and being hit by a pitch.
Luis Matos on first base, with Bam Bam Meulens  -- photo by NancyZ
The Indians got two runs in the second inning, when CF Luis Matos (photo ) singled to center field, and advanced to second on SS Luis Ordaz’s walk. C David Parrish smoked a double into center field, scoring Matos, and moving Ordaz to third. LF Rajai Davis’s grounder to shortstop plated Ordaz. With the score tied going into the bottom of the third, 1B Brad Eldred led off with a single up the middle. He advanced to second on a walk to Jose Hernandez, and took third after the tag when 3B Russ Johnson flied out to the base of the wall in deep center field — just a couple of feet from being a home run. RF Nick Green’s sacrifice fly scored Eldred easily. The Tribe added two more in the 5th inning. 2B Brian Bixler walked and stole second base, and when Knights C Gustavo Molina’s throw sailed into center field, Bixler took third (photo below ). Minutes later, Hernandez launched a two-run homer into right-center field.
Brian Bixler slides into second as the throw goes wide -- photo by NancyZ
That was the end of knuckleballer Haeger. Reliever Paulino Reynoso entered the game in the 6th inning. With two out, C David Parrish (photo below ) lifted one over the left field wall for a homer, his second in his month with the Tribe. Reynoso also gave up singles to Rajai Davis and Brian Bixler, but they were left stranded on base.
David Parrish -- photo by NancyZ
The 7th inning did not start well for Reynoso. Jose Hernandez led off with a double into the right-center field gap. After a fly out to Russ Johnson, Nick Green, Luis Matos, and Luis Ordaz hit consecutive singles. Green’s scored Hernandez, and Ordaz’s scored Green. Reynoso was sent to the showers, and left-hander Carlos Vasquez was brought in. He got David Parrish to ground out, but then walked Rajai Davis on 4 pitches to load the bases. A wild pitch to Brian Bixler allowed Matos to score easily, as it took a few seconds for Knight’s C Molina to find the ball after it got past him. Bixler grounded out to end the scoring there, with the Indians ahead 9-2. Vasquez did not have an easy 9th inning either, as he hit Hernandez and walked Russ Johnson, but he kept the Indians from scoring any further runs.
While the Indians’ batters were busy scoring runs, pitcher Michael Tejera was busy keeping the Knights from scoring any of their own. Tejera pitched 4 scoreless innings, scattering 3 hits and striking out two. He was aided by some excellent fielding by middle infielders Brian Bixler and Luis Ordaz, who had swapped their usual positions for this game: Bixler, who is usually the shortstop, was playing second base, and Ordaz left his usual second base to play shortstop. The swap didn’t seem to bother either one, as both ranged easily to either side and covered second base flawlessly.
teammates congratulate David Parrish on his homer -- photo by NancyZ
(Photo — Indians congratulate teammate David Parrish on his home run. )
The Knights attempted a come-back in the 9th inning, but fell short. With reliever Dan Kolb pitching, the first 3 batters reached base. Ryan Sweeney singled, Ernie Young was hit by a pitch, and 1B Casey Rogowski also singled to load the bases. Kolb struck out LF Kenny Kelly, but then Gustavo Molina looped a single to center, which scored Sweeney. Jason Bourgeois also singled, and Young scored. Tomas Perez’s fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop scored Rogowski, and moved Molina to third, but got Bourgeois out at second. Josh Fields then hit an easy grounder to shortstop Luis Ordaz for the quick flip to Brian Bixler covering second for the final out.
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Jose Hernandez, going 3 for 3, and getting on base in all 5 at-bats, with a homer, a double, and a single.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: Middle Infielders Brian Bixler and Luis Ordaz. In the 6th, with Craig Wilson at the plate, and a defensive overshift on, there were three infielders between second and third bases. Bixler, playing second, was positioned behind and to the left field side of the second base bag. Wilson grounded a ball to the right side of second base, close to where Bixler would normally play. No problem — Bixler just zoomed over behind second base, scooped the ball bare-handed, and fired to first in time for the out. In the 8th inning, Ordaz hustled around to scoop up a slow hit, to get the toss off to Bixler covering second. They did the same thing twice more in the 9th inning. And, in the 8th, Bixler ran over behind first base to catch a short pop fly there.
Brad Eldred leads off third  -- photo by NancyZ
(Photo — Brad Eldred leads off third base in the 3rd inning. )
Rajai Davis’s single in the 6th inning pushed his hitting streak to 20 games. This is the longest hitting streak of Davis’s career and the second-longest hitting streak currently running in the International League. Brandon Watson of the Columbus Clippers has a 30-game hitting streak.
Other fun stats, part I:
Russ Johnson has reach base safely, with either a hit or a walk, in all but 3 of the 44 games he has played in for the Tribe.
Other fun stats, part II:
The Indians have hit 10 home runs in this homestand (6 games so far ), and they put up only 9 homers in the entire month of April.
Other fun stats, part III:
Brian Bixler stole second base twice in the game, for his 9th and 10th of the season. He still has not been caught stealing this season.
A new Tribe fan is born:
Marty McLeary and his wife welcomed their newborn son this weekend. Mom and baby are doing well.
Lou Collier, former Indianapolis Indian (2000 – 2001 ), who we saw a few weeks ago playing with the Ottawa Lynx, has announced his retirement after 14 years in baseball.
INF Brent Lillibridge, a former Pirates’ farmhand who was traded to the Atlanta Braves’ organization in the Pirates’ deal for Adam LaRoche, has been promoted from the AA Mississippi Braves to the AAA Richmond Braves. The Richmond Braves will be in Indianapolis at the end of June.
Go Tribe!

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Game #56 vs. Los Angeles

PNC Park | 1:35 | Gorzelanny vs. Brad Penny | Box So, I predicted a pitcher’s duel in the pre-game notes. Brad Penny entered Sunday with an ERA just above two, and we all know how iffy the Pirates’ offense has been. Imagine my surprise then when I jumped into the car after an errand, turned on the radio and heard the Pirates were ahead, 4-0. I drove a couple miles, headed into Best Buy for a few minutes, came back out and...

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Bullington, Burnett and JVB should stay at Indy

A couple of quotes in today’s Pittsburgh newspapers made me think about a discussion we’ve had in the past. First, from the Post-Gazette: “We’re just going to give it a rest for a while,” [Sean] Burnett said [of his tired left arm] by phone from Indianapolis. “I don’t know if maybe I pushed it a little too hard in spring training trying to make the team or what, but it really started to feel...

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