Game #71 at Seattle

Safeco Field | 10:05 | Maholm vs. Jeff Weaver | Box Jeff Weaver looked great. The Pirates lost, 7-0. Keep in mind that this can only get worse. In their next four games, the Pirates face Felix Hernandez, Jered Weaver, Kelvim Escobar and John Lackey. Our offense was very bad. The bats managed a mere four hits off the worst starting pitcher in baseball. I can’t wait to see what they do against guys with Cy Young-caliber stuff....

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Last Year's Trade Deadline Could've Been a Lot Worse

I don’t often write about being right … but for some reason, I feel vindicated. I’m sure Dave Littlefield does, too. A long time ago, during the off-season, I believe, I put up a post about how the Pirates’ 2006 trade deadline deals weren’t that awful. No, we didn’t maximize our returns—but the junk we traded away wasn’t worth much to begin with. I was laughed at. Consider this a...

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Einar Is the Hero in the Tenth

boxscore (Photos by NancyZ)
Einar Diaz was the hero -- photo by NancyZ
Another close game with the Pawtucket Red Sox, another see-sawing score, another walk-off win for the Indians. This time, the hero was C Einar Diaz (photo), who brought in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning, giving the Indians the 4-3 win over the Red Sox at Victory Field. It was also another disappointing outing for Red Sox reliever Travis Hughes, who allowed the Indians to score the winning run for the second night in a row.
It was Pawtucket’s turn to get on the scoreboard first in this game. CF Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game against Tribe starter Marty McLeary by grounding a single under the glove of the diving 1B Brad Eldred. Ellsbury stole second base and moved to third when Pawtucket’s 3B Joe McEwing grounded out. A double into the left-center field gap by RF David Murphy scored Ellsbury. McLeary then settled down and struck out the next two batters, DH Michael Tucker and LF Brandon Moss, to end the inning.
Brad Eldred's Home Run -- photo by NancyZ
The Indians tied it up in the bottom of the 2nd. Pawsox starter David Pauley had retired the top of the order in the 1st inning. But the Tribe’s 2nd inning started off with a solo bomb from 1B Brad Eldred (photo). He smashed a long long fly to the wall in straight-away center field, which had Pawtucket’s CF Jacoby Ellsbury climbing the wall in a vain attempt to reach it. It was Eldred’s 6th home run for the Indians this season.
The Indians picked up another run in the 3rd inning. SS Luis Ordaz led off the inning by lining a single into right field. 2B Matt Kata followed by looping another single into center field. DH Brian Bixler tried to advance them with a sacrifice bunt, but was out when his third bunt attempt went foul. RF Yurendell de Caster doubled into center field, scoring Ordaz, to break the tie. A walk to 3B Russ Johnson loaded the bases, but Humberto Cota, who started the game as catcher, grounded into a fielder’s choice, forcing out Johnson to end the rally.

Marty McLeary  -- photo by NancyZ
Marty McLeary (photo) had kept the Red Sox off the board in the 2nd inning, and also in the 3rd inning despite an attempt at a rally. With two out in the 3rd, David Murphy singled and Michael Tucker walked on 4 pitches. Both runners advanced when McLeary threw a wild pitch. But McLeary ended the rally before it could really get underway, when he again struck out Brandon Moss to end the inning.
Pawtucket came back to tie the score again in the top of the 4th inning. With one out, 2B Bobby Scales singled to right and C George Kottaras blasted a double to the 405′ sign in center field. Scales motored all the way from first to cross the plate and tie the game. SS Ed Rogers grounded out, allowing Kottaras to advance to third. Jacoby Ellsbury had the crowd holding its collective breath as he hit a long fly ball deep to center. It might have been a home run in most ballparks in the league, but not in Victory Field, and not with Luis Matos patrolling center field. Matos turned his back on the infield and ran back almost to the wall, turning to look first over one shoulder then the other, and finally arriving at just the right spot at just the right time, and catching the ball with his back still to the infield. That ended the inning and kept another run off the board.
Luis Matos -- photo by NancyZ
Of course, since he’d just made that spectacular catch in the top of the inning, who else would be leading off the bottom of the 4th — Luis Matos, of course (photo). He singled into center field to get another rally started. LF Michael Ryan walked. Luis Ordaz grounded into a fielder’s choice, with PawSox shortstop Ed Rogers scooping the grounder and flipping it to 3B Joe McEwing to force out Matos at third base. Matt Kata flied out to left field, but too short to let the runners tag up and advance. Brian Bixler, playing the DH role for this game, lined a single into right field. Michael Ryan was able to score easily from second base, ahead of the throw from RF David Murphy to C George Kottaras . But as the ball came in to Kottaras, Bixler was mid-way between first and second bases. Kottaras fired to SS Rogers covering second, and it looked like Bixler was going to be tagged out. Instead, Rogers threw back to Kottaras, in time to tag Luis Ordaz, who was trying to score after rounding third, while (he hoped) attention was diverted to Bixler. The inning ended with the Indians ahead by one run.
Marty McLeary again got into a little trouble in the top of the 5th inning, but again ended the PawSox hopes before they could really get started. Joe McEwing and David Murphy hit back-to-back singles, and McEwing advanced to third when Michael Tucker lined out to right field. With runners on the corners, McLeary struck out Brandon Moss for the third straight time, and then struck out 1B Jeff Bailey to end the inning. McLeary finished the 5th inning having thrown 108 pitches, 65 of them for strikes, giving up 2 runs on 8 hits, with one walk and 6 strikeouts.
Jesse Chavez -- photo by NancyZ
Reliever Jesse Chavez (photo) took over for McLeary. Chavez knew he was going to have to pitch more than one inning, since the Indians’ bullpen has been short-staffed and over-used lately. Chavez and Franquelis Osoria were the only two relievers who were realistically going to be available in this game. Chavez rose to the occasion. He pitched two scoreless innings in the 6th and 7th, giving up only one harmless hit, and hitting one batter, both of whom were left stranded on base.
The Pawsox came back in the 8th to tie the game again. Jeff Bailey led off with a double off the center field wall. He moved to third base when Bobby Scales hit a short swinging bunt towards first base, and was safe when neither Chavez nor Matt Kata could get to first base in time to take the throw from 1B Brad Eldred. A sacrifice fly by George Kottaras brought in Bailey with the tying run.
Franquelis Osoria  -- photo by NancyZ
Franquelis Osoria (photo), as expected, relieved Chavez in the top of the 9th. He also allowed 2 hits, including David Murphy’s fourth hit of the game, but also kept the baserunners from scoring.
The Indians were not having much luck against PawSox reliever Mike Burns. He pitched three scoreless innings, and scattered three hits, but the Tribe left all three baserunners stranded. Left-hander Craig Breslow pitched the 8th and 9th for the Indians, setting the side down in order, with three strikeouts and three balls hit to the shortstop, two grounders and one fly ball. That sent the game into extra innings.
Pawtucket made things interesting in the top of the 10th. Bobby Scales led off with a single to right field, and he advanced to second base on George Kottaras’s walk. Ed Rogers sacrifice bunted to move the runners to second and third, and an intentional walk to Jacoby Ellsbury loaded the bases with one out. Joe McEwing lined the first pitch into right field, but right at Yurendell de Caster, who threw the ball back to the infield so fast that the baserunners had no time to tag up. Then David Murphy lined the first pitch he saw into left field — right at Michael Ryan, ending the inning with the bases loaded, as the crowd breathed a sigh of relief.
Einar Diaz is congratulated after the winning RBI  - photo by NancyZ
The bottom of the 10th started with PawSox reliever Craig Breslow getting Yurendell de Caster to lift an easy fly ball to right field — one out. Brad Eldred slapped what looked like a routine grounder to shortstop. But the throw from SS Ed Rogers to first base went high, and as 1B Jeff Bailey caught it and tried to tag Eldred out, the ball popped out of Bailey’s glove — Eldred safe at first. A wild pitch by Breslow allowed Eldred to move easily to second base. Russ Johnson also lifted a fly ball to right field for a routine out, but too short for Eldred to consider tagging up and advancing to third base. Next up was Einar Diaz, who had come in as a defensive replacement for Humberto Cota in the 6th inning. Diaz took the first pitch, a ball, and then smacked the second pitch into left field. Eldred was running from second with the swing, and as the crowd screamed, he motored into home as the throw from LF Brandon Moss came in a little up the line, and Eldred slid in without a tag to score the winning run. The Indians mobbed Diaz (photo) for his game-winning RBI, and the game was over.
“I was just trying to get a big lead [off second base] when we got two outs”, said Brad Eldred in the post-game interview. “As soon as [Einar] Diaz put the ball in play, I was thinking ‘score’ all the way. I didn’t really look at [manager and third-base coach] Trent [Jewett]. I knew their left fielder [Moss] was either going to catch it for the third out or I was going to score.”
And did Eldred think about the possibility of colliding with PawSox catcher George Kottaras, whose listed weight is about half of Eldred’s listed weight?
“You have to be prepared for the collision, but once I saw him [Kottaras] move up the line to catch the ball, I knew I would score. I just hopped up and ran to tackle [Einar] Diaz.”
Craig Breslow, who had allowed Eldred to reach base, was tagged with the loss and with Eldred’s run, even though the run was unearned. Pawtucket batters had 14 hits, including 4 by David Murphy, 3 by Bobby Scales, and 2 doubles by George Kottaras.
The Indians put up 11 hits, including 3 singles by Luis Matos, 2 hits by Yurendell de Caster, and 2 hits by Luis Ordaz.
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Einar Diaz, of course, with the game-winning RBI single into left field in the bottom of the 10th.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: Luis Matos’s back-to-the-infield running catch of Jacoby Ellsbury’s long fly ball in the 4th inning. It looked almost like he knew where the ball was going to land, and he just had to get there and stick out his glove, and the ball would plop right in.
NOTES:
Brian Bixler was caught stealing second base in the first inning. It was his first time caught stealing this season, giving him 15 steals in 16 attempts.
This was the Indians’ 7th extra-inning game of the season, and the third extra-inning game against the Pawtucket Red Sox. The Tribe is now 5-2 in extra innings. It was Pawtucket’s 12th extra-inning game, and their record is now 6-6 in extra innings.
Matt Kata has now played in four games for the Indians — at four different defensive positions.
Sean Burnett reported that he felt good after Monday’s start, in which he was limited to a pitch count of about 50. (He actually threw 56.) He expects to make his next start as usual.
Please let me know who you think is the Indians MVP for the first half of the 2007 season: here
Go Tribe!

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Who is YOUR Indians MVP?

With the mid-way mark of the 2007 quickly approaching, who do you think should be the Indians’ MVP for the first half of the season?
Who has contributed the most? Who has been the best overall?
Please click on ‘comments’ below and let me know what you think.
It doesn’t have to be a player currently on the team, if you think someone who has left has been the best. It doesn’t have to be only one, if you can’t decide between two or three players. Just let me know what you think about the team MVP.
We’ll review our picks this weekend.
Go Tribe!

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Game #70 at Seattle

Safeco Field | 10:05 | Gorzelanny vs. Miguel Batista | Box Jason Bay got a night off—well, sort of—and the Pirates’ offense didn’t skip a beat. Jim Tracy took advantage of the American League rules and used Bay as his designated hitter in an effort to give the slugger’s legs a break. Xavier Nady and Ryan Doumit played left and right field, forming a Nate McLouth sandwich. Skipper proved once again that...

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Indians: Walking Off With a Win

boxscore (Photos by NancyZ)
Sean Burnett -- photo by NancyZ
The Indianapolis Indians avoided extra innings with a walk-off run in the bottom of the 9th tonight, to beat the Pawtucket Red Sox 4-3 at Victory Field. The run was scored on a walk to C Carlos Maldonado with the bases loaded, giving the Indians their 41st win of the season. Relief pitcher Juan Perez, who took the loss last night, got his first win of the season tonight for the Tribe.
Indians starter Sean Burnett (photo), fresh off the disabled list because of elbow problems, started the game off by retiring the top of the Pawtucket line-up in order. In the bottom of the first, the Indians put up the first run of the game, when Red Sox starter Devern Hansack walked Tribe SS Brian Bixler on four straight pitches, and then 1B Yurendell de Caster ripped a double into the gap in right-center field, scoring Bixler.
The Red Sox came right back in the 2nd inning. With one out, RF Brandon Moss smashed a ball to deep center field. Everyone in the park, including Moss, thought it was a home run. Tribe CF Luis Matos did not run back to the wall to get it, and Moss himself didn’t run to first with much speed — thinking he was going to break into the home run trot in just a few seconds. But to everyone’s surprise, the ball bounced on the top of the outfield wall and bounced back in to center field, luckily towards Matos, who at that point started hustling to reach it. Moss also started running faster, but only got to second base. If he’d been running at top speed as soon as he left the batter’s box, he could have had a triple. It turned out that it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because the next batter, 1B Jeff Bailey, crushed a rising fly ball just inside the foul line in left field for a 2-run home run, to give Pawtucket the lead.
Jewett congratulates Kata  -- photo by NancyZ
The Tribe tied it up in the 3rd inning, on Matt Kata’s solo home run, which sailed over the right field wall at the 360 foot mark. Kata (photo, being congratulated by manager Trent Jewett) had worked the count to 2 -1, and then fouled off the next 4 pitches before launching the big blast. It was Kata’s first home run and RBI with the Indians, and his first hit for the Tribe in his new home at Victory Field.
“I battled throughout the whole at bat, until I saw the pitch that I wanted”, said Kata in the post-game interview. “I put a good swing on the ball and was able to get it over the fence. It is nice to be able to contribute in my first home game as an Indian.”
Burnett again retired the side in order in the 3rd inning, but by then he had thrown 56 pitches, and that was enough for his first outing off the disabled list. Reliever Josh Sharpless, who had just joined the Tribe after being optioned down from the Pirates, pitched the fourth inning.
Andrews, Maldonado, and Sharpless on the mound - photo by NancyZ
Brandon Moss led off the inning with another smash, this time to straight center field, near the camera post. And the almost the same thing happened again — everyone thought it was a certain homer, Moss started a slow run to first base, though Matos in center field made more of a hustle toward the wall. Once again, the ball bounced off the top of the wall instead of sailing over it, and once more, Moss ended up on second base instead of reaching third. Again, it ended up not making a difference. Sharpless walked the next two batters, 1B Jeff Bailey and DH Michael Tucker, to load the bases with no one out. Pitching coach Jeff Andrews made a brief visit to the mound (photo), and as usual was a man of few words. Whatever he said was enough for Sharpless to get focused, and he struck out the next two batters, SS Ed Rogers and 3B Chad Spann, on 6 straight pitches. That brought up CF Jacoby Ellsbury, who took a ball and a strike, and swung for a strike, then fouled off 5 more pitches, before finally popping up to Tribe 3B Matt Kata for the out, to get out of the no out-bases loaded jam.

Maldonado blocks the plate  -- photo by NancyZ
With the score tied at 2 runs each, reliever Brian Rogers pitched the 5th and 6th innings for the Indians. He set the side down in order in the 5th, and pitched a scoreless 6th, thanks to a spectacular play by de Caster. With one out, PawSox’s Jeff Bailey grounded to third base and reached first base safely when Matt Kata’s wide throw to first pulled de Caster’s foot off the bag. Bailey advanced to third base when DH Michael Tucker singled on a sharply hit grounder that got under the diving de Caster’s glove. Ed Rogers tried a squeeze bunt to get the Bailey home, but he didn’t count on de Caster. The bunt went about half way down the first base line, and de Caster charged in, gloved the ball, and flipped it with his glove to C Carlos Maldonado, who planted himself in front of the plate and tagged out Bailey as he got there (photo).
Mark Corey relieved Rogers to start the 7th inning. Coreygave up a walk to CF Jacoby Ellsbury, a strikeout to 2B Bobby Scales, an intentional walk to LF David Murphy, and a strikeout to C Kevin Cash. When Scales was batting, Ellsbury stole second base, and reached third when neither middle infielder covered second base and Carlos Maldonado’s throw went into the outfield. Murphy also stole second, putting two runners in scoring position. Manager Trent Jewett pulled Corey, and brought in left-hander Juan Perez. Perez was greeted by another hit from Brandon Moss, his third of the game, to score Ellsbury and give the PawSox the lead. Perez then struck out Jeff Bailey to end the rally.
Matos slides in safely -- photo by NancyZ
That lead didn’t last long, however. Pawtucket starter Devern Hansack had held the Indians to those two runs and only 4 hits, while walking one and striking out 6. He was lifted after 6 innings and 94 pitches, with Craig Hansen coming in for relief in the bottom of the 7th. With one out, Luis Matos laid down a beautiful bunt along the third base line for an infield hit, and moved to second when the throw from the PawSox 3B Chad Spann went wide of the bag and into the outfield. A grounder to the right side by LF Michael Ryan moved Matos to third base. With 2B Luis Ordaz batting, Hansen threw a wild pitch, and Matos headed for home. Hansen was a little bit late covering home, and his tag appeared to hit Matos in the face, as Matos slid in safely to tie the game again (photo). Matos got up slowly but was ok and continued to play in the game.
Juan Perez came back to pitch scoreless 8th and 9th innings for the Indians, giving up only one hit and one walk. The Indians went down quickly in the 8th inning, with reliever Bryan Corey pitching for Pawtucket.
Carlos Maldonado -- photo by NancyZ
Travis Hughes entered to pitch the bottom of the 9th for the PawSox, and he had some problems with his control. The inning opened with DH Jose Hernandez walking on four straight pitches. Chris Aguila came in to pinch-run for Matos. Luis Matos attempted to put down a sacrifice bunt, but the ball bounced in foul territory and came back to hit Matos as he was running to first — the runner hit by a batted ball is out. Michael Ryan singled sharply into right field, moving Aguila to third base. That brought up Luis Ordaz, who was intentionally walked, loading the bases with one out, but giving the PawSox a chance at an easy double play. Carlos Maldonado (photo) stepped to the plate, and looked at ball one, way wide of the plate. The next pitch sailed high, for ball two. Third pitch — also high, ball three. The fourth pitch was also way outside, for ball four, and Carlos walked, to force in the winning run.
Travis Hughes, who had thrown 14 pitches, only 2 of which were strikes (the bunt and the single), took the loss for the PawSox, his third of the season. Brandon Moss had 3 hits in 5 at bats for Pawtucket, and Michael Tucker went 2 for 3.
The Indians had only 6 hits in the game, by Kata, Bixler, de Caster, Matos, Ryan, and Ordaz.
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Matt Kata’s solo home run, his first as an Indian, and his first hit for the Tribe in Victory Field.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: 1B Yurendell de Caster’s charge-and-glove-flip of Ed Roger’s bunt in the top of the 6ht, to allow Carlos Maldonado to tag out Jeff Bailey at home plate and prevent another run from scoring.
NOTES:
Lots of Roster Moves–
Onto the roster:
- LHP Sean Burnett has been activated from the Disabled List, in time to pitch tonight.
- RHP Josh Sharpless was optioned to the Indians from the Pirates, and met up with the team today.
- C Humberto Cota cleared waivers and accepted the assignment to Indianapolis, and he was said to have also joined the team today, although I didn’t see him in the dugout.
Off the roster:
- RHP Mike Nannini, who had joined the team over the weekend to help with the shortage in the bullpen, was placed on the disabled list.
- INF Nick Green was first assigned to Lynchburg (A), and then during the game tonight, it was announced that Green has been traded to the Seattle Mariners.
- C David Parrish was reassigned to Altoona (AA).
Chris Truby  -- photo by NancyZ
- INF Chris Truby (photo), who has been on the DL, is going to be working for the Pirates as the hitting coach in Bradenton for the rest of the season. It’s unclear whether or not he plans to return as a player next season, or if he is going to retire as a player and turn to coaching. Truby has been sitting near Trent Jewett and Jeff Andrews in the dugout during most of the games when he isn’t playing…. he’d make a great coach.
Bryan Bullington was throwing some long-toss today. He reported that his arm is feeling OK.
Award:
Shane Youman was named International League Pitcher of the Week for June 11 – 17. Last week, Shane had two starts, and he won both while giving up only one earned run in 15.1 innings (0.59 ERA). He pitched 8 scoreless innings against Charlotte on June 11th, his longest scoreless appearance in his career. On June 16th, he struck out 10 Durham batters, another career best. Overall in 2007, Youman’s record is 3-5 with a 4.44 ERA.
The end of the streak:
Columbus’s Brandon Watson’s hitting streak ended at 43 games, as he went 0 for 5. He beat the previous record, held for 95 years, by one game.
Go Tribe!

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