The Good, The Bad, and The Patriotic

Happy Independence Day! What’s the best way to celebrate? With baseball, of course!
The Indy Indians will play the Louisville Bats at Victory Field at 6 pm tonight (if the rain holds off). There will be stadium fireworks afterwards, and then the city fireworks will be visible from Victory Field.
The Good Part:
SS Brian Bixler has been named the Indians Player of the Month for June. The official presentation will be made on Friday evening before the game.
Bixler is hitting .301 with 4 homers and 32 RBI, and 2 of the homers and 7 of the RBI came in the month of June. He had a .424 slugging percentage and .398 on-base percentage in June. He is currently hitting .347 with runners in scoring position. He is leading the current Indians with 19 stolen bases, 11 of those coming in June.

“Brian performed at a very high level during the month of June,” Indians’ Manager Trent Jewett says. “Brian is a very talented player, and, sometimes, it’s hard to remember he’s only 24 years old. I’m sure Brian knows he’s on the radar. He will be part of a Major League situation in the future, but, right now, he has to address everything that needs to be accomplished at the Triple-A level…..Brian has a good understanding of his offensive capabilities. Young players get themselves out of a comfort level by trying to do too much, but Brian has done a nice job in that regard. I think he has stuck with the things he is capable of doing.”

The Bad Part:
Last night during the game, the pressbox announced, and it was relayed on the radio broadcast, that starter Sean Burnett left the game after the first inning due to back pain. But Dejan Kovacevic in today’s Post-Gazette tells a different story: it’s Burnett’s left elbow, still causing him pain even after having had surgery.

Citing continuing pain in his surgically repaired left elbow, the Pirates’ first-round draft pick in 2000 pulled himself out of Class AAA Indianapolis’ game last night in Louisville, Ky., after pitching one inning. He gave up three runs and three hits and three walks, throwing only 16 of 33 pitches for strikes.
Burnett had similar discomfort a month ago and was examined by the Pirates’ medical staff June 6, after which he was cleared to return after a short rehabilitation period.

Sean Burnett -- photo by NancyZ
Brian Bixler -- photo by NancyZ
Brian Bixler and Sean Burnett
(photos by NancyZ)
Go Tribe!

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Bats Pound Indians

boxscore (photos by NancyZ)
Sean Burnett -- photo by NancyZ
The Louisville Bats scored 10 runs over the last 4 innings, to beat the Indianapolis Indians 13-4 tonight at Slugger Field in Louisville, KY. The Bats put up 17 hits, including 3 doubles, while the Indians had one double by Luis Ordaz, and 9 singles.
In Sean Burnett’s last start, last Friday in Columbus, he pitched only three innings. This wasn’t his fault at all, but the fault of a heavy storm that blew across central Ohio. When the suspended game resumed on Saturday, no one would have expected Burnett (photo) to return to the mound. Today there was a different problem. Burnett started tonight’s game for the Indians, and only pitched one inning, throwing 33 pitches, 16 for strikes. He left the game, as it was announced later, due to lower back pain.
The first inning started with Bats’ 2B Jeff Keppinger lining a single to center field, and SS Pedro Lopez followed by bouncing a double into left field, scoring Keppinger. 1B Joey Votto grounded out, which moved Lopez to third base. 3B Aaron Herr walked, and RF Jeff Bannon lined a single into left field, sending Lopez home, and moving Herr to second base. Burnett struck out LF Dewayne Wise for the second out of the inning. Then he walked C Ryan Jorgensen to load the bases, and walked CF Chris Dickerson, forcing in another run. Finally Burnett struck out the switch-hitting pitcher Elizardo Ramirez to end the inning. Burnett had allowed 3 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks with 2 strikeouts.
Bryan Bullington  -- photo by NancyZ
Louisville starter Ramirez had held the Indians scoreless in the first inning, despite a walk to LF Michael Ryan and a single by CF Adam Boeve. In the 2nd inning, 3B Russ Johnson and C Carlos Maldonado both singled. That brought up the pitcher’s spot in the batting order, and qith Burnett continuing to have back pain, manager Trent Jewett elected to pinch hit for him. With the bench limited due to injuries, he used a pitcher as a pinch hitter for the third time in four games — this time it was right-hander Bryan Bullington’s turn. Bullington (photo) laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, to move the runners to second and third bases. The inning ended when Don Kelly ground out, and the Indians were not able to put up any runs.
Reliever Jesse Chavez came in to pitch in the 2nd inning for the Indians. Chavez pitched three scoreless innings, giving up only one lone hit to Joey Votto. One other batter, Dewayne Wise, reached base on an error by C Carlos Maldonado, but was quickly erased with a double play.

Brad Eldred  -- photo by NancyZ
The Indians got on the board in the 3rd inning. SS Brian Bixler hit an infield single, and advanced to second base when pitcher Ramirez’s throw to first base went wide. LF Michael Ryan grounded out, moving Bixler to third base. CF Adam Boeve walked, and 1B Brad Eldred (photo) singled, driving in Bixler. 3B Buss Johnson grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The Indians tied it up in the 5th inning. Michael Ryan started off the inning with a walk, and Adam Boeve followed with a single. Elizardo Ramirez got two outs, a strikeout to Brad Eldred and a fly out to Russ Johnson, but then he walked RF Yurendell de Caster. That was the end of Ramirez’s evening, and the Bats brought in Julio Manon to relieve him. Carlos Maldonado (photo below) greeted Manon by lining a two RBI single into center field, scoring Ryan and Boeve. Pitcher Jesse Chavez, in a rare plate appearance, grounded into a force out — his first professional at-bat that did not result in a strikeout. That tied the score at 3 runs each.
Carlos Maldonado  -- photo by NancyZ
Louisville did not allow the tie to stand for long, though. In the bottom of the inning, with Tribe reliever Mark Corey in to pitch, Pedro Lopez led off with a triple to right field. Joey Votto singled, scoring Lopez, and putting the Bats ahead 4-3. Corey struck out Aaron Herr and pinch hitter Anderson Machado, and Votto stole second base with the first strike out. When Dewayne Wise singled to right field, Votto rounded third and headed for home. The throw from RF Yurendell de Caster was right on target, and it reached C Carlos Maldonado, who was plunked down on the third base line about two feet from home plate, just before Votto did. Maldonado didn’t move and didn’t drop the ball, and Votto was out to end the inning, with only one run scoring.
The Bats struck again in the 6th inning. With one out, Mark Corey gave up three consecutive singles, to Chris Dickerson, pinch hitter Jesse Gutierrez, and Jeff Keppinger, with that third single scoring Dickerson. A walk to Pedro Lopez loaded the bases, and Corey was sent to the showers. Lefty Juan Perez (photo below) entered in relief, and he got Joey Votto to slap a grounder that deflected off Perez’s glove to 2B Don Kelly, who scooped it up and threw to first for one out, though Gutierrez scored a second run from third base. Aaron Herr struck out to end the inning, with the score 6-3.
Juan Perez -- photo by NancyZ
In the 7th inning, Louisville broke it open, scoring three more runs. Anderson Machado led off with a liner just out of Brad Eldred’s reach at first base, and down into the right field corner for a triple. Dewayne Wise and Ryan Jorgensen followed with back-to-back singles, the first scoring Machado. Then Chris Dickerson smashed the third triple of the game into right field, scoring both Wise and Jorgensen. Reliever Brian Rogers replaced Juan Perez on the mound, and he got two ground outs, then walked Pedro Lopez, and then struck out the pitcher Calvin Medlock to end the inning, with the score 9-3.
The Indians didn’t give up, but came right back at them in the top of the 8th inning. Carlos Maldonado walked, and Luis Ordaz, who had entered the game in a double switch, doubled into right field. Reliever Brian Shackelford replaced Calvin Medlock, and the first thing he did was give up a single to Don Kelly, scoring Maldonado and moving Ordaz to third base. Shackelford then struck out Brian Bixler and Michael Ryan, and ended the inning by getting Adam Boeve to ground into a fielder’s choice force out.
Things got worse for the Indians in the bottom of the 8th. With two out, Brian Rogers struck out Dewayne Wise, but his third strike was a wild pitch, and Wise was safe at first. Rogers then gave up a single, two walks, two singles, and another walk. Four runs scored on all that, including two runs walked in. Finally, Jonah Bayliss came in for Rogers, and he got Aaron Herr, the 10th batter in the inning, to hit a grounder to third base, where Russ Johnson forced out the runner. The score: Louisville 13, Indians 4.
Gary Majewski came in to pitch the 9th for the Bats. Russ Johnson hit his second single of the game, but Majewski retired the other three batters to end the game.
Bats’ reliever Julio Manon earned the win, and Mark Corey took the loss for the Tribe. Carlos Maldonado went 2 for 3, and Russ Johnson and Adam Boeve both went 2 for 4.
“This one is hard to explain”, said manager Trent Jewett after the game. “Louisville outplayed us in every phase of the game tonight. Games like these are very disappointing, but we try to keep things in perspective around here. These results are bound to happen every now and then when you play 144 games each season. You tip your cap to Louisville, but, by the same token, we need to find a way to play better on the road. We’ve had a lot of success at Victory Field this season, and I hope that continues during this upcoming homestand. I understand Wednesday night’s game has been sold out, so it should be a fun atmosphere in front of the home fans.”
The Durham Bulls again defeated the Toledo Mud Hens tonight, so the Indians did not lose any ground against Toledo. But the Indians are in danger of having Louisville catch and pass them to take over second place.
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Carlos Maldonado tied up the game in the 5th inning with a single, batting in two runs.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: In the bottom of the 5th inning, with one run in and two outs, Bats’ Joey Votto was on second base, when Dewayne Wise lined a single into right field. Yurendell de Caster caught it and fired home, where Carlos Maldonado blocked the plate and tagged out Joey Votto. It ended the inning and at the time, held the Bats to a one run lead.
Roster Moves:
Pitcher Luis Munoz will be promoted from Altoona to pitch for the Indians tomorrow at Victory Field.
Pitcher Michael Nannini was reactivated from the Disabled List, and given his unconditional release. He had pitched in only one game for the Indians, on June 17th in Durham.
Brian Bixler extended his hitting streak to 9 games.
Shane Youman started for Pittsburgh today, and got his first major league win. He pitched 6 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers, giving up 2 runs (both earned) on 8 hits and one walk, with 2 strikeouts. Youman gave up one run in the first inning, and then a solo home run to Kevin Mench in the 4th inning.
Go Tribe!

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Torres Demands a Trade; Says Bucs Don't Play Fair

Just yesterday I speculated that the Pirates may have disabled Zach Duke with a phantom injury as a way of taking his underwhelming performances out of the spotlight of a major-league rotation. This morning, Dejan reports in the Post-Gazette that Salomon Torres has filed a grievance against the team and has demanded a trade because of an extended rehab stint: “I’ve given everything I have to the team, to the city of...

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Game #83 vs. Milwaukee

PNC Park | 4:05 | Youman vs. Chris Capuano | Box The Brewers didn’t look like one of the best teams in the National League on Tuesday. Four errors—four!—and four walks—four!—helped the Pirates’ offense break out a bit. (When you’re handed eight free bases, you don’t have much of a choice.) The Bucs went ahead for good in the fifth, then tacked on a little insurance in the sixth. Starter...

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Indians Lose a Tight One to Bats

boxscore (photos by NancyZ)
Michael Tejera  -- photo by NancyZ
The Indianapolis Indians could not get any runs across against the Louisville Bats tonight, as they lost to the Bats by a score of 1-0 at Slugger Field in Louisville. The Bats out-hit the Indians, 11 – 5, though not even the Bats could put a run on the board until the 8th inning.
Left-hander Michael Tejera (photo) started the game for the Indians. He was shaky in the first inning, starting off by giving up three consecutive singles to the top of Louisville’s order: CF Ryan Freel, LF Jeff Keppinger, and 2B Mark Bellhorn. With the bases loaded, Tejera seemed to settle down, and he struck out 3B Aaron Herr. Then he got 1B Jesse Gutierrez to ground into a double play, to get out of the inning without a run scoring.
Tejera worked out of a jam again in the 3rd inning. With one out, Jeff Keppinger singled, then Mark Bellhorn struck out, and then Aaron Herr smashed a double into left field, just past Tribe 3B Russ Johnson’s reach, putting runners on the corners. Tejera got Jesse Gutierrez to again ground out, this time to Johnson, who charged the ball and fired to first for the third out — again without a run scoring.
Brian Bixler  -- photo by NancyZ
The next two innings were relatively simple for Tejera, but the Bats threatened again in the 6th inning. After striking out Aaron Herr, Tejera hit Jesse Gutierrez with a pitch. A line drive single to center by RF Jeff Bannon moved Gutierrez to second. C Ryan Hanigan slapped a grounder deep to shortstop, which looked like it was going to score at least one run, if not more. He didn’t count on Tribe SS Brian Bixler, though. Bixler (photo) dove and stopped the ball, and when he popped up, he discovered that he still had time to throw to second base, forcing out Bannon. Gutierrez moved to third, and there were runners on the corners, but with two outs. Tejera intentionally walked SS Pedro Lopez to load the bases, and then P Bobby Livingston flied out, ending the inning. Once again, no runs scored.
Meanwhile, Bats’ starter Bobby Livingston was handling the Indians’ batters well. In the first 6 innings, he scattered 2 hits and a walk — a double to SS Brian Bixler in the 1st inning, a single to 3B Russ Johnson in the 2nd inning, and the walk to the newest Indian, LF Adam Boeve, in the 4th. The closest the Indians came to threatening against Livingston was in the 7th inning, when C Humberto Cota singled, and Johnson smashed his 14th double of the season. That was all the Indians could do, though.
Michael Tejera pitched 6 scoreless innings, while giving up 8 hits and one intentional walk, and striking out 3 Louisville batters. He was asked about his pitching after the game: “I’m real happy with my performance tonight. I gave us a chance to win the game, and that’s the goal of every starting pitcher. I was throwing my sinker for strikes, and working the bottom half of the zone. Most of Louisville’s hits were on the ground and through the holes. There’s nothing I can do about that.”

Josh Sharpless  -- photo by NancyZ
Reliever Josh Sharpless (photo) entered the game in relief of Tejera in the 7th inning. CF Ryan Freel, with Louisville on a rehab assignment from the Cincinnati Reds, led off with a walk, then stole second base, and advanced to third base when C Humberto Cota’s throw went into the outfield. Sharpless struck out Jeff Keppinger and then intentionally walked Mark Bellhorn, putting runners on the corners. Once again, the Tribe middle infield came to the rescue, as Aaron Herr grounded to SS Brian Bixler, who started the Tribe’s second double play of the game, going Bixler to 2B Luis Ordaz to 1B Brad Eldred, ending the inning without allowing a run again.
The Bats also put in a reliever, Jared Burton, replacing Bobby Livingston at the top of the 8th inning. Livingston pitched 7 scoreless innings, giving up 4 runs and one walk, with one strikeout. Burton pitched a scoreless inning, despite giving up a hit to Michael Ryan, who had entered the game in a double-switch.
Brian Bixler, Luis Ordaz, Brad Eldred -- photo by NancyZ
(Photo — the infield double play trio: Brian Bixler, Luis Ordaz, Brad Eldred )
The bottom of the 8th was the “big” inning for Louisville. Jesse Gutierrez, who had grounded into a double play to end the 1st inning and grounded out to end the 3rd inning, had a much better at-bat in the 8th. With Josh Sharpless still pitching, he lifted a fly ball over the left field wall, for the only run of the game. The Bats tried to add an insurance run, with singles by Ryan Hanigan and Pedro Lopez. Yet again, the middle infield got the critical play when needed, with Brian Bixler scooping up a grounder from Ryan Freel to force Lopez out at second base, ending the inning.
The Indians tried to rally in the top of the 9th, but could only work a walk to Adam Boeve before Jared Burton shut them down to end the game. Burton got the win for the Bats, his first of the season. Josh Sharpless, who gave up the homer to Gutierrez, took the loss, his second of the season. Jeff Keppinger had 3 hits for the Bats, and Ryan Hanigan had two hits.
“Tonight was a really good ball game on both sides”, said Michael Tejera after the game. “It’s unfortunate that we had to lose it… This is a very experienced team with a lot of talent. We’ve been playing well for the majority of the season, and we need to fight through this bump in the road. I’m confident we’ll bounce back and return to the way we were playing the first two months of the season.”
The Durham Bulls beat the Toledo Mud Hens 3-1 tonight, so the Tribe doesn’t fall any further behind Toledo in the standings. However, the Bats gained a game on the Indians, in their pursuit of second place.
Russ Johnson -- photo by NancyZ
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Russ Johnson (photo) had 2 of the Indians’ 5 hits, including a double, making him 2 for 3 on the night. In his last three games, Russ has 5 hits in 8 at-bats.
Indians’ defensive gems of the game: Brian Bixler showed why he deserves to be the starting shortstop for the International League’s All-Star team. He started two inning-ending double plays, which kept runs from scoring, and he made a diving stop of a sharply-hit grounder by Ryan Hanigan, keeping another run from scoring.
What former Indianapolis Indians have been named to one of the major league All-Star teams? (answer below)
Roster Move:
Adam Boeve  -- photo by NancyZ
Adam Boeve (rhymes with “movie”), the Indians’ Rookie of the Year in 2006, has been promoted from Altoona to Indianapolis, taking the roster spot that became available when Einar Diaz was placed on the Disabled List. Boeve has been hitting .291 with 12 homers and 42 RBI with the Curve this year.
Fielding Excellence:
Two of the Indians are leading the league in fielding percentage at their position.
Luis Ordaz has the best fielding percentage of all International League second basemen: .993
Russ Johnson has the best fielding percentage of all IL third basemen: .980
Brian Bixler’s double in the first inning extended his hitting streak to 8 games.
Milwaukee Brewers’ P Ben Sheets (Indy Indians 2000-01) and SS J.J. Hardy (Indy Indians 2004) have both been named to the National League’s All-Star Team.
Go Tribe!

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Game #82 vs. Milwaukee

PNC Park | 7:05 | Van Benschoten vs. Jeff Suppan | Box His face was long afterward, too. “Jim Tracy told us it was a very important game tonight, and I knew that,” Masumi Kuwata said in a hushed tone. “But I didn’t pitch well.” The score was knotted at three after five, and the Pirates were hanging with the Brew Crew. Until the seventh inning, that is: Brewers seventh: Kuwata pitching. Paulino in as...

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