Has the Time Come to Trade Away Jason Bay?

Everything I’ve read in response to Dejan’s article about the Pirates’ interest in Jarrod Saltalamacchia has surprised me. Before I go any further, let me clarify two points: It seems extremely unlikely that the Pirates will acquire Saltalamacchia given David Littlefield’s history. The Pirates will not trade Jason Bay. Still, I was surprised that when the price for Saltalamacchia was set at Bay, Ian Snell or...

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Indians Fall to Mud Hens and Out of First Place

boxscore (photo by NancyZ)
Luis Matos and Trent Jewett  -- photo by NancyZ
WARNING: If you have a serious heart condition, watching the Indianapolis Indians and the Toledo Mud Hens play a baseball game might not be a good idea for you. At least you should have your nitroglycerin pills ready. The two teams played another close game tonight at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, and while the Indians did hold the lead for most of the game, if the Mud Hens weren’t scoring, they were threatening to score. Once again, the Mud Hens beat the Indians with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 9th, this time by a score of 7-6. The Indians fell out of first place, for the first time in over two months.
The Indians scored first again tonight. In the second inning, with two outs, RF Michael Ryan and CF Luis Matos (photo, with manager Trent Jewett) hit back-to-back doubles off Toledo starter Virgil Vasquez, scoring Ryan with the first run of the game. The Mud Hens came right back in the bottom of the inning, when 3B Mike Hessmann blasted a solo home run over the left field wall. It was Hessmann’s league-leading 22nd home run and his league-leading 67th RBI.
Russ Johnson hit a homer -- photo by NancyZ
The Tribe picked up an additional 3 runs in the 3rd inning. DH Carlos Maldonado started the rally by working a walk. 3B Russ Johnson (photo) lifted a blast over the left field scoreboard and onto the road behind the left field wall, for a 2-run homer. That was Johnson’s first homer since June 7th. LF Matt Kata followed the homer with a single, and he stole second base. Jose Hernandez knocked in Kata with a double into center field, giving the Tribe a 4-1 lead.
No lead is safe when the Indians and the Mud Hens play, though. In the 5th inning, with Tribe pitcher Marty McLeary looking a bit tired, DH Jack Hannahan walked. RF David Espinosa dropped a double into center field, moving Hannahan to third base. A grounder to second base by C Andrew Graham scored Hannahan and moved Espinosa to third base. Then McLeary walked both SS Ramon Santiago and 2B Kevin Hooper to load the bases. LF Timo Perez grounded a ball to deep behind second base, which Tribe 2B Luis Ordaz had to go far to his right side to scoop up, and then flip back-handed to SS Don Kelly at second base for the force out to end the inning with no further runs scoring. The score: Indians 4, Mud Hens 2.

Juan Perez -- photo by NancyZ
The Mud Hens threatened again in the next inning. CF Ryan Raburn led off the bottom of the 6th inning with a double off Marty McLeary. 1B Chris Shelton grounded out, but Raburn was unable to advance. 3B Mike Hessman worked a walk, and that was the end of McLeary’s outing. Manager Trent Jewett brought in lefty Juan Perez(photo), knowing that the next batter, the left-handed Hens’ DH Jack Hannahan, does not do as well against left handed pitchers. Hannahan has been hitting .340 with 6 homers and 31 RBI against right handed pitching, and only .222 with 2 homers and 6 RBI against leftys. Sure enough, Perez got Hannahan to work a full count, and then struck him out swinging. He followed by striking out LF David Espinosa to end the inning, leaving the runners stranded on first and second.
In the 7th inning, the Indians added further to their lead, when Russ Johnson walked with two out, and Matt Kata (photo below) tripled into deep center field, scoring Johnson. Hens’ CF Ryan Raburn had trouble finding the ball in the twilight, and it sailed over his head, landing at the warning track for Raburn to chase down. That ended the night for starter Virgil Vasquez, who pitched 6.2 innings, and gave up 6 runs, all earned, on 8 hits and 2 walks. Preston Larrison entered in relief, and quickly made a mistake of his own: a wild pitch that went all the way to the backstop and made a crazy bounce. By the time C Andrew Graham could get to it and throw to Vasquez, Kata had scored easily.
Matt Kata -- photo by NancyZ
Juan Perez returned in the bottom of the 7th to pitch for the Tribe. He again struck out two Hens, but this time he also allowed a double by Andrew Graham and a walk by Kevin Hooper. Brian Rogers relieved Perez with two runners on and two out. Rogers threw a wild pitch to Ryan Raburn, moving the runners up 90 feet, to third and second. Then Raburn hit his second double of the night into the alley in left center field, scoring both Graham and Hooper, bringing the Hens within 2 runs of the Tribe. Another wild pitch by Rogers advanced Raburn to third base. Finally, Rogers got Chris Shelton to swing at strike three, to end the rally.
Franquelis Osoria came on in the 8th with one on and one out, relieving Brian Rogers, and he got David Espinosa to ground into a fielder’s choice force out, and then pinch hitter Henry Mateo to swing at strike three to end the threat. Osoria returned to pitch the 9th inning. With one out, he gave up a single up the middle to Kevin Hooper. Timo Perez sliced a grounder off 1B Jose Hernandez’s glove and into center field, and that put runners on first and second bases. Hernandez was given an error on the play. Ryan Raburn lifted a high pop fly into foul territory toward the third base stands — which Russ Johnson was able to catch right next to the railing for the second out. That brought up Chris Shelton, last night’s hero for the Hens. He couldn’t be the big hero in the same way here, as he was hit by a pitch, to load the bases. Next to the plate: the league’s home run and RBI leader, Mike Hessman. (This would be a good time for that nitroglycerin pill.) Hessman ran the count full and then fouled off more pitches, before taking ball four, to get an unearned walked-in run for the Hens. That made the score to 6-5, and brought Jack Hannahan to the plate. Hannahan smashed a single into center field, bringing in Perez and Shelton to win the game. It was the third walk-off win in a row for the Mud Hens over the Indians, and it moved the Mud Hens into first place, one game ahead of the Tribe.
Franquelis Osoria took the loss for the Indians, his second loss in three days, and his third for the season. Reliever Anthony Tomey got the win for the Mud Hens, his first of the season. Matt Kata went 3 for 4 , with a triple and an RBI and 2 runs scored. Michael Ryan continued his hot hitting, going 2 for 4, with both hits being doubles. He raised his average to .259. Russ Johnson hit a homer, for 2 RBI, and he also scored 2 runs.
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Russ Johnson’s big bomb home run, with 2 RBI in the third inning, which kept the Indians ahead for several innings.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: Luis Ordaz going far to his right to keep Timo Perez’s grounder from getting into the outfield in the 5th inning, and then getting it to Don Kelly at second base with a back-handed toss. It came with the bases loaded and two out, and if Ordaz hadn’t reached that ball, another run, and maybe two, would have scored.
Luis Matos now has a 7 game hitting streak.
Michael Ryan has a 5 game hitting streak, and in each of those games, he has had an extra-base hit.
Roster Moves:
The Pirates announced after their game this afternoon that they will option relief pitcher Jonah Bayliss to the Indians. They will decide who will be taking Bayliss’s spot on the roster in the next day or two.
Brad Eldred joined the team in the middle of the game — his flight had been due to get in just before game time. He’s spent a lot of time on planes this weekend.
Go Tribe!

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Saltalamacchia to Save a Sinking Pirate Ship?

I was going to wait until tomorrow for this, but I’ll jump in with my thoughts now. I’m sure you’ve seen this morning’s Post-Gazette in which Dejan Kovacevic reports that the Pirates have inquired about Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a big-time catching prospect for the Atlanta Braves. I fired off a quick e-mail: Dejan, You wrote today that the Pirates had inquired about the availability of Jarrod...

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Are You Worried About Baseball in Pittsburgh?

Are you worried about the future of baseball in Pittsburgh? Not whether or not games will be played, mind you; I’m more concerned with the quality of the on-field product. PNC Park ensures that we’ll have a team of some kind for the forseeable future, but will it produce any results? It’s not exactly a new question, but it’s one worth repeating. The Pirates are committed—for now, at least—to a core...

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Game #75 at Los Angeles

Angel Stadium | 3:35 | Gorzelanny vs. Bartolo Colon | Box Five in a row.  No post-game thoughts.  What can you say?  The Angels won another one in extras. Read about the possibility of blowing the team up or acquiring Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  I really don’t feel like writing about another loss.  Think about the future. Recaps Pirates.com SI.com Pre-game Thoughts Lots of numbers: Gorzelanny is 7-4 with a 3.01 ERA. Bartolo Colon is...

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Indians Lose the Game and Sole Claim to First Place

boxscore (photos by NancyZ)
Matt Kata  -- photo by NancyZ
The Indianapolis Indians and the Toledo Mud Hens played another see-sawing game tonight, with the score tied for quite a bit of the game. Unfortunately for the Indians, the game ended with a different kind of tie. The Mud Hens won by a score of 4-3 with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 9th, moving them into a tie with the Indians for first place in the International League West Division.
A suicide squeeze play produced the first run of the game. Toledo’s starter, Corey Hamman had retired the first six Tribe batters without much trouble in the first two innings. In the top of the 3rd inning, RF Michael Ryan led off with a double into center field. C Einar Diaz’s pop out moved Ryan to third base. Then LF Matt Kata (photo) put down a suicide squeeze bunt toward first base, allowing Ryan to score.
That was all the scoring there was until the bottom of the 6th inning. Corey Hamman allowed the Indians only 4 hits plus one walk and one hit batter (Don Kelly) over 6 innings, throwing 87 pitches (52 strikes), while striking out 4 batters. The run scored on the suicide squeeze was the only run he allowed.
Sean Burnett -- photo by NancyZ
Meanwhile, Indians’ starter Sean Burnett (photo) had an excellent start, his second start since coming off the disabled list. He pitched 4.1 innings, with 74 pitches (46 strikes). He allowed 6 hits and one walk, and struck out 2 while keeping the Mud Hens scoreless. Matt Corey entered the game in the fifth inning, with Toledo’s 3B Jack Hannahan on base after a single, and one out. Corey quickly got C Dane Sardinha to ground into a double play to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 6th, with Mark Corey still pitching, SS Ramon Santiago and 2B Kevin Hooper each singled to start the inning, putting runners on the corners. RF Timo Perez grounded a ball to Tribe 2B Brian Bixler, forcing Hooper out at second base. The relay from SS Don Kelly, covering second base, to 1B Yurendell de Caster was wide, though. Santiago was easily able to score on the play, tying up the score. The inning ended when CF Ryan Raburn grounded to Kelly, who started a successful double play.
Toledo reliever Anastacio Martinez came in to pitch in the top of the 7th inning, and he promptly retired the Tribe batters in order. The bottom of the 7th inning got scary for a moment, when 3B Mike Hessman hit a long high fly ball down the left field line…. which flew out just to the outside of the foul pole, and continued into the parking lot and into the street beyond — fortunately for the Indians, just a very very long strike. Mark Corey got Hessman to look at strike three, and then induced a ground out to end the inning.

Einar Diaz -- photo by NancyZ
The Indians threatened in the 8th inning. Mike Ryan led off with his second hit of the game, and C Einar Diaz (photo) followed by being hit on the back by a pitch. Don Kelly put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners over, and Matt Kata took the intentional walk to load the bases. But Hens’ reliever Martinez struck out Brian Bixler and Yurendell de Caster to end the inning with the bases loaded and no runs scored.
Mark Corey pitched 2.2 innings for the Tribe, giving up one run on two hits, while striking out one. He was relieved by Josh Sharpless, who started the 8th inning, with the score still tied. With one out, C Dane Sardinha and SS Ramon Santiago hit back-to-back singles. A wild pitch from Corey allowed both runners to advance to third and second bases. With the infield drawn in, Kevin Hooper bounced a grounder over the head of Tribe 3B Russ Johnson and into left field, scoring both base runners, and giving the Mud Hens a 3-1 lead. Hooper tried to steal second base but was thrown out by Tribe C Einar Diaz for the second out, and LF Timo Perez grounded out to end the inning.
Russ Johnson -- photo by NancyZ
The Indians were not going down without a fight, though. The Mud Hens brought in Vic Darensbourg to relieve Martinez in the top of the 9th inning. With one out, Russ Johnson (photo) singled and Luis Matos doubled, putting runners on third and second bases. Michael Ryan came through with his third hit of the game, a single through the hole into right field, to score both Johnson and Matos and tie the score at 3 runs each. With Einar Diaz at the plate, Michael Ryan was thrown out trying to steal third base. Diaz then put down the fourth hit in a row, a double into left field, keeping the inning going. Don Kelly flied out to end the inning, but the Indians had tied the game again.
Unfortunately, that tie didn’t last long. With one out in the bottom of the 9th inning, former Pirates’ farmhand Chris Shelton lifted a long fly ball over the wall in mid-center field for a game-winning walk off solo home run. Tribe reliever Josh Sharpless gave up the homer for the loss, his second this season. He gave up a total of 3 runs on 4 hits with one strikeout in 1.1 innings. Vic Darensbourg got the blown save and then the win for the Mud Hens.
The Mud Hens had 12 hits in the game, and all but Shelton’s homer were singles. Toledo’s Ramon Santiago had 4 of those singles. The Tribe put up 9 hits, including doubles by Michael Ryan, Luis Matos, and Einar Diaz. Ryan went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI, and Russ Johnson went 2 for 4. Don Kelly, in his first start with the Indians (he pinch ran yesterday), went to the plate 4 times: he sacrificed twice and was hit by a pitch once. That gave him only one official at-bat, which was a fly out.
Michael Ryan  -- photo by NancyZ
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Michael Ryan (photo) had three hits, including the double that started off the Tribe’s rally in the 3rd inning, and then scoring on the suicide squeeze bunt by Don Kelly. Ryan also singled in the rallies in the 8th and 9th innings. “I feel real good at the plate right now”, said Ryan after the game. “I’ve been swinging at strikes, and laying off bad pitches. I’ve also been staying back and trusting my hands.” Ryan is now 10 for 17 in his last 4 games.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: The Indians turned 4 double plays. Three of them were “traditional” infield DP’s — two were Don Kelly to Brian Bixler to Yurendell de Caster (6-4-3) and one was Bixler to Kelly to de Caster (4-6-3); one was with an outfield out: Michael Ryan caught a fly ball hit by Ryan Raburn to short right field, and threw in to the infield. Ramon Santiago did not initially try to tag up and score from third since the fly ball was short, but when the throw bounced off Einar Diaz’s glove, Santiago took off for home plate. Sean Burnett was in position to back up Diaz, though. Burnett caught the ball and tossed it to Diaz, who tagged out Santiago at the plate (9-2-1-2).
Bixler, Ordaz, and Eldred  -- photo by NancyZ
Roster moves:
When the Pittsburgh Pirates added Josh Phelps, who they picked up from the Yankees on waivers, they needed to take someone else off the active roster. That someone turned out to be Brad Eldred — who had just been called up and placed on the active roster. Both Phelps and Eldred are first basemen/outfielders, and it was unlikely that both would have been kept on the roster. Eldred was with the Pirates for one day. He was the designated hitter in yesterday’s game, and went 0 for 4 (a pop out to shortstop, fly outs to right and center field, and ground out to second). Eldred flew from Indy to Anaheim, where the Pirates were playing, on Friday, played Friday night, and will fly to Toledo to join the Indians tomorrow.
Go Tribe!

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