Game #48 at Cincinnati

Great American Ballpark | 7:10 | Chacon vs. Bronson Arroyo | Box I’m surprised. The Pirates gave a no decision to Aaron Harang yesterday and beat up on the shabby Cincy bullpen. Tonight they got after Bronson Arroyo early to beat the Reds two best hurlers. Jason Bay doubled in a run and Xavier Nady bopped a three run dinger in the first to give Shawn Chacon an early four run cushion. But the newly minted fifth starter struggled...

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Tribe Loses in Ten Innings

The Indianapolis Indians got off to a good start, but came up short in extra innings, losing to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees 4-3 this evening in Scranton.
Indians’ starter Sean Burnett pitched 7 innings, giving up 3 runs (all earned) on just 6 hits, while walking 3 and striking out 3 batters. The runs he gave up came one at a time. In the bottom of the 2nd, Burnett gave up a double to Yankees’ DH Shelley Duncan, and a triple to SS Alberto Gonzalez which scored Duncan. Two innings later, a walk to Duncan, a double by RF Bronson Sardinha, and another walk to Gonzalez loaded the bases. 2B Angel Chavez grounded out to first base, scoring Duncan. In the 5th inning, LF Kevin Reese doubled and 1B Andy Phillips singled. A sacrifice fly by Shelley Duncan scored Reese. When Sean Burnett left the game, the score was tied, and his strong effort only earned him a no-decision.
Jose Hernandez  -- photo by NancyZ
The Indians also scored runs using the one-at-a-time method. CF Rajai Davis led off against Scranton starter Chase Wright with a walk. Davis got into scoring position by stealing second, for his league-leading 25th stolen base of the season. A single by SS Brian Bixler scored Davis. The Indians added another run in the second inning. DH Jose Hernandez (photo by NancyZ ), in his first at bat after coming off the disabled list, lifted a home run over the right field wall. Hernandez was also responsible for the Tribe’s run in the 4th inning, when he pulled the ball over the left field wall for his second home run of the game and his third of the season.

Yankees’ Chase Wright pitched 5.1 innings, giving up three runs on 7 hits, while striking out 4 Indians’ batters. He was relieved by Chris Britton, who held the Indians to only one hit over 2.2 innings. He struck out 3 batters. Former Indian Jim Brower, who was released by the Pirates’ organization in April and quickly signed by the Yankees’ organization, entered the game to pitch the final two innings. He struck out 5 of the 6 former teammates he faced.
Jesse Chavez -- photo by NancyZ
Jesse Chavez (photo by NancyZ ) relieved Tribe starter Sean Burnett, and Chavez kept the Yankees in check, pitching perfect 8th and 9th innings. With the score tied and the starting pitchers out of the game, both teams entered the late innings looking for a chance to score — and not finding opportunities. Indians’ 3B Russ Johnson singled in the top of the 8th, but was stranded on base. He was the only batter to reach base for either team in the 8th and 9th innings. Then Jim Brower struck out the side in the top of the 10th inning.
Indians’ Chris Hernandez relieved Jesse Chavez to begin the bottom of the 10th. Yankees’ CF Kevin Thompson led off with a single to left field. He advanced to second on Kevin Reese’s sacrifice bunt. Hernandez struck out Andy Phillips for the second out, and then intentionally walked Shelley Duncan, who had already had a double and scored two runs. Then Chris Basak singled under 3B Russ Johnson’s glove and into left field to score Thompson from second base for the winning run.
Chris Hernandez took the loss for the Tribe, his third of the year. Jim Brower got the win, also his third of the season.
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Two home runs by Jose Hernandez, both solos, one to right field and one to left field. Hernandez had been on the Disabled List for a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury and was reactivated just this morning.
“I didn’t expect to play when I woke up this morning,” said Hernandez. “Nick (Green) ended up getting sick, so Trent (Jewett) activated me and pencilled me in as the DH. It always feels good to get back in the line-up when you’ve been out for two weeks.
“The first two at-bats felt great. My first homer was a fastball fading away, so I went opposite field and hit it over the right field wall. My second homer was a 3-2 straight change, up in the zone, and I made good contact with it.”
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: Sean Burnett got into and out of trouble in the 7th inning. Omar Santos started off the inning with a double to center field, and then moved to third base on a wild pitch. With that baserunner perched on third, Burnett got Kevin Thompson to pop out to 3B Russ Johnson in foul territory right next to third base. Then Kevin Reese grounded out to 2B Luis Ordaz, and Andy Phillips grounded out to SS Brian Bixler to end the inning, leaving Santos stranded on third.
Rajai Davis increased his hitting streak to 13 games. Michael Ryan’s hitting streak stands at 8 games, as he was not in the lineup tonight.
Rajai Davis’s 25 stolen bases lead the league. Brian Bixler also stole second base tonight, giving him 7 steals in 7 attempts on the season.
Go Tribe!

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Player Profile: Russ Johnson

Russ Johnson  -- photo by NancyZ
Born: February 22, 1973, Denham Springs, Louisiana
Ht: 5′ 10” Wt: 180 lb
Bats: R Throws: R
Russ Johnson was born and raised in Denham Springs, Louisiana, where he attended Denham Springs High, and then went on to play for LSU for three years. He was drafted by the Houston Astros in the first round in 1994.
By 1997, Johnson had risen through the Astros’ system to AAA New Orleans. He played with New Orleans for most of the 1997 and 1998 seasons, playing mostly third base, with a few games at shortstop or second base. He hit .276 with 49 RBI in ’97, and .309 with 52 RBI in ’98. In ’97, he played a few games with the Astros in April, and then was called up again at the end of August, and overall hit .300, with 9 RBI in 21 games. In ’98 he was again brought up to the Astros in September, though that time he only appeared in 8 games, hitting .231.
Russ Johnson slides into  second  -- photo by NancyZ
In 1999, Johnson again split the season between New Orleans and the Astros. In 22 games with New Orleans, he hit .351 with 12 RBI, and in 83 games in the majors, he hit .282 with 23 RBI, while playing mostly third base, but also some games at second base and at shortstop.
Johnson started the 2000 season with the Houston Astros, and at the end of May, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He played a mixture of infield positions with the Devil Rays, hitting .254 in 74 games, with 17 RBI. Johnson was with the Devil Rays in for the 2001 and 2002 seasons, again in a variety of infield positions as well as designated hitter. In both years he struggled with injuries, and hit .299 in 2001 and .241 overall in 2002.

At the end of 2002, Johnson was traded to the New York Mets. He played with the Mets’ AAA Norfolk team in 2003, hitting .284 with 39 RBI. He was released at the end of the season, and signed as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs for 2004. With the Iowa Cubs (AAA ), Johnson played some infield, and also did a little bit of pitching. He was better at hitting than at pitching, and that year had a .294 AVG and 78 RBI with 38 doubles.
Russ Johnson on first with Bam Bam Meulens  -- photo by NancyZ
Johnson signed as a free agent with the NY Yankees for 2005, playing both infield and outfield, hile hitting .292 with 40 RBI with AAA Columbus. He played in 22 games with the Yankees, again in a variety of positions, and had 4 hits in 18 at-bats. He returned to Columbus for 2006, and hit .275 with 40 RBI again, and led the International League in walk percentage (14.8% ). Due to injury, Johnson was not called up to the Yankees at the end of the season, despite his performance.
And what about 2007?
“I actually signed this year with Colorado for spring training,” says Johnson. But it became clear that there were not going to be opportunities with the Rockies. “Nothing was materializing. I knew that going in. I asked them to put me on the wire, to see if there was any team out there who needed help. Trent (Jewett) and the Pirates called.”
Russ Johnson -- photo by NancyZ
Johnson became another in a line of players who have been eager to play for Indians’ manager Trent Jewett: “I’d played against Trent for a lot of years. He’d seen me and known me and the kind of player I am. I guess he figured I’d be a good fit for this club. I was glad to come play here. I’d always wanted to play for him. I know what he’s about. He’s always been a players’ type of manager — a straight-shooter. That’s what you want when you’re playing. It’s a hard game, and you don’t want to add to the pressure that the game’s already got with it.”
Johnson has had a solid first two months of the season. He is currently hitting .280 in 37 games with the Indians. He has 7 doubles, 2 triples, and one home run, for 13 RBI. He is second on the team (after Yurendell de Caster) in walks, with 18. He has played primarily at third base, though has appeared at second and first, and has been the DH.
“I’m not going to be satisfied with not doing what I’m capable of doing,” says Johnson. “I wouldn’t have been playing this game for this long if I was satisfied with failure. It’s a love-hate relationship. I don’t think I’d love the game if I didn’t hate it (failure) so much.”
Russ Johnson  -- photo by NancyZ
Johnson has two young sons, ages 5 and 8, who are following dad’s footsteps, playing little league ball. “They enjoy it.”
He likes Indianapolis: “I like the city because everything is right here close and it’s clean. I like the crowds here. When the summertime heats up, there will be good crowds, and that makes if fun. It’s fun if you’ve got a little energy in the park. I played a couple of times with Columbus here in the late summer, and it’s been packed with good crowds.”
(photos by NancyZ)

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Series Preview: Pirates/Reds

The Pirates limp into Cincinnati tonight, looking to snap a 5-game losing streak against the equally hapless Reds. The Reds head into the series with the Bucs having lost 3 in a row, and currently reside in last place in the oft-criticized National League Central. While Cincinnati has gotten impressive performances from hitters such as Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Brandon Phillips, and feel-good story Josh Hamilton (now on the 15-day...

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Game #47 at Cincinnati

Great American Ballpark | 7:10 | Maholm vs. Aaron Harang | Box What a strange (and wonderful and bad) game. Strange because of how it ended. Wonderful because the Pirates pulled it out. Bad because Ryan Doumit left after taking a follow through from Ryan Freel to the back of the head. The Pirates and Reds traded a pair of solo homers. The perps were Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, Ken Griffey Jr. and Brandon Phillips. It as tied at 2 when the...

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Indians’ Green Goes Deep Twice

Indianapolis Indians’ infielder Nick Green thought he was having a good day when he smashed a solo home run over the left field wall at PNC Field in Scranton, PA. His day got quite ‘grand’ in the 5th inning, when he hit another one over the left field wall, but this time with the bases loaded. His grand slam capped off a 6-run 5th inning, as Green led the Indians to a 8-5 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.
“Today was a lot of fun,” said Green after the game. “It’s really nice to have a game like this, especially when you’re in the first week with a new team. Often times, players put too much pressure on themselves when they’re in this type of situation. Everyone wants to fit in — both on and off the field. I’ve just been taking one game at a time, and it’s been a good first week for me.”
Green joined the Indians just last week, after spending the past several weeks in extended spring training in Bradenton, FL, where he had been rehabbing after a case of turf toe. In 6 games with the Tribe, Green has put up 6 hits in 21 at-bats, with 3 doubles and 3 RBI. Today, Green had 3 hits in 4 at bats, with those two home runs and 5 RBI, raising his batting average to .360.
“I was looking for the first good pitch to hit,” Green said. “Things worked out for me individually, and things worked out for us as a team.”
Brian Bixler -- photo by NancyZ
Things did indeed work out well for the Indians, as they started off quickly in the first inning. CF Rajai Davis led off against Yankees starter Steven Jackson with a single, and then stole second. It was Davis’ league-leading 24th stolen base of the season. SS Brian Bixler (photo by NancyZ ) grounded back to pitcher Jackson, who whirled and caught Rajai Davis in the middle of the base path, unable to get back to second and unable to reach third. While Davis was stalling in the run-down, Bixler slid safely into second base. DH Yurendell de Caster was up next, and he lined into left field for a single, moving Bixler to third. 1B Brad Eldred then doubled to left, scoring Bixler for the Indians’ first run of the game. In the top of the second, with one out, Nick Green hit his solo homer, increasing the Indians’ lead to 2-0.
The Indians’ big inning came in the 5th, when they sent 9 batters to the plate and scored 6 runs. Rajai Davis and Brian Bixler led off with back-to-back triples, and Davis scored on Bixler’s triple. Two ground outs followed, by Yurendell de Caster and Brad Eldred, but neither grounder allowed Bixler to score. RF Michael Ryan and LF Chris Aguila added back-to-back singles, the first scoring Bixler, and the second moving Ryan to third. That sent the Yankees’ Jackson to the showers, and Ben Kozlowski entered the game in relief. Aguila stole second, and then 3B Russ Johnson walked to load the bases. Next up was Nick Green, who cleared the bases, for 4 RBI and a total of 6 runs in the inning.
That was all the scoring for the Indians in the game. Yankees starter Steven Jackson pitched 4.2 innings, giving up 6 runs, all earned, on 11 hits. Ben Kozlowski, who relieved Jackson, went 3.1 innings, giving up 2 runs on 2 hits. Charlie Manning pitched the last inning for Scranton/W-B, a scoreless inning, with one run and one walk.
Besides Nick Green, Rajai Davis also had three hits for the Tribe, and Brian Bixler and Michael Ryan had two hits and an RBI each.

Marty McLeary -- photo by NancyZ
Meanwhile, Indians’ starter Marty McLeary(photo by NancyZ ), in his first appearance since returning from the Pirates, pitched three solid innings. McLeary gave up only 2 hits and 3 walks, and hit one batter, but gave up no runs. He was on a loose pitch count, though manager Trent Jewett and pitching coach Jeff Andrews would have liked to see McLeary go 4 or 5 innings. McLeary didn’t have much trouble with the Yankees until the top of the 4th, when Yankees’ 2B Andy Phillips singled, and then 1B Eric Duncan and DH Shelley Duncan both walked. At that point, McLeary had thrown 71 pitches, and his day was finished.
Michael Tejera entered the game to relieve McLeary with bases loaded in the fourth. He quickly got RF Bronson Sardinha to loft a fly ball to left field, which LF Chris Aguila easily caught. Yankees’ 2B Andy Phillips, who had been on third base, tagged up and headed for home, but Aguila threw a bullet home, where C Einar Diaz tagged out Phillips, for a double play. The next batter, 3B Chris Basak grounded to short for an easy third out, and the Indians were out of the inning without a run scoring.
The Yankees started nibbling away at the Indians’ lead in the bottom of the 5th, though. Two doubles, one by SS Angel Chavez and one by CF Kevin Thompson, pushed across Chavez for the Yankees’ first run. One inning later, Tejera gave up back-to-back walks to Bronson Sardinha and Chris Basak. Angel Chavez followed with his second double of the game, scoring both Sardinha and Basak.
Franquelis Osoria  -- photo by NancyZ
With one out in the bottom of the 7th, Tejera hit LF Kevin Reese with a pitch, then gave up a single to Andy Phillips and a walk to Eric Duncan to load the bases. That ended Tejera’s outing, and Franquelis Osoria (photo by NancyZ ) entered the game in relief, with the bases loaded just like they were when Tejera entered the game. Osoria was greeted by Shelley Duncan’s line drive single, scoring Reese. Osoria then induced Bronson Sardinha to bounce a grounder right back to him, and the quick throw back to Einar Diaz at home forced out Phillips. Chris Basak slapped a grounder to third, where Russ Johnson scooped it up and threw to Nick Green at second forcing out Sardinha for the third out.
Tejera pitched a total of 3.1 innings, giving up 4 earned runs on 4 hits, while walking three and striking out one. He got the win, his second of the season. Osoria pitched 1.2 innings, and gave up one run on two hits. The one run came in the 8th inning, when Angel Chavez hit his third double of the game, moved to third base on a ground out, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Reese. Juan Perez pitched a perfect 9th inning for the Tribe to end the game.
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Clearly, Nick Green, with his solo home run and grand slam home run, for a total of 5 RBI.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: Chris Aguila’s catch of Bronson Sardinha’s fly ball in left field, followed by a perfect throw to home plate, to get Andy Phillips out for a double play. Nick Green on the defense today: “Our defense certainly helped us get out of some jams today. Sometimes people forget about all of the little things that can help you win a baseball game. We stayed focused on every pitch, every at-bat, and every inning. It was nice to see Aguila come up with that double play in the fourth inning, and the rest of our position players got the job done too.”
Rajai Davis increased his hitting streak to 12 games, and had his 13th multi-hit game of the season.
Michael Ryan increased his hitting streak to 8 games, the longest he’s had in the past few seasons.
Einar Diaz stole second base in the 8th inning, his second stolen base of the season. No more dissing Einar’s baserunning!
Nick Green’s grand slam was the Indians’ second grand slam of the season. The first came off the bat of Ryan Doumit, on April 17th in Norfolk.
Marty McLeary will be leaving the team for a few days, so that he can be with his wife who is expecting to be delivering their baby any time.
Go Tribe!

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