Pull Armas from the Rotation

Both the Post-Gazette and the Trib-Review have pieces on the continuing struggles of starter Tony Armas Jr. According to Jim Tracy, Armas might not make his next scheduled start. As it stands now, the Pirates are not built for a run at the playoffs. Not this year. So, wasting another start on Armas makes little sense because his experience, however valuable it might or might not be, means nothing. Armas has made 157 career starts....

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Tribe Comes From Behind for Win

Michael Tejera got the win for the Tribe  -- photo by NancyZ
The Indianapolis Indians used the Pink Bat Offense and strong pitching performances by starter Michael Tejera and the bullpen to come from behind and beat the Ottawa Lynx 5 – 3 at Victory Field this afternoon.
Left-hander Michael Tejera pitched 5.2 innings, though he did not figure into the decision. His only serious problem came in the first inning. Lynx CF Carlos Leon led off with a double down the right field line. 2B Joe Thurston grounded to first, and then former Indian LF Lou Collier singled to left field, moving Leon to third. Then 3B Brennan King, who entered the game with a .310 AVG, blasted a 1-0 pitch deep over the left field wall, for a 3-run homer. It was only the fourth home run hit by the Lynx this season, and King owns half of them.
After giving up that homer, Tejera settled down and pitched very well, scattering only 2 more hits and 2 walks over the rest of the first inning, and the next 4.2 innings. Leon and Collier each had two hits, including a double apiece.
Kevin Gryboski pitched a perfect 1.1 innings  -- photo by NancyZ
Kevin Gryboski (photo by NancyZ) finished off the 6th inning for Tejera, getting C Dusty Wathan to ground out to Indians’ 2B Luis Ordaz. Gryboski put Ordaz to work in the 7th inning also, as he retired two more batters with ground outs to second, and struck out Leon looking to finish the job. Gryboski took the win, his second of the year. Chris Hernandez pitched perfect 8th and 9th innings, in his third appearance with the Indians, to get the save, and preserve his non-existent ERA.
Ottawa’s starter J.A. Happ started his afternoon by keeping the Indians under his control. Tribe CF Nyjer Morgan led off the bottom of the 9th with a bunt that dribbled along the first base line, about 3/4 of the way to first base. Lynx 1B Dusty Wathan scrambled to pick up the ball and turn to tag Morgan as he ran past. But Morgan somehow eluded the tag, while still staying in the baseline, and was safe at first. He stole second easily, for his league-leading 22nd stole base of the season.
Nyjer Morgan is out trying to steal third -- photo by NancyZ
Not content on second base, Morgan set out for third — but this time was gunned down by the throw from C Jason Jaramillo. (Photo by NancyZ) Morgan got up and walked off the field seemingly without any problems, and he played the 2nd and 3rd innings in the outfield, though no plays came to him. However, in the bottom of the 3rd inning when his spot in the lineup came up, Chris Aguila came in to pinch hit for Morgan, and then replaced him in the field in the top of the 4th. No further word, at least not that the radio guys were reporting, about why he was removed or what had happened.

Bixler scores as the throw bounces -- photo by NancyZ
Happ gave up only one hit and two walks over the next three innings. In the bottom of the 5th inning, he started off by walking C Humberto Cota and SS Brian Bixler. RF Luis Matos followed with a double down the left field line, scoring Cota, and moving Bixler to third. A sacrifice fly by Micheal Tejera sent Bixler racing for home. Lynx LF Lou Collier’s throw bounced off, and the sliding Bixler scored (Photo by NancyZ ), while Matos advanced to third. With LF Chris Aguila batting, Happ committed a balk, allowing Matos to score.
The bottom of the 6th started poorly for Happ. After a hit to CF Rajai Davis, using a pink bat, and a walk to 1B Yurendell de Caster with none out, Happ was sent to the showers. Former Indy Indian Kane Davis entered in relief. He faced the pink bat of 3B Russ Johnson, who put down a sacrifice bunt, advancing the runners one base each. C Humberto Cota grounded a single right up the middle, to score both Rajai Davis and de Caster for the go-ahead and insurance run. Kane Davis retired Bixler and Matos to end the inning, and then went on to strike out the side in the 7th inning. Reliever Jason Anderson pitched a scoreless 9th inning, though he gave up two more hits to pink bats — one each to Rajai Davis and Johnson.
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Humberto Cota’s 2 RBI single up the middle in the 6th inning, to break the tie.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: In the top of the 9th, former Indian Jim Rushford led off with a short fly to center field. Rajai Davis, who had moved from left field to center field when Chris Aguila entered the game, came running straight in at top speed and at the last second made an outstretched diving catch for the first out. The ever-modest Davis said in the after-game interview, “I have been working on my reads a lot this season, and it paid off with that catch in the ninth inning. I got a good jump on the ball and it happened to land in my glove.”
Former Indianapolis Indian and fan favorite Chris Coste was called up from the Lynx to the Philadelphia Phillies last night.
Rajai Davis used  a pink bat -- photo by NancyZ
The three Indians, Rajai Davis, Yurendell de Caster, and Russ Johnson, who used pink bats today, did so in honor of Mother’s Day and Breast Cancer Awareness. De Caster used his only once, and after striking out with it, he used his regular bat for the rest of the game. Davis and Johnson each got two hits with the pink bats. (Davis, Johnson, and de Caster — Photos by NancyZ ) In the after-game interview, Davis said, “The pink bats arrived about a week ago, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to swing one. I decided to go for it after taking a few rounds in the batting cage before today’s game. Unfortunately, I have to put it away now. I’m not going to continue using it, but I’m glad it helped me get a couple of hits today.”
Yurendell de Caster uses the pink bat -- photo by NancyZ
Russ Johnson uses the pink bat -- photo by NancyZ
Go Tribe!

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Game #37 vs. Florida

PNC Park | 7:05 | Gorzelanny vs. Dontrelle Willis | Box Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny are becoming a solid one-two punch in the rotation. Gorzo chucked seven shutout innings, allowing only five singles and no walks while striking out five. The offense scored twice off of Dontrelle Willis. One of those runs was a solo bomb from Ronny Paulino. That was enough for Gorzo. The offense padded the score in the 8th off of rookie Matt...

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Van Benschoten Tames the Lynx

John Van Benschoten had a very good outing  -- photo by NancyZ
Indians’ starter John Van Benschoten won his third game of the season tonight, as the Indians beat the Ottawa Lynx 5 – 2 at Victory Field. (Photo: John Van Benschoten — photo by NancyZ )
Van Benschoten pitched 7 innings, throwing 99 pitches/ 56 strikes. He gave up only one run and 7 hits while striking out one. He also broke the Indians’ streak of walking at least one batter in the first inning in every game this week. In two of the right-hander’s innings, lone hits by the Lynx were erased by double plays, and in another inning, a hit was erased when the baserunner (Lynx’s CF Chris Roberson) was caught stealing. With two outs in the 7th inning, Van Benschoten gave up back-to-back singles to 3B Brennan King and former Indian LF Jim Rushford, but he was able to get RF Ron Calloway to line out to left field to end the inning.
The Lynx only run off Van Benschoten came in the second inning. 1B Gary Burnham singled to right field, and advanced to third when Rushford bounced a liner off Van Benschoten’s right foot and into right field. Van Benschoten was checked out by Tribe trainer Jose Ministral, and was allowed to take a practice throw or two. Everything appeared to be fine, and he remained in the game. Ron calloway grounded to second, where Indians’ 2B Luis Ordaz scooped up the ball and tossed to SS Brian Bixler covering second base, forcing out Rushford. Bixler’s relay to first was not in time, though, and Calloway was safe on the fielder’s choice, and he got the RBI as Burnham scored. Van Benschoten struck out SS Carlos Leon to end the inning.
“John (Van Benschoten) was great tonight,” said C Humberto Cota, who also caught Van Benschoten during spring training. “It seemed like the ball was really jumping out of his hand. You always feel good when ‘Johnny V’ is out there for a strong seven-inning performance.”
After the game, Van Benschoten talked about feeling much better this season:

“This is the best I’ve felt in a long time. I can honestly say that I’m 100% physically. It’s nice because the weather is starting to warm up, and I’m getting in a rhythm out there.”
“I’ve been fortunate to get ahead of a lot of hitters…. As a pitcher, you can do so many more things when you’re firing that first-pitch strike.”

Reliever Mark Corey pitched the 8th and 9th innings for the Tribe. He gave up one hit and one run in the 8th inning for the Lynx second run. With one out, PH Lou Collier walked, and CF Chris Roberson lined a single up the middle. 2B Joe Thurston lofted a fly ball to center field, which landed in Tribe CF Nyjer Morgan’s glove but then dropped out. Thurston was credited with a sacrifice fly and an RBI when Collier scored, and got to first on the error by Morgan. It was Morgan’s third error of the season, all three coming on dropped fly balls.

The Lynx starter, right-hander Heath Totten made his first AAA appearance tonight. He pitched 6 innings, giving up 9 hits and 5 runs, 3 of which were earned. The Indians’ offense was led by 1B Yurendell de Caster, who went 3 for 4, with one RBI, and the rehabbing C Humberto Cota, who went 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored.
John Van Benschoten contributed at the plate  -- photo by NancyZ
Photo: John Van Benschoten contributed at the plate. (Photo by NancyZ )
The Indians started their scoring in the third inning, when LF Rajai Davis lined a double into right field. De Caster followed by grounding a single into right field that easily scored the speedy Davis to tie the score. The Tribe went ahead in the next inning when four consecutive batters hit the first pitch they saw from Totten. Cota led off with his first double, which bounced off the right field wall. SS Brian Bixler singled to right, and RF Luis Matos took the first pitch to deep right field for a sacrifice fly which scored Cota. 2B Luis Ordaz scorched a grounder up the left field line for a double, moving Bixler to third. John Van Benschoten struck out, but the third strike got away from Lynx C Jason Jaramillo, and Bixler scored.
The Indians got two insurance runs in the 6th inning. Humberto Cota led off again with a double, this one bouncing off the top of the left field wall scoreboard. Bixler walked, and then Luis Matos grounded into a double play, erasing himself and Bixler, but moving Cota to third. The Lynx decided to intentionally walk Luis Ordaz in order to bring up John Van Benschoten. However, they must have forgotten that Van Benschoten is the Mid-American Conference record holder for the most home runs, the most hits, and the most RBI in a single season. He lined one sharply up towards third base, which bounced off Lynx 3B Brennan King’s glove and into left field. King was given an error on the play, so Van Benschoten did not get an RBI, but the play scored both Cota and Ordaz.
Ottawa brought in reliever Rick Bauer to pitch the eighth inning, and he retired the Tribe in order. Ryan Cameron pitched the ninth inning. He did allow one hit, Cota’s third of the game, but the inning ended when Matos grounded into a double play that also retired Cota.
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: Humberto Cota’s smash double off the left field wall scoreboard in the 6th inning. Many in the crowd thought the ball had bounced into the grass of the berm above the outfield for a home run, and were surprised to see Cota stopping at second base. Cota had a very good game, going 3 for 4 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: In the top of the 5th inning, with Ron Calloway on first, Carlos Leon hit a flare into short left field that looked like it would probably drop in — and certainly Calloway thought so. But Rajai Davis just kept running, and he caught it around his knees. Then he straightened up and fired the ball to first base, where he doubled off Calloway, who had already reached second base.
The critter Reggie performed at the game -- photo by NancyZ
Photo: This… um, critter…. performed at the game. (Photo by NancyZ)
Scoring change from last night: In last night’s game, Nyjer Morgan was given credit for a stolen base in the 9th inning. The initial scorer’s call had been that he went from first to second base on defensive indifference.
Injuries and roster moves:
Jose Hernandez came out of yesterday’s game in the 5th inning because he had “tweaked” his right hamstring. This was not something new, but an aggravation of an old injury. He was not placed on the Disabled List, but was not available for the game today.
Dan Kolb left yesterday’s game in the middle of pitching to a batter in the 9th inning yesterday due to a (new) left hamstring injury. He was placed on the 15-day Disabled List.
Chris Truby  -- photo by NancyZ
INF Chris Truby (photo by NancyZ) was activated from the Disabled List to take Kolb’s roster spot. Truby played in 7 games for the Altoona Curve, going 9 for 27 at the plate, with 3 RBI.
Humberto Cota, who is with the Indians on a rehab assignment after injuring his shoulder, said after the game that he is feeling better. “My left shoulder is coming along. I feel a little rusty at times, but I am progressing well.” Cota has 4 hits in 10 at-bats with the Indians.
Go Tribe!

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Game #36 vs. Atlanta

PNC Park | 1:35 | Snell vs. Anthony Lerew | Box Wow. It took a while, but the Pirates offense showed up big time. Could’ve used this in a game in which Tony Armas pitched, but I shouldn’t complain. Ian Snell was tough as expected. He allowed two runs and whiffed seven in seven innings. The bullpen tossed two perfect innings to complete the route. This game was about the offense. 18 hits, 15 of them singles, led to a season...

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Littlefield's Drafts

This is the third part of a series of posts entitled, “Your Fearless Leader – David Littlefield.” Part 1 and Part 2 are also available. When an educated member of the black-and-gold nation makes mention of the Pirates’ demise, Dave Littlefield’s name isn’t the only one dragged through the mud. Two of his stooges, Ed Creech and Brian Graham, are often brought into the discussion as well. To the...

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