Crotta Has A Good Inning; Indy Indians Lose Second Game

Blue Jays 5,  Pirates  3
The Pirates lost to the Blue Jays at McKechnie Field this afternoon.   
Pitchers Mike Crotta, Chris Resop, and Joel Hanrahan each pitched a scoreless inning for the Pirates, with both Crotta and Hanrahan retiring the side in order.  Crotta was aided by a leaping catch by SS Pedro Ciriaco.  Starter Paul Maholm pitched 5 innings and allowed 4 runs — a solo homer in the 1st, then a 2-run homer in the 3rd.  Another run scored in the 3rd on a walk, a stolen base and a single.  Jose Veras allowed one run in the 8th on two singles and a sacrifice bunt, but he struck out the last two batters he faced to get out of the inning.

2B Neil Walker tied the score in the bottom of the 1st with his second home run of the spring.  1B Lyle Overbay and RF Garrett Jones added a run in the 4th.  Overbay walked, then advanced to second base on a wild pitch.  Jones’ single through the right side of the infield brought Overbay across the plate.  The Blue Jays helped with the Pirates’ final run in the 8th.  With two outs, CF Corey Wimberly singled up the middle, and he also moved up to second base on a wild pitch.   Three straight walks, to 3B Josh Rodriguez, pinch-hitter Andy Marte, and Jones, forced in Wimberly.  The Pirates tried a last-minute rally in the 9th, when C Wyatt Toregas singled and 2B Jordy Mercer walked.  A fly out by Wimberly ended the rally, though.  

Also in the game today:  LF Josh Fields, C Dusty Brown, RF John Bowker


 In Minor League Camp: 
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs  6,  Indianapolis Indians  5
The Indians had an early lead, as they faced Phillies’ star Roy Halladay this afternoon.  DH Tony Sanchez picked up 2 RBI with a timely double in the 1st inning, and C Travis Scott added an RBI double in the 2nd inning.  The Indians had runners on first and third in the 5th inning, when RF Miles Durham (on third) and DH Gorkys Hernandez (on first) pulled off a double steal, for the Indians’ fourth run off Halladay.  2B Christian Colonel made it 5-3 in the top of the 8th with a solo home run.  But the Iron Pigs tied the score with 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th, taking advantage of two Tribe errors and a sacrifice fly.  Reliever Anthony Claggett then surrendered a double, which drove in the go-ahead run and gave Claggett the loss.  

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A Save For Ascanio, Big Hits for Cedeno and Gimenez

The Dominican League has finished regular season play.  The four top teams — Estrellas de Oriente, Leones del Escogido, Toros del Este, and Gigantes del Cibao — will begin a round robin playoff tournament on Sunday.  Los Estrellas, Los Leones, and Los Toros all finished the regular season with identical 27-22 records, in a 3-way tie for first place.  In the Dominican League, the four top teams are allowed to “draft” players from the other two teams to help them out during the playoffs.  Los Estrellas drafted C Ronny Paulino from Los Tigres del Licey.  Los Leones drafted Indy area native 1B/OF Jake Fox from Los Tigres.  Los Gigantes drafted OF Kevin Melillo from Los Aguilas Cibaenas.  

The Venezuelan and Puerto Rican Leagues have both Friday and Saturday off, and resume play on Sunday.  The Mexican Pacific League has Friday off, but has a full slate of games scheduled for Christmas evening.

And, a few other minor league contracts signed by former Pirate farmhands:  C Michel Hernandez re-signed with the Orioles, INF Ray Chang signed with the Twins, and P Derek Hankins signed with the Rangers.

OK, on to Thursday night’s action for the Pirates’ players and friends:

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Gigantes del Carolina  5,  Indios de Mayaguez  4  —  
Los Gigantes scored 2 runs in the 1st and 4th innings, and a single run in the 3rd, then held off late-inning pushes by Los Indios to get the win.  2B Benji Gonzalez signled in the 2nd inning, but was picked off first base.  

Criollos de Caguas  6,  Senadores de San Juan  3  —  Two walks, a single, a sacrifice fly, and a 2-run triple gave San Juan a 3-run lead in the bottom of the 1st inning, but that was all the scoring they would do.  Los Criollos started their come-back in the 3rd inning, with a walk, a single, and a 2-RBI double by 3B Ramon Vazquez.  A hit batter and a double plated a single run in the 4th, then two errors and an RBI single by Vazquez brought in another run in the 5th.  A 2-run homer added their final runs in the 8th.

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Many Familiar Winter League Pitchers

Lots of Pirates and former Pirates pitching in Friday’s winter league action… This is the last week of regular season play for the Dominican and Puerto Rican leagues.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Caribes de Anzoategui  8,  Tiburones de La Guaira  5  — (Game 1) 
A 5-run 6th inning gave Los Caribes the edge in the first game of the double header.  Los Caribes started the game with 3 runs in the top of the 1st, on a single, a walk by DH Jose Tabata, and a 3-run homer.  The 6th inning began with a double, a hit batter, and a walk to load the bases.  Two sacrifice flies, an RBI single, and a sacrifice bunt aided by a throwing error by Los Tiburones’ pitcher added four more runs.  Tabata also singled in the inning.  La Guaira scored 2 runs in the 4th and rallied for 3 in the bottom of the 7th, but could not catch up.

Tiburones   9,  Caribes  2  — (Game 2)  Ryan Vogelsong earned his 6th win for Los Tiburones.  He allowed 2 runs on 5 hits and a walk over 6 innings.  Tabata did not get into the night-cap.

Leones de Caracas  6,  Aguilas de Zulia  2  —  Another former Pirate pitcher earned the win —  Ronald Uviedo also pitched 6 innings and allowed 2 runs.  He gave up 8 hits and a walk.  Los Leones scored one run in the 1st, two in the 2nd, and 3 in the 5th.  C Carlos Maldonado singled twice and walked, and scored one run.  

Bravos de Margarita  9,  Cardenales de Lara  —  Both teams put up big innings and posted a total of 12 hits each.  Lara had a 5-run 3rd inning, which began with CF Ray Sadler  being hit by a pitch.  Three singles and a throwing error brought in 2 runs, a sacrifice fly plated a third run, and a 2-run homer made it 5 runs.  Three consecutive doubles, including one by Sadler, plus a sacrifice fly gave Los Cardenales 3 runs in the 4th.  Los Bravos began their scoring with a run in the 2nd, then 3 runs in the 3rd on three singles, an error, and a wild pitch.  They added 4 more in the next inning, on three singles and three walks.  After the bottom of the 4th, the score was tied at 8-8.  Los Bravos scored what would turn out to be the winning run in the top of the 5th, on a walk, a double, and an RBI ground out.  Romulo Sanchez pitched to three batters and got three outs in the top of the 9th for Los Cardenales.  Anthony Claggett took the mound for Los Bravos in the bottom of the 6th, with two on and one out.  He got two outs to end the inning, then pitched the next two innings, allowing only one walk, no hits, with three strikeouts.  Ronald Belisario earned his 14th save with a scoreless 9th inning for Los Bravos.  

Tigres de Aragua  7,  Navegantes del Magallanes  5  —  New Pirate Fernando Nieve made the start for Los Navegantes and pitched 4.2 innings, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks.  A double and an RBI single by CF Jorge Cortes gave Los Tigres their first run in the 2nd inning.  Nieve gave up a 2-run homer to 1B Hector Gimenez in the 3rd inning.  Gimenez got to him again in the 5th, with an RBI single that followed a lead-off double.  Los Tigres scored 3 more runs after Nieve departed.  Cortes walked to lead off the 6th, then scored on a bunt and an RBI single.  Two runs scored in the 7th.  A double, Gimenez’s third hit of the game, a wild pitch, and LF Lasting Milledge’s sacrifice fly plated the runs.  Los Navegantes also scored one run in the 2nd inning, when LF Mike Ryan led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a throwing error.  Magallanes scored 3 runs in the 5th, on a pair of singles, a double, and a fielding error by Milledge.  Reliever Wil Ledezma took the mound in relief for Aragua after those three runs had scored, and he worked around another error to get two outs and prevent further runs from scoring.  

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Dominican & Puerto Rican All-Stars; Claggett’s Third Win

The Dominican and Puerto Rican All-Star squads faced off this evening (Sunday), and a four of the Pirates’ former players and friends were involved, all on the Puerto Rican team:

Puerto Rican All-Stars  4,  Dominican All-Stars  3
The Puerto Ricans and Dominicans put runners on base in the first three innings, but couldn’t get any of them around to score.  The Puerto Ricans finally got onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the 4th.  Two singles and a ground out put two runners into scoring position.  Former Indy Indian (2007) LF Luis Matos reached base on a throwing error at short, and both runners came in to score.  A double brought in Matos to give the Puerto Ricans a 3-0 lead.  The Dominicans came right back to tie the game in the top of the 5th.  A double and a single plated one run, and a 2-run homer by 3B Victor Mercedes made it a 3-3 tie.  The Puerto Ricans scratched out another run in the bottom of the 7th.  A single, the third error by the Dominican shortstop, a ground out, and an RBI single gave the Puerto Ricans the lead.  Former Pirate farmhand RJ Rodriguez pitched the top of the 8th for the Puerto Ricans.  He struck out the first two batters of the inning, then finished it with a fly out.  Former Indy Indian (2004) SS Luis Figueroa singled for Puerto Rico in the 1st inning, but didn’t score.  Former Pirate 3B Ramon Vazquez doubled in the 2nd, and also did not score.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE
Aguilas de Mexicali  2,  Venados de Mazatlan  1 —  
A pair of singles around a sacrifice bunt gave Los Aguilas the first run of the game in the top of the 1st, and they repeated the trick for another run in the 6th.  Two singles and a throwing error brought in Los Venados’ only run in the 7th.  RF Rogelios Noris singled in the 8th for Los Venados but was left on base.  His fellow Pirate farmhand Matt Hague came in to play first base for Mexicali in the 8th, but did not get a plate appearance.  

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Matt Diaz On Board; Ascanio And Tabata Reappear

Day Three of the Winter Meetings…the Rule 5 Draft will be tomorrow (Thursday)
Today, the Pirates added another player to their 40-man roster.  Matt Diaz is an outfielder who was drafted by the Rays in the 17th round of the 1999 draft.  He reached the major league level for the first time in 2003, but played in only 14 games for the Rays over the 2003 and 2004 seasons, and went 5-for-30 at the plate.  The Oregon native was released by the Rays in February 2005 and a few days later was claimed off waivers by the Orioles, then signed by the Royals the next day.  His 2005 season was shortened by injury, but he did hit .281 in 34 games for the Royals.  The Royals traded Diaz to the Braves after the 2005 season, and he remained in their organization for the next 5 years.  Diaz played full-time in 2006 and 2007, but a left knee injury prevented him from playing for most of the 2008 season.  He was back in full swing in 2009, when he hit .313 with 13 homers and 58 RBI for the Braves.  An infected thumb limited Diaz again in 2010.  He was able to play in 84 games for the Braves, and hit .250, with 7 homers and 31 RBI.  Diaz will turn 33 in early March.  He’s expected to play in right field for the Pirates.

Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Wednesday’s winter league action:
VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Leones del Caracas  7,  Navegantes del Magallanes  0  —  Corey Hamman
had a better outing tonight than he did yesterday.  He pitched 2 innings, taking the mound with a runner on second and no outs in the 7th.  Hamman gave up a single and a sacrifice fly, to bring in one run (charged to the previous pitcher), then another single and a double play.  In the 8th, Hamman worked around a single to keep Los Leones from scoring.  Jose Ascanio pitched his first competitive inning since recovering from injury.  He gave up a double to the first batter he faced, then retired the next three batters.  Caracas’s 5-run 5th inning was all the firepower they needed.

Tiburones de La Guaira  4,  Caribes de Anzoategui  3  —  Jose Tabata made his Venezuelan debut, OK’ed by the Pirates, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and two walks.  Los Caribes scored 2 runs in the 4th and another in the 5th, to take a 3-1 lead. Tabata’s RBI single drove in the run in the 5th.   But Los Tiburones bit back with a 3-run 8th inning for the win.  

Bravos de Margarita  7,  Cardenales de Lara  3  —  A 5-run rally in the bottom of the 1st inning, including a grand slam, gave Los Bravos a lead they would not give up.  Starter Yusmeiro Petit pitched 7 innings for Los Bravos, allowing one run.  He was relieved to begin the 8th inning, by Bobby Livingston (who pitched in one game for the Indy Indians in 2009.  Livingston gave up 2 runs on two singles and a double, then was relieved by Anthony Claggett.  Claggett ended the inning with a strikeout, then retired the side in the 9th.  

Aguilas de Zulia  2,  Tigres de Aragua  1  —  SS Ronny Cedeno scored Los Tigres’ only run in the bottom of the 1st.  After a double, Cedeno reached base on a fielder’s choice, then stole second base, and scored on an RBI single.  Back-to-back home runs in the top of the 4th gave Zulia the lead in the 4th inning.  Cedeno was hitless in his other 3 plate appearances.  1B Hector Gimenez singled in the 4th, when Los Tigres loaded the bases, but did not score.  LF Lastings Milledge went 0-for-4, and C Raul Chavez went 0-for-2 for Los Tigres.  

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