Indians Swept Despite Homers By Marte And Brown

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Andy Marte is congratulated on his home run in the 5th

Columbus Clippers  7,  Indianapolis Indians  5
(box score

IMG_5042A pair of home runs and 11 hits were not enough for the Indians to overcome the Clippers and escape the sweep at Victory Field on Sunday afternoon.  Like in the three previous games, the Indians had a runner on base in the bottom of the 9th, but could not keep the inning going long enough to bring him in.  

With the scheduled starter, Daniel McCutchen, called up to the Pirates, Brad Lincoln (photo) made the start for the Tribe.  Lincoln has been on the Pirates’ 15-day Disabled List due to a forearm bruise, which happened when he was hit by a come-backer in a game at the end of spring training.  Lincoln was originally due to start for the Bradenton Marauders today, but the roster shuffling saw Lincoln traveling to Indiana instead.  Before the game, manager Dean Treanor said that he was hoping to see at least 4 innings from Lincoln, who had not really had enough time to get completely stretched out in his shortened spring training.

Lincoln looked great on the mound, and even looked like he may have lost some weight since he was here last year.  He buzzed through the first three innings, allowing only a double to the Clippers’ 9-hole hitter RF Bubba Bell in the 3rd.  Eight of the first nine outs were groundouts, with Lincoln also getting one strikeout.  Clippers’ 2B Cord Phelps led off the top of the 4th with a solo homer to straight away center field, which landed in the ground cover in front of the pine trees.  Lincoln hit the next batter, 3B Lonnie Chisenhall, with a pitch, but C Dusty Brown cut Chisenhall down as he tried to steal second base.  Two more quick outs finished the 4th inning.

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Lincoln did come back out to begin the 5th.  He got SS Luis Valbuena to line out right to 2B Pedro Ciriaco (photo)for the first out.  (Ciriaco just had to stick out his glove, and didn’t even take a step.)  Then he hit LF Jared Head with a pitch, and got a fly out.  That was all for Lincoln for the day.  He had thrown 72 pitches (42 strikes), a very reasonable count for where he is in his “spring”.  Lincoln was responsible for 2 runs on 2 hits, with 2 strikeouts in 4.2 innings.  

Cesar Valdez came in from the bullpen to relieve Lincoln, but he struggled in his 0.2 innings.  With two outs and a runner on first when he entered the game, Valdez gave up an RBI double to Bell (Bell’s second hit of the game).  That scored the runner from first, and Bell advanced to third on the throw.  CF Ezequiel Carrera walked on a full count, then Phelps blasted his second home run in two innings, this one sailing so high over the right field wall, that RF Andrew Lambo merely turned in his tracks and watched it go.  That gave the Clippers 4 runs in the inning, one charged to Lincoln and three to Valdez, for a 5-0 lead.  Chisenhall reached base next, on a grounder to first that popped out of 1B Matt Hague’s glove and over his shoulder for an error.  It turned out to not matter, as Valdez finally got a strikeout to end the inning.  

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Indians Leave Bases Loaded In 9th


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Columbus Clippers  3,  Indianapolis Indians  2

For the second night in a row, a late-inning rally by the Indians fell through, as the Tribe lost to the Clippers at Victory Field tonight.  

IMG_4985This time, the Indians went into the bottom of the 9th trailing the Clippers by one run, and Jensen Lewis on the mound for Columbus.  1B Matt Hague (photo) began the action by taking Lewis’ first pitch on a line into left field for a single.  3B Brian Friday followed with another line drive into left field.  Clippers’ LF Jordan Brown had the ball back to the infield quickly, so Hague was able to advance only to second base.  Hague was replaced by pinch-runner Josh Harrison.  CF Corey Wimberly dropped down a nearly perfect sacrifice bunt, moving both base runners into scoring position.  Pinch-hitter Andrew Lambo came to the plate in place of C Dusty Brown, and was intentionally walked to load the bases.  But Lewis bore down and struck out LF Gorkys Hernandez, then got SS Pedro Ciriaco to ground out to third base, ending the game with all three runners still in place.  

The Tribe had been able to put at least one runner on base in all but one of Columbus starter Jeanmar Gomez’s six innings.  Gomez retired the side in order in the 1st.  Hague picked up the first of his three singles in the 2nd inning, with a liner into center field.  Friday walked, but the two were left on base when a pop out ended the inning.  Brown and Hernandez opened the 3rd inning with back-to-back singles, but when Ciriaco tried to put down a sacrifice bunt, the ball landed too close to the plate.  Former Indy Indian and now the Columbus catcher Luke Carlin pounced on the ball and fired to third base, forcing out Brown.  RF Alex Presley popped up for the second out, but the Indians still had a chance, with runners on first and second.   But Hernandez must have been daydreaming as he led off second base, and Gomez was able to catch him standing well off the base, and a quick run-down (1-4-5) had Hernandez picked off.  

IMG_49902B Chase d’Arnaud (photo) walked with one out in the 4th inning, stole second, and kept going to third when Carlin’s wide throw to second skittered into right-center field.  He was left standing just 90 feet from scoring when a pop up and a ground out ended the inning.  Wimberly led off the 5th with a little bloop that fell in amid three Clippers’ fielders.  Wimberly raced to first, but he hesitated ever so slightly as he rounded the bag, and despite his speed, he was not able to beat the throw to second base when SS Cord Phelps picked up the ball in short left field.  

The Tribe finally got to Jeanmar Gomez in the 6th inning.  With one out, Presley beat out a infield single on a ball to deep short, and he stole second base.  After a fly out, d’Arnaud crushed a line drive to the wall in right field for a triple.  Presley scored easily with the first Indians’ run.  Hague followed with a shorter liner into right field, and d’Arnaud came home, as Gomez headed for the showers.  Former Indy Indian (2010) Joe Martinez came on in relief, and ended the 6th with a strikeout.  Martinez went on to retire the Tribe in order in the 7th.  

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2011 Prospect Watching: Owens, Morris, Locke, and More

Reaching the upper levels of the Pirates’ minor league pitchers….

Rudy Owens  —  L/L,  6′ 3″,  215 lb
The Pirates selected Owens in the 28th round of the 2006 draft.  After so-so seasons with the GCL Pirates and State College, Owens suddenly had the light bulb go on for him at West Virginia in 2009.  He made 19 starts for the Power, and earned a 10-1 record.  In 100.1 innings, he allowed 19 earned runs and 71 hits, with 15 walks (1.3 walks/ 9 innings) and 91 strikeouts (8.1 K/ 9 innings).  Owens was promoted to A+ Lynchburg, where he made 6 more starts, though they were short starts as the Pirates were concerned about his total innings for the season.  He allowed more hits and runs in his 23.1 innings there, but still walked only 2 and struck out 22.  He was named the Pirates’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2009.  Owens returned to Altoona for the 2010, and had another great season, again earning the award for Minor League Pitcher of the Year.  He began the season with a 3.57 ERA in April, allowing 9 earned runs and 22 hits in 22.2 innings, with a 2-0 record.  He dropped that ERA to 2.75 for May, with 11 earned runs on 23 hits in 36 innings, and a 3-2 record.  He gave up 5 runs and 4 runs in two games in one week, but also pitched 6 shutout innings in two other starts.  In June, Owens did even better, with 7 runs in 30 innings (2.10 ERA), but July was a tougher month, with another 5-run start, and a 3.49 ERA.  He stepped it back up in August, allowing just 3 runs on 20 hits in 33 innings (0.81 ERA).  That gave him a 2.46 ERA and 12-6 record for the season, with 150 innings, 41 earned runs, and 124 hits.  He also walked 23 (1.4 walks/ 9 innings) and struck out 132 (7.9 K/ ( innings.)  When the Curve got into the playoffs, Owens made one very un-Owens-like start in the first playoff series, but struggled, giving up 5 runs (4 earned) on 4 hits and 3 walks in 1.2 innings.  He pitched better in his start in the second series, against Trenton, and allowed 2 runs on 7 hits in 5 innings.  Owens also was named to the Eastern League All-Star team, and pitched one inning in the All-Star Game, allowing 3 hits and 2 runs.  Owens has a fastball in the low 90’s, with good command, as well as a changeup and curve.  He should be ready for AAA to begin 2011, though the Pirates have indicated that they might hold him in AA for a little while, since they want more “major league ready” pitchers in Indianapolis.  The 23-year-old should still be pitching in Indy by later in the season, and has a chance at being called up to Pittsburgh by the end of the season.  

Jeff Locke  —  L/L,   6′ 2″,  180 lb
The Pirates obtained Locke from the Braves in the trade that sent Nate McLouth to Atlanta in 2009.  He’d had a shaky start to that season, and did only a little better after he came to A+ Lynchburg, where he earned a 4-4 record and 4.08 ERA in 17 starts.  His walk rate improved, but his strikeout rate dropped.  Locke began the 2010 season back in A+ at Bradenton, but started pulling it together.  In 17 starts for the Marauders, he earned a 9-3 record and a 3.54 ERA.  He began the season with a 2-1 record and a 2.89 ERA in April, with 6 runs and 14 hits in 18.2 innings, including one game in which he struck out 10 batters in 5 innings.  He went 5-2 in May and June, though his ERA rose to 3.81 for those two months, with an 8 strikeout game and two 7 strikeout games in June.  Overall, Locke struck out 83 batters in Bradenton (8.7 K/ 9 innings), while walking just 14 (1.5 walks/ 9 innings).  He was named to the Florida State League’s All-Star team, and pitched a perfect inning in the All-Star Game.  Locke was promoted to AA Altoona in mid-July, and made another 10 starts there.  Two of the starts were rough, allowing 6 runs in 5 innings and 7 runs in 5 innings, but the rest were solid, and he finished the regular season with a 3-2 record and a 3.59 ERA for the Curve, allowing 23 runs on 57 hits in 57.2 innings.  He walked 12 batters (1.9 walks/ 9 innings) and struck out another 56 batters (8.7 K/ 9 innings).
Locke also pitched for the Curve in their playoff run.  In the first round, he gave up one earned run on 4 hits in 4.2 innings, but got a no-decision.  He won his game in the championship round, with on run on 6 hits in 7 innings, and struck out 8 Trenton batters.  Locke was added to the Pirates’ 40-man roster last fall.  His control has improved as he continues to work on mechanics.  At 23 years of age, Locke should be ready for AAA in 2011, but like Owens, may be held back in Altoona for awhile, depending on what goes on with the Pirates’ “major league ready” pitchers.  He also has a chance of being promoted as far as Pittsburgh by the end of the season.

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Two More Rounds Of Reassignments, Plus Game Notes

Catching up after being away for a few days…

On Saturday, the Pirates sent four pitchers to minor league camp:
RHP Bryan Morris and RHP Kyle McPherson, both on the 40-man roster, were optioned down, with Morris going to AAA Indianapolis and McPherson going to A+ Bradenton.   
Two lefties, Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson, were also sent to the minor league camp, and though their exact level is still not official, both should begin the season with the Indy Indians.  

More moves were made today:
From the 40-man roster–
LHP Jeff Locke, LHP Aaron Thompson, and RHP Ramon Aguero were optioned to AA Altoona 
LHP Daniel Moskos and LHP Tony Watson were optioned to Indianapolis
Outfielders Gorkys Hernandez and Alex Presley were optioned to Indianapolis
Moskos and Presley both spent part of 2010 with Indianapolis, while Watson and Hernandez will make their debut at the AAA level.  Locke, Aguero, and Thompson all spent part of 2010 with Altoona.

Not on the 40-man yet –
Infielders Chase d’Arnaud and Brian Friday and outfielder Andrew Lambo were reassigned to minor league camp.  Friday played in Indianapolis for most of 2010 and should return there.  D’Arnaud and Lambo were in Altoona for 2010;  Lambo is ready for AAA, though d’Arnaud may be asked to go back to Altoona for part of 2011.  

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Pirates Fall To Phillies

Phillies  7,   Pirates  4

 3-run rally in the 7th inning was enough to push the Phillies over the Pirates at McKechnie Field this afternoon.  
Starter Kevin Correia had a shaky top of the 1st inning.  The first four batters he faced all singled, bringing in 2 runs.  Then with runners on the corners, Correia buckled down, getting a foul pop out then two strikeouts to end the inning.  The Pirates got one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning.  With one out, SS Pedro Ciriaco doubled into left field, and 2B Neil Walker moved him to third base with a line drive single into right.  1B Lyle Overbay also lined into right field, to drive in Ciriaco, though Walker was out when he tried to get from first to third.  DH Matt Diaz also singled, but he and Overbay were left on base at the end of the inning.  
Correia worked around a single in the 2nd inning, then retired the side in order in the 3rd inning.  The Pirates also went down in order in both the 2nd and 3rd.  Diaz tied the score in the 4th, with a walk and a stolen base, then a single by 3B Andy Marte.   
Brian Burres pitched the 4th and 5th innings, allowing only a double.   Fernando Nieve took the mound next.  The first batter he faced was Ryan Howard, who blasted a 2-1 pitch over the left field wall to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead.  Nieve gave up a walk and a single after the homer, but left them on base.  The bottom of the inning began with a walk by Walker.  Pinch-hitter Tony Sanchez bounced a ground-rule double over the left field wall, moving Walker to third.  RF Garrett Jones ground out to first, which let Walker score to tie it up again.  Marte hit the next ground rule double, driving in Sanchez with the go-ahead run.  
Nieve came back out for the top of the 7th, and that’s when he got into even more trouble.  Two singles (one to former Pirate Brandon Moss) and a double tied the score again, at 4-4.  Nieve was relieved by Mike Dubee (whose dad is Phillies’ pitching coach Rich Dubee).  Dubee gave up a ground out to second, which allowed Moss to score from third base.  A single brought in the third run of the inning, then Dubee got a strikeout to end the inning.  Bryan Morris pitched the 8th inning, and gave up the final Phillies’ run with a double, a ground out, and a sacrifice fly.  Daniel Moskos pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 9th to wrap things up.
The Pirates threatened in the bottom of the 7th.  Singles by CF Alex Presley and LF John Bowker and a walk by 2B Corey Wimberly loaded the bases with one out.   All three were left standing there when both 1B Josh Fields and Tony Sanchez struck out.  

C Wyatt Toregas also singled for the Pirates.  SS Chase d’Arnaud, RF Andrew Lambo, and CF Gorkys Hernandez all got into the game as well.   

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