Andy Marte is congratulated on his home run in the 5th
Columbus Clippers 7, Indianapolis Indians 5
A 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.
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.
Pitching coach Tom Filer, catcher Wyatt Toregas, and pitcher Justin Wilson
Columbus Clippers 8, Indianapolis Indians 7
For the third night in a row, the Indians were down by one run in the bottom of the last inning with at least one runner on base — and couldn’t capitalize. In addition, it was Pedro Ciriaco who was the last man to bat in each game. That’s not to place the blame for the losses on Ciriaco — other players had also had opportunities to drive in runs and were not able too. It’s just an odd coincidence that Ciriaco ended the three games with a grounder into a double play, a ground out, and tonight a pop out.
Like in the first two games, the Clippers were first onto the scoreboard. Indians’ starter Justin Wilson (photo) retired the first 8 batters he faced, including 5 strikeouts, with 4 of those in a row. He struck out the side in the 2nd inning, then struck out the first batter of the 3rd inning. Like the first two games, this game featured a diving catch of a low line drive by the Indians’ shortstop. In the first two games, that shortstop was Ciriaco; tonight it was Chase d’Arnaud, who recorded the second out in the 3rd inning. The Clipper’s ninth batter, RF Jerad Head, then rocketed Wilson’s 2-1 pitch over the wall in right-center field for a solo homer. Wilson then walked the next batter, CF Ezequiel Carrera, who promptly stole second base on the first pitch to the SS Cord Phelps. Phelps slipped a grounder up the middle, just out of reach of d’Arnaud, and Carrera came around to score from second. A walk to 3B Lonnie Chisenhall prompted a visit by pitching coach Tom Filer (photo above). After catching his breath, Wilson got a fly out to end the inning.
Wilson also had to work around base runners in the 4th inning. After another strikeout, Wilson gave up an infield single to 1B Jordan Brown. Brown grounded back to the mound, and the ball tipped off Wilson’s glove and over towards short. SS d’Arnaud had to change his direction, but he got to the ball and made a rushed throw to first. The throw pulled 1B Matt Hague off base, though it appeared that Brown might have beat the ball to the bag anyway. DH Wes Hodges also tapped back to the mound, where Wilson whirled and threw to second, forcing out Brown. But 2B Brian Friday’s throw on to first went wide, and Hodges was safe. C Paul Phillip walked, but then Head grounded to short, and the inning ended on the force out at second base.
Finishing up with the rest of the Pirates’ minor league pitchers:
Justin Thomas – L/L, 6′ 3″, 215 lbs
Thomas is a 27-year-old reliever, chosen by the Mariners in the 4th round of the 2005 draft. He’d moved steadily up through their organization, mostly as a starter and made his major league debut in September 2008. He was moved to the bullpen, but struggled there in 2009 at AAA Tacoma, and at the end of that season, he was put on waivers and claimed by the Pirates, who later outrighted him to AAA Indianapolis. Thomas started the 2010 season at Indianapolis, where he generally shut down the opposition. After allowing 3 earned runs on 6 hits over his first 3 appearances (5.1 innings), Thomas did not allow another run in his next 15 innings/ 9 appearances, and gave up only 4 hits in that time. He gave up a homer in his next appearance, then allowed only one run over his 13.1 innings/ 11 appearances, with 5 hits. Thomas was promoted to the Pirates in late June, but appeared in only 3 games there, allowing 6 runs on 7 hits in 5 innings. After about 2.5 weeks, he was returned to Indianapolis. Over the next 6 appearances, he allowed 7 runs, though 6 of them came in two games. Thomas was back up to Pittsburgh at the beginning of August, and got into 4 games in a week, and this time pitched very well — 3.2 scoreless innings and 5 hits. Even so, he was heading back to Indy after the week, where he gave up 2 runs in one of his 5 outings, and otherwise pitched 5.1 scoreless innings. Thomas must have been thinking that he was a yo-yo — back to Pittsburgh for one game in late August, when he gave up 2 runs in 2 innings. The yo-yo bounced right back to Indy, for another 5 games, and only one run in 6.2 innings. When the minor league season ended, Thomas was again brought up to the Pirates, to appear in 4 more games, allowing one home run in one of the game, but pitching 2.1 scoreless innings in the other three. (Whew!) Thomas’s final stats at Indianapolis: 5-0 record and 4 saves, with 2.48 ERA, and 15 earned runs on 33 hits over 54.1 innings; also 10 walks (1.7 walks/ 9 innings) and 31 strikeouts (8.5 K/ 9 innings). And his final stats in Pittsburgh, not as impressive: 0-1 record, with 6.23 ERA, and 9 earned runs on 21 hits in 13 innings; also 5 walks and 5 strikeout, for 3.5 walks/ 9 innings and 3.5 K/ 9 innings. Thomas was again removed from the 40-man roster at the end of the season, then signed to a minor league contract. Thomas also pitched 19.1 innings of relief for Los Bravos de Margarita in winter ball. He earned a 1-2 record and gave up 11 earned runs, for a 5.12 ERA. He had trouble with walks for Los Bravos also (10), and struck out 14 batters. Thomas was invited to the Pirates’ major league spring training, but was reassigned to Indianapolis, where he will begin the 2011 season. If he can repeat last season’s domination in AAA, he will see Pittsburgh again.
Sean Gallagher – R/R, 6′ 2″, 235 lb
Gallagher came to the Pirates from the Padres, who had designated him for assignment in June 2010. He’d initially been drafted by the Cubs in the 12th round of the 2004 draft, and later was traded to the A’s and then to the Padres. Gallagher began the 2010 season with the Padres, and allowed 10 runs on 14 hits in 13 innings of relief over 9 appearances. He was sent to AAA Portland in mid-May, and made 3 starts there, where he gave up 6 runs over 11 innings. Gallagher was called back to San Diego at the end of May, resuming a relief role for the next 6 games. He allowed 4 runs in 10.1 innings, including one game in which he pitched 3.1 scoreless innings and gave up just 2 hits. After arriving in Pittsburgh, Gallagher again pitched out of the bullpen. He made 7 appearances in July, and allowed 4 runs on 7 hits in 9 innings (4.00 ERA). He made another 13 appearances in August, and gave up 4 runs on 5 hits in the first 9 of those (7.2 innings). That was followed by a tough week, when Gallagher gave up 5 runs in two different games, and one run in each of three more games. He finished the season with 10 better outings, allowing 2 runs over 9.2 innings. His stats for Pittsburgh: a 2-1 record and a 6.03 ERA, with 23 earned runs and 38 hits in 34.1 innings, with 22 walks and 22 strikeouts, for 5.8 walks and strikeouts per 9 innings. Like Thomas, Gallagher was removed from the Pirates’ 40-man roster and assigned to Indianapolis. At age 25, he’ll begin the season at Indy, where he will need to regain the form he had in the lower minors in the Mariners’ organization.
The reassignments were not as sweeping as some had thought they’d be, but the Pirates did make three roster moves this morning:
Garrett Atkins was given an unconditional release. He had signed with the Pirates as a minor league free agent over the off-season, and had been in competition for the back-up corner infielder spot. But Atkins was not able to get his bat going this spring. In 17 Grapefruit League games, he was just 4-for-31 at the plate (.129) with 11 strikeouts.
LHP Justin Thomas and RHP Fernando Nieve were reassigned to minor league camp. They were both signed as minor league free agents over the winter, and were long shots to make the big club’s bullpen. Thomas has pitched 4.1 innings this spring in 5 games, and allowed one earned run on 8 hits, for a 2.08 ERA. He’s walked 4 and struck out 4. Nieve has also pitched in 5 Grapefruit League games this spring, and has earned a 1-1 record and 2 saves. In 7.1 innings, he’s given up 17 hits and 2 walks, for 8 runs, and he’s also struck out 8 batters. Both Thomas and Nieve should be assigned to Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Indians 7, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees 2
The Indians had both the pitching and the hitting tuned up this afternoon as they defeated the Yankees at Bradenton. SS Jordy Mercer, 2B Josh Harrison, and C Eric Fryer each drove in two runs. The scoring started when Harrison tripled in the 3rd inning, when 3 runs came in. Mercer blasted a solo homer, then Fryer’s 2-run double was the gem of the 8th inning, as 3 more runs scored. Starter Justin Wilson pitched 3 scoreless innings, with 4 strikeouts, to earn the win. The Yankees scored their 2 runs in the 5th, with reliever Jared Hughes on the mound. Hughes pitched 2 innings and also struck out 3 batters. Tony Watson pitched 2 scoreless innings (3 K), and Anthony Claggett (2 K) and Ramon Aguero each pitched a scoreless frame.
Pirates 7, Red Sox 5
A 5-run 4th inning put the Pirates well on their way to a win this afternoon at Bradenton. The rally began when 2B Neil Walker reached base on a fielding error and CF Andrew McCutchen walked. 1B Lyle Overbay lifted a double into left field, which brought in both Walker and McCutchen. 3B Pedro Alvarez grounded to third, where Overbay was out, leaving Alvarez on first. RF Matt Diaz lined a single up the middle, and C Dusty Brown loaded the bases on an infield grounder that bounced off Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett. With two outs, Pirates’ starter Kevin Correia slipped a grounder into left field, driving in Alvarez and Diaz. When the throw in to the plate was not in time to get Diaz, the Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia tried to throw back to third to surprise Brown. The real surprise was when Saltalamacchia’s throw sailed into left field, allowing Brown to score and Correia to move up to third. LF John Bowker gave the Pirates 2 more insurance runs with a homer in the 7th inning. Correia also singled in the 3rd inning but was out in a force play at second.
2B Pedro Ciriaco doubled after Bowker’s homer in the 7th. CF Corey Wimberly, RF Josh Fields, and SS Josh Rodriguez got into the game. Steve Pearce played a few innings at third base as well.
Correia pitched 5 innings in his start. He gave up two singles in the top of the 1st and one in the 2nd, but double plays got him out of both innings. He zipped through the 3rd and 4th innings, then gave up 3 runs in the 5th. A walk, a single, and a sacrifice fly brought in the first run. Two more singles added a second run, then a throwing error by Walker at second and a sacrifice fly added an unearned run. Joel Hanrahan pitched a scoreless 6th, with 2 strikeouts. Then Justin Thomas allowed a run to score in the 7th on a run, a double, and a wild pitch. Fernando Nieve pitched the final two innings and earned the save even though he gave up a run on a double, a walk, and a single in the 9th.