Tribe Come Within Inches Again

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Pitching coach Tom Filer, catcher Wyatt Toregas, and pitcher Justin Wilson

Columbus Clippers  8,  Indianapolis Indians  7
(box score)

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.  

IMG_5009Like 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.  

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2011 Prospect Watching: Cox, Hughes, Krol, And Moreno

Less than 24 hours until the Pirates begin 2011, and just a week until the minor leagues begin their season… and a few more pitchers to look at:

Tyler Cox  —  Bats Right/ Throws Left;  6′ 3″,  200 lb
Cox was the Pirates’ 35th round pick in the 2008 draft.  He pitched well for the GCL Pirates that year, but struggled at West Virginia to begin 2009.  He was moved to State College, and had better results: an 8-3 record and a 3.93 ERA in 10 starts and 5 relief appearances.  The relief appearances seemed to be a good idea, and in 2010, Cox was moved to the bullpen and pitched exclusively in relief.  It seemed to agree with him, as he earned a 6-2 record and one save, and an overall 3.32 ERA in 62.1 innings.  Cox did not allow a run in his first 3 outings (6.2 innings), and he gave up only 2 runs and 8 hits in the month of April, for a 1.35 ERA in 13.1 innings.  He struggled in May, though, allowing 12 runs and 15 hits in 12.1 innings (8 appearances), for an 8.76 ERA.  But when the calendar turned to June, Cox turned over a new page too — he gave up 2 runs on 5 hits over 12.2 innings for a 1.42 ERA.  In July it was more of the same:  2 runs on 8 hits in 12 innings, and a 1.50 ERA.  Cox had a streak of 14 consecutive appearances over June and July in which he did not allow any runs at all, not even unearned runs.  The season ended with 4 runs on 11 hits in 12 innings over August and September, which boosted his ERA a little bit.  Cox also bumped up his strikeout rate with the move to the bullpen — 70 strikeouts (10.1 K/ 9 innings), though his walks were a little high too (33, 4.8 walks/ 9 innings) when his control got shaky.  Cox will turn 25 in a few weeks.  He should be ready to move to AA Altoona for 2011.

Diego Moreno  –  R/R,  6′ 1″,   177 lb
Moreno is a 24-year-old Venezuelan, who has played only two seasons in the US.  He pitched very effectively in two games in State College and 18 games in West Virginia in 2009, for a combined 1-3 record and 5 saves, with a 2.60 ERA in 50 innings.  He was assigned to Bradenton to begin the 2010 season, and had great success against the Florida State League.  He allowed one run in April, on 5 hits and one walk, in 13 innings, for a 0.69 ERA.  He also struck out 19 batters in the month, including one outing on April 26th when he struck out 7 batters in 3 hitless and scoreless innings.  He buzzed through May also, and didn’t get his ERA above 1.00 until his last game with the Marauders on May 22nd, when he allowed 2 runs on 2 hits (one was a home run).  He gave up 3 runs total in May, on 6 hits in 13.1 innings, and finished his time in Bradenton with a 1.37 ERA in 26.1 innings.  He’d walked two batters and struck out 39.  Moreno was promoted to Altoona, and made his first AA appearance on May 24th (one hit and two strikeouts in one inning) — then went onto the DL with a shoulder strain.  When he returned, Moreno made another 6 appearances for Altoona.  He gave up 6 runs in that time, but 5 came in one game.  His totals in Altoona, in 7 games were 6 runs on 10 hits in 7.2 innings and a 7.04 ERA.  At that point, Moreno had an unfortunate incident with the Altoona staff, and was first suspended, then demoted to Bradenton.  He made another 12 relief appearances for the Marauders, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits over 12 innings for a 1.50 ERA, and 18 strikeouts.  Moreno should have another chance in Altoona to begin 2011.  

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Really Last Minute Roster Moves

This is the time of year when teams release players from their minor league camps – those who are not going to fit into the organization’s plans.  The Pirates have released these players:

Inf Adenson Chourio  —  West Virginia and Bradenton in 2010
Inf Christian Colonel — he’d just been signed at the beginning of the month 
RHP Casey Erickson  —  Bradenton in 2010
C/ OF/ 3B Pat Irvine  —  State College and West Virginia in 2010
1B Gerlis Rodriguez  —  State College in 2010
LHP Mike Williams  —   West Virginia in 2010
2B Jose Solano (Luis?)  — GCL Pirates in 2010

P Ramon Aguero has been designated for assignment, coming off the Pirates’ 40-man roster to make room for P Jose Veras.  If he makes it through waivers, he could go to Altoona or Indianapolis.   

RHP Tim Wood is also getting close to signing with the Pirates.  He was the Marlins’ 44th round draft pick in 2002, and worked his way up through there system, reaching the majors in June 2009.  he made 18 relief appearances in that season, for a total of 22.1 innings, with 7 runs on 22 hits, for a 2.82 ERA.  He split last season between AAA New Orleans and the major league team.  He began the season with the Marlins, then spent parts of May and June and the end of July with New Orleans.  Wood pitched in 26 games for the Marlins, and earned an 0-1 record with 8 saves.  In a total of 27 innings, he gave up 33 hits and 17 runs, for a 5.53 ERA.  In New Orleans, he made 14 relief appearances, going 0-1 with 5 saves, and allowing 10 runs on 19 hits in 14 innings (6.43 ERA).  He did not pitch after the end of July, and was granted free agency in November. Wood was signed by the Nationals six days later, but was released in spring training.  
*UPDATE* — Wood signed a minor league contract with the Pirates.  That could mean Indianapolis for him. 

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Indians Shut Out, Nieve Released

Iron Pigs  3,  Indians  0
The Indians’ pitching staff threw 7 solid shut-out innings, but the Iron Pigs rallied for 3 runs in the 8th to take the win.  An RBI double, an Indians’ error, and a sacrifice fly brought in Lehigh Valley’s runs.  Starter Jeff Karstens pitched 4 scoreless innings, scattering 2 hits, no walks, and struck out 4.  Tony Watson followed with 2 scoreless innings, and Ramon Aguero pitched one scoreless frame.  The Tribe posted 5 hits over the first 4 innings, but could not push a run across.  Three Iron Pigs relievers finished the game, and allowed just one hit among the three of them.  

The Pirates had the day off today, and the Indians have the day off on Wednesday.

The Pirates have released pitcher Fernando Nieve.  Nieve had just been reassigned from the big league camp to the minor league camp just yesterday. 

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Indians Top Yankees; Pirates’ Top Red Sox

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.  

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