Is this thing on?

A play-by-play guy trying to survive in a mid-major world

Archive for the month “May, 2009”

The new home of the Braves

The Indians fell in extra innings for the first time last night and for the second time in three days failed to reach the .500 mark.  I really believe at some point this team will reach and exceed the .500 mark, but that’s no easy task when facing the Gwinnett pitching staff (#1 in IL with a 2.68 team ERA) and the Pawtucket staff looming (#4 in IL with a 3.31 team ERA).  During the long season you will face many ups and downs, but for the most part this team has been steady.  The Tribe has not lost or won more than 3 in a row.  We’ll take it when you consider Louisville, Columbus, and Toledo has all experienced losing streaks of at least 6 games.  Toledo is currently in a free fall having dropped 10 straight games falling 5.5 games behind first place Columbus.

After spending the past 42 years in Richmond, Virginia, the Triple-A Braves are now calling Lawrenceville, Georgia their home.  The Braves play in brand new Gwinnett Stadium which had their ground breaking ceremony on June 8th of 2008!  I remember last season when we visited Richmond there was talk of the Braves playing the first half of the ’09 season in Richmond OR Turner Field while they awaited completion of their new stadium.  Well, give credit where credit is due…the Braves were able to complete the stadium in 9 months, just 10 days before opening day.

GWN 024.jpgThe seating capacity is 10,427 with 22 luxury suites.  You can see ten of the suites in the above picture.  A feature we are seeing more and more with the new parks is putting the fans as close to the action as possible.  The distance from the front row of their club seating to home plate is just 40 feet. 

GWN 004.jpgThis is a view from the Indians dugout and you can not only see the press box, but the club seats that are closer to home plate than the pitchers mound.  There are 325 club level seats which feature a private lounge under the stadium.  A cool feature of the club seats is the walk from the lounge to your seats. 

GWN 023.jpgWhile fans walk to their seats from the lounge they pass by the Gwinnett batting cages.

GWN 019.jpgEach team has their own batting cage located outside of their clubhouse.  I feel like this stadium has the fewest seats in the league, but a large grassy berm in right field will help with their attendance.  Victory Field is now one of the bigger stadiums in the IL  Like the new park in Columbus there are plenty of lounge areas for fans who are on suite level and the club level.

GWN 030.jpgThis is a view of Niekro’s restaurant.  It is a lounge area named after Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro and is for the fans who are not sitting in club level or suite level.  I was told to try the “Knucksie”.  I’m not sure exactly what was on it, but it was pretty good.  The “Knucksie” consists of honey flavored BBQ pulled pork stacked on a piece of corn bread.  Mixed within the pork were pickles, caramelized onions, and it was topped off with cole slaw.  Seriously, it looked disgusting, but didn’t taste all that bad.  Like my mom used to say…looks bad…taste good.  Anyone who orders a ‘Knucksie” is entered in a drawing to win a ball signed by Phil Niekro. They give away a ball each home game.  I didn’t win.  Here is a view of the Braves team shop (on the right) and Niekro’s.

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One final picture for you of Gwinnett Stadium.  The Indians bullpen is in the foreground.

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I have had a chance to see both the new stadiums in Columbus, Ohio and here in Gwinnett.  They both have features that I really like.  For instance, from overall look and presentation of the two, I like Huntington Park.  I’m someone who likes the downtown skyline and there are some really great seats in Columbus.  One advantage Gwinnett has over Columbus is it is farther along in terms of offering more “exclusive” areas.  I really think Gwinnett has one of, if not the best suite levels in the league.  The new stadiums have created areas that cater to the high dollar fans and this stadium is taking full advantage.  There have been talks about adding a lounge area on suite level and Victory Field.  From what I can see, the areas have been a boost to Columbus and Gwinnett.  I’m a big fan of this place and liked it more yesterday than I did on day one.  So we’ll see if that trend continues, besides it sure beats the heck out of Richmond.

 

Speed Kills

I couldn’t help but wonder if last night was one of the last times I would interview Andrew McCutchen.  Last night the Indians CF went 3-4 with two infield hits and scored FROM SECOND on a groundout to right side of the infield.  Here is McCutchen leading the team off the field after the win. 


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His performance was a reminder of how athletic and exciting a player he can be.  With one out in the 8th inning McCutchen attempted to steal 3B, as he was running Jeff Salazar hit a routine ground ball to Gwinnett second baseman Brooks Conrad.  McCutchen never stopped running rounding the bag at third as Conrad threw out Salazar at first.  The throw from first to home never had a chance and ‘Cutch stole a run pushing the Tribe lead to four runs.  It was something, watching him hit the bag in full stride and push the envelope.  McCutchen was the star of the game and here is what he had to say about the play:

I had already stole third base and by the time the second baseman had the ball I was around third so I basically just waited for him to throw the ball and took off for home.  I guess you could say my legs felt pretty good today.

McCutchen is tied for the team lead with 18 extra-base hits and leads the team with a .826 OPS.

(On his infield hits) That keeps you out of a slump and some people can’t do that, so thankfully I can and when I don’t feel too well at the plate I can lay down a bunt or hit one on the ground and it works out for me.

 

That is a pretty confident sentence isn’t it?  I don’t think he uses his speed as well as Nyjer Morgan, but McCutchen has a ton more power than Nyjer.  ‘Cutch is only 22, but his game is more like Grady Sizemore (minus the K-rate) than Juan Pierre or Morgan.  Sizemore was 21 years old when he made his debut with Cleveland in 2005.  His break out season was in double-A where he hit .304 with 50 of his 151 hits going for extra-bases.  McCutchen was drafted the summer Sizemore made his ML debut and his break out season was in 2006 when he combined to hit .291 with 45 (17HR) of his 156 hits going for extra-base hits.  His ’06 year was split 75-25 between high A and double-A.  As Sizemore grew older his power numbers really made a jump.  He has averaged 26 home runs the past four seasons after totaling 27 in 529 minor league games.  McCutchen has more minor league home runs in 30 fewer games.  I leave projections to the guru’s over at Baseball Prospectus, but I have to remind myself that McCutchen is only 22 and this is his fifth year of pro ball.  There are times when don’t think he is ready for the Pirates (who am I to decide, but you asked, from time to time he will miss the cut-off men, not a polished base stealer, too pull happy at times, it’s nit-picking I know.), but then there are games like last night when you see why the Pirates fell in love with his speed.  I’m going to enjoy watching him play because I’m not sure when his last day will be in an Indians uniform.

The Indians win last night places them in a tie for first in the West Division.  The Tribe has won 8 out of their last 12 games and a win tonight will give them a .500 record for the first time this season.  Newcomer Eric Hacker (0-1, 5.82) will make his second start since his trade from the Yankees system.  The Tribe will face Braves #1 pitching prospect Tommy Hanson (3-3, 1.51).  Hanson has 73 strikouts in 53.2 innings of work while only walking 15 and giving up 30 hits.  If McCutchen has another three hit night and it comes against Hanson the locals in Pittsburgh will be wondering when the 22 year old plays in PNC Park.

I’m going to post some pictures of Gwinnett Stadium.  Would you believe the stadium was built in just 9 months? 


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The outfield dimensions are identical to Turner Field.  The Indians bullpen is beyond the wall in right while the Braves pen is behind the left field wall. 


GWN 017.jpgFor the first time in my life I was too tall for a ride.  Doesn’t that look like fun?  A BIG thanks to Jen Langoosch for providing a link to my blog.  I’ll have you know, I check out her site daily and it is a great way to keep up with the Pirates and their minor leauge system.

4:00 UPDATE: 

Vidiot:  (according to Urban Dictionary) a person habitually consumed in video or computer games to the point of losing contact with the world around him, often evidenced by a blank or glazed look and disheveled appearance.


GWN 029.jpgFrom left to right..Virgil Vasquez (just watching), Steve Pearce, and Andrew McCutchen.  My name is Scott McCauley and I’m a vidiot.  I’ve been clean now for nearly three years.  My addictions were Madden, College Football (multiple NCAA titles for Ball State), Tiger Woods, and Golden Tee.  It’s a battle each and every day and at a moments notice I can be sucked into the life of video games.  The vidiots here are playing Call of Duty and I have no idea what Pearce is thinking with his new haircut.     

       

 

The Indianapolis .500

The Tribe failed to reach the .500 mark this afternoon falling 2-1 at Charlotte.  The Indians split the four game series and are one of only three IL teams (Buffalo and Lehigh Valley) that have not reached the .500 mark this season.  The Indians lost when they had a record of 0-1, 6-7, and 20-21.  On April 24th the Indians were 6-7 and faced pitcher Jack Cassel of the Columbus Clippers.  Today on May 24th the 20-21 Indians faced Justin Cassel of the Charlotte Knights.  In both games the brothers prevented the Indians from evening up their record.  It’s only a matter of time before the Indians not only reach .500, but start moving their record in the right direction. 

Today Daniel McCutchen (6IP, ER, 9H, 4K) made some noticeable adjustments.  The Tribe righty threw a first pitch change-up to the first three hitters of the game.  Today’s adjustment was due to him giving up two first pitch fastball home runs in his previous start.  Over his previous seven starts, D ‘Cutch had given up 8 first inning runs including three homers.  The adjustment worked, but he didn’t figure in the decision.  Like their parent club, the Indians could not dent the scoreboard collecting only 3 hits until Jeff Salazar launched a game tying 9th inning home run.  The blast was first time this season the Indians tied a game up in the 9th inning.  In the end Charlotte would win when a bases loaded walk was issued to Brent Lillibridge.   

This is the only trip the Indians make to “Charlotte“.

CHA 006.jpgKnights Stadium was built in 1990 and was built to Major League Baseball specifications to help lure teams to Charlotte. 

CHA 010.jpgI’m sure plenty of “specs” have changed in 20 years and any team that would move to Charlotte would likely build their own downtown stadium.  For one thing “The Castle” is a small yard.  It’s only 325 down the lines and 360 in the power alleys.  This is a very favorable place for hitters and can be a nightmare for pitchers.  A hitter doesn’t need to crush a mistake pitch like you do at Victory Field.  The next picture gives you a peek into the Indians dugout and gives you an idea of the seating area.

CHA 011.jpgI was directly behind home plate during the 9th inning on Friday night.  This is a picture of Brian Slocum saving the game for Ty Taubenheim.

CHA 004.jpgNow it is off to Lawrenceville, Georgia to face the Gwinnett Braves.  The Braves radio announcer is Tony Schiavone.  You might know Schiavone for his work with the WWE and WCW.  He worked for the WWF in the late 80’s and early 90’s before moving to WCW and becoming the voice of Monday Nitro.  I’m really looking forward to seeing the park and meeting Tony to see if he’ll share some wrestling stories.  Basically I want to know if he has ever been thrown through a table.  Secretly, I have always wanted to work for the WWE. I can’t explain it, but all the screaming and overacting has to be a rush.  I’ll see what kind of guy Tony is before tackling the wrestling issue, just in case he’d rather steer clear of the topic.  

I want to wish everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day.  Thank you to our soldiers and veterans for allowing us to act like THIS.  That is a great clip. 

Hey There Yanks

RHP Eric Hacker and RH reliever Steven Jackson each made their Indians debut last night in the Tribe’s 4-1 loss at Charlotte.  The Pirates acquired them from the Yankees sperate weekend deals.  Once they get over being dealt they will realize this can be a really good career move.  For Jackson this is his third organization.  He was originally drafted by Arizona and then was one of four players dealt to NY in January of 2007 for Randy Johnson.  This is the first time Hacker has not been in the Yankees system and I’m sure it’s tough to push aside the dream of pitching in pinstripes.  Both Hacker and Jackson have played with current Tribe pitcher Daniel McCutchen in the Yankees system and that has helped in their transition to Indy.

Hacker made just his 4th career Triple-A start giving up an unearned run over 5.2 innings.  He could have been more efficient walking four batters and throwing only 48 of his 89 pitches for strikes.  He’ll never tell you this, but I got the feeling he was dealing with a small strike zone.  That can be the difference between a 5.2 inning outing or a 7 inning outing.  He threw a really good curveball last night and mixed in his change, sinker, and fastball topping at around 92.  (The in house gun was inconsistent).  His pitch count was 85-90 and when he was pulled there was a run in and two men on base.  Five scoreless innings was pretty impressive when you consider the nerves he may have felt pitching for a new organization.  Here is what Hacker had to say about handling the nerves:

I had some butterflies as I was preparing for the game. Once the game started that all stops, it’s the same game no matter who you are with. I felt good tonight and the defense played great making some terrific plays.  I was happy I was able to compete and keep us in the game.  Too bad we didn’t win in the end.

Steven Jackson needed only six pitches to work a scoreless 7th inning.  The 6-5 215 pound right-hander looked pretty pumped up and it showed by using his fastball to carve up Charlotte’s #8, 9, and lead off hitters.  He told me he likes to work fast and throw stikes.  It showed, but seriously who doesn’t?  (I’m sure Pirates fan could come up with a few relievers who like to work slow and avoid the strike zone.)  I get the feeling Jackosn will be on the fast track to the Pittsburgh bullpen.  (Early word is he could be the next man to join the big club.)  I wouldn’t mind seeing him pitch tonight to see how he handles back-to-back outings because it appears when you go to the Bucs pen you will throw, and you will throw a lot.  If Jackson succeeds here he will get a shot.  What helps both Hacker and Jackson is they are on the Pirates 40 man roster.  An advantage the other Indians relievers don’t have. 

The other half of the Hacker trade was Romulo Sanchez.  The hard throwing righty has already pitched in two games for Scranton Wilkes-Barre giving up a HR in two innings of work.  Sanchez is working out of the SWB bullpen. 

News and Notes:

OF Jeff Salazar is riding a 10 game hitting streak.  He doubled last night in the 9th to extend the Indians second longest hitting streak of the season.  In addition to the hit streak, the double gave the Indians an extra-base hit in all 39 games this season.  They are the only team in the IL to accomplish the feat.  Speaking of streaks, the defense turned a double play last night for the 11th consecutive game.    

Who’s hot?  Besides Salazar, it’s 3B Neil Walker.  He is hitting .282 this month with 20 hits in 21 games.  For the month Steve Pearce is batting .294 with a .410 OBP.  Steve has 3 bombs and 13 runs batted in.  As of today he is hitting a remarkable .452 w/RISP and an even better .578 OBP w/RISP.  

Last night was a tough night for Andrew McCutchen.  He struck out three times last night after striking out only twice in his previous 76 plate appearances.  Afterward he wasn’t sure if Charlotte starter Carlos Torres was throwing a cutter, but ‘Cutch new that it would run in on him and back up over the plate.  Along with the cut fastball, Torres threw a couple of nice curveballs making it a long night for the Tribe lead-off man.

The Hitman (1-4, 5.06) is on the mound for the Indians tonight opposing Noblesville, Indiana native Wes Whisler (5-2, 1.72).  First pitch is set for 7:15 with pre-game coverage beginning at 6:55.  

One final thing…if this guy keeps it up and we’ll be seeing him sometime sooner than later.  

6:15 UPDATE: 


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Indians taking batting practice from Knights Stadium. 

9:00 UPDATE: 


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Who turned out the lights?  Ty Taubenheim struck out Donny Lucy and as the last pitch of the inning came in, the lights went out.  The concourse lights and the lights along suite level are working and that is what is providing the light in this picture.  Thankfully the delay was only 20 minutes.   

 

 

Charlotte, sorta

Guess who has won four of the last five games?  The Indians took three out of four from the Syracuse Chiefs and the finale was played in front of 13,407.  Tuesday’s game was the last of three Baseball In Education games and the 13,000+ exceeded the previous BIE high by nearly a thousand fans.

BIE 003.jpgPrior to the game the Indians officially retired Jackie Robinson’s #42.  The number will forever be on the right-centerfield wall.  What was so special about the retirement was having Carl Erskine stop by Victory Field.  Carl was a longtime teammate of Jackie while playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The Anderson native made the trip and made the day that more memorable. 

The Indians are currently in Pineville, North Carolina to play the Charlotte Knights.  There is nothing Charlotte about the Knights.  The schedule says we’re in Charlotte, the plane landed last night in Charlotte, but we are nowhere near Charlotte.  Knights Stadium (pictures to come later) is located in Fort Mill, South Carolina.  For years there has been talk about building a new stadium in Charlotte, but each year a new obstacle stands in the way.  Needless to say the teams location doesn’t help with attendance.

Yesterday was an off-day giving the team the chance of flying out late yesterday afternoon.  A scheduling mix-up forced us to run through the Indianapolis Airport in order to catch our flight from Indy to Atlanta.  (We thought our flight was at 7…turns out it was bumped to 6:06 pm)  The good news from all of this was the three hour lay over in Atlanta gave me a chance to watch the first half of last night’s Cavs game. By the way…who had the better seat last night?  My father-in-law was COURTSIDE for the Cavs-Magic game and my dad was sitting here for last nights Royals-Indians game. 

KC-CLE.jpgNot bad fellas, at least my dad saw a “W”.  The great thing about flying Air-Tram is they have XM radio.  So I was able to listen to ESPN Radio’s call of the Cavs game.  Obviously I wasn’t real happy about losing the 15 point half time lead.  As we moved along the southern skies I’m realizing we will be landing right as the game ends.  Sure enough, our wheels touchdown as soon as Delonte drills a “3” with 40 ticks left. During the timeout, the pilot welcomes us to Charlotte and give the current temp.  Then he gives me the great news that we will have to wait for our gate to open.  Sweet, let’s here this finish…well Rashard Lewis nails the first of two huge shots to put ORL in front.  Now it’s Cleveland’s ball with 25 seconds left and…nothing…dead air…WHAT!?  It seems he miscaculated a bit and he quickly shut down the plan…he couldn’t wait 60 seconds?  So I pulled out my phone and followed the play-by-play from there.  The only two Cavs fans on the team are me and Brian Bixler.  After the Cavs lost I learned the Magic have plenty of bandwagon fans on the Tribe.  Steve Pearce claims to be a huge fan and Andrew McCutchen is from Florida so of course he’s a fan.  Sure he is…just a chance to rub it in.  Bix and I will be alright as long as the Cavs bounce back. 

Tonight is game one of a four game set with the Knights.  Freshly acquired RHP Eric Hacker starts tonight for the Indians.  He was a part of last Saturday’s Romulo Sanchez trade with the Yankees. 

Did you know?  Since April 21, Steve Pearce is hitting .337 with 5 home runs, and 22 runs batted in?  He has been on fire and setting up his future.  In a recent chat with Dejan Kovacevic from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he said that Steve Pearce will likely be the Pirates starting first baseman next season.

    

     

While we were waiting

 
 

DET.jpgThe Indianapolis Indians had some time to kill while waiting for a connecting flight at the Detroit Airport.  This poor guy on the left is bending over to pick up a $1 bill.  Unfortunately for him, the bill was attached to a string and taken away at the last minute.  He was a good sport, but in the end left empty handed.  I was amazed at how many people didn’t pick up the bill.  Plenty of potential victims looked at the bill and stepped over it or didn’t even notice it at all.  They were either on a cell phone or just looking ahead and not looking down.  In the end this guy was had. 

 

Tonight the Indians look for a season high fourth consecutive win.  Daniel McCutchen (2-2, 3.90) faces Syracuse righty Marco Estrada (1-0, 3.67).  McCutchen was a part of the Pirates-Yankees deal last summer.  On Saturday the Yanks and Bucs were at it again.  Here is bucs dugout view on the latest deal. 

Today the Pirates were at it again acquiring a couple of players.  We’ll see whether it’s cash or a player when the time comes.     

Pitch Counts

The Indians lost another tough one last night to the Rochester Red Wings.  For the third straight game the Indians had taken a lead into the 7th inning only to see that lead slip away for the second time in three games.  The first time, the Tribe blew a save Tuesday night when Chris Bootcheck gave up three 9th inning runs in a 6-5 loss.  Losses like that can happen and hopefully Bootcheck will bounce back tonight in a save situation.  Last night’s loss was a little different.  The bullpen did give it up when Denny Bautista served up a three run home run in the 7th inning to David Winfree.  That swing put the Red Wings on top and two of the three runs were charged to starter Virgil Vasquez.  I didn’t agree with the decision to lift Virgil in the 7th.  I have not had the chance to talk with the skipper or pitching coach and plan on doing so this afternoon and I’m looking forward to hearing their explanation.  In the meantime I want to share with you why I didn’t want to see him pulled.  I really believe Virgil was pulled because of his pitch count.  Like I said it may have been for other reasons (to see how Bautista pitches in a pressure situation, Virgil was told he would leave before the 100 pitch mark, etc.), but I wanted to see him get out of the 7th inning jam.

Let’s set this up.  Virgil entered the 7th inning having thrown 78 pitches and only 17 of those with runners on base.  So of the 78 total pitches…61 were from the wind up and that tells me he was in a stress free pitching environment.  His fastball was at a 90 mph and he had established his curveball so he was not showing any signs of fatigue.  (Again, maybe there is more to it and he put on a brave face, but was tiring)  The Indians open the 7th leading 3-1 when the lead off batter hits a bloop over second base.  The next batter fouls off two consecutive 1-2 pitches before tripling to center field.  Now the lead is just one and the tying run is at 3B.  Virgil is now at 86 pitches when the next batter steps up.  Virg strikes him out on five pitches.  With one out and the trying run at third, the Indians elect to pitch to the #6 hitter and Virg walked him on 6 pitches.  Now they’re runners on first and third with only one out and the Indians righty has thrown 97 pitches, 19 in the 7th inning.  That is when Frank Kremblas went to the mound and called on Bautista who struck out the next batter before giving up the game changing three run homer.  I’m not blaming Bautista, like Tuesday night, those things can happen and give the Wings hitters credit.  What I wanted to see was Virgil pitch through that inning.  Give him the opportunity to get a double play ball and get out of the inning leading 3-2.  If he gives up a hit and the game is tied, then dip into the bullpen, but don’t let pitch counts determine when he is done. 

What happens if Virgil gets a shot in Pittsburgh?  The Pirates have already let a couple of their pitchers work 120+ pitches (Zack Duke April 13th and Ian Snell April 29th) because their manager John Russell said they were stress free outings and the pitch count didn’t matter.  I’m not saying Virgil need to go beyond 110, but it appeared he had a relatively stress free 6 innings until the 7th.  More on the Pirates starters…Paul Maholm, Ian Snell, and Zach Duke have topped 100 pitches in 10 of their combined 21 starts.  Ross Ohlendorf and Jeff Karstens have not topped 100 pitches in any of their combined 13 starts and have yet to be lifted in the middle of an inning.  (Correction…Ohlendorf was lifted after facing one batter in the 7th inning April 26th.  Ohlendorf gave up a home run and pitched 6+ innings.  Thanks to Cory Humes for bringing this to my attention.)  So maybe they are being watched closer than the other three starters.  Back to Virgil, what does he gain by leaving the game with his runs on base?  What can he gain by getting out of the jam and exiting with the lead or a tie game?  Eventually a starting pitcher needs to get out of a late jam.   

After the game Virgil was upset he walked the last man he faced more than being pulled.  He said that he shouldn’t have walked that guy and that left a bad taste in his mouth.  When I talked to him it was nearly an hour after the game and I’m sure his emotions were different than when he walked off the mound.  In the end it’s on the bullpen to get the job done, but that was a moment when the Indians starter could have made some strides.  If your starters are allowed to throw 100 pitches, then let them throw 100 pitches.  He took you that far, now let’s see if he has what it takes to make the right pitch at the right time in a stressful situation.

11:30 PM UPDATE:

The Indianapolis Indians were a winner tonight thanks to 7 shutout innings from the bullpen.  Jeremy Powell pitched four scoreless inning of long relief with Brian Slocum working the last 3 innings to earn his first save of the season.  How about this…the Indians had three, three inning saves on this road trip.  It’s rare to find one three inning save and the Indians earned three over their past seven games.

Prior to the game I had a chance to talk with Tribe pitching coach Ray Searage about the decision to pull Virgil Vasquez Thursday night.  The decision was completely based on the pitch count.  The Pirates have strict rules and the Indians staff must follow those rules.  After Vasquez walked his final batter the Indians needed the pen to do the job and Bautista blew the save.  As of today, all of the Indians starting pitchers have a max pitch count of 100.  Regardless of the situation you will be pulled when you close in on 100 pitches.  I think it stinks, but rules are rules and you have to obey.  Remember the goal is to get these players ready for the Bigs.

Here is a bonus picture:

 
 
ROC 018.jpgThat is Rochester 2B Alexi Casilla bouncing a baseball on the barrel of his bat.  Casilla says his best is 240 bounces and he does the whole Tiger Woods thing by bouncing the ball between his legs and around his back.  He just catches the ball at the end instead of hammering the ball like Tiger.

Frontier Field

The Indians are three hours away from playing game three of their four game series with Rochester and game seven of this current 8 game road trip.  The Rochester area was expecting rain, but as of right now there isn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun is shining.  There is a very strong wind blowing out to left field and if that continues throughout the night Virgil Vasquez will have to deal with the elements the way he had to on Saturday night

Along with the moniker “The Flour City” Rochester was dubbed some years back as “Baseball City USA” by Baseball America.  The Red Wings have won 10 Governors’ Cup Titles with the last coming back in 1997.  The first year of pro ball was way back in 1885 when Harry Leonard led them to a 40-36 record.  The St. Louis Cardinals were an affiliate in Rochester from 1929-1960 followed by the Baltimore Orioles from ’61-2002.  During the O’s affiliation the Red Wings and Pawtucket Red Sox hooked up in the longest professional game in baseball history.  Check out the numbers and the names that played in that game. From ’02 to today the Red Wings have worked with the Minnesota Twins.    They have called Frontier Field home since 1997 after 68 seasons at Silver Stadium.

ROC 005.jpgThis is a picture of Andrew McCutchen taking a rip at a Brian Duensing offering.  You can see the ball is 3/4 of the way there and is above the first base line.  McCutchen drilled this pitch into left center for his second double of the game.  I can’t remember the Indians wearing their red jerseys for any game since I’ve been here.  On the road the Tribe usually goes with their black tops or grey uniforms.  The home team designates what they want to wear and the opponent has to follow.  In this game the Wings wore black so the Indians had to decide between the red or grey tops. 

ROC 010.jpgThis is the view directly behind home plate.  I was sitting in the front row preparing for the post game interview.  Jeff Salazar is battling Juan Morillo.  What I like about this picture is you can see that Morillo has just released the pitch.  A couple of pitches later Salazar struck out.  No worries for Jeff because he went 2-5 with two runs batted in.

ROC 011.jpgLeft fielder David Winfree moves to his right to make a play on a 5th inning hit by Salazar.  The Indians bullpen is in the foreground giving them a great view of the game and the field.  I plan on taking a picture from the radio booth giving you a complete look at Frontier Field.  The pitching match-up tonight is Tribe righty Virgil Vasquez (2-1, 4.84) vs. Red Wings right-hander Jason Jones (0-3, 5,52).  I’m off to the clubhouse to find yesterday’s winning pitcher Daniel McCutchen.  I’m going to grab him for our pre-game interview.

7:05 UPDATE:

ROC.jpgFirst pitch from Frontier Field.

            

The Rock

The Indians lost earlier today at Syracuse and a promising 2 and oh start turns into a pedestrian 2 and 2 mark.  The team will have a chance to bounce back tomorrow night at Rochester.  There are still four games remaining on this trip and a winning record will go a long way to the Tribe’s confidence and climb to the top of the West Division.  Tonight will be a great night to enjoy Rochester and get away from the game of baseball.  The plans for me are to tear this place up while watching the Cavs-Hawks game. 

Here is the view from my hotel room.  The Genesee River splits Rochester and was the original source of power and commerce in the area.  Did you know?  Mills along the river grind more flour than anywhere else in North America, giving Rochester her nickname “Flour City.” 

ROC 001.jpgI’m not sure if the river is a source for Genny Cream Ale.  It is pretty rare to enjoy a night off.  So it’s going to be great to relax and get ready for tomorrow night’s game with the Wings.         

Happy Mothers Day

This morning several players were on their cell phones sending Mother’s Day wishes.  Anyone who has been a part of athletics knows just how important moms can be.  She will drive you to practice, never miss a game, and will always say how great a job you did…even when you know that isn’t the case.  Mom is always watching or listening.  That’s why everyone says “Hi Mom” to the television camera.  She is always there.  Thanks to moms everywhere, especially mine back home in Fishers. 

The Indians and Chiefs played in some difficult weather conditions last night. By the end of the game, temps had fallen nearly 20 degrees and the wind whipped out to right field at 25 miles per hour.  According to the local weather a wind gust of 53 mph ripped through the stadium in the 3rd inning.  Adding to the mess was rain that provided and eerie back drop.  This picture was taken during the 9th inning.

SYR 011.jpgNotice the flags in right center?  The flag polls were moving the entire game and the swirling rain gave the appearance of a fog or snow storm.  The winds were so strong moments after this picture was taken Brad Eldred hit a mile-high pop up that 3B Neil Walker initially called for.  By the time the ball landed SS Luis Cruz and 2B Chris Barnwell collided near first base.  They were OK (tye hit each other in the shins…the shins, ever hear of that?) and afterwards both said they have never seen a ball move as much as that one did.  This afternoon’s game will feel more like April 10th than May 10th.  The high today will be 49, but with the wind it will feel more like 39.

SYR 015.jpgThis picture was taken at 10:30 this morning.  It is a shot of the main gate at Alliance Bank Stadium.  As you can see the flag is once again getting in a pretty good workout. 

News and Notes: 

SYR 018.jpgAdd Bar Malik to the blogosphere.  The Indians strength coach has started a blog.  Bar is in his 4th season with the Indians and his 5th overall with the Pirates.  I’m looking forward to seeing what he has to say.  He has a bachelor’s degree in exercise & sports science and last summer earned his master’s degree in human movement.  That’s Bar talking to Jack Wilson prior to this afternoon’s game.

The Tribe is gunning for three straight and with a win will be one game below .500.  Tonight I’m hitting up Change of Pace.  Dan Hoard, fellow blogger, suggested I try the wings.  If his recommendations are as good as he is calling games for Pawtucket and the University of Cincinnati, than tonight will be a good night. 

12:15 UPDATE:

Pink Bats!  A terrific tradition and an even better cause will continue today in Major League Baseball. 

SYR 017.jpgThat is Steve Pearce taping up the pink bat he will use during today’s game.  By Gosh plenty of Pittsburgh Pirates will swing pink bats and CF Nate McLouth will sport pink cleats.   

       

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