Tuesday July 28th (Indians 7 Norfolk 6): The team flies a private charter from Indianapolis to Norfolk, Virginia. Harbor Park is sits along the Elizabeth River and you can count on the wind whipping in off the water or gusting out to right field. On this night it was whipping in with a game time temperature of 92 degrees, the hottest for the Indians this season. RHP Brad Lincoln (7IP, 2ER) was the winner with All-Star C Erik Kratz hitting the first of what would turn out to be 13 home runs the Indiansn would hit on the road trip. A picture of Harbor Park…
Wednesday July 29th (Norfolk 6 Indians 5): The day begins with the Pirates trading SS Jack Wilson and RHP Ian Snell to the Seattle Mariners for five players. Snell was sleeping when the trade went down and was awaken by his phone ringing. On the other end was Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington telling him he was a part of a deal to Seattle. Snell told me once he heard the word “trade” he started to jump up an down knowing he was getting the fresh start he desired.
RHP Eric Hacker (6IP, 2ER) looked to be a sure winner until the bullpen gave three runs back in the 7th and 8th innings. Norfolk was a walk-off winner when Jeff Fioretino’s fourth hit of the game scored Justin Turner from third base. This would not be the last time the Indians would lose a late inning lead.
Thursday July 30 (Indians 11 Norfolk 3): SS Brian Bixler (3-5, 3R), 3B Neil Walker (3-5, 2HR, 4RBI), and 2B Shelby Ford (5-5, 2R, HR) paced an Indians attack that scored double-digit runs for the first time in 21 games. RHP Daniel McCutchen won for the 10th time pitching 7 shutout innings. The afternoon game provided the players with an opportunity to enjoy Norfolk, but for one player his trip was coming to an end. Shortly after the game the players heard a rumor the Pirates were making a deal with the Cubs. Shortly before 7:00 it was official LHP Tom Gorzelanny and Pirates reliever John Grabow were joining the Cubs.
Within 24 hours the Indians lost two-fifth’s of their starting rotation. Gorzelanny’s success with the Indians (2.48 ERA in 15 starts) left some players on the team wondering why the Pirates would give up on the 27 year-old. The Indians loss would soon become the Cubs gain.
Friday July 31 (Norfolk 10 Indians 9): One of the wilder games this season. 1B Jeff Clement arrived as a part of the Snell trade and immediately made an impact. He yanked a ball out of the yard in his very first at-bat as an Indian. Clement would then lead off the 4th with an opposite field shot giving the left-hander two home runs in his first two at-bats. After five innings the Tribe trailed 4-2. The Indians would send 12 batters to the plate in the 6th inning scoring a season best 7 runs on 9 hits. When the dust settle the Indians had a 9-4 lead and it was off to Durham. Unfortunately nobody told the Tides the game was over. Norfolk answered with a FIVE run 7th to tie the game at 9. Indians reliever Denny Bautista retired the fist two batters of the inning, but the next 7 would reach base and the Indians lead was gone. The collapse was complete when OF Joey Gathright singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 8th inning. The Indians scored 32 runs in the series and only won twice.
Saturday August 1 (Durham 2 Indians 0): RHP Jose Ascanio made his Indians debut a memorable one. Ascanio was a part of the Pirates/Cubs deal and showed off his blazing fastball. He was the tough luck loser pitching 6.2 innings and striking out 9. Highly touted prospect Jose Tabata made his debut with the Tribe. The 20 year-old outfielder was 3-3 with two walks. The offense had 9 hits, but none of the nine came with runners in scoring position. Add it all up and Indians left 13 men on base and were shutout after scoring 20 runs the previous two games. After the game RHP Steven Jackson was recalled by Pittsburgh and RHP Virgil Vasquez (2-5, 6.09 ERA 7 starts with PIT/5-2, 4.18 ERA 14 starts with INDY) was optioned back to the Tribe. Here is the seating area at Durham Bulls Athletic Park:
Sunday August 2 (Indians 4 Durham 4): Bixler, OF Brian Myrow, and Clement all hit solo home runs in the Indians win. Neil Walker stepped up with three hits and 2 runs batted in. For the trip Walker went 13-32 (.406) with 11 runs batted in. RHP Mike Koplove, RHP Jason Davis, and RHP Chris Bootcheck pitched the final three innings to preserve the one run game. Ian Snell (6IP, 2ER, 4K) made his Seattle Mariners debut pitching to a no-decision at Texas.
Monday August 3 (Indians 6 Durham 2): This was the first game in the season series between the Bulls and Indians that was decided by more than two runs. Durham scored a run in the 1st and 2nd innings, but would not touch home plate again versus starter Eric Hacker (6IP, 2ER, 7K), Koplove, Davis, and Bootcheck. Bixler smashed a home run for the second consecutive night and his 8th in less than a month. Chris Barnwell hit a solo home run in the 6th that cleared the ‘bull’. Here is ‘The Bull’…
Mike Koplove pitched a scoreless 7th for the Tribe and after the game was traded to Seattle becoming the third pitcher traded in less than a week.
Tuesday August 4 (Durham 7 Indians 6): This was a classic example of not counting your chicken’s before they’ve hatched. The Indians were three outs away from winning for the 13th time in their past 19 games and giving Daniel McCutchen (6.1IP, 3ER, 7K) his 11th win on the season. The Indians bullpen was short handed and it caught up to them tonight. Durham scored 4 runs in the 9th to win by one. The winning run scored when the Tribe failed to turn an inning ending double play. Prior to this trip, the Indians were 20-2 when leading after six innings. The Indians had the lead after six innings in 7 of the 8 games, but only won four times. In Cincinnati Tom Gorzelanny made his Cubs debut a winning one. Gorzo pitched 7.1 innings giving up only 1 run and striking out 6. Great job Tommy.
NEWS AND NOTES:
The Indians return home Thursday night to face the Charlotte Knight’s. The Indians will play 20 of their final 33 games at home.
**Chris Barnwell is riding a season high 8 game hit streak
**Brian Bixler has hit safely in 7 straight and 11 of his past 12 games. Bix has 15 hits over his last 12 games.
**Chris Bootcheck has converted 15 consecutive saves
**Brian Myrow has hit safely in 8 of his last 9 games. 13 hits over that stretch.