Is this thing on?

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

Tweet Ups, ties, and reaching .500

For the 7th time this season the Indianapolis Indians will attempt to reach the .500 mark.  The Tribe and Buffalo Bisons are the teams in the IL who have not been .500 at some point this season.  Since the All-Star break only the Gwinnett Braves (17-8) have a better record than the Indians.  Since July 16th the Tribe is 16-9 and with a win tonight will improve to 58-58 giving them a .500 record for the first time since May of ’08.  LHP Phil Dumatrait will make his second and likely final rehab start for the Indians tonight.  Dumatrait has been on the Pittsburgh Pirates DL this entire season, but appears healthy enough to rejoin the big club.

Do you recognize the guy with Rowdie?

DSCF5134.JPGI’ll give you a hint…he writes for Sports Illustraded and is on NBC’s Football Night in America.  Need one more…he says my Cleveland Browns are the WORST team in the NFL.  SI NFL writer Peter King stopped by Victory Field last night.  Via Twitter, Peter had what is called a “Tweet Up” last night.  About 75 fans sat in Peter’s section and talked football for the length of the game.  This is the third straight year Peter has weaved an Indians visit with his annual visit to Colts camp.  Everyone who was a part of the night said that Peter was as down to earth as you can imagine and he answered questions from the potential NFL lockout to who should be Peyton Manning’s back-up.  For those of you who read his Monday Morning QB column (a must read for any sports fan, especially a NFL fan) you may believe he has an obsession with Brett Farve.  Moments before Peter was presented with is official Indians jersey, the front office wondered if they should have put his name and a number of the jersey.  My suggestion was #4 in honor of the oft-retired one, but the decision to leave the back plan was the right one.  Peter King is a stand up guy and made the night very special for a lot of NFL and Indians fans. 

On a side note…if anyone sees a red sunglass case with prescription Ray-Ban’s inside to please give Victory Field and call and let us know.  Peter could use them, thanks.

Pitchers vs. Relievers:

Pitching coach Ray Searage decided it was time to let his pitchers have some fun at the plate.  The starters and relievers faced off in an unusual game of baseball.  Each batter was given two swings to put the ball in play.  Once the ball was in play they had to run straight across the diamond to second base.  The other team could field the ball and throw you out at second base. 

PIT 001.jpgThe starters included RHP Virgil Vasquez (red hat foreground), RHP and IL pitcher of the week Eric Hacker (hatless in front of Virgil), LHP Phil Dumatrait (who was only allowed to sacrifice), RHP Brad Lincoln (who let some steam out after his poor outing on Sunday), stretch coach Bar Malik (in the batting cage), and physical trainer intern Brandon Platt.

The relievers included RHP Jason Davis (pirates shirt), RHP Jeremy Powell (glasses on next to Davis), RHP Steve Jackson (red hat foreground), RHP Ty Taubenheim, RHP Denny Bautista, RHP Juan Mateo, and RHP Jean Machi

PIT 003.jpgIt was a four inning game and included three home runs.  Virgil Vasquez and Brad Lincoln each went deep for the starters while Jean Machi hit a clutch solo shot in the top of the 4th to help the relievers erase a three run deficit and tie the game at 6.  The winners would not have to shag in batting practice.  It was a worthy prize with yesterday’s hot humid temps expected to reach 88 degrees.  With the game tied at six the starters came to the plate in the bottom of the 4th and left the winning run at third base.  Ray Searage was the pitcher, judge, and juror when it came to the rules.  Not everyone was thrilled with his adlibbing, but in the end it was up to the hitters and they didn’t come through.  Everyone would be on the field for batting practice thanks to a 6-6 tie.

News and Notes:

Brian Bixler extended his hitting streak last night to 12 games.  Bix has raised his average 15 points during the streak and is now hitting .275 with 9 home runs and .348 on-base percentage.  The 9 home runs match a career high for the 26 year-old from Sandusky, Ohio. 

3B Neil Walker was not in the starting line-up last night.  He will sit every 5 or 6 games to give his left knee a rest.  Walker did a sit down interview with me back in May and based on the things he told me then, I was not surprised to read his comments in this article.  This part in Colin Dunlap’s article jumped out to me…

“The sheer truth is that I’m a young guy, and I feel like I can play at the major league level,” Walker said before pausing. “And if Pittsburgh isn’t the place I make it, I’m confident there is somewhere that I will make it. I just really don’t know what the future is for me with this organization.”

Walker cited himself and Indianapolis teammate Brian Bixler, a shortstop taken in the same 2004 draft who has been enormously unsuccessful in stints with the Pirates, as prospects taken by previous general manager Dave Littlefield who have not been treated the same as those acquired by current general manager Neal Huntington.

“Treated differently?” Walker replied to a question on that topic. “I don’t know if ‘differently’ would be the right word, but you can tell who the old guys are and who the new guys are. I just look at it like this: In any situation, in any business, new bosses come in and want their guys and are more comfortable with people they see as their guys. That’s the situation I feel like I’m in. I’m not one of their guys. Bixler and I are not their guys, and it isn’t hard to tell we aren’t their guys.”

This is an important month for Walker in regards to his future.  If he continues to swing (.393, HR, 12RBI, 8 August games) a hot bat then he will force the Pirates to give him a September call-up.  I have never heard Bixler say that he is currently catching a tough break (.331, 9HR, 25RBI since July 1st), but based on how close the two of them are, I wouldn’t dispute the claim.  Dunlap did the right thing with interviewing Walker instead of Bixler.  Bix would never publically say something like this, while Walker is as honest of a quote as you can find.

Robinzon Diaz started in place of Walker at 3B last night.  It was the first time in his professional career he was 3B and first time he was an infielder since 2001.  In ’01 Diaz played 1B for Toronto in the Domincian Summer League.  Between 2002 and up to last night Diaz has only been used as a catcher or DH.               

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