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

Still searching for .500…UPDATE…a blowout and more moves

The Indians lost at Columbus last night dropping their record to 58-60.  It was the 8th time the Indians failed to win a game that would give them a .500 record.  It’s hard to believe, but the Indians are 0-8 in games in which they could reach the .500 mark.  Thursday night, RHP Eric Hacker (4.1IP, 9H, 7ER, 4K) and the Indians were done in by a 5 run 5th inning.  The International League pitcher of the week must be thrilled this is his last start at Huntington Park.  In two starts vs. the Clippers, Hacker is 0-1 giving up 11 runs over just 7.1 innings of work.  During his six starts between meltdowns in Columbus, Hacker was 3-2 with a 2.36 (10 runs over 38IP) earned run average. 

A 2nd inning single extended Brian Bixler’s hitting streak to 15 games.  Currently, it’s the longest streak in the league and fifth longest this season.  During the streak Bix is hitting .373 (25-67) with 3 home runs and 11 runs batted in.  One weakness in Brian’s game is he does not like to talk about himself.  Since he won’t talk to me about the streak I’ll talk to his hitting coach.  Jeff Branson says when Bix makes contact he is driving the ball to all fields.  He is still striking out (20 times during the streak), but is hitting .532 when he puts the ball in play.  The struggle for Branson and Bixler is improving his contact rate.  Since July 1st Bixler is hitting .335 and the average jumps to .461 when he puts the ball in play.

We almost had a George Brett incident last night.  3B Neil Walker crushed a pitch down the left field off Clippers lefty Zach Jackson.  It was ruled a home run by umpire Justin Vogel and he did a great job of getting down the line because the ball was so far and so high he really had a tough call.  Columbus skipper Torey Lovullo argued it was foul and as the umps came together to discuss the call, Walker could feel his anger build.  As Walker approached the dugout steps he could see Vogel tell Lovullo it was fair and thus prevented a scene at home plate. 

RHP Brad Lincoln will be the Indians starting pitcher tonight.  The 24 year-old is looking to bounce back after two sub-par outings.  Lincoln has given up 9 runs in his last two starts and has not lasted longer than 4 innings.  The former first round pick has pitched 115.1 innings this season (75 in AA, 40.1 in AAA) after pitching a total of 127.1 his first two years of pro ball.  Lincoln had Tommy John surgery at the end of 2006 costing him all of 2007.  There is no doubt he is 100% healthy, but now may be the time to limit his innings.  Lincoln should make four more starts this season and he may not pitch past the 5th inning in any of them. 

The Tribe made a few roster moves yesterday.  LHP Corey Hamman is back with the team after a two month stint in double-A.  He will become the Indians left-handed specialist out of the bullpen.  RHP Jon Meloan is expected to join the team sometime today.  The Pirates claimed him on waivers the other day and optioned him to the Tribe yesterday.  Meloan will pitch out of the bullpen and this will be the thrid IL team he will suit up for this year.  Meloan opened the season with Columbus and most recently was with Durham.  RHP Ty Taubenheim is back in the Indians rotation.  He replaces LHP Phil Dumatrait and will start on Sunday.  Dumatrait’s ML rehab assignment is not officially over since he is still with the Indians, but he is not expected to make another start for the Tribe.

First pitch tonight is set for 7:05 with pre-game coverage beginning at 6:40.  I hope you tune and have a safe weekend. 

3:30 UPDATE:

In the immortal words of the late great Jack Buck…”I can’t believe what I just saw!”  The Pirates and Cubs are currently underway at Wrigley Field and it’s safe to say the game is effectively over.  The game was turned off the clubhouse TV after the 2nd inning with the Cubs leading 14-0!  Charlie Morton gave up 10 runs in his inning of work and the Bucs had to call on their bullpen in the 2nd inning.  So you can expect the Indians to lose a pitcher or two tonight so the Pirates can have SOMEONE ready for tomorrow’s game. 

Maybe it’s Jon Meloan, who has officially joined the Indians.  The righty threw a bullpen session under the watchful eye of pitching coach Ray Searage.  I’ve only had the chance of introducing myself to Jon.  He was really keeping to himself as he joins his third different clubhouse this season.  Imagine being the new kid in school three times in one year?  That’s what Meloan has been through. 

12:00 AM UPDATE:

The Tribe clobbered Columbus tonight 14-5 and it felt more like 30 to nothing.  SS Chris Barnwell, 1B Jeff Clement, RF Tagg Bozied, and C Erik Kratz all had three hits with all nine of the Indians starters touching home plate.  Clement clubbed his 7th home run in just 14 games and drove in 4 runs.  His 1st inning home run was AT LEAST 420 feet and was still going up when it hit the batters eye in straight away centerfield.  Kratz had his 9th three hit game of the season and drove in a season high 4 runs.  His three-run 5th inning home run pushed an 8-2 lead to 11-2. 

CF Jose Tabata went 0-6, but returned to the line-up after missing the past three games with a left wrist injury.  Tabata has been battling the injury throughout the season with the recent inflammation causing him the most discomfort. 

Brian Bixler and RHP Denny Bautista are on their way to Chicago to join the Pirates.  Bixler leaves the Indians with a 15 game hit streak and is recalled by the Bucs for the second time this season.  Bautista will be joining the Pirates for the first time this season after making 35 appearances for them last season.  The hard throwing right-hander was 2-3 with a 5.09 ERA with the Indians.  The last of his 35 appearances was Thursday night when he pitched 2 scoreless innings of relief.  Phil Dumatrait has been moved to the Indians bullpen and will help replace Bautista, while Larry Broadway (currently on the DL) will likely be activated to replace Bixler. 

COL 003.jpgThe picture is of wrestler Jim ‘Hacksaw’ Duggan.  He threw out the first pitch and signed autographs from the 1st inning through the 8th inning.  The Indians players were loving Duggan by yelling “Hey Yo” at him whenever he looked their way.  It’s a shame that Hacksaw wasn’t signing when Gwinnett visited.  Remember their current radio announcer was the voice of the WWF and WCW.

Tomorrow the Indians will try for the 9th time to reach .500.  RHP Daniel McCutchen will be searching for win #12 and the Indians will try to reach .500.                      

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