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

Archive for the category “Dailies”

Friends and Family

Happy Memorial Day and it is a special day for baseball players.  The Indians are lucky to play a kids game for a living and every player realizes their dream is possible thanks to the brave men and woman who protect this country.  Today is a great day to enjoy a cookout and listen to a baseball game on the radio.  Although I wish I was at home, today has always been one of my favorite days to call a game.

The Indians have arrived in Gwinnett and when the team heads south you can count on friends and family showing up at the park.  A good percentage of players come from the south and trips to Charlotte, Atlanta, Durham, and Norfolk gives parents the perfect opportunity to see their sons play baseball.  OF Kevin Melillo has lived in Charlotte the past five years and spent the weekend at his house.  It was the first time in his career he played in Charlotte and he made it count.  Kevin hit a pair of game changing home runs and received a standing O from the 35 friends and family who made the trip.  “I could here them, but didn’t want to acknowledge them.  I figured if I waved or smiled I would get the next pitch in the ribs, so it was best to just put my head down and head into the dugout.”  There is some added stress with so many guests on the pass list.  The surprising part is players are most relaxed when playing the game.  It’s away from the diamond when family affects you the most.  Players are habits of routine and day to day routines are affected when friends and family are in town.  “Don’t get me wrong it is awesome to stay at home and be with my wife, but it’s tough to talk with some many people after the game.  You’rer tired, but I have to give them your energy because they are there for you.  I’ll miss it as soon as we go to Gwinnett.” 

Hitting Coach Jeff Branson’s Major League career took him all over the country, but only a few times did he play in front of his family.  “It’s hard because you have a job and that job requires you to prepare and your schedule is affected when family is in town.  It’s different now as a coach, but when you are a player all you are trying to do is your best and the added distraction may take an edge away.”

C Luke Carlin was able to pay in front of his dad for the first time in a long time.  “I can’t remember the last time my dad saw me play.  My parents made a few trips to San Diego, Chicago, and Cincinnati, but I never got into the games.”  Carlin’s family lives about an hour away from Charlotte and Luke’s dad saw his son play on Thursday and Saturday night. 

OF Brandon Moss grew up in nearby Walton County and his boyhood home is 30minutes away from where the Indians will play the next four nights.  “It’s not a big deal to me anymore.  I may have my wife, parents and sisters in the stands, but for the most part the big crowds are on their own.”  Last summer was a different story when Moss and the Pittsburgh Pirates played in Atlanta.  “Now that was an event.  It was my first trip to Turner (Field) and there were a ton of people there.  They all sat in right field and formed the Moss Pit.  I will never forget that, but that was the Big Leagues, this is Triple-A.”  Don’t expect a Moss Pit in Gwinnett, but expect proud parents in the stands when Moss steps to home plate…only thirty minutes from where he grew up. 

UPDATE:   Brandon Moss’s sister Ashley gave me more info on where he grew up.  It is the Loganville area.  It is straight shot up Georgia 20 from Loganville to Lawrenceville.  Brandon is the eldest of 4 children.  Sisters, Lindsey and Ashley and a brother Ethan.  She reached me through the power of twitter and from I gather from her tweets…she is a big Carrie Underwood fan. 

It was some series against the Charlotte Knights.  The Tribe won 3 out of 4, but it felt more like a seven game series.  The two clubs played a regular nine inning game won by the Indians on Thursday evening.  Friday night’s game was moving along through the 5th inning when lightning entered the area.  The umpires pulled the players off the field and less than 10 minutes later the skies opened up and rain stopped the game.  The Knights and Indians resumed the suspended game on Saturday night with the Indians winning 3-1.  The regular game was up next and it moved into the bottom the 5th inning when the stadium lights went out.  The concourse light’s remained on, but the stadium light’s left the field pitch black.  I have no idea who CF Jose Tabata made his way back to the dugout.  My only guess was a friendly game of Marco Polo.  The light’s came back on after a 21 minutes delay, but less than 10 minutes later, were off again and the game was stopped.  Two nights and two baseball games suspended.  Sunday rolls around and the teams complete Saturday’s game with Charlotte winning 8-4.  The regular Sunday game was won by the Indians in 12 innings.  There were a total of 4 games and 6 “first pitches”.  The Indians have resumed a suspended game three times in the past 10 days after having only two games suspended the past three years.

NEWS AND NOTES:

3B Pedro Alvarez had a career high 9 game hit streak snapped Sunday afternoon.  The 23 year-old had 12 hits during the streak with 6 walks and 7 strikeouts.  Alvarez enters the last day of May with 11 home runs and 44 runs batted in.  The 11 home runs are tied with Ryan Doumit (2005) for the most in the first two months of the season since the affiliation with Pittsburgh.  His RBI total is the best April/May total for an Indians player since joining forces with the Pirates.

The Tribe bullpen has been a major plus this month thanks to RHP Vinnie Chulk and LHP Justin Thomas.  Vinnie had a rough start to the season giving up 16 runs and 17 hits in only 4 innings of work.  A back injury landed him on the DL and since coming off the disable list Vinnie Chulk has been nearly perfect.  In 14.2 innings he has allowed only 1 run on 8 hits.  Over that span his ERA is 0.63.  Believe it or not, Thomas has been better giving up one run on 6 hits in his last 18 innings or relief work.  His 0.50 ERA over that stretch has caught the eye of Pirates fans.  Both Chulk and Thomas have Major League time, but are not on the 40 man roster.  If the Pirates were to call either man up they will have to add them to that roster. 

Join us for the broadcast tonight and enjoy your family, friend, cookouts, and sunburn.  It is all yours thanks to a little thing called freedom.

Follow me on Twitter:  @ScottDMcCauley              

Which one is Pedro?

A baseball clubhouse is one of the most unique places on earth.  Twenty five baseball players come together from all walks of life to live in a locker room for 5 1/2 months.  You will find 33 year old Americans playing cards with 23 year old Venezuelans.  I have never, in all of my years in broadcasting witnessed a scrum or a fight among teammates.  Like any family you have differences and those differences are handled in an adult manner because your teammate is going to be in that same locker tomorrow.  One of the best things about the clubhouse is watching the players pick each other up with encouragement.  At any given time a player may be on a hot streak while another is searching for hit.  Teammates will not let a hot streak go to your head and they will not let you get too down on yourself.  A player will receive a congratulatory hand shake and a minute later be humbled due to their lack of taste in clothing. 

It is tough to reach to top of the mountain in the Indians clubhouse because someone will knock you off with a joke or story.  It is all about keeping players humble and that was on display Sunday morning.  Pedro Alvarez is 23 years old and this is only his second professional season.  He was the #2 overall pick in 2008 and is by all accounts the future of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The souvenir give-a-way on Sunday was a Pedro Alvarez replica jersey t-shirt.  Every player receives a souvenir item prior to the game and most will stuff the picture frame, water bottle, or back pack into their locker.  However, this Alvarez item was too good to shove into a locker stall. 

Every player put on the t-shirt to show support and in a way keep Pedro humble.  Here is a picture of Daniel McCutchen, Brad Lincoln, and Steve Jackson relaxing with their Pedro pride. 

 
Pedro t-shirt 004.jpgBelow,  Kevin Melillo, Steven Jackson (sitting w/back to camera…he’s everywhere), and Neil Walker (standing) pose with their Pedro shirts.

Pedro t-shirt 002.jpgThe good news is that Pedro took it all in stride.  “It’s embarrassing to them all wearing the shirts.”  I had to mow my yard yesterday and I was sporting my Pedro T. 

RHP Brad Lincoln is on a roll and closing in on a promotion.  The 24 year-old (he will turn 25 on Tuesday) improved to 5-2 and lowered his ERA to 3.77 with Saturday’s win over Gwinnett.  Many in the Indians clubhouse feel that Lincoln will make one more start with the Indians and then get the call to the big leagues.  Lincoln isn’t looking to far ahead, “I’m getting ready to make my next start against Charlotte.  They got me pretty good last year and I hear they have a small park.”  Lincoln’s worst Triple-A start came last summer against Charlotte.  The Knights scored 7 runs on 9 hits sending Lincoln to the showers after only 3 innings.  Since that loss on August 9th Lincoln has a 9-2 record (13 starts) with a 3.46 ERA. 

The question that has followed Lincoln is when will he develop a third pitch?  He throws a fastball (4 seam fastball between 93-96 mph and a 2 seam fastball between 90-92 mph) with a awesome curveball.  His curveball is the pitch that jumped off the charts a season ago.  He can throw the curve with a big bending 12:00 to 6:00 drop or throw it hard to give a hitter a sluvy (curveball + slider) look.  As season ago current Pirates coach Ray Searage helped Lincoln develop a change-up.  It was his weakest pitch, but he found out that he needed it to get hitters out.  This season that change-up has morphed into a splitter.  Well, at least that depends on who you ask. 

Me:  “Does Lincoln throw a change-up or a split finger pitch?”

Manger Frank Kremblas:  “It’s a change-up with a split look.  It’s a change-up.”

Pitching Coach Dean Treanor:  “It’s a change-up, but he splits his fingers on the grip so it drops like a split, but has the action of a change-up.”

C Erik Kratz:  “I think it’s a split and that sounds a lot cooler than a change-up.  It it too hard to be a change-up, but it’s effective enough that is acts like a change-up.  It say it’s a splitter.”

Brad Lincoln:  “We are going to go with a change-up.  A split sounds cool, but because of the change up action I have to call it a change-up.”

Based on other conversations my best guess is that last year he had a change up, but this season he is throwing it between 86-88 mph hour and it looks like a splitter.  The Pirates tell me it’s a change up so that will be the final official word.  Still, a split finger pitch sounds nasty and much cooler than a change up.  Lincoln’s next start will be pushed back a day due to the Indians Wednesday off day.  He will next toe the rubber on Friday in Charlotte.

Here the Indians and Gwinnett Braves tonight at 7:00.

Follow me on Twitter:  @ScottDMcCauley 

    

For me it was Albert

A group of school children attended Wednesday’s game between the Indians and Scranton Wilkes Barrre Yankees.  They were attending an Indians Baseball in Education game and had great seats behind home plate.  I shared with the kids some history on the team and which players they should pay attention to.  By the time I was finished the kids knew to watch Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, and Neil Walker.  Minor League baseball is all about watching tomorrow’s stars and one of the three may become a 10 time All-Star. 

2009 #1 overall pick Steven Strasburg is going to be a part of that future.  He is creating such a buzz in the minor’s fans in Indy keep asking when they will see Strasburgh.  Unfortunately the Indians will not see Strasburg in the minors.  The Tribe isn’t slated to play Syracuse until late June and by then he had better be in the big leagues.  He may become his generation’s best right handed pitcher, but he will not make my list of the best players I’ve seen play in the minors.

So who are some of the best minor league players that I have seen and the Indians players have seen?  That was the question I posed to OF Kevin Melillo, OF Brandon Moss, and 1B Brian Myrow.  They were apprehensive at first because ball players rarely applaud other players.  They will give a guy his due, but labeling them a stud or an all-timer is something completely different.  So I opened up the conversation by telling them that Albert Pujols is the best minor league player I ever saw.  Before you mock my pick, let me tell you when and where I saw Albert the Great.

Pujols was a 20 year-old third baseman for the Peoria Chiefs during the 2000 season.  That was my first season as the voice of the South Bend Silverhawks.  The Midwest League is low-A and for many players the first league in which they will play a full 144 game schedule.  That year the Silverhawks played Pujols and the Chiefs 8 times and he dominated all eight games. (In my scorecard I wrote Albert Poo-holes) Against South Bend he batted .433 (13-30) with 6 runs, 5 doubles, 2 home runs, and 8 runs batted in.  He was not the best third baseman, but his swing produced lasers that sailed to all fields.  The only players that I can remember who have hit the ball as hard as Pujols are Wily Mo Pena (Dayton Dragons 2001) and Pedro Alvarez.  When Wily Mo was not missing the ball he was smoking line drives for the Reds single-A affiliate in Dayton.  I have only watched Pedro play for 6 weeks, but his line drives and power remind me of Pujols and Mo Pena.  His power can shrink any ballpark. 

A close second to Pujols for “the best I’ve ever seen” is Victor Martinez.  The Red Sox catcher was the Eastern League MVP in 2002 batting .336 with 20 home runs and 62 strikeouts vs. 58 walks.  He was never better that year than in the month of July when he hit an amazing .414 over 24 games with more doubles (13) than strikeouts (10).  Martinez had the best season I’ve ever seen, but Pujols was the best player.

Now let’s get back to the fellas in the clubhouse.  Melillo says the best player he has ever seen is Jason Heyward.  This raised the ire of Moss and Myrow because he is only a rookie.  Melillo said he played against Heyward last year in double-A and saw enough to know he was awesome.  The first at-bat for Heyward was against a really good lefty who had a great slider.  “So he gets ahead of Heyward oh and 2 and I’m thinking to myself here comes that nasty slider to finish him off.  Sure enough, it was the slider and Heyward drills a line drive, it didn’t get 15 feet off the ground to the opposite field off the outfield wall for a double.  Our guy had a good slider and Heyward just laughed at it.  That’s all I needed to see.”

Pitcher Hayden Penn chimed in and said OF Luis Terrero has more tools than anyone he has ever seen.  Terrero was the Arizona Diamondbacks #1 prospect back in 2000.  He had power, speed, a cannon arm, and was projected as the future in Arizona.  It never worked out that way and his is currently playing for the Louisville Bats.

Brian Myrow struggled with the question and the first name that came to him was Alexis Rios.  Myrow played against Rios in double-A during the 2003 season.  “What I liked about him was his bat stayed on a line with good power.  He was real young (22) and he stayed on the ball so long that you just knew he was a guy who could hit in the big leagues.”  Myrow went on to say that he played with Robinson Cano and thought he was good, but didn’t foresee this much success. 

That answer led to another topic of guys who are All-Star’s and you never saw that in their future.  The main player the discussion centered on was Kevin Youklis.  Both Moss and Myrow saw Youklis first hand and didn’t think you could walk your way to the big leagues.  Now to be fair Youklis didn’t hit many home runs, but his batting average was always good and he hit a ton of doubles.  It is hard to disagree with the guys when you consider Yuke’s .961 OPS last season was the third best of his professional career and the best in his Major League career.  His previous best OPS was .962 in 44 double-A games and .976 in 59 low-A games.  Moss and Myrow liked Youklis, but didn’t see him becoming one of the faces for the Boston Red Sox. 

Brandon Moss didn’t offer much in terms of whom the best Minor Players he can remember, but was quick to discuss Major League pitchers.  Moss was quick to talk about Tim Lincecum’s curveball.  He says it’s the best he has ever seen, while Myrow gives that honor to Felix Hernandez.  Myrow remembers facing King Felix in Triple-A Tacoma and after a single Myrow reached second base.  While he was standing at second, Hernandez decided to throw his first curveball of the game.  “I’m standing on second base, I have no idea how, we had like two hits off him through 5 innings.  I guess he felt threatened because he throws a curveball that just snaps off the end of the world.  I couldn’t believe it and knew my guy at the plate had zero chance.  I meand ZEE-ROW chance.  I didn’t even have to face him to know that was the nastiest curve I’ve ever seen.”

I still didn’t get some of the answers I was looking for, but it was enjoyable to hear the players talk about others and how every once in a while you will see someone special.  There was one thing all three of them agreed on…

Me:  “Who is the fastest pla…”

All:  “McCutchen”

Agreed 

One final note on new Indians outfielder Kevin Melillo.  Melillo has been a middle infielder his entire career.  Before joining the Indians he played in 610 professional games without a single start in the outfield until May 11th.  He has adjusted just fine to his new position and made a spectacular catch on Wednesday afternoon.  This is a photo taken by Bill Gentry:

Melillo - Bill Gentry.jpg

Here is the shot from John Gray:

Melillo - John Gray.JPGTwo great pictures and Kevin said it was surprisingly easy.  “I sprinted back and everything timed up perfectly.  I didn’t have to time a leap, but just run and jump.”  My guess is that it takes more than that and it makes for two cool pictures.    

Follow me on Twitter @ScottDMcCauley        

Crotta Shines and the Walker Watch

The Indianapolis Indians are an IL best 15-5 since April 23 and are off to their best start in three years.  Last night the Tribe earned their 20th win in game #35 after having to wait until game #42 a season ago.  25 year-old Mike Crotta pitched 7 innings improving to 2 and 1 in three career Triple-A starts.  Crotta does not have overpowering stuff, but his sinker is Major League ready.  He is nearly 6’8″ and throws on such a downward plane that his fastball can appear to drop off the face of the earth.  He is the first Indians pitcher since the working agreement with the Pirates was put in place to pitch at least 7 innings in his first three starts.  To be fair most starters are limited by pitch counts to even have the opportunity to go deep into games.  So I did some digging and this is only the 7th time since 2005 a pitcher has put together a three game stretch like Crotta.  He does not have an overpowering fastball or big breaking ball and is no where near the Pirates prospect list.  Prospects come with promise and question marks.  Mike Crotta is steady, consistant, and bring stability to any pitching staff. 

“It’s never easy out there, but I was in control all night.  The idea is to throw strikes and pounded the zone with my sinker.”  Crotta went to say that he understands there will be nights when the groundballs will become hits, but eventually those groundballs will find his defense.  “Pedro was great at third and when a right hander is at the plate my third baseman needs to be ready.  I’m a ground ball pitcher and for most of my career I’ve been a guy who will work deep into games and can do it ease.”  Throughout his career he has had trouble with left handers, but he is working on that.  “Left handers can flip my sinker to the opposite field so I need to pitch inside and get them to roll the ball to the right side of the infield.  So far I’m pleased with my starts.”  Hard to disagree with Mike and he received high praise from C Erik Kratz.  “He was dominate and it was easy to call the game.  I just kept calling fastball and the sink was just too much for the hitters.  I could sense they were frustrated and lacked confidence.” 

While Crotta was shutting down the Mud Hens Pedro Alvarez, Brian Friday, and Neil Walker were playing home run derby.  All three went deep with Pedro’s 4th inning home run scoring the games first runs.  The 23 year-old is a run producing machine.  He leads the Indians with 36 runs batted in and 9 home runs.  His ribbies come in bunches with 30 of his 36 coming in 10 games.  What impresses me is that he doesn’t leave men on base.  Well, at least it feels that way.  Whether it is a base hit or a ground out, Pedro believe it is his job to drive in runs and he does all he can to make contact.

Brian Friday hit a blast off the left field scoreboard giving him his first Triple-A home run.  He was humble after the game and I was finally able to say TGIF.  It has been 70 game since his last home run.  He went deep July 20, 2009 while playing in Double-A. 

Neil Walker continues to hit and his 9th inning home run extends his hit streak to nine games.  Not only is this a 9 game hit streak, but he has an extra-base hit in 9 straight games.  He is now hitting .336 and has raised his game this month.  In May Walker is hitting .358/.404/.755 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 13 of his 19 hits going for extra-base hits.  The question is when will Walker get the call to Pittsburgh?  The recent belief here and here is that he may get the call on May 20th.  Every player in the Indians clubhouse knows that Neil is ready to join the Pirates.  I asked several players after Thursday’s 4 hit performance and to a man they told me he has proved he is ready for the next level. 

It is tough to be picky, but Neil does need more work at second base.  I have seen him make some great plays going to both his left and his right.  He has not turned many double plays and according to the Indians coaching staff is simply lacking reps at second base.  No body expects him to hit .336 in the big leagues so he needs to prove he can play second base.  Walker will tell you he can play at 2B and he is ready to play for his hometown team.  Walker is not expecting a call up and will continue to plug away with the Tribe.  When Neil gets the call the Indians will have an void to fill.  He has played great defense and has been a leader in the clubhouse.  His time will come, but not yet.  Who knows, maybe he will be at second base on Friday when the Pirates host Atlanta.

The big story in Toledo was not the game, but American Idol finalist Crystal Bowersox returing to her hometown.  You can find here performance within the link and at the beginning it is a standard anthem.  She added some flavor towards the end and when she finished there were 13,000+ on their feet creating a really cool atmosphere.  I do not watch Idol so I placed a call to my Aunt who votes religiously.  She tells me that Bowersox is really good, but my Aunt is pulling for some contestant from Chicago.  No one of the Indians is an avid Idol watcher, but several wives are.  It was neat to see both teams come out of the early to see the hoopla and watch the National Anthem.

Daniel McCutchen is on the mound tonight shooting for his 3rd win in 4 starts.  The Indians pitching staff is getting it done this month.  Their May ERA of 3.34 is the best in the league.  The Tribe is the only team this year to not lose a game when leading after 6 innings.  “When leading after…” stats can be misleading, but the Indians 19-0 record with a lead after the 6th jumps off the page.  Only once have the Indians blow a lead when leading after 6 innigns and that was on April 26th at Louisville.  The Indians blew a few leads that night before winning in 15 innings.

Hope you can join us for the broadcast tonight at 7:00.  

Follow me on Twitter: @ScottDMcCauley

          

Its easier from where I sit

The Indians won Wednesday afternoon with impressive pitching and hitting.  RHP Brad Lincoln allowed only 2 runs in 8 innings of work and retired the first 13 batters he faced.  His fastball was hitting 95 miles per hour and his 2 seam fastball was very effective.  Lincoln said it was the most he has used his 2-seamer and the late downward movement induced several ground balls.  One Indians player told me that in the 2nd inning he thought Lincoln could throw a no-hitter.  He didn’t toss a no-no, but Rochester never had a chance this afternoon.

Pedro Alvarez led the Indians offensive attack with his 8th home run of the season.  The blast to right field left yard AND the stadium.  Two kids went running after the ball and were stopped trying to leave through a gate.  It appeared they needed to show their tickets, once the guard okayed the move…the two kids chased down the home run ball and wrestled for the prize.  The young fan that won returned to the Vic and showed the crowd the ball.  The 23 year-old Alvarez is hitting .325 this month with 3 home runs and 17 runs batted in.

The Indians appeared to take a 2 run lead in the 1st inning when Brian Myrow hit a ball into the seats in right field.  The ball cleared the fence and took a violent bounce back onto the field of play resulting in a triple.  From the broadcast booth it looked like a home run and the players in the Indians dugout thought that it was a home run; however, it was ruled a triple.  Indians Manager Frank Kremblas never questioned the umpires and the call stood.  Frank didn’t have a clear look at where the ball landed and assumed due to the wild bounce that the ball hit a railing that is in play.  Here is a picture of the railing:

Fence 002.jpgIf the ball hits the screen that is within the railing the ball is still in play.  Kremblas believed the ball hit that railing.  “I didn’t have a good look and I don’t think the umpires had a good look.  The ball was a laser and it was tough to tell if it hit the railing or the screen.”  I believe that Frank should have at the very least asked the umpires to come together and talk about the hit.  He didn’t like the idea because he didn’t believe anyone had a solid look at the ball.

Frank could not hear whether the ball hit the railing or the seats.  We know it did not hit the padding and you have to believe that the right fielder or umpire could hear a distinctive sound.  In the end I believe it was a home run and worth bringing the men in blue together.  Who knows, maybe Myrow is giving credit for his 4th home run of the season.  Later in the game Myrow asked the right fielder what he thought and he didn’t have an answer.  He told Myrow that he played the ball because of the bounce and it doesn’t hurt to act like a ball is in play. 

Clip of Brian Myrow “Triple”

As you watch the clip keep in mind the ump is watching from near the second base bag because there was not a runner at first base.  

It is easy from where I sit to judge what is happening on the field.  I also have the ability to watch an instant replay.  I am impressed night in and night out how consistent the umpires are in the International League.  The players know which umpires have small strike zones and which ones will give pitchers 3 or 4 inches off the plate.  The players are the on the field when the calls are made and only once or twice a week will they tell me a call was missed.  When that is the case, they understand no one is perfect and you must play on. 

Perhaps the Indians need to adjust the ground rules and any ball that is above the outfield wall is a home run.  In the end I believe it was a home run. 

Got Rings?

It is not that often I come across a World Series Championship ring.  For the most part they are a keepsake that is kept in a vault or in a special place at a players house.  There are only two former Indians players that I can recall wearing their rings.  The first was RHP Terry Adams in 2006.  “TA” won his ring with the Boston Red Sox in 2004.  He only wore the ring for one trip and that was the season opener at Pawtucket (C’mon it’s the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate…he had to wear it).  The ring he wore was the secondary ring with the real World Series ring secured back at his house.  There difference between the two rings is the one on his hand had fake diamonds and the one back home was covered in the real jewels.  The other player to wear their Championship ring was Michael Tejera.  The Cuban lefty wore his Florida Marlins 2003 ring all the time.  It was on him for every trip and it has to be one of the largest rings of all time.  It was as wide as a 50 cent piece and had plenty of diamonds.  There have been just a handful of players who would wear a Triple-A championship ring, but for the most part every player and every coach keeps their mementoes in a private place. 

Two more Indians players have their World Series rings, but don’t expect either guy to wear the ring.  RHP Steve Jackson and RHP Anthony Claggett each received their New York Yankees rings the week of April 19th.  They paraded the rings around the clubhouse and they are quite a sight. 

NYY 002.jpgEach ring is held it a wood case with “New York Yankees 2009 World Champions” on the top of the case.

 

NYY 004.jpgThe view above is the side of Jackson’s ring.  Did you know that you have to claim this ring on your taxes?  Everything you earn through baseball needs to be appraised and turned in to the IRS.  I would like to know how much the rings are worth.  To the players it is a talking point for the rest of their lives.  Jackson admits that he is lucky to have a ring and didn’t expect one.  He spent nearly two weeks in the Yankees bullpen and it was enough to take home the hardware. 

 

NYY 003.jpgAs for Claggett he pitched in two games with the World Champs was thrilled to learn he earned a ring.  Each player is expecting to keep the ring at home and are not planning on wearing it around town. 

Hitting Coach Jeff Branson fell short of a Championship ring with the Cleveland Indians in 1997.  Their AL champion rings were presented on Opening Day 1998 and they lack the bling of a World Series ring and it’s not something that Branson wears.  He is fairly sure it is something that can be found at his house.  The late Dick Jacobs, who owned the team at the time, told the players if they won the “Big One” he would make the biggest and best ring ever.  Unfortunately that ring went to the Marlins. 

The closest I came to a ring was in 2001.  The South Bend Silverhawks faced the Kane County Cougars for the Midwest League title.  Kane County won game one and game two was never played due to the tragedy of September 11th.  Most of the leagues declared co-champions that year; however Kane County was named the winner and champion.  A little later that winter I heard the management didn’t want to pony up for our rings and let the Cougars take the title.  I can’t confirm that story and I hope it is not true.  I don’t need a ring to remind me about the players and success that team had in 2001.

NEWS AND NOTES:

The Indians have won 11 of their past 15 games and are 3.5 games behind Columbus in the West Division.  33 year-old Jeremy Powell won his third straight start yesterday and was honored Monday as the International League’s Pitcher of the week.  JP won yesterday wearing this jersey:

Pink.jpgThe Indians offense has been on a tear this month with OF Jose Tabata leading the way with a .464 batting average and an outrageous .545 on base percentage.  UTIL Neil Walker is having it rough in his hometown newspapers, but is on a tear in Indy.  This month the 24 year-old is hitting .355 with a .412 on base percentage.  Last summer Walker injured his knee diving into first base and in the 73 games since the injury he is batting .307 with a .353 OBP.  Break it down and that’s 88 hits in 73 games with 13 HR and 60 runs batted in.  On Mother’s Day he hit a home run from the right side of the plate for the first time all season.  He is so valuable to the Indians, but should be playing in Pittsburgh. 

Finally, a couple of notes on 3B Pedro Alvarez.  In 8 May games he is batting .333 with 14 runs batted in.  Alvarez is already popular in Pittsburgh and judging by the turnout on autograph night; he’s  popular in Indy.  The line for Pedro’s autographs was 10 times that of anyone else on the team. 

The Indians are 3-1 on this 8 game homestand and host Rochester in game one of a four games series tonight at 7:00.  Hope you can join us for the broadcast.

Follow me on Twitter: @ScottDMcCauley

 

What would you do for $40?

Imagine you are 15 years old and you work in Triple-A baseball.  You are around baseball players who have a lot of time on their hands and usually a fair amount of cash lying around.  Add the two of them together and you have trouble for teenage kids.  Here is a picture of the kitchen in the visitor’s clubhouse at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, PA.

LHV 023.jpgLet’s dive deeper into what you see on the wall.  Each picture features a different contest for the visiting clubbies.  The prizes range from cash to apparel.  None of the tasks are easy and often times they end badly.  Just check out the kid wearing the orange shirt in the bottom row of the collage. 

Here is an example of one of the contests.

LHV 021.jpgDenis had to drink a gallon of coke within roughly five hours.  He did it and won five dollars, however he doesn’t look like he feels too good about “winning” the contest.  Batting practice usually begins at 5:00 and if he completed the task by the 7th inning…let’s guess he drank a gallon of Coke in roughly 3:30 to 4 hours. 

How about this next contest…could you imagine doing this?

LHV 024.jpgI don’t even likes pancakes and this kid eats 100 silver dollar pancakes AND drinks the syrup.  He took home one of the biggest cast amounts and he obviously impressed the players.  DONE. AMAZING

Here are a couple others:

LHV 027.jpgHow about his orange tongue?  Here is a failed contest:

LHV 026.jpgI love Easter Peeps, but after one sleeve I’m done.  My picture cut off the AMOUNT ACCOMPLISHED…it says 27 down the hatch, 27 back up the hatch.  That is a major loss for a youngster.  This is the only clubhouse in the league that advertises these type of games, but they happen everywhere.  I’ll give you some advise, if someone challenges you to drink a gallon of milk in hour, don’t.  It can’t be done; unfortunately several clubbies and bat boys have learned that lesson the hard way.

The Indianapolis Indians won on Monday night and are 7-2 on this 10 game road trip.  The Indians won their 10th road game of the season which is more than the total wins for both Louisville and Pawtucket.  Jeremy Powell pitched a gem on Monday shutting out Lehigh Valley through 7 innings.  He threw 101 pitches and allowed only 5 hits.  The 33 year old Powell won both of his starts on this trip.

OF Jose Tabata was not in the lineup on Monday after have an emergency root canal earlier in the day.  Tabata spent most of the morning and early afternoon at the dentist office and still wanted to play.  Skipper Frank Kremblas told the 21 year old that he was not going to play even though Tabby wanted in the lineup.  Entering play today Tabata’s 33 hits were the most in the league as were his 12 steals. 

UTIL Neil Walker was pulled early from tonight’s game.  At the time I believed he may be getting the call to Pittsburgh.  The Indians have been expecting a position player to get promoted and it was unusual to have Walker leave when he did.  In the end he was pulled because he did not run to first base on a pop out.  This past week Kremblas has benched Argenis Diaz and Brian Friday for not running through first base.  It is one of the few rules that Kremblas has and he is serious about it. 

In the end it is 1B Steve Pearce who is being promoted to Pittsburgh.  In my opinion he deserves the opportunity.  Pearce has been the Indians best players this season and is near the top in batting, slugging percentage, and on base percentage.  The hope for Pearce and his Indians teammates is that he plays.  Too often players have been promoted from Indy and become part-time players.  As Pearce walked out of the clubhouse all of his teammates told him to get his mind right and accept whatever role he is presented.  I wish him nothing, but the best and would like to see him play everyday at first base. 

NEWS AND NOTES:

Diaz has an 8 game hitting streak.  The normally light hitting SS has been working with hitting coach Jeff Branson and it is paying off.  His batting average is up to .295 and most of his hits are to the opposite field.  Diaz was a career .268 hitter entering this season.  

Pedro Alvarez has 9 RBI’s over his last four games.  The Pirates #1 prospect is third in the league with 6 home runs and is tied for 5th in the league with 21 runs batted in.  What has impressed me with Pedro is how well he fits into the Tribe clubhouse.  This is a player who signed for 6 million dollars and still fits in with veterans and young players.  Alvarez easily flows between Spanish and English and handles each media request with class.  He is mature beyond his years and I suggest the fans in Indy get to the park this month to see him.  Sixteen of the Indians next 20 games will be at Victory Field.  Come June, Pedro may be in the big leagues.

Tuesday’s game is at 10:35 with the pre-game beginning at 10:15.  Log onto to Indyindians.com and listen to some baseball.   

Follow me on Twitter: @ScottDMcCauley

          

 

 

 

Rookies

Sunday afternoon right handed pitcher Mike Crotta will make his Indians and Triple-A debut.  He will become the fourth player to make the leap this season.  3B Pedro Alvarez and 2B/SS Brian Friday made their debut on Opening Night with RHP Michael Dubee making his debut on Thursday night.  The ultimate thrill for a baseball player is the call to the show, but the first time at Triple-A can be a big deal.

Dubee (pronounced Do-bee) made his debut Thursday in front of his grandparents.  He grew up less than 45 minutes away from Pawtucket and had the family support when he took the mound.  His 8th inning opened with a line out to 2nd base.  Then Michael walked two batters and faced the tying runner with only one out.  Dubee induced Aaron Bates into a 6-4-3 inning ending double play.  As he walked off the mound, he placed his glove over his face to cover up him yelling out loud.  The long journey was over for the 24 year old.

Thursday morning Dubee left his house in Altoona Pennsylvania at 4:00.  Dubee and Mike Crotta took a 6 am flight to Johnston, PA.  When their one hour flight carrying roughly 8 passengers landed a rear tire blew out causing a 6 hour delay.  They had to wait until a new tire could be flown in from Washington Dulles.  When the tire finally arrived and the plan was fixed they took off for Dulles.  The pair had lunch around 2:30 and flew from Dulles to Providence arriving at the ballpark around 5:00.  Crotta was not yet on the roster, but Dubee was and needed that night.  He was sent to the bullpen and told to warm up in the top of the 8th inning.  The rest is history and his first day in Triple-A lasted roughly 17 hours.  When I spoke to him that night on the bus back to the hotel he was ready for bed. 

The cruel side of the business is that Dubee is heading back to Altoona Sunday morning.  The travel will be better thanks to a rental car and a quick drive to Harrisburg.  Crotta will take his spot on the Indians roster and be Sunday’s starting pitcher.  The 25 year old Crotta was 2-0 in 4 double-A starts.  In 25.1 innings he allowed just 5 runs (1.78 ERA) on 14 hits with 16 strikeouts.  Crotta is a big kid listed at 6’6″ and he has been soft spoken since arriving on Thursday.  Last summer a soft spoken kid named Brad Lincoln made his Triple-A debut at Lehigh Valley and was brilliant for 7 innings.  Who knows, maybe Crotta has that in him.

This is the part when Pittsburgh Pirates fans will want to look away.  Since 2006 the Indians have not had many pitchers come from Double-A and actually help the team.  Here is the list of pitchers who made at least 5 starts with the Indians after their promotion from Double-A

2006:    Jason Roach (not a prospect, 30 years old and made nine starts for Indy)

            Shane Youman (26 years old, 1st time at AAA made 7 starts w/15 more in 2007)

2007:    Luis Munoz (25 years old, 1st time at AAA made 3 starts w/12 more in 2008

2008:    Jimmy Barthmaier (24 years old, 1st time at AAA made 16 starts and 3 w/PIT

            Corey Hamman (not a prospect still with Indians made 12 starts in ’08)

2009:    Brad Lincoln (highest rated pitching prospect made 12 starts and w/Indy this year)

 

Folks, that the list of players who have been able to handle the jump from Double-A to Triple-A.  With the season ending injury to pitcher Kevin Hart you can expect Mike Crotta to make multiple starts with the Indians.

 

My first Triple-A game was April 6, 2006 at Pawtucket.  My family was not there, but they were listening and they still do today. 

 

ROOKIE NEWS AND NOTES:

 

In Saturday’s loss at Lehigh Valley, Pedro Alvarez blasted his 6th home run and 2nd in as many nights.  His home run on Friday snapped a 0-11 stretch and yet he was still very confident walking to the plate tonight.  Let’s see if his 3 hit and 3 RBI performance jump starts his May.  

 

Brian Friday has an 8 game hit streak that has raised his batting average from .205 to .269.  He credits this streak to hitting coach Jeff Branson.  The two of them have been working in the batting cage and Brian is to the point where he is competitive during each at bat.  He didn’t feel that competitive early on, but remember he is a Triple-A rookie. 

 

Finally, I’ll leave you with a picture of some murals that are featured at McCoy Stadium.  The home of the Paw Sox features pictures of just about everyone who ever played in Pawtucket.  Recognize any of the guys in this picture? 

 


PAW 003.jpg 

 

 

15 innings and overcoming a 6 run deficit

This is my fifth season in the Indians radio booth and I’m having trouble recalling another three game stretch like the one I just witnessed.  The Indians have won 5 straight games to improve to 10-10.  Every season has pivotal moments that can define a season.  The Indians will play 144 games and often times 4 or 5 games will make or break a season.  For the Indians their first defining game was Monday night and it lasted 15 innings.

The Indians and Louisville Bats started Monday’s game at 7:06 with Bats lefty Travis Wood firing a strike to Jose Tabata.  Over the next hour and 20 minutes the game would move into the 7th inning.  The Indians led 2-0 heading into the bottom of the 7th with starting pitcher Donnie Veal working on a 2 hit shutout.  After a walk, skipper Frank Kremblas took the ball from Veal and turned the game over to reliever Anthony Claggett.  The first man Claggett faced launched a game tying home run and the wild night was just beginning.  The Indians took a two run lead in the 8th inning thanks to a Louisville throwing error and a wild pitch.  Claggett and the Tribe would give the lead right back with another game tying two run home run…now the real fun begins

9th INNING:

The Indians are retired in order and Corey Hamman enters the game fresh off the disabled list.  He gives up a lead-off double forcing the Indians to intentionally walk the next batter.  A sacrifice bunt leads to another intentional walk loading the bases with only one out.  “I didn’t want to walk the bases loaded, but it did make sense at the time.”  Hamman would strike out Drew Sutton with three fastballs.  “The last two were balls, but he went after them and bailed me out.  The next guy Heisey (Chris Heisey) did the same thing and chased pitches that were out of the zone.”  Heisey had a 3-2 count with two outs and the bases loaded and fouled off three pitches that appeared to be up and out of zone.  He did not want to walk, wanting instead to win the game with a hit.  Big mistake, chasing one too many, he popped out to right field to end the inning.

10th INNING:

Once again the Indians went down 1-2-3 and once again Corey Hamman gave up an extra base hit.  This hit was a two out triple; the next batter was Louisville’s best hitter Chris Valaika.  Valaika was 2-4 and had a batting average of .353.  The man on deck was 0-2 and hitting .048…so the call is to walk Valaika and pitch to Wladimir Balentin right?  Manager Frank Kremblas never considered it and Hamman was on the mound with the game on the line.  Valaika did what all good hitters do and he worked the count into his favor.  Hamman came at him with a fast ball and the pitch was crushed to right centerfield.  Hamman thought the game was over.  “As soon as he hit it figured that’s it, but then I saw (Jose Tabata) Tabby running back towards the wall I was hoping he had a chance.”  Tabata sprinted back towards the right centerfield wall and at the last second he reached up and the ball popped out of his glove.  It went straight into the air and as Tabata fell to the ground he made a juggling catch to save the game.  Steve Pearce was playing in right field and couldn’t believe Tabata made the catch.  “I saw him juggle it and when he caught it, I went nuts.  I started to wave my arms to really sell the umpires that he made the catch.  He did catch it, but you never know with umpires.”  

11th INNING:

You know the drill…the Indians hitters went down in order and then Corey Hamman gave up a one out double.  When the Bats and Indians play there is no designated hitter.  The two National League affiliates play by NL rules and by the 11th both benches were getting thin.  Louisville skipper Rick Sweet had to pinch hit for his pitcher and he called on left handed hitting Danny Dorn.  Hamman easily won the lefty-lefty match-up and when Drew Sutton flied out the left field the score remained tied at 4.  In innings 9 through 11…all 9 Indians hitters were retired while the Bats left 5 runners on base and 4 of them in scoring position. 

12th INNING:

Corey Hamman has been walking the tight rope throwing three stressful innings.  However, there are not many options for Kremblas, so Hamman steps to the plate to lead off the 12th inning.  Hamman coaxes a walk giving the Indians their first base runner since the 8th inning.  Hamman stands at first base and does not know the signs.  INF Brian Friday, who was lifted in a double switch after the 7th inning, is coaching at first base and has to whisper the signs to Hamman.  Friday sees Kremblas show the sign for a hit and run.  Friday asks for the sign again to make sure he didn’t miss anything, “A hit and run?  Ok, but I wanted to make sure.” With Hamman on the bag and Louisville’s first baseman there to hold the runner close; Friday is whispering to Hamman that it’s a hit and run.  Now, Hamman does not have a stolen base in his career nor has he even attempted a stolen base.  As soon as the pitch to batter Argenis Diaz flies, Friday begins screaming “Go, go, go…” and Hamman takes off.  Diaz swings and misses with the catcher’s throw sailing to the right of second base.  Hamman slides wide of the bag to avoid the tag, but is called out when the Bats second baseman places a swipe tag on Hamman.  Or so we thought….turns out the tag was off by at least a foot, but the umpire was out of position and made an assumption call.  The next two batters would make outs sending the game to the bottom of the 12th inning.  From there Corey Hamman would retire the side in order and move the game to the 13th inning.

INSIDE THE INDIANS CLUBHOUSE:  Pitcher Steven Jackson was in the clubhouse watching the game serving the 2nd of his three games suspension.  “Up to the 12th inning that was the best minor league game I had watched in a long time.  Then things got really interesting.”  As Jackson was watching the game the next day’s starting pitcher Jeremy Powell was beginning to doze off on a clubhouse couch.  He was trying to get some rest for his start and was relaxing in shorts and a t-shirt.  All of a sudden hitting coach Jeff Branson walked in and asked Powell to put on his spikes and come out to the dugout.  “Ok, no big deal, but then Brano asks me if I want to play first base or right field!”  Powell goes on to say “What do you mean?  I have not played the field before.”  Branson left, Jackson started to laugh out loud, and 33 year old Jeremy Powell would get dressed for a night he will never forget.

13th INNING:

The Indians finally break through against the Bats bullpen when catcher Erik Kratz walks with the bases loaded.  The Tribe takes a 5-4 lead heading into the bottom of the 13th inning.  Closer Jean Machi enters the game to pitch and Luke Carlin is the new Indians catcher.  Kratz moved from behind the dish to first base with first baseman Brian Myrow moving to right field.  This move clears the bench of available position players and the double switch removes Steve Pearce from the game.  Right now Pearce is the Indians best hitter, but we will learn later this move had to be made by the Indians skipper.  Machi has been nearly perfect with the Indians allowing only one hit in five appearances.  BOOM!  The first pitch from Machi was sent over the wall in left centerfield by Louisville SS Zack Cozart.  The game was tied at 5.  I had just left the radio booth to handle to post-game interview when I heard the crack of the bat.  I never saw the pitch or the home run, but heard the sound and immediately turned around and walked back into the booth.  Machi would get out of the inning, but the Bats hit their third game tying home run since the 7th inning.

14th INNING:

Both teams have exhausted their benches and the game is now over 4 hours long.  Remember the first 6 and a half innings went by in an hour and 20 minutes with the following 7 and a half innings lasting almost three hours.  The Indians open the 14th with a Diaz single.  Brian Myrow was hit by a pitch and moved to second base on Doug Bernier’s second sacrifice bunt of the game.  The Indians had runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out for Neil Walker.  The Bats decided to intentionally walk Neil.  The first pitch from the Bats reliever was WAAAAYYYY outside and the catcher had to jump up to catch the intentional pitch.  The second intentional pitch sails over the head of the catcher and the Indians take the lead 6-5.  A wild pitch on an intentional walk gives the Indians the lead!  Now with Myrow at third the Bats decided to pitch to Walker and he hits a fly ball to right field.  Myrow tags on the play and is thrown out at the plate.  Unbelievable…the crowd, well those who are left are treated to their 2nd 7th inning stretch.  Louisville comes right back against Machi with a lead-off double.  Two batters later, Juan Francisco hits a fly ball to right field and the runner at third base is tagging at third to score on the play.  Myrow catches the ball and fires home, but it is too late and the game is tied at 6.

15th INNING:

Jose Tabata saved the game back in the 10th inning with a juggling diving catch and now it was time for him to end the game.  The 21 year old blasted a 450 foot home run to left center field giving the Tribe a 7-6 lead.  Tabby told me the first pitch of the at-bat was a cutter that he fouled off his hands.  So he moved closer to the pitcher and the next cutter broke into the barrel of his bat and gave the Indians the lead.  Now it was Machi’s spot to hit, but he was out of gas and Frank Kremblas needed a pinch-hitter.  Here comes Jeremy Powell to the plate.  An hour ago he was ready for bed and now he is batting in the 15th inning.  The first pitch to JP hits him on the right ankle.  The next day’s starting pitcher has just been hit in the ankle and is hobbling down the first base.  “I saw the ball moving towards my feet and I don’t know if I thought it would hit the dirt or what, but I just froze.  The next thing, I’m drilled and it hurt.  It sounded like it hit a bat, but it was my ankle bone.”  The Indians would not score that inning, but could they hold onto this lead?

In the 15th inning pitcher/pinch-hitter Jeremy Powell jogged out to right field and the new Indians pitcher is catcher/first baseman Erik Kratz.  Back in the 13th inning the Indians skipper removed Pearce because if he needed to have a position player pitch it would be Kratz.  So Kratz stayed in the game and Pearce was removed.  It was a move made by Kremblas with an eye towards this inning.  The game on the line and Kratz was looking for the save.  He was looking at doing what two relievers were unable to do.  The first batter of the game hit a bouncer to third that was misplayed into an error.  Oh boy, here we go…up to the plate is Balentin and his .048 batting average.  Kratz features a batting practice fastball and a knuckle ball.  Balentin hits the knuckle ball 10 feet in front of the plate and is thrown out at first base.  Guy is having a really bad year huh?  The tying run moves to 2nd base with Wilkin Castillo walking to the plate.  He tied the game in the 7th with a two run home run and was looking to win in with this trip.  He lifted the Kratz pitch into right field where Jeremy Powell was standing.  “I can’t believe they hit it to me.”  Powell made the catch, the bench erupted, and the runner remained at 2nd base.  “Catching a ball at night is the hardest thing I have ever done in baseball.  I never saw the laces.  The ball was floating and vibrating the entire time it was in the air and I was just hoping it would hit my glove.”  Pinch hitter Corky Miller stepped up to the plate and sent Kratz’s 82 mile and hour fast ball into left field where Neil Walker made the catch.  After 4 hours and 57 minutes the Indianapolis Indians had beat the Louisville Bats 7-6 in 15 innings. 

POST-GAME:

Erik Kratz earned the save and Jeremy Powell made a catch.  The Elias Sports Bureau says that never in a Major League game has a starting catcher earned the save in the same game.  Elias does not keep track of Minor League records, but there can’t be more than a handful of instances where this could happen.  Think about it…the Indians starting catcher pitched a scoreless, hitless inning for a save.  The game featured a total of 507 pitches and ended at 12:03 EST.  When the season is all said and done this may be the win we look back on as the defining win of the season…or is it?

TUESDAY APRIL 27:

Four hours and 27 minutes after the final out the Indians team bus pulled away from the hotel to the Louisville airport.  Some players elected to just stay up, while others tried to sneak in 1 or 2 hours of sleep.  I personally slept from 2:00 to 4:00.  The best line on the bus ride came from Brian Myrow…”Hey, remember when Tabby hit that game winning home run 10 minutes ago?”  The team flew to Chicago and then Providence arriving at the team hotel in Pawtucket 4 and half hours before first pitch.  Jeremy Powell as going to be the starter and he was working on very little sleep and a swollen right ankle.

Powell is a guy that every team needs.  He has been around long enough to know his role and he’ll take the baseball whenever you want.  With his right ankle heavily wrapped, JP went out and allowed just 2 runs in 5 innings of work.  The Indians offense scored 7 runs on 9 hits and the Tribe won two games in the same day.  I was impressed with the way the team put behind them the previous game and long travel to win a game on the road.  When I left park after the 3 hour and 29 minute game I figured the guys would be tired come Wednesday.  Wednesday’s game was schedule for noon…just 12 hours after walking into the hotel room. 

WEDNESDAY APRIL 28:

None of the players were happy at all to have a noon game after the two days the endured.  There isn’t much you can do with the schedule, but play them out.  To make matters worse the wind chill in Rhode Island made the temperature feel more like 32 than the listed 44 degrees.  As expected the Indians got off to a slow start falling behind Pawtucket by a score of 9-3 after just three innings.  They were due to lay an egg after what they had been through and it was going to make for a long afternoon.  Then something happened…and it was a swing that may play a larger role in defining the season than a 15 inning win.  With two outs and the bases loaded in the 5th inning, the Pawtucket starter was one pitch away from gong five and possibly earning his first win of the season.  Brian Myrow was in a 0-2 hole and like he often does, worked the count to 3-2.  BOOM! Myrow’s grand slam brought the Indians back to life and turned a depressing 6 run deficit into a whole new ballgame.  The dugout came alive and the Indians figured since we’re back in it…we might as well win it.  The Tribe would add a run in the 6th inning and they trailed 9-8 going into the 9th inning.  Brian Friday singled and was sacrificed into scoring position by Diaz.  Tabata hit a fly ball to left to that appeared to be deep enough for a sac fly.  However, the wind played tricks on the Paw Sox left fielder and he dropped the ball.  The game was tied and Tabata was standing at second base.  The next batter Neil Walker capped of a 4 hit day with the go ahead single and the Indians erased a 6 run deficit to beat Pawtucket 10-9. 

RECAP:

This recent three day stretch has the entire clubhouse confident and riding high.  The team has won a 15 inning game with their catcher earning a save; won while working on less than 2 hours of sleep; and won a game after trailing by six runs.  33 innings of baseball that took 11 hours and 33 minutes with the Indians outscoring their opponents 24-17.  They have won 5 straight and are 10-10 entering tonight’s game.

NEWS AND NOTES:

2009 MVP Daniel McCutchen will make his Indians 2010 debut.  ‘Cutch was sent down from Pittsburgh after a few bad starts and will be in the Indians rotation for the time being.  Wednesday’s starter Kevin Hart has been placed on the disabled list and it may be a while before his right arm is ready for action.  Steve Pearce is on a tear this month having already set a record with 26 hits this month.  That’s the most hits in April since the Pirates and Indians began working together in 2005.  Pearce has walked 11 times in the past 6 games and yesterday earned a walk on a 16 pitch at-bat.  Neil Walker has 14 hits in his last 8 games with 7 extra base hits.  Jose Tabata had an 11 game hitting streak earlier this year and entering tonight’s game he has a 6 game streak.  Go to Indyindians.com to listen to the game.  First pitch at 6:15 with the pre-game coverage beginning at 5:45

Follow me on Twitter: @ScottDMcCauley   

Catching Up…update on Steve Pearce

The Indians are celebrating their 15th season at Victory Field and the opening night atmosphere went beyond any other opening night.

VIC.jpgOver 11,000 fans were on hand and the only thing that went wrong was the outcome.  The Indians lost 3 out of 4 against the Toledo Mud Hens and enter tonight’s game against Columbus with a 4-8 record.  It is still very early, but a few disturbing trends have developed.  First, the Indians offense has generated more than 4 runs only twice in their first dozen games.  Second, the pitching staff has given up 4 runs or more in a single inning in 5 of the first 12 games.  The Tribe is near the top of the league with 13 home runs, but they have given up 15 big flys.  Needless to say there is room for improvement. 

QUICK HITS:

UTIL Neil Walker is slowly becoming a fan favorite.  On Sunday Neil went 3-5 and fell a 3B shy of the cycle.  The young fans in Indy are taking to Neil because has something in common with Colts QB Peyton Manning.  Both wear number 18.  There is no more popular jersey number in the city and Walker happens to wear #18.  “Oh, man I forgot about that (he’s a Steelers fan).  Hey, I’ll take whatever support they’ll give me.” 

You can’t blame the fans in Indy if they are tough on OF Jonathan Van Every.  He is a season ticket holder for the World Champion New Orleans Saints.  He has been on cloud nine since the Saints INT and was surprised to find out Saints special teamer Courtney Roby is an Indy native.  Roby, who went to HS in Indy and played college ball at IU, threw out the first pitch on Saturday night.  Van Every requested to be the catcher and it was one of the few times a player asked for an autograph.  Now, he is trying to get a signed jersery from Roby for his “Saints wall.”

Brad Lincoln suffered the loss last night, but hit 96 miles per hour on the radar gun.  It’s the second straight start he touched 96 and was consistently working between 93-95 mph.  “Link” is expected to start on Saturday, but may take his game to the big leagues.  The Pittsburgh Pirates needs a spot starter Saturday in Houston.  Lincoln just happens to live in Houston and played college ball at the University of Houston.  It’s a start he desperately wants and will have a long week thinking about the possibily.

Pitchers Steven Jackson and Anthony Claggett are waiting for a special package to arrive at Victory Field.  Both players are expecting their New York Yankees World Series rings.  Both players spent time last season with the champs.  Claggett pitching in two games while Jackson spent nearly two weeks in their bullpen  They are hoping the rings will be mailed soon and not given to them when we go to Scranton (Yankees Triple-A affiliate)…that trip is not until June.

Finally, a couple of streaks that are worth mentioning.  OF Jose Tabata has hit safely in 10 straight games.  His 7 stolen bases are most for an Indians player in April since Rajai Davis (12) and Nyjer Morgan (13) were running around in the spring of ’07.  RHP Jean Machi is 2 for two in save situations and is a perfect 8 for 8 since joining the Indians last August.  Machi is the ONLY reliever in the league to have not allowed a hit.  He has work 5 scoreless and hitless innings this season.   

The Columbus Clippers are in town for the first of a quick two game series.  Former Indians MVP Brian Bixler returns to the Vic for the first time since the off season deal took him from the Pirates to the Cleveland Indians organization.

10:45 UPDATE:

A big night for Steve Pearce and the Indians.  The Tribe blasts Columbus by the score of 9-4.  A 7-run 4th inning is the difference and it’s their biggest offensive inning of the young season.  Brian Myrow, Jose Tabata, and Neil Walker all homered in the inning as the Tribe drilled three long balls in a single inning at home for the first time since 2007.  It was more than enough for winning pitcher Donnie Veal (5.2 IP, 3R, 2ER) who picked up his first win of the season. 

Pearce went 3-4 and raised his batting average to .396.  Pearce is tied for the league lead with 19 hits and is tops in the IL with 12 extra-base hits.  The 27 year old will enter play tomorrow 2nd in the IL in batting, 1st in slugging (.771) and 1st in total bases with 37.

The Indians and Clippers will play tomorrow at 11 am.  It is the first to three Baseball in Education games. 

Follow me on Twitter: @ScottDMcCauley

 

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