The Indianapolis Indians shelled the Pawtucket Red Sox last night to win their first game back from the All-Star break. Everyone in the line-up had a hit by the end of the 4th inning and 8 of the 9 batters collected at least one RBI. The offense grabbed the headlines, but once again RHP Ian Snell continued to prove that he is just too good to be in Triple-A. The 27 year-old made his fourth start for the Tribe and lowered his ERA from 0.45 to 0.34. Here is Ian’s four game total to give you an idea about how dominate he has been…26.1 IP, 16 hits, 4 runs, 1 earned run, 8 walks (5 last night), and 34 strikeouts. Snell was never in any trouble last night until he started to show some signs of frustration in the 7th inning. After striking out Dusty Brown (who left after the at bat to be with his expecting wife) Snell walked Bubba Bell and then drilled Jeff Natale. The Natale at-bat was where it appeared the wheels started to come off. Snell missed high and tight to the righty for ball one and the very next pitch was in the same location and he drilled the Paw Sox first baseman in the left shoulder. Natale was less than pleased and C Robinzon Diaz went out to calm down Snell. It didn’t work, Snell walked the next batter to load up the bases and RHP Mike “Houdini” Koplove was called in from the bullpen. Snell was cruising last night, but just lost his control in the 7th and was in danger of not getting the win. That’s when Koplove entered the game and induced Angel Chavez into a bases loaded inning ending 6-4-3 double play. Since joining the Indians on June 5th, Koplove has inherited 14 runners and only 1 has scored. Nine of the 14 runners have been in scoring position inheriting 7 with less than two outs. It was another middle inning save for the 32 year old righty.
Thursday started bright and early with the team bus departing from Victory Field at 6 am. The talk on the bus was C Erik Kratz taking home the Triple-A All-Star MVP. Kratzy went 2-2 with the game winning home run to take home the honors. What a thrill for him in his first ever All-Star appearance and he told me that it was an unbelievable time. Kratz told me the city of Portland did everything right and it was an experience he’ll never forget.
That was the scene yesterday in the Indians clubhouse at McCoy Stadium. Kratz’s flight didn’t arrive until after 6:00 and that gave the club plenty of time to prepare for Sir Kratz’s arrival. The tape wrapped around the clubhouse until it arrived at his locker.
When Erik finally arrived at the park his teammates formed a tunnel of bats for him to walk through where at the end RHP Jason Davis was waiting for him in catching gear. Even after his cross country flight, Kratz was beaming with pride after his showing at the All-Star game.
Now comes the tough part and he knew this moment was coming. Robinzon Diaz will get a majority of the time behind the plate pushing the All-Star MVP to the Tribe bench. Kratz and I talked about this possibly happend a few weeks ago so he has been ready, but it’s always tough to sit. Especially when you are having such a great year, but that’s the business side of pro ball. At least Erik has a job…the Pirates released Indians reliever Brian Slocum over the All-Star break. In 19 appearances the 29 year old was 1-3 with 2 saves and a 3.4 ERA. For the past couple of weeks the Pirates were trying to find a trade partner to give Slocum another job, but were unable to find a deal so he was released. All the best to “Sloak.”
This next bit of information involves a former Indianapolis Indians player. 1B/OF Adam Boeve has spent this season at the Pirates Spring Training facility recovering from Vertigo. Boeve missed the final weeks of the ’08 season due to dizzyness and after several months of rest and rehab was ready to return to the diamond. Unfortunately, there was no place for him with the Pirates and he was released this past weekend. Boeve is hoping to find a job in the Independent League or catch on with another Minor League club.
3B Neil Walker was activated off the DL yesterday and is a little sore today. He is coming back from a sprained PCL in is left knee. Sad to say the repairs didn’t increase his speed any, but the down time did give him a chance to follow the Penguins march to the Stanley Cup. He was quick to remind me that his hometown has two championships and my hometown (Cleveland) has not had one in my lifetime. So, I politely smiled and bit my tongue because playing for the Pirates is just too easy of a target. Walker is in the line-up once again today and will take an occasional day off to rest his knee.
Teammates are describing 1B Steve Pearce as someone who is on a mission. To where, I don’t know, but Pearce is 8 for his last 17 with 8 runs batted in and 7 of his 8 hits have been for extra-base hits. His batting average is currently .286, two points shy of his season best of .288 back on May 17th.
LHP Tom Gorzelanny gets the start tonight for the Indians. What with the Pirates do if he continues to dominate hitters? Tom is 1-2 in his last three starts, but has given up one earned run in 18.2 innings while striking out 19. This will be Tom’s 13th start with the Indians where he is 3-3 with a 2.77 earned run average. Believe me it’s an absolute joy to watch Ian Snell and Gorzelanny pitch, but with each start you begin to wonder why they are here and if their next Major League will be with the Pirates or a team to be name later.
A view from the radio booth during last night’s game. I love the “Paw Sox” in the dirt behind home plate.