Is this thing on?

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

Victory Field and only we are down to one game

The Louisville Bats scored 7 runs in the 6th inning Sunday night sending the Indians to their 5th consecutive loss.  This is the Indians longest losing streak of the season and not the way they wanted to wrap up the ’09 season.  Indianapolis will enter tomorrow’s finale with a 69-72 record making it the third straight losing season.

Some new developments with the team today.  Brian Bixler opened the 2009 season with an opportunity to become the next Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop.  Things have not progressed in that direction and tonight Bixler started at third base for the first time since his freshman year of high school.  Bixler walked into the clubhouse this afternoon and was caught off guard when he saw the #5 by his name on the line up card.  He handled it just like he handled to the move to centerfield, with a shrug of the shoulders and he went about his business.  Bixler made two terrific plays at third base and said it was all instinct. He didn’t get much action and said you have to be on your toes with every pitch.  It’s been a challenging year for the 26 year-old and he isn’t sure if it will end with a September call-up or not. 

Ah, the September call-up.  Each year after the Indians final game a few players will get the good news that they are heading to Pittsburgh.  The candidates this season are Bixler, C Robinzon Diaz, 1B Jeff Clement, RHP Eric Hacker, RHP Jeff Sues,  and OF Jose Tabata.  I don’t want to guess who will get the call, but I wish C Erik Kratz would be rewarded for his year.  Kratz is better than Diaz and in my eyes has passed by him this season.  The only problem is Kratz needs to be added to the 40 man roster. 

All season long I have taken pictures of all the stadiums in the International League.  Over the past couple of weeks some people have asked me about Victory Field.  So here are a few pictures of the stadium the Indians call home.  It was built in 1996 and is the oldest stadium in the West Division…and it might just be the best.

VIC 007.jpgThe above picture was taken as RHP Jeremy Powell delivered his first pitch in Saturday’s game.  Louisville’s Luis Bolivar popped the pitch to 1B Larry Broadway.  You can see Larry making his move off of first base.

VIC 009.jpgThe Indianapolis skyline is changing.  The construction beyond the left field wall is going to be a new JW Marriott hotel.  The windows that you see have not reached the halfway point.  It is going to be one great looking hotel, but might look a little out of place in Indianapolis.

VIC 006.jpgThe Indians finish the 2009 season with a 36-36 home record.  Victory Field is a pitchers park and the Indians numbers prove that point.  The pitching staff’s ERA is a run lower at home than on the road (3.31 to 4.40).  The Tribe scored over 100 fewer runs at home (259-364) and hit 31 fewer home runs (44-75).  The players wouldn’t mind the walls being moved in a bit and maybe some of their 118 doubles would have left the yard.

VIC 002.jpgI believe this is the most professional stadium in the league.  I’ve always like the green walls and the green seats.  Victory Field is impressive when it is empty and when it has 15,000 fans.  The landscape of the league has changed with new stadiums coming onto the scene in Columbus and Gwinnett.  I’ll be posting my final list of favorite ballparks once the season comes to a close. 

The Indians handed out their team awards prior to the game on Saturday night.  RHP Daniel McCutchen (13-6, 3.47 ERA) was named the Indians MVP.  Manager Frank Kremblas is the lone voter on the MVP award and he considered Erik Kratz, but in the end decided on the 13 game winner.  Hard to argue with Frank, but I would have voted for Kratz.    

3B Neil Walker was named the Indians player of the week and I think he took home the slugger of the year award.  His name was attached to something called the HR and RBI award.  Walker was the Indians MVP last season (it should have gone to Andrew McCutchen) and had a great finish to 2009.  Congrats to Neil for collecting his first Major League hit today with the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

OF Jose Tabata was named the Rookie of the Year.  He was only with the team for a month and did have a positive impact on the team.  The other option was RHP Brad Lincoln who more than held his own on the mound this season.

Kratz took home the defensive player of the year award and OF/1B Brian Myrow won the Indians batting title.  Finally, RHP Chris Bootcheck took home the reliever of the year award.           

Eric Hacker gets the baseball Monday afternoon for the Indians.  First pitch is set for 1:15 at Louisville Slugger Field.





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