Sunday, August 24, 2008

Why's he calling me meat? I'm the one driving a Porsche.

As I mentioned a couple of times here, I made the trek out to Durham last night to watch the Indianapolis Indians in the first game of their four-game set against the Bulls. I would've liked to see Ohlendorf pitch, but I think the rest of the series will be televised and hopefully I can catch him when he makes his start. Getting to see David Price pitch for the Rays was a nice consolation, even if he wasn't that impressive (FanHouse post). Anyways, I took a some pictures and have some anecdotes to share, so let's get to it.
The aforementioned Price. As you can see, I watched him warm up and it's easy to see the potential, even though he didn't pitch all that well last night.

Yep. That's Chris Duffy. Still doing what he does: slapping singles, running fast, and not doing much of anything else.

This is not a very good shot of Cutch, but it does give you an idea of just how small he is. He's not just small, he's actually almost Ecksteinian. Still, he's got a very nice swing. It's very short and quick and kind of reminds me of Craig Wilson's in those aspects. In his five at-bats he had two ugly strikeouts against Price, but nearly took him deep in the first with a sharply hit flyout to the warning track. Later in the game he hit a very hard grounder that went right to the third baseman and then hit a similar ball between third and short that got past the drawn-in infield. Like Price, it was easy to see why he's such a good prospect, even if he didn't have a great game.

One of the best parts about minor league baseball is seeing what old players are still hanging around the game in some capacity. I wore my WHYGAVS shirt and while no one recognized the WHYGAVS aspect of it, I had four people comment on the Andy Van Slyke quote on the back. Two of them grew up in Pittsburgh. There was also a light smattering of Pirate hats and Penguins gear. But there's no real Pirate fans anywere, or anything.

Some serious cloud cover meant that it got dark pretty quick last night and made it tough to get good pictures. That's too bad because if it hadn't you'd be able to see that Ronny Ballgame still wears his Pirates catcher's mask. My friend asked how we were keeping a guy hitting .330 with a slugging percentage around .600 in the minor leagues, so I explained to him the legend of Ronny Ballgame. Late in last night's game, the Indians had runners on first and third. Luis Cruz broke for second and already being down a few runs, the Bulls catcher just stood up. Then he looked at third base and saw Ronny Ballgame standing like 30 feet off the base. He was quickly engaged in a run-down and tagged out.

The Indians bullpen is the stuff of nightmares. Wreck Specs, ¡Romulo!, Juan Perez, and Marino Salas all inhabit it, managing to give me heartburn at a minor league game. Salas was particularly awful last night, loading up the bases with one out, walking a run in, and getting a break when the umpire ruled that a pitch that clearly hit Mike DeFelice also hit the knob of the bat and was a foul ball.

The Indians' bullpen wasn't all bad, though. I'm not even exaggerating a little bit when I say that the most impressive player on either team last night was Evan Meek. He worked two quick and perfect innings to get the save in Indy's 6-3 win. He mixed a 94-96 mph fastball that he could place at will with some nasty off-speed stuff that repeatedly froze Durham's hitters. In his two innings, he struck out three and got two guys to hit swinging bunts in front of the plate that he easily fielded. He looks just like Matt Capps on the mound and it's really hard to imagine that he's the same guy that bombed out for us earlier in the year, because he looks like he'd be one of the best relievers in our bullpen right now if the Pirates called him up.

And Luis Cruz hit a home run off of the grass. That was awesome, even if no one cheered but me.