PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 01: Pedro Alvarez #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws to second base against the Chicago Cubs during the game on August 1, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
I went to see Indianapolis play the Columbus Clippers last night. Jose Ascanio started the game and got through five scoreless innings, although he walked three batters, struck out only one, and allowed a bunch of hard-hit balls. He did hit 96 MPH on the gun.
Pedro Alvarez had exactly the sort of game I'd expect him to have at the Class AAA level. In his first at-bat, he flied out to the wall in deep center on a ball he didn't even get all of. Then he walked. Then he took an awful swing on a high fastball with one strike, and whiffed on an offspeed pitch in the dirt. Then he hit a hard grounder down the line for a double, but got doubled off second base when he misjudged a fly ball.
Overall, the team played very well defensively. Gorkys Hernandez and Dusty Brown (who couldn't seem to do anything right on defense when he was with the Pirates) connected on a key play late in the game (see below). Though Jordy Mercer didn't do anything spectacular at second, he made a several semi-tough plays without any problem. And Eric Fryer made two good catches in left field and had a terrific throw to second.
Pedro Ciriaco made an awful play in the fourth. He singled to lead off the inning, then got stuck in no-man's land when he started a hit-and-run and Mercer lifted a fly ball to right. No big deal, that happens – except Ciriaco came to a dead stop and didn't even try to go back to first. He's fast, and if the throw had been off, he might have made it back. Oh well. I guess now it's clear the Pirates weren't keeping him on the roster for his hustle.
Justin Wilson pitched the last two innings. He was sitting at 93-95 MPH and hit 96, which is a far cry from the tweet from a couple weeks ago that had him throwing 99, but is still fantastic velocity for a lefty. He started his outing throwing something like 15 straight fastballs. I pointed out the pattern after about five, which inspired my buddy to say that when Wilson finally did throw an offspeed pitch, the batter was going to be really confused. Well, that's exactly what happened, as Wilson got the last batter in the eighth with a breaking ball.
Unfortunately, he had no idea where the ball was going and threw more balls than strikes overall. He nearly blew the game in the ninth, but his defense bailed him out big-time – Gorkys Hernandez threw a strike to Dusty Brown to nab the tying run at home plate.