NCAA: Regionals wrapping up

I went to see Georgia Tech host Alabama in game 4 of the Atlanta Regional Saturday night. Tech won 5-2 behind some power pitching and a few timely hits. Alabama came back on Sunday to beat Mercer in the afternoon and then beat GT in the nightcap setting up tonight’s winner take all game. Hopefully Tech will win and face the winner of Clemson and Auburn this weekend.

Eight spots were decided yesterday. There are seven other games tonight that will decide who advances to the Super Regionals. (Who came up with that name anyway? Call it the Super Sixteen, or Regional Championship Series or something.) You can find your favorite team in the official bracket.

Just one picture: Gorgeous night for a ballgame. You can see there was a lot of red in the stands.

Deck deals against Alabama

Pics from Thursday

As promised, here are the first set of pictures from Thursday’s Indians game. Rumors are flying now that Brad Lincoln will be called up to start on Wednesday. If so then these are from what should be his final minor league start.

This is the first AB of the game. It was about two pitches later, while trying to upload this photo, that Tabata hit the foul to me and my attempt at a one handed catch resulted in injury.

Tabata's first AB

The ball that caused the trouble.

About 30 minutes later, here’s Tabata up again. I always like being able to catch the ball in flight. Jose would triple here.

Ball in flight

Finally, here’s Pedro Alvarez. He would triple in this AB too.

Who says he can't hit lefties?

All of my other pics, and a video of Lincoln are on the other camera. I’ll try to get hose up this week sometime.

The Best of Plans

My plan to tweet and take pictures at the Indians game last night was mostly curtailed by the first batter of the first inning when a Jose Tabata foul ball pretty severely jammed and bruised a finger on my right hand. (There are red squiggly lines all over this post as I type it.) Luckily my girlfriend took some shots for me with her camera. I’ll post those here later, but for now; thoughts and impressions:

I met longtime member of the Pirates email listserve Steve Mizer for the first time and believe it or not, he’s a nice guy. We sat together for two innings in the middle of the game. He had GREAT seats literally right behind the plate. Same viewpoint as MLB’s GameDay pitch tracker.

Lincoln looks ready: 6IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K. Fastball was topping out around 95 early, 94 later. Good break on the curve. It was only one game but I don’t see what else he has to learn against AAA hitters. Lincoln was asked after the game if he felt “ready to take the next step?” His answer: “Absolutely.”

Alvarez showed some good and bad. Good: RBI Triple. Well struck. Bad: 2 Ks, still was badly fooled a few time against the lefty pitcher.

Tabata: Injured my finger in the first inning, but my girlfriend got the ball and we both got free Chick-Fil-A. 2/4, BB, 2B, 3B, 2 RS, 2K. Showed good speed on the triple, but I was expecting him to fly, ala McCutchen. I guess that just shows the impressions you form when you don’t get to see guys play very often.

The Indians won 4-0 and everything added up for a great night at the ballpark, even if I had my hand in a bag of ice the whole game.

Take 2

The threat of bad weather and a change in the scheduled pitchers led me to scrap plans on going to the Gwinnett Braves/Indianapolis Indians game last night. It turned out that they played the game with no problem and Indians pitcher Jeremy Powell took a no-hitter into the seventh, only to lose 2-1. Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez went a combined 0/7 with 6 K’s. Tonight I have every intention to try again. Brad Lincoln will be on the mound if the weather holds, but right now the forecast is a 40% chance of thunderstorms at game time. This is the last scheduled game of the year between the two teams so I expect they’ll make every effort to play.

UPDATE: Weather report looks great now. (5pm) I’ll be headed to the park shortly!

Trust your eyes

I hope you all had a good extended weekend and spent the time happily with family and friends. I was able to squeeze in the Pirates/Braves game on Sunday between going camping for the first time in 25 years and regular Memorial Day and birthday celebrations yesterday. Since the game happened two days ago and details are readily available elsewhere, I’ll stick to my impressions of what I saw in the team.

  • Aki Iwamura is slow. From my vantage point his first step was nearly non-existent, meaning he had trouble getting to anything not hit within 6 feet on either side of where he sets up. Bucs Dugout has some video and discussion of pre-injury Aki vs. post-injury Aki here and here. Late in the game John Russell made a double switch, taking Iwamura out, sliding Neil Walker to 2B and bringing in Andy LaRoche. Yesterday the Pirates made the move official saying Walker would be the starting 2B for the foreseeable future. I applaud this decision heartily.
  • I was a little disappointed to see Delwyn Young starting, but just confused to see him in right field with Garrett Jones moving to left. I have yet to read any explanation for this anywhere online. DY made some nice diving catches, but I feel a more fleet-footed outfielder could have gotten under the batted balls earlier – turning them into routine plays.
  • Nice to see Jeff Clement hit a game-tying homer. He’s been hitting the ball better lately in limited opportunities. I was again confused (note the theme) why Russell would bring in Bobby Crosby to pinch-hit in the ninth. Clement had been the only offense so far in the game, hits better vs. lefties (Billy Wagner was pitching), and I’d bet has better bat speed than Crosby. It probably didn’t matter because Wagner was lights out but I say you should let Clement hit there. Give him a chance to face one of the best closers of the past fifteen years.
  • Paul Maholm had a good/bad outing. He was never overpowering and got into a lot of trouble (6 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 5 K) but he fought through some very tough spots – including a bases loaded, no outs situation – and only gave up 2 runs. At the risk of slipping into further cliche’s, it was a gutty if unimpressive performance.
  • Joel Hanrahan pitched a dominant seventh. I was surprised to see him come back out to pitch the 8th and even more surprised the Russell let him pitch to Chipper Jones. Jones’ 2-RBI single was the result of the ball falling in the only open spot between Garrett Jones and Ronny Cedeno. The pitch itself was inside and had lots of movement breaking towards Chipper’s knees. Chipper did a good job fighting it off.
  • Jason Jaramillo caught instead of Ryan Doumit. If only there was someway to combine these two we’d have a heck of a catcher. Dewey’s bat was missed but it was nice seeing strong, on target throws to second and no passed balls.

The Pirate’s loss on Sunday meant being swept by the Braves so I’m probably happier having not gone to all three games.

The week ahead: Pittsburgh’s AAA affiliate the Indianapolis Indians are playing in nearby Gwinnett this week. Early plans have me going to games on Wednesday and Thursday. I’m looking forward to adding first hand glimpses of Pedro Alvarez, Brad Lincoln and Jose Tabata to the accounts above. As always you can follow me on Twitter for in game comments and the occasional picture.

Also, Georgia Tech was awarded the #8 national seed in the NCAA baseball tournament. They’ll be hosting regional games this weekend, starting Friday night at 7pm vs. Mercer. The winner will face the winner of Alabama and Elon. I plan on hitting a game on either Saturday or Sunday and, again, will post pictures and comments to twitter.

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