The IronPigs won their fourth straight last night by a 4-1 score at Coca Cola Park. The story was the pitching: Ethan Martin was pounding the strike zone early with his fastball running 92-94 on the stadium gun, touching 96 once. He gave up a couple hard hits during those first few innings–some were caught, and some should have been caught. By the third inning he was mixing in the curve and the change more, and was not giving up contact at all.
But Ethan threw a lot of pitches, and that meant that the bullpen was going to be called upon to come through once again. Since Coach Burris gave them ‘what for’ the other day about giving up walks, they’ve given no quarter–and no free passes. Last night, Mike Stutes and Jake Diekman came through with two clean innings and a ninth with a double only, respectively. Stutes’ last three outings have been dominant and he’s been pitching more than one inning each time. Diekman has regained control and is re-emerging as a lefty option for the Phillies bullpen when needed. It’s really good to see both of these guys return to form, as we’ve seen them pitch this well in the past.
Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner
In case you missed it, the IronPigs won in dramatic fashion–twice–thanks to a Leandro Castro walk-off–twice–Saturday and Sunday. Starting pitchers in those games were Tom Cochran on Saturday, and Adam Morgan on Sunday. While not dominant, both pitched well and kept the team in the game with an opportunity to win late. And both times the bullpen held Indianapolis scoreless to give the ‘Pigs’ bats a chance. Cochran had been 0-3 at Reading since having been activated from extended Spring Training, and came to the IronPigs in exchange for struggling reliever Justin Friend. Morgan was coming off his weakest outing of the year, and wasn’t always sharp, but did enough to help the team get the win. This capped off the Indy series with a three-out-of-four win. That is significant, as Indy had the best record in the International League when the series began.
Not to be outdone, the SteelHawks also managed a dramatic win Sunday evening. They were down by 10 late in the fourth quarter, got a fortunate call on a potential fumble, and managed a last minute touchdown. The defense was able to prevent a winning field goal by Columbus and the offense added another TD at the buzzer. It was nice to feel the satisfaction of a dramatic win as opposed to the dramatic losses we’ve suffered at times this season. There are two more home games this season. I’d encourage you to get out to one if you have the chance. My youngest was at the game for the first time this past weekend, and really had a good time. ”It’s better than hockey,” he says.
So where’s the Chicken Dinner? It all started Saturday morning as I took time off to help produce over 400 chicken dinners for a fundraiser. Since then, I can’t stop saying, “winner, winner, chicken dinner.” Thanks Las Vegas.
Odds and Ends and Roster Notes
As I mentioned above, Tom Cochran was added from Reading in exchange for Justin Friend, to finally fill Jon Pettibone’s vacant starter’s spot. The move left Reading down TWO starters with Brody Colvin’s balky hamstring. Reading added a free agent starter, lefty Greg Smith, who had been in the International League with Scranton and Pawtucket in 2011.
As we detailed yesterday, we’ll likely lose another starter to the Phillies by Friday to take Halladay’s spot. My guess is Tyler Cloyd, in which case we’ll know by Wednesday as that would be his scheduled start. I would presume that Zach Miner would return to the starting role or at least continue his half-and-half with Cesar Jimenez. Miner has extensive experience as a starter, and has pitched well lately. If it were up to me, I’d go ahead and get him stretched out for starting again. I know it’s thought to be a shorter path to the Phillies as a reliever, but you never know the way things have been going up there, and with the resurgence of De Fratus and Stutes with the ‘Pigs, starter could be valuable as well. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Savery stay up (he was called to make the immediate fill-in for Halladay’s spot on the roster) as a lefty reliever, and have Horst return. Horst hasn’t done well, and does have two options, I believe. We’ll see if my prediction about Brian Bass’ phone ringing comes true, soon, too.
Andres Blanco remains on the DL in Florida. In passing, Matt Provence said on the radio the other day that it is not likely he’ll play this year. At the Horn and Bell, we’re searching for more information and confirmation as of this writing. Matt Tolbert was removed from the IronPigs DL roster and added to Clearwater. He played one game 4/24, then was added to the Threshers’ 7-day DL. His status is unknown at this time as well.
Finally, Humberto Quintero somewhat surprisingly passed through waivers (I thought the Yankees would grab him) and just as surprisingly (I thought he’d opt for free-agency) accepted his assignment to AAA. Once he reported to the IronPigs this past weekend, Tyson Gillies was moved to Reading to make room. I think we’ll see Tyson back here if he can stay healthy and gain some confidence in his new swing. I thought his approach at the plate was good; just some bad luck and not always getting the ball squared up. It was fortunate to get another catcher, though, as Tommy Joseph is currently nursing a mild concussion. I imagine they could even put him on the 7-day DL if they needed the space (Bass?).
The ‘Pigs continue their series with Louisville tonight with Tyler Cloyd bobbleheads. Get there early if you must have one. They always go fast, and I think he’ll soon be a Phillie again. Could he get promoted on his own bobblehead day? Golly, that would be something.
BJ Rosenberg is on the mound tonight. I had mentioned before that his pitching looked less “violent” to me this year as compared with last year. I thought I saw some of that return in his last start, but ultimately he didn’t do well. Here’s hoping he returns to form as some of the others have of late. If we didn’t need starters so badly, I’d even propose moving him back to the ‘pen temporarily–but there’s no time for that now. Go get them, BJ!
Wednesday we’ll find out about our rotation; then Thursday is the second of the 2013 Education Days, as Tom Cochran takes the mound. The IronPigs will head out on their first southern road trip following the game, to Durham and Norfolk. You’ll see guys like Richie T and Mike Fontenot with the Bulls, and Kyle Hudson with the Tides, if you’re watching on MiLB.TV.
As always, photos are here thanks to the hard work and expertise of Cheryl Pursell. Here are some additional photos from recent games:
See you at the park,