The Tribe are 9-12 entering action on Sunday and are in last place in the International League's West Division
PLAYER OF THE MONTH: Outfielder Garrett Jones, one of the Pirates' top spring performers, was named Indianapolis' player of the month for April after batting .314 with three home runs, eight doubles, 20 RBIs and three steals. The average ranked second in the International League, as did his .369 on-base percentage.
"Of course it feels great to be named the player of the month. You always want to start off hot and get on a roll at the start of the year and I felt I had a very good spring and just tried to carry that over into the beginning of this season," Jones says. "Battling the elements and all the weather we have been having here at the start has been pretty tough but you know we've gotten through it and I have felt pretty good with the start I am having and looking to continue this success in the following months."
PEARCE CONTINUES TO POUND: Tribe 1B Steve Pearce extended his hitting streak to seven games when he went a combined 2-for-6 in a doubleheader split with Rochester on Saturday. Pearce has now hit safely in ten of his last 11 games and has been the hottest Indian's batter over the last 10 games with a .378 batting average, six runs scored and team high 15 RBI during the stretch. The right handed slugger struggled early on this season, hitting only .094 with one run, one home run, five RBI, and a team-high nine strikeouts in the Indians first nine games. Since his early season slump, Pearce has caught fire, collecting 14 hits, eight RBI and raising his average by a staggering 152 points. Most of Pearce's damage was done over the Tribe's last eight games on the road, where he went 13-for-33 (.394) with six runs, two home runs, nine RBI and only two strikeouts.
DEFENSIVE DEFICIENCIES: On Friday night against Rochester the Indians committed three errors for the third time and multiple errors for the seventh time this season. The Tribe has now committed 21 miscues in their first 19 games and are tied for last in the International League with a .971 fielding percentage.
RIDICULOUS RELIEVERS: On Friday evening against Rochester, Tribe relievers Sean Smith (3.2 IP, 1 H, 5 SO), Brian Slocum (1.0 IP, 1 H) and Juan Mateo (1.0 IP, 1 SO) allowed just two hits and struck out six in 5.2 combined scoreless innings. Smith, was making his season debut for the Tribe, after joining the team earlier in the day from Short-Season State College (Pa.), while Slocum was making just his second appearance on the year, after spending a large portion of the month of April on the disabled list. Mateo has been flawless in his six games with the Tribe this season, allowing only three hits with no earned runs while striking out eight opposing hitters in 13 innings pitched.
The Curve suffered their worst loss of the season Saturday falling to the Erie SeaWolves 15-1 at Blair County Ballpark. Entering play on Sunday Altoona is 6-16 on the season.
MOSKOS UP & DOWN: On Friday night Curve starter Daniel Moskos experienced a turbulent first inning, allowing four runs in the frame, which set the Curve back for the rest of the contest as they fell to Erie, 5-2 at Blair County Ballpark. Moskos is 1-2 on the season with a 6.35 ERA.
BULL OF A PEN: Over the last 15 games, Altoona's bullpen has been called to duty often. They have come through, tossing 67.1 innings over that span, allowing just 10 earned runs (1.34 ERA)...RHP Lincoln Holdzkom has also not allowed a run in his last five outings (9.2 ip)...RHP Jean Machi has only allowed one earned run in 11.2 innings pitched this season (0.77 ERA)...Additionally, the Curve ‘pen as a collective unit is on a streak of 18.1 scoreless frames.
WHO SHOT THE SHERRIF: LHP Shawn Nottingham has appeared in nine games for the Altoona Curve and has performed well (0-1, 2.61). However, the team is 0-9 in games in which he appears.
TABATA ON THE SHELF: Outfielder Jose Tabata was placed on the Disabled List with a strained right hamstring he suffered on Tuesday in the first game of the Reading series. He is expected to be sidelined from four to six weeks.
NEGRYCH INJURED: Curve second baseman Jim Negrych the Pirates' minor league player of the year in 2008, has a left leg injury that could keep him out until next week. He is batting .373 but has seven errors.
BAD SCHEDULE: The Curve's schedule for the opening month is awful, and the Eastern League knows it. The first 31 games on Altoona's schedule are against the same three teams - Erie, Akron and Reading - which is hardly the best way for players to develop.
The EL did a poor job with that part of the schedule, league president Joe McEacharn acknowledged the error.
"That's unacceptable," McEacharn said of the opponent overload. "We've got to do better."
McEacharn didn't realize just how many games the Curve had scheduled against the three opponents, and when told, he said, "That's pretty excessive."
The Curve aren't alone in this. Akron's first 38 games are against the same three opponents (Altoona, Bowie and Harrisburg), while Erie's string is 31 (Altoona, Bowie and Harrisburg).
The Hillcats fell into an early hole and could not recover in their 6-2 loss to Kingston on Saturday night. Lynchburg sporting a 14-9 record sits atop the Carolina League North Division standings entering play on Sunday.
WATTS SMOKING: Catcher Kris Watts is smoking for the Hillcats batting .433 with two home runs and 14 RBI. The 24-year old is hitting .609 against left-handed pitching. He leads the Carolina League in hitting.
ALVAREZ REPORT: Pirates third base prospect Pedro Alvarez in 23 games is batting .220 with five home runs and 21 RBI.
UVIEDO IMPRESSIVE: Although he hasn't notched a victory yet sporting a 0-1 record, right-hander Ronald Uviedo has a sparking 2.70 ERA in four starts and 17 strikeouts in 20.0 innings pitched.
WEST VIRGINIA POWER
Entering play on Sunday the Power are 6-17 and in last place in the South Atlantic League Northern Division.
TEMPERS FLARE: Six players were ejected in the seventh inning of Thursday night's game at Appalachian Power Park after a fight broke out between the West Virginia Power and Hagerstown Suns.
Hagerstown put the game away in the seventh on Robert Jacobsen's three-run homer off Ramon Aguero. Aguero's very next pitch plunked Stephen Souza, which essentially started the fire. Terrence Engles, Hagerstown's starting pitcher, hit Calvin Anderson with the first pitch of the next inning, and Anderson charged the mound. Shortly after, the benches cleared and a fight broke out. Anderson, Robbie Grossman and Josue Peley were all ejected for West Virginia, while Osvaldo Rodriguez, Patrick Arnold and Engles were all tossed for Hagerstown.
RAMBLIN' RUDY: Southpaw Rudy Owens, a 28th-round pick in the 2006 Draft, got off to a fine start for the Power, posting a 3.82 ERA through five starts. He allowed one earned run over 9 2/3 innings in two starts against Bowling Green. The latest was an April 21 effort in which he earned his first victory of the season, striking out three and scattering four hits over 5 2/3 innings. Owens followed that up with six innings of three-hit ball against Greensboro on Sunday to earn his second win. He is 2-1 on the season.
WV POWER: Shortstop Chase D'Arnaud is off to a good start hitting .329 with two home runs and 12 RBI. First baseman Calvin Anderson continues to shine for the Power batting .318 with three home runs and 13 RBI.