Center fielder Jose Tabata and first baseman Neil Walker combined to go 6-for-8 with five runs scored and three RBI and the Indianapolis Indians weathered a late rally to earn a hard-fought 5-4 win over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Sunday afternoon at Coca-Cola Park. The win moves the Indians' record to 12-12.
HITTING IN THE CLUTCH: Entering action on Sunday, in the previous five games, Indians' batters had driven in an astounding 18 runners (33 total runs, 55% scored with two outs) with two outs in an inning . During the same five-game stretch, only six runs have been driven in with two outs by an opposing batter against the Tribe. SS Argenis Diaz has accounted for five RBI with two outs over the last five games, while 3B Pedro Alvarez and OF/1B Brian Myrow have each driven in four runners with two outs.
GOING YARD: 3B Pedro Alvarez's home run in Saturday night's 10-6 loss to Lehigh Valley marked the second time in 23 games played this season that the slugger has hit a home run in back-to-back games. During his 27 home run, 126 game rookie campaign in 2009, the Pirates' No. 1 prospect only hit home runs in consecutive games played twice (June 24 and 25 and July 13 and 16) . Also, with his three run blast against PawSox starter Adam Mills on April 30, Alvarez snapped a drought of 12 consecutive games in which he had failed to record a home run. Previously, the third baseman's longest homer-less streak was 10 games (May 23 – June 3, 2009) while Alvarez was a member of the Single-A Lynchburg (Va.) Hillcats.
WALKING OVER THE COMPETITION: Following his 2-for-3 effort on Sunday, INF Neil Walker has now reached base in 12 consecutive games. he utility infielder has reached base via a hit in 11 of the 12 contests and is hitting .385 (20-for-52) with nine runs scored, five doubles, three home runs, 15 RBI and six stolen bases during the streak . Walker has also already swiped eight bases on the season, one more than his entire total for last season and only three behind his career season best of 10, which he accomplished during his MVP season with the Indians in 2008.
The Altoona Curve won their season high fifth straight game and picked up their third sweep of the season defeating Stephen Strasburg and the Harrisburg Senators (AA – Washington Nationals) 6-1 on Sunday afternoon at Metro Bank Park on City Island. The Curve (16-6) handed Strasburg the first loss of his professional career in what is reported to be his final outing in Double-A.
PRESLEY STREAKING: Altoona CF Alex Presley extended his hitting streak with a 1-for-4 performance moving in to third place in franchise history, hitting in 16 consecutive games. Presley, who's batting .361, is just five games shy of Kevin Sefcik's team-record 21-game hitting streak (2002).
STEALING SECOND: RH reliever Mike Dubee returned to the Curve from Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday. Dubee made one appearance for Indy, throwing a scoreless inning Thursday against Pawtucket.
CURVE SPECIAL: The Curve have the Eastern League's best record at 16-6.
"They just have a relentless approach," Altoona manager Matt Walbeck said of his players. "Defensively, offensively, pitching, on the bases, chemistry, everything seems to be clicking. We just have a group of guys that know how to stay focused."
The Charlotte Stone Crabs got six scoreless innings from starter Joe Cruz and a pair of key RBI's from Matt Hall to take a 3-1 win over the Bradenton Marauders on Sunday at McKechnie Field. Cruz (1-1) allowed just one hit through the first five innings and stifled a Bradenton offense that has averaged more than six runs per game. Bradenton is 14-9 on the season.
WHO"S HOT: SS Brock Holt leads the Marauders with a .369 batting average, followed by catcher Tony Sanchez and OF Starling Marte who are both batting .333. Right-hander Bryan Morris has been outstanding posting a 2-0 record with a 0.98 ERA. Lefty Jeff Locke is off to a 2-1 start with a 3.04 ERA. Right-hander Nathan Adcock has posted a 3-1 record with a 2.70 ERA.
WHO'S NOT: First baseman Calvin Anderson is scuffling a bit, in 21 games he is batting .238 with one home run and eight RBI. He has struck out 26 times. Right-hander Aaron Pribanic is 0-2 with a 5.87 ERA.
WEST VIRGINIA POWER
The Greenville Drive (15-9) and West Virginia Power (10-13) were the center of attention on Sunday, playing in the South Atlantic League's only scheduled game. But it was a one-sided affair as Greenville closed out the series by pounding out 11 hits, en route to a 9-1 victory.
ROSTER ROULETTE: Power pitcher Phillip Irwin was placed on the disabled list with shoulder soreness. The right-hander has pitched 15 innings this season over four appearances, including one relief outing. Brandon Holden, a Pirates non-drafted free agent signee in 2006, was added to the roster to fi ll Irwin's spot. Holden pitched exclusively for State College last season, going 1-0 with a 4.50 earned run average over 19 games. In 2007, Baseball America rated Holden as the number 22 prospect within the organization.
WELKER'S WIN: Duke Welker earned the win with a scoreless inning during the April 27 series finale at Kannapolis. The victory was Welker's first since April 1, 2008 against Greenville while pitching for Hickory, the Pittsburgh Pirates SAL affiliate at the time. Welker pitched in 33 games between victories, spanning 103 innings.
CABRERA FINDS STROKE: On April 26, Power catcher Ramon Cabrera had the first four-hit game by any Power player this season and the first of his professional career. The El Tigre, Venezuela native had compiled four three-hit games over the first 124 games of his professional career.
EIGHT WAS ENOUGH: Jarek Cunningham and Rogelio Noris extended their hitting streaks to eight games with multiple base hits in April 25th game one victory over Kannapolis. Each player, however, saw those streaks snapped in game two with 0-2 performances. The eight-game runs were the longest by any Power player this season and were the fifth longest streak in the SAL this season. Lexington's Jonathan Meyer reached by base hit in each of his first 14 games this year. Cunningham batted .424 during his streak, while Noris hit .406.