Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Game Notes, April 12, Indy vs Ottawa

The second game of this series was a cold, quick pitchers duel between top Pirates prospect Zach Duke and former big leaguer James Baldwin.

Baldwin was the star of the game, shutting the Indians out for 7 innings, and only allowing 3 hits. He's still a bit on the soft side physically, and yes, he still wears his hat down over his eyes. He's lost some velocity from his White Sox days, working mainly in the mid 80's with his fastball. He had good command tonight and always looked like he was in charge. The only Indians hitter who looked really good tonight was Graham Koonce, who hit a screaming line drive right at Keith Reed in his first at bat and went on to hit a a nice double down the right field line in the 5th. Also of note, Baldwin worked really fast. It was a cold night, but he looked like he had a date. The catcher threw the ball back to him, gave him the signs, and it was back in his glove. I appreciated it.

I mentioned Koonce. I don't remember him drawing any walks, which is a mild surprise since he's been an absolute walk machine the last couple years. He did control the strike zone though, and Baldwin gave him some stuff to hit tonight. He was up for it. He didn't look as good last night. I also got to see his defense at first, which was better than I had expected, though nothing that's going to garner him any shiny hardware. I wish the Pirates would bring up Brad Eldred to slot in behind Koonce. That would make for a more interesting and intimidating lineup. Eldred is off to a smoking hot start so I may get my wish by midseason.

Nate McLouth batted second for the Indians both nights. I need to do a full report on him since he looks tailor made for a 4th outfielder role. He's a lefty swinging guy with a nice all around game that isn't going to blow you away. He makes contact, draws enough walks, steals some bases, and plays a pretty good outfield. He played left tonight, but he can play some center and has enough arm to pass for a right fielder if needed. With Rich Thompson and Ray Sadler, they should have an outfield with a lot of range this year.

Duke was the guy I really wanted to see tonight and he didn't disappoint. Baldwin may have outshined him, but he still looked good. I like his delivery. It looks pretty effortless, and his control was in order as well. Nether pitcher had a problem throwing strikes. Duke's fastball was consistantly in the 88-90 mph range. He threw the fastball more than half the time, probably closer to 2/3 than half. His curve looked really good, clocking in at 70-73 most of the time. It had a lot of vertical break. He struck Young out in the first with one of these. He got knocked for a lot of singles. He got nickel-and-dimed to death all night. Also of note, his pickoff move was exceptional. He had at least one baserunner kill. He should have had one early in the game, but was robbed by a bad call from the first base ump.

The game ended up a 2-0 road win for Baldwin and the Lynx. They hook up again tomorrow afternoon, but I'll be at work, so that's the last I'll see of these teams for now. I'm still hoping to see a lot more International League action this season. When I do catch a game, I'll talk about it here.

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