Game 1 of 4
First things first, most important notation on today's scorecard: 105 degrees game time temperature. YES, that is HOT.
Clement is .295/.369/.429 with the Indians so far this season (241 AB), the 1st round pick (3rd overall) of the Seattle Mariners in the 2005 draft has career numbers in this range during his 7 AAA seasons (4 of them with the Indians), but he's been unable to replicate this at the Major League level (in 54 games/144 AB with the Pirates in 2010, he was .201/.237/.368 by comparison). At 28, he's currently blocked by a somewhat waffling Casey McGehee, as well as his own teammate Matt Hague, who at 26 can also play 1B and is on the Pirates' 40-man roster (Clement is not). Hague was also deadly this evening, with one more hit than Clement, yet on base shy of Clement's total bases.
Daniel Cabrera was tight and wildly effective on the mound for the Indians, 7H, ER, 5K, BB ...and 2 Wild Pitches plus a hit batter. His opponent, Chad Reineke...well, we seem to be old friends this season, as I feel like I've seen Reineke more in 2012 than I've seen any other starter in the last 3 years or so. I felt like this would be a good outing, Win or Lose, for Reineke if he could pitch 6 innings and give up no more than 3 runs. Reineke blew this projection out with 4ER in 6IP, all of those runs came on Home Runs (Clement, 0 on 1 out; Hague, 2 on 1 out)...so it should be no surprise that he also struck out 8 ( 3 of them swinging) and walked only 1. Location isn't Reineke's problem; it's his locating the wrong pitch at the wrong time. His velocity is still sitting in the low 90s, but at age 30 and a Minor League career spanning 9 years, his only chance for MLB action this year is if someone in the Reds' rotation goes Koyie Hill with a table saw and they need help they can't get anywhere else.
Reineke, like Clement, is also not on the parent club's 40-man roster. These guys aren't trade chips for prospects and/or free agent deals, they are placeholders for future talent and development. The Reds may have had plans for the likes of Jeff Francis, and the Pirates certainly have plans for Matt Hague, Chase d'Arnaud, Jeff Locke, and Starling Marte...Chad Reineke and Jeff Clement are those complementary positions for opposing Minor League teams by which assets on both rosters can get the experience they need to build trade value and maybe even get a phone call later in the season. Clement is in the lineup to bring in baserunners and wear out pitchers; Reineke is on the mound to wear out batters and give his defense some work to do.
It's true, you never know what could happen...these guys are still a bit on the young side to call them "Minor League Veterans" at this point, but for the time being you have to wonder if MLB is really in the cards for them...or not.
It's only a 4-1 game when Reineke leaves, and the combined Bats bullpen of Josh Judy, Carlos Fisher, and Donnie "Mister Socks" Joseph allow 7 more hits and 7 more runs (5 of them earned). Their roles are a little different than Reineke's, he set up the game for them and they couldn't keep a lid on the psycho-sluggin' Indians.
My guest tonight was my friend Ranny; $2 craft beer night is gone forever, replaced by $3 Landshark and $3 Cheeseburgers...the cheeseburgers were great, even though it was just about as bloody hot as I could stand it. In the Mystery Rookie Card game, Ranny picked this pretty kool 2007 Fleer Justin Hampson RC.
After 7 seasons in the Colorado Rockies system, 2007 was his first year with the Padres...who released him in early 2009. Since February 2011 he's been with the Mets and at 32, is doing well with the Buffalo Bisons...in a similar role as Chad Reineke has here, I'm sure.
I had my biggest hit in the Mystery Rookie Card game ever! I found 2 cards inside the opaque orange construction paper when I opened it. First was this 1991 Topps Stadium Club Joe Caruso. Joe was the 3rd round pick in the 1991 Draft of the Boston Red Sox, but after 5 seasons in the Minors he never got called up and faded away.
Oh, but that wasn't my big hit...this one was...
Yes, that is a 1999 Fleer Mystique Cal Ripken, Jr., limited edition...number 1213 of 2500 copies made. Slugger Monkey had a $20 tag on this one (remember, you only pay $1 for Mystery Rookie Card packs!), and I've seen them on CheckOutMyCards.com for $10, and around $11 on eBay from time to time. Still the best 'book value' haul I've ever made playing the game.
Official Program, with Neftali Soto on the cover
Official Scorecard (with Danny Dorn) and Bat Chat