Ian Snell dominated the Houston Astros Tuesday night striking out a career high 11 batters and allowing just four hits over six innings while giving up two runs. Throwing consistently in the low to mid-90’s, Snell kept the Astros batters back on their heels all night with an impressive low 80’s mph tight slider while mixing his two-seam and four-seam fastballs.
Astros starter Jason Jennings, who came into the game with a career 0-3 record and a 10.47 ERA against the Pirates, was nearly as dominant as Snell, throwing 6 innings, striking out 7, and allowing just one run, an Xavier Nady home run in the second.
A managerial decision by Jim Tracy almost cost the Pirates the game in the 7th.
Rewind to August 10th, 2006. The Pirates were losing 2-1 in the 7th inning playing in Houston and, after Torres gave up a double to Craig Biggio, Jim Tracy ordered an intentional walk to Lance Berkman. Two batters later, Morgan Ensberg went yard on a Matt Capps slider that didn’t, and the Astros went up 5-1.
Fast forward to April 3, 2007. The Pirates were tied 1-1 in the 6th inning and, with two outs in the inning and Palmeiro at second base, Jim Tracy order Snell to intentionally walk Berkman to get to Carlos Lee, who singled home Orlando Palmeiro from second and the Astros went up 2-1.
Fortunately for Jim Tracy and the Pirates, Jack Wilson was able to get a bunt single down in the 8th, Jason Bay then walked, Adam LaRoche flied out, and then Ronny Paulino hit a clutch two-out rbi single off Dan Wheeler to tie the game 2-2.
Xavier Nady then came up and hit a bloop fly to short center that was misplayed by Burke, who started back then came in too late, and Bay scored from third to give the Pirates the 3-2 lead.
Matt Capps came in to pitch the 8th and needed just 10 pitches to retire the side and Salomon Torres then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his second save, while throwing exactly 13 pitches for the second night in a row.
Jonah Bayliss picked up the win after pitching to one batter in the 7th – Craig Biggio, who flied out harmlessly with two men on.
The Pirates record goes to 2-0 and they won both one-run games coming from behind late. The win also guarantees them a series win at Minute Maid Park for only the fifth time in the eight year history of the park.
The Pirates announced today that their 2006 first round draft pick, Brad Lincoln, underwent Tommy John surgery today with Doctor Andrews in Birmingham, AL. This doesn’t come as a surprise to Bucco Blog if you have been following our coverage of Lincoln [here], [here], and [here] (scroll down on most of them).
John Setzler in Hickory stated he spoke with Dave Friedman who said:
"Strained oblique… day to day."
John went on to say:
"They haven’t benched him for any specific period of time. He won’t be seeing the doctor, so they don’t believe it’s very serious."
So the good news is that the strain is mild. The bad news, of course, is that it happened.
Brad Lincoln left after pitching one inning in Hickory tonight when he "pulled
a muscle somewhere on or around his ribs."
Update: The Post-Gazette is reporting Lincoln’s injury was a "strained left oblique". Notable players with recent injuries of a similar nature are Mark Prior and Chipper Jones, both of whom went on the 15 day DL.
I assume this will shut down Brad Lincoln for the year.
The Pirates first round draft choice of the 2006 draft made his A ball debut last night with the Hickory Crawdads and was shelled giving up 8 hits, 7 runs, and walking 5 in 4 and 2/3rds innings of work. But the storyline is a little more complex than a simple #1 pick gets shelled.
First of all you have to know a little more about Brad Lincoln.
As a freshman at Houston, Lincoln was 3-2 with a 4.29 ERA in 56 innings of work and 10 starts. He was primarily a solid hitter.. not a pitcher.
As a sophomore, Brad went 4-7, had a 4.76 ERA, and opposing batters were teeing off on him to the tune of a .298 batting average, but a couple of things started developing for him. One, his heater started reaching the upper 90’s. And two, the last part of the year he started learning how to pitch instead of simply throwing the ball. Both of those items were noticed and Brad was invited to play in the summer Cape Cod League in 2005 where college’s best players come together and play.
That summer Brad matured as a pitcher and started building confidence in his stuff and ended the summer with a 1.32 ERA, allowing just 56 runs in 54 innings of work — against the best. It was quite a remarkable feat and he was named an All-Star in the league.
That confidence rolled over to his 2006 senior year in Houston when he went 12-2 with a 1.69 ERA in 17 starts, allowing opposing batters a batting average of just .198. Along the way, Brad threw a career high 127 innings of work which was almost as much as he had pitched in his previous two years.
Lincoln, who just turned 21 at the end of May, was drafted by the Pirates and sent to Bradenton where he did a lot of bullpen work and pitched 7 innings in two games. The Pirates, knowing Brad has pitched more innings this year than ever before, have had him on low pitch counts to keep his work load down. Despite the time off between college play, the draft, and racking up frequent flyer miles collecting award after award, Lincoln dominated GCL batters for the most part and was sent to Hickory for his first start last night.
I know there was talk in the organization about Lincoln being sent to High A ball Lynchburg instead of Hickory, but I have to believe Ed Creech and David Littlefield felt that confidence was going to be a potential problem for Lincoln early on, knowing his background. That proved to be the case tonight.
Brad took the mound obviously jittery knowing he was about to face the best team in the South Atlantic League — Lakewood.. a team that has raked a 66-40 record (.634 winning percentage) this year behind dominating pitching. But it was more than just facing the best the SAL had to offer.. Lincoln also had to face a lineup that featured batters that were several years his senior and a few that had been playing professional baseball more than 3 years in much higher leagues.
In the first inning Lincoln gave up three hits on three line drives, two walks, and allowed two runs to score while getting two of the three outs on groundballs. Two of the three hits were by minor league vets who had amassed over 4,300 at bats in their minor league careers.
In the second inning he walked the leadoff batter, got the first out on a sac bunt, walked the next batter to keep the double play alive, got a fly ball for the second out, and then the oldest player with the most minor league experience in Lakewood’s lineup singled home another run before Lincoln K’d the cleanup hitter, stranding two.
The third inning Brad’s nerves were still evident as he took the mound and he walked the leadoff batter for the second inning in a row and then gave up a double to Slayden, the southpaw Georgia Tech power batter that was drafted in the 8th round of the 2005 draft who ended up going 3-3 against Lincoln overall. Then it was like a light went off in Lincoln’s head.. start pitching and stop throwing and he settled down and retired the next three batters all on groundball outs, and the batter he walked came in to score.
The fourth inning Lincoln dominated Lakewood with his first 1-2-3 inning and two of three outs on groundballs.. a sign Lincoln was starting to get his composure and command back. More impressively, two of the three outs were against the #2 and #3 batters who were long time professional minor league players who had, up to that point, lit Brad up.
The fifth inning was more of the same as the fourth.. he K’d Lakewood’s cleanup man for the second time in the game, got a groundball out on the next batter, and then Slayden crushed his second double of the night off Lincoln. With two outs Brad gets the groundball to end the inning but it has seeing eyes and goes past the SS into CF and Slayden scored. The next batter was hit by a pitch and then the #9 batter hit yet another seeing eye groundball that goes off into CF and another run scored. Lincoln, who had hit his pitch count a batter earlier, was then pulled and Davidson picked off Hernandez leaning to end the inning but Blair didn’t make a throw home to cut down Williams who scored while they were playing ‘run the base runner down’.
So overall, Lincoln was shelled.. 6 of the balls in play in the air went for hits — 4 of those before he settled down – and two of the 11 groundballs had seeing eyes. Throw in five walks before he settled down and, well, he simply wasn’t in command early on. But he did retire 10 of his last 17 batters and, of the 7 batters he didn’t retire, two of them hit seeing eye groundballs, three went for legitimate hits, one batter was hit by a pitch, and he walked one.
So while the storyline will read Lincoln gets shelled, it should read Lincoln saw the light go off after the second at bat in the 3rd inning and he started pitching instead of throwing which is a clear indication he is gaining his confidence after being jumped two levels in professional baseball after a very tiring college year.
Look for Brad Lincoln to be a lot more competitive next time out. He might still have some early jitters a game or two, but he will absolutely dominate A ball batters by the end of the year from what I saw of him tonight. The question becomes, how long will it take for that light to go off in each start? That’s what we’ll be watching.
The Roger Clemens Award Ceremony was held last night in Houston and Andrew Miller was the recipient of the trophy. But there was no mistaking Roger Clemens interest in Houston native Brad Lincoln at the event.
Photo credit and special thanks to Bob Levey
(L-R) Eddie Degerman, Rice University, Andrew Miller, University of North Carolina, Brad Lincoln, University of Houston, and Tim Lincecum from the University of Washington
So while Miller might have walked away with the trophy, Brad Lincoln walked away with a lot more.. that Nolan Ryan/Roger Clemens Houston Midas touch.
"HOUSTON – University of Houston junior righthander/DH Brad Lincoln added another impressive honor to his trophy case Tuesday afternoon when he was named the Conference USA Co-Male Athlete of the Year, Commissioner Britton Banowsky announced.
Lincoln and Memphis running back DeAngelo Williams shared the men’s honor, while Tulsa women’s basketball player Jillian Robbins was named the C-USA Female Athlete of the Year.
Tuesday’s honor was only the latest in a string of awards for Lincoln. The Clute, Texas, native already has received the **** Howser Trophy and the Brooks Wallace Award, presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate baseball player. He also was named the National Player of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings and Rivals.com.
He became the first player in both UH and Conference USA history to be honored as a baseball national player of the year."
Lincoln is in Houston for tonight’s The Roger Clemens Award banquet, college baseball’s version of the Cy Young Award. He is a semi-finalist along with Tim Lincecum of Washington, the Tar Heels Andrew Miller, and Eddie Degerman of Rice.
In the last few years the award has gone to a pitcher that typically was a straight pitcher and not a combo player like DH/pitcher Brad Lincoln. Other winners were Jered Weaver (2004) and Luke Hochevar (2005). Therefore, Bucco Blog will project Andrew Miller as the winner. We’ll see later tonight.
Brad’s quote on being a semi-finalist:
"To be just mentioned in the same breath with Roger Clemens and these other finalists is a great thing. To be a candidate for this award with that name is an awesome feeling. Whoever wins it, deserves it."
Good Luck Brad!
Edit 7/12/06 10:30 pm — Miller did, in fact, win the award. Kudo’s to Brad for being a finalist all the same!
"National honors continued to pour in Monday for University of Houston junior righthander/DH Brad Lincoln as he was named the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings Player of the Year.
It was the second national player of the year honor for Lincoln, who received the prestigious **** Howser Trophy prior to the start of the NCAA College World on Friday.
In addition, the Clute, Texas, native is a finalist for the Brooks Wallace Award to be named on July 3-4 in Lubbock, Texas, and the Roger Clemens Award, awarded to the nation’s top collegiate pitcher on July 12 in Houston.
Lincoln also was named to the ABCA/Rawlings All-America First Team as a pitcher/utility player for his performances throughout the 2006 season. He was named to previous All-America First Teams by Baseball America magazine, Collegiate Baseball magazine and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association…
The ABCA All-America Teams are collegiate baseball’s oldest selections, dating to 1949. All Division I coaches have the opportunity to nominate and vote on these selections, which are initially compiled into eight All-Region teams. These teams are then finalized as the first, second and third All-America teams by the ABCA’s NCAA Division I All-America and Coach of the Year Committee, chaired by Pat McMahon of the University of Florida. This year, the committee selected 58 players as 2006 ABCA All-Americans." — CSTV