It took the International League four innings to even get a hit, but at the end of the game, all that mattered was that they had strung together a couple of hits to take a 2-1 win over the Pacific Coast League in the Triple-A All-Star Game in Allentown, PA.
The Pacific Coast League got things started in the second inning when Matt Miller (Colorado Springs/Rockies) picked up a two-out infield single that seemed innocent enough until Mark Trumbo (Salt Lake/Angels) walked and Darwin Barney (Iowa/Cubs) followed immediately with an RBI single that put the PCL up 1-0. Pitchers Thomas Diamond (Iowa/Cubs), Clayton Mortensen (Sacramento/A's) and Michael Kirkman (Oklahoma City/Rangers) shut down the IL offense through the first four innings, allowing just one baserunner on a walk.
It made for a great scenario when hometown hero Andy Tracy (Lehigh Valley/Phillies) opened up the fifth inning with a single up the middle on the first pitch that he saw from Brandon Dickson (Memphis/Cardinals), but after Dickson uncorked a wild pitch, he settled in to get the next three hitters. The following inning Josh Banks (Round Rock/Astros) wasn't so lucky and was in trouble from the very start of the inning. Chris Valaika (Louisville/Reds) led off with a double to left field and one out later, Chase Lambin (Syracuse/Nationals) delivered another double to tie the game. Pinch-hitter Elliott Johnson (Durham/Rays) singled to give the International League a 2-1 lead.
After that, the pitchers got back to dominating and the International League started going through their list of closers to finish out the game. With four pitchers who have 15 or more saves on the season, manager Charlie Montoyo (Durham/Rays) just sat back and went through his bullpen to lock down the win, finishing it off with Jonathan Albaladejo (SWB/Yankees), who leads all of professional baseball with 29 saves on the season. Albaladejo picked up the save, but the locals were a little distraught that their closer, Scott Mathieson (Lehigh Valley/Phillies) didn't get to pitch in the game.
"It actually worked out how we had hoped and that doesn't always happen," said Montoyo. "I would have liked to get Scottie [Mathieson] into the game for the home fans, but it just didn't work out."
Anthony Slama (Rochester/Twins) threw one inning and picked up the win, while Banks took the loss.
Lambin was named the Player of the Game based on the fact that he was connected to both runs that the IL scored, driving in the first run and scoring the second. "That just topped it off," said Lambin after the game. "It was a great thing just to be here, but then to play a role in the game, made it special." Of course, Lambin didn't have as good of a night as a couple of his teammates.
Indianapolis (Pirates) catcher Erik Kratz came out of the game in the fourth inning and was told that the Pirates were calling him up to join the club on Thursday. His manager, Frank Kremblas, was coaching with the International League team and knew for a few days that Kratz was getting his first call to the majors. "That's just a little wicked," laughed Kratz, who said he had gotten no idea from Kremblas that he was headed for the majors. The 30 year-old Kratz is in his ninth minor league season and said even the fact that the Pirates had optioned Jason Jaramillo to Indianapolis didn't make him truly believe that he would get the call. "No, it's happened before where somebody got sent down or hurt or something and it seemed like I might be the one going up, but I figured that if I hadn't heard anything by now, it wasn't going to happen."
Earlier in the game Michael Dunn (Gwinnett/Braves) got word that he was headed to the majors. "I'm obviously pretty psyched," said Dunn. "To be here and find that out and then get into the game and pitch, was great." Unlike Kratz, this isn't Dunn's first trip to the majors; he pitched in four games with the Yankees last season.
In the other clubhouse, pitcher Chris Seddon (Tacoma/Mariners) also found out during the game that he was headed for the majors. Seddon has pitched in the majors with the Marlins, but hasn't been there since 2007 when he pitched in seven games. Ernesto Frieri (Portland/Padres) was told on Tuesday that he was headed for San Diego. "I'm happy about it. I can't wait until tomorrow to get to San Diego and spend some time over there with that bullpen that has been magnificent," said Frieri. It will be Frieri's second trip to the majors, having pitched in two games last season.