Baker’s Wildness Dooms Altoona

Victor Black

The Curve faced a Bowie team loaded with major league players on Saturday, but it wasn’t the major leaguers who did them in.  Bowie’s lineup included major league veterans Endy Chavez, Mark Reynolds and Josh Barfield, and the Baysox’ starting pitcher was Zach Britton, who started 28 games for the Orioles last year.  Altoona still managed to take a 2-0 lead in the top of the 2nd, but Curve starter Nate Baker’s control deserted him in the bottom half, leading to four runs.  Baker walked four, hit one, threw a wild pitch and balked in a run in the inning.  He lasted only three innings in the game, which took him 80 pitches.  Bowie stretched the lead to five with three runs off reliever Kyle Cofield.  Quincy Latimore cut the deficit to 7-5 with a three-run HR, his team-leading fourth on the year, but Jeff Inman and Vic Black each gave up a run.  The final was 9-6.

Baker Can’t Find the Plate

Of his 80 pitches, Baker threw only 41 for strikes and often missed badly.  He has an excellent changeup, but his other pitches are marginal.  His fastball sat at 88-89, and his curve and slider weren’t effective.  His third inning meltdown consumed 39 pitches.  Cofield threw his sinker almost exclusively, with the pitch sitting at 91.  Inman was making his second appearance since his promotion.  He throws with a deliberate motion that makes him very easy to steal against, something Bowie did at every opportunity.  Inman’s fastball was 92-94 and he mixed in a few breaking balls and changeups.  Black’s fastball was mostly 93-96, but he hit 98-99 several times.  He has enough movement on it that he got a number of swings and misses.  His command is still shaky but much improved from last year.  His secondary pitches were erratic.

Notes on Other Players

– Brock Holt went 2-5 with two doubles.  Robbie Grossman also went 2-5 after fanning in his first two ABs.

— Jarek Cunningham went 0-5 with two whiffs, but showed the raw power he has in two ABs.  In one, he sent a flyball to deep right despite not getting a good swing.  He also lined out to deep center to end the game.

— Elevys Gonzalez went 2-3 with a double and hit batsman, but he also got thrown out at third with a four-run deficit in the 9th.  In fairness to Gonzalez, the ump blew the call on the play, as the third baseman clearly failed to tag him, but the throw did beat Gonzalez to the bag.

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Wilbur Miller joined the site in July 2010. He has long been known for his excellent Player Profiles, which he brought to the site in February 2011, combining them with the existing Pirates Prospects Player Pages. Wilbur maintains the player pages section of the site, and provides regular articles to the main portion of the site, including a weekly Prospects Trend piece, featuring the best and worst prospects from the previous week.

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  • Lee Young

    The game I went to back in early May appears to have been Baker at his best. I went in expecting a long game, but he was efficient. I got lucky…

    • wtmiller

      I’ve seen two of his last three starts and haven’t gotten lucky at all.

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