Clay Holmes Throws Six Shutout Innings, Josh Bell Homers

The West Virginia Power won 5-2 on Saturday night over the Lakewood BlueClaws, taking the first three games of the four game series. It is also the 20th time in 23 games this season that the Power have defeated Lakewood. Clay Holmes got the start and threw six shutout innings, scattering seven hits. He showed impressive control by not issuing a walk for the first time all season. Josh Bell hit his tenth home run of the season, a solo shot in the fifth inning. The Power scored one run in each of the first five innings to cruise to the victory. They had nine hits on the night, seven of them were extra base hits. Both Lakewood runs, which came in the eighth inning, scored on a throwing error by Dilson Herrera.

One more game left in this series, then I’ll give a series recap and my thoughts on what I’ve seen this season over 12 games in Lakewood. Below you’ll find a recap of the night from Max Moroff, Dilson Herrera, Josh Bell and Clay Holmes, plus some game notes.

The Hitters

Josh Bell homered in the fifth inning today (Photo Credit: Tom Bragg)

Josh Bell homered in the fifth inning today (Photo Credit: Tom Bragg)

Max Moroff had off yesterday in favor of Chris Diaz. He was back at shortstop today and hit lead-off. In his first at-bat, Moroff took five straight pitches to draw a walk. In the earlier series against Lakewood, Moroff showed a lot of plate patience. In his second at-bat, he grounded out to first base on a 2-0 pitch. He came up in the fourth inning with runners and the corners and one out. Moroff made the score 4-0 with a sacrifice fly to left field. He came to the plate for the fourth time in the sixth inning. With a runner on second base and one out, Moroff grounded out to first base. He led off the ninth inning and worked the count full before going down swinging. Moroff made some nice plays in the field tonight, though he did throw one ball away trying to double off a runner.

Second baseman Dilson Herrera followed Moroff’s lead-off walk with a ground ball double down the third base line. Herrera had a long at-bat in the third that ended with him being called out on a pitch that looked outside. He struck out in the fourth inning and he ended up chasing two pitches that were outside, something he hadn’t done earlier in the series and it may have had something to do with the umpire’s wide strike zone. Herrera grounded out to third base in his fourth and fifth at-bat, so his day started off good, but the last four times up were not.

Herrera had the costly throwing error, but he still looked very good in the field and the error came on a throw to third base from the right field bullpen, not a normal throw from a second baseman.

Josh Bell came to the plate in the first with no outs and men on second and third base. On the first pitch, he grounded out to second base, bringing home the first run of the game. Yesterday was the first time I saw Bell bat righty and talking to people today, they had the same low opinion I had of his swing from that side. It’s not a clean swing, with one scout calling it awkward. Bell is still getting good results (.321 average) though he has just one homer in 84 at-bats as a righty. In his second at-bat, Bell grounded out to shortstop. In the fifth inning, Bell hit the first pitch over the right/center wall for his tenth homer of the season. It was a line drive that just cleared the wall, making the score 5-0 in the fifth. In the seventh inning, Bell again swung at the first pitch, grounding out to second base. The first pitch trend continued in the ninth, with Bell grounding out to shortstop. In four of his five plate appearances, he put the first pitch into play.

 

Clay Holmes

In his third start in Lakewood this season, Holmes came into the game with a 4.27 ERA. In his first game here, he threw five shutout innings against the BlueClaws. In game two, his velocity was down a tick and he allowed two runs over five innings. Holmes started tonight’s game off with a soft grounder up the middle that Dilson Herrera made a nice play on. The second ball also hit a grounder towards the middle and Max Moroff made the play for two quick outs. Holmes then allowed a hard hit double into the left/center gap. Facing the clean-up hitter, Holmes hit 93 MPH on the first two pitches before dropping in a nice curve for a called strike two. He retired the side on a high pop fly to center field on a pitch that was clocked at 94 MPH.

Clay Holmes threw six shutout innings tonight

Clay Holmes threw six shutout innings tonight

In the second inning, he gave up a hard grounder up the middle for a lead-off single. He threw two balls to the next batter before getting a foul out to third base. Holmes gave up a hard liner into left field to put runners on first and second with two outs. He got out of the jam and the inning with a nicely turned 5-4-3 double play.

On the first pitch from Holmes in the third inning, the ninth place hitter dropped a double down the left field line. The next batter also swung at the first pitch and grounded out to shortstop. Holmes got his first swing and miss of the game against the next batter, coming on an 86 MPH change-up. He got him swinging at a curve two pitches later for strike two, then got the out with a curve. It was an impressive at-bat, after going two innings without a swing and miss. Holmes ended the inning with a groundout to second base, keeping Lakewood off the board after a lead-off double.

In the fourth inning, Holmes gave up a hard hit liner to center field to start the inning. The second batter hit a liner right at Max Moroff at shortstop. Trying to double up the runner, Moroff threw it away, allowing him to the get to second base. Holmes was missing up with his fastball to the third batter, but he got the hitter to pop up to the catcher on the third high fastball. He went 3-2 to the next batter, getting a called strikeout on a pitch similar to the one that got Dilson Herrera looking earlier. Through four innings, Holmes had to escape trouble each inning and the BlueClaws were getting some well hit balls off him.

The fifth inning started off with the Lakewood batters swinging away at the first pitch. Holmes got a fly out to right field and then gave up a ground ball single between the first and second baseman. The third hitter waited two pitches before grounding out to shortstop, with Moroff going to first for the out. The inning ended on six pitches, with the fourth hitter grounding out to first base.

After the quick inning, Holmes was able to come out for the sixth inning. He got a groundout to second base to start the inning, then the next hitter singled through the right side. The third hitter smacked a liner that Max Moroff almost made a leaping catch on, going off the top of his glove. They still got the out, because the runner from first base started going back to first on it. Holmes ended the inning quickly with a soft ground out to first base.

Holmes ended up throwing six shutout innings, but he was hit pretty hard compared to the results, giving up seven hits. The strong sign was the fact he didn’t walk a single batter, the first time this season for Holmes, who has allowed 63 walks this season in 109.1 innings. He had only two strikeouts, so the Lakewood hitters were putting the ball in play all night, but he was bearing down whenever he got in a jam. Holmes was 91-93 MPH most of the night, hitting 94 twice. He held his velocity for all six innings, another good sign this late in the season. He used his curveball, which sits 78-80 MPH, effectively and the change-up (85-86 MPH) wasn’t bad. It was an interesting outing, a bunch of hard hit balls and only the two strikeouts, but he got through six innings without a run or walk.

 

Game Notes

* Walker Gourley doubled to lead-off the second and scored right away on a single by Jonathan Schwind, giving the Power a 2-0 lead.

* Eric Wood made it 3-0 in the third with a double down the right field line that followed a triple off the center field wall by Jordan Steranka.

* Lance Breedlove pitched the seventh inning and retired the side in order. He put on the lead-off batter in the eighth, then got help from Max Moroff, who made a nice sliding catch running out into shallow left field. He wasn’t helped by Dilson Herrera though, who threw away a ball hit down the line into the bullpen, allowing two runs to score.

* Clario Perez came in to finish the game and retired the side in order.

* The Power go for the four game sweep tomorrow with Kyle Haynes on the mound.

John Dreker

Author: John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    Another mediocre start by Taillon – why he was promoted to Indy is anyone’s guess. He did not pitch well enough in Altoona to show that he was ready to move up or that it was a deserving promotion.

    I hope Tim and others on this site will be a little more candid about his performance and stop spinning it and making excuses for the kid. he has been disappointing this year. No other way to state it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

      I’m with you on that thought. We are going to really rue passing on Mercado, but what’s done is done, unfortunately.

      Don’t know why NH didn’t listen to me at the time…..LOL

      Foo

      • Kevin_Young

        Judging a guy after his 2nd career AAA is start is somewhat laughable. He’s struck out 13 in 12 innings so it’s not like his stuff isn’t playing well, which is what would be concerning to me. You don’t have to look any further than guys like Harvey, and Miller to find people that didn’t have low AAA era’s….and they seem ok to me.

        • BuccosFanStuckinMD

          I am judging him based on his entire body of work this year – not just his two starts in AAA. He was mediocre in AA as well.

      • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

        I liked Oscar Mercado, but they got Blake Taylor a few picks earlier and he has looked good so far.

        • John Dreker

          A scout who saw Taylor pitch last week really like his potential. Like his size and thought he could develop into a real good pitcher, pointing out that he is still just 17 yrs old

  • PirateFan

    The move to triple A was more for his development. Giving him some exposure to Triple A hitters. He get hits hard because his FB is flat at times. He definitely has plus breaking ball, very good FB velo. He is young and has excellent upside potential. I agree with you his numbers may not have warranted the promotion but being the top prospect the development is the focus here.

  • CalipariFan506

    I think Cole and Taillon both need a slight change in mechanics. Just moving their hands or twisting a little more like Locke has done for more deception.