West Virginia Drops Lakewood For 19th Time; Barnes Likely Out For the Year

The West Virginia Power took on the Lakewood BlueClaws in game two of a four game series in Lakewood. After winning the opener behind strong pitching from Luis Heredia, the Power won 3-1 to move their record on the season to 19-3 against the BlueClaws. West Virginia put two on the board in the first inning on a single by Eric Wood that scored Chris Diaz and Dilson Herrera. They didn’t score again until the ninth, with Josh Bell scoring all the way from first base on a throwing error that went down the right field line. Four Power pitchers combined for one run on eight hits, allowing just a first inning tally before shutting down the opposition for the last eight frames. Jason Creasy started and did well, giving up the one run on four hits to pick up his fourth win.

Below you will find a recap of the interesting hitters that played tonight, along with in depth coverage of Creasy’s start and some game notes. There is also an injury update on Barrett Barnes. After the series concludes, I’ll give my thoughts on the four games.

Dilson Herrera hit the ball hard three times tonight (Photo Credit: Tom Bragg)

Dilson Herrera hit the ball hard three times tonight (Photo Credit: Tom Bragg)

The Hitters

Yesterday, Max Moroff was at shortstop and batting lead-off. Tonight it was Chris Diaz in both spots. Diaz hit a hard low liner that handcuffed the second baseman and was scored an error. In his second at-bat, Diaz chased a high inside fastball to go down swinging. He popped out to shallow right field his third time up, then lined out to third base in the top of the eighth. Diaz looked pretty good in the field tonight, didn’t rush anything and made the easy plays look easy.

Dilson Herrera had three hard hit balls into left field last night in his last three times to the plate. Tonight, he hit the first pitch he swung at hard into left field for a single. In his second at-bat, the streak continued, five straight hard hit balls into left field and he collected his second single. The streak was broken his third time up, as he hit the ball hard into center field for a double. The hard hit ball streak ended in the eighth when he went down swinging.

Tonight was the first time I’ve had the chance to see Josh Bell bat from the right side. He grounded out to second base with two men on, though I will say it looked like he was trying to advance the runners with his swing. I could tell he wasn’t swinging for the fences and he did get both runners over. His second at-bat didn’t look so good, with some awkward swings that ended with a soft liner to second base that he got jammed on. Bell grounded out to third base in his third at-bat and again, his swing wasn’t pretty. His swing from the right side does not look anything like his swing from the left side of the plate. Bell switched over to the left side in the ninth and got hit with a 2-2 pitch. He scored all the way from first on a sacrifice attempt by Jordan Steranka,  that was followed by a throwing error. Somehow, Steranka got thrown out at second base well after Bell had crossed the plate.

Eric Wood had a good game yesterday. I didn’t plan to break down his at-bats one-by-one because he has fallen off since a strong start and he was more or less average the first two times I saw him. The good game yesterday and a two-run single in his first at-bat changed things a little. Wood stole second base after the single, but it was more poor play on the BlueClaws part, rather than a plus for Wood. He left real early and the pitcher made a poor throw to second base despite having plenty of time. Wood hit a soft liner to shortstop his second time up and then a weak grounder down to first in his third at-bat. He finished his night with a pop up to second base, so it wasn’t a good last three at-bats for Wood.

Walker Gourley also looked good yesterday and a scout I talked to said that he sees some improvements with him compared to earlier in the season when West Virginia was in Lakewood. Gourley fouled out to the catcher in his first at-bat. In his second plate appearance, he went down swinging. He looked like he reached base in his third at-bat, a ball hit about 45 feet towards first base, but he was called out for interfering with the throw. Looked like a questionable call to me. Gourley struck out again in the ninth inning, giving him an 0-for-4 on the night, with two strikeouts and two weakly hit balls.

Luis Urena struck out in his first at-bat, going down swinging. As I mentioned yesterday, he is a free swinger, although the pitches he swung at in this at-bat were all close. His second time up was another strikeout and it didn’t look good. He was well out in front of a curve ball, had a check swing on another and went down looking on a third breaking ball. Urena didn’t get a chance to strikeout in his third at-bat, getting hit by an 0-2 pitch. He hasn’t had anything tough in the outfield in his first two games, all routine plays.

Creasy Allows One Run Over Five Innings 

Creasy has been good in both starts this year in Lakewood

Creasy has been good in both starts this year in Lakewood

Last time I saw Jason Creasy, he threw five shutout innings, giving up one hit and he looked very impressive, especially with his fastball command. That command wasn’t there early tonight, as he missed with three straight fastballs to walk the first batter. Creasy struck out the second batter looking on a 90 MPH pitch. He was sitting 91-92 early, but I’ve seen him higher in relief. The third batter hit a hard grounder by the first baseman to put runners on the corner with one out. The clean-up hitter brought home the first run with a liner into left field. Creasy almost got out of the inning with a ground ball to first base, but the Power just missed turning the 3-6-1 double play. The inning ended with a grounder to third base. That last four batters saw just six pitches and put four of them into play.

Creasy started off the second inning with a hit batter. The next hitter went 0-2, before grounding right to shortstop for an easy 6-3 double play. Creasy retired the last batter swinging on a 2-2 two-seam fastball. A very quick inning despite putting the lead-off man on base.

The third inning started with a strikeout swinging on his two-seamer again. He struck out his third straight batter swinging, this time with a curve ball in the dirt. Creasy gave up a hard hit single into center field to break up the strikeout streak. The last out was recorded on a high/deep fly to center field. The ball doesn’t carry well here and that ball was hit pretty hard.

On the second pitch of the fourth inning, Creasy got a lazy fly to left field for the first out. The second batter grounded out to shortstop on the first change-up I saw from Creasy all game. The inning ended very quickly on another groundout to shortstop. He needed just five pitches to get out of the inning.

The first batter in the fifth inning hit a soft ground ball back to Creasy that he couldn’t handle. He had a strong showing against the second hitter, throwing three fastballs inside, two that were fouled off, before freezing him on a pitch that caught the outside corner. The third hitter blooped a liner into center field to put two men on. Creasy got a fly ball to medium left field on the first pitch to the next batter, recording the second out. He walked the next hitter to load the bases. After a visit to the mound from pitching coach Jeff Johnson, Creasy went full on the sixth hitter of the inning and got a ground out to shortstop to end the inning.

That was the end of the night for Creasy, who allowed one run on four hits in five innings, striking out five batters. Just like the last outing, he was going heavy with his two-seam fastball and got some quick at-bats because of it. It wasn’t a clean outing by any means and he looked a little more dominant during his first outing mentioned above. His command was a little better that game and tonight he had a couple rough innings that didn’t result in much damage. It’s good to see him battle through the first and last inning, while allowing just one run. You would like to see him not rely on one pitch so much, which is what I have seen two straight starts.

Game Notes

*Barrett Barnes is with the team, though he is still out of action with hamstring issues that have bothered him a couple of times before. Barnes never left the team after his last injury, which has kept him out of the lineup since a July 23rd doubleheader. He was out running on the warning track before the game, but it doesn’t appear he will play again this season. His next action will likely be in the Instructional League. Barnes has played just 46 games this year.

*Ryan Hafner followed Creasy in the sixth and gave up a single, which was quickly erased on a double play when interference was called on the runner going to second. I didn’t see anything wrong on the play and it was unlikely they would have turned it due to how soft the ball was hit.

*The BlueClaws loaded the bases with one out off Hafner in the seventh, with the third batter reaching on a soft grounder booted by Eric Wood. Hafner got a high fly out to very shallow center field for the second out, then struck out the clean-up hitter for the final out.

*Bryton Trepagnier pitched the eighth and ran into a little trouble, putting two men on base, but got out of the inning with no damage.

*Jhondaniel Medina pitched the ninth for the second straight night and picked up his seventh save with a scoreless inning.

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

    Barnes starting to look like one of those guys who will never stay healthy enough to fulfill his potential, unfortunately.

    • John Dreker

      It sounds like they are being cautious with him. It’s possible he could return at some point if they really needed him, but we are talking about low-A ball, so it’s better to have him 100% and making up time in the Instructional League, rather than risk a recurrence of the same injury.

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

    John…I tried to fin Bell’s L/R splits. Do you know where I could find them?

    • John Dreker

      Bell is hitting .321 from the right side. In 84 AB’s, he has just one homer, but has struck out only 11 times. His righty swing looks more like a defensive swing, rather than something that would produce power, so the HR total doesn’t surprise me much. The high average does a little though. As a lefty, he is hitting .273 with 22 doubles and eight homers. His K rate is almost twice as high from the left side(once every 4.6 AB’s)