Big hitting in the Pirates’ minor league affiliates’ Sunday action:
Altoona Curve 13, Reading Phillies 4 (conclusion of suspended game)
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The Curve were way out in front when rain halted play on Saturday evening, leading 11-1 in the middle of the 3rd. When play resumed today, Matt McSwain took over on the mound for starter Aaron Pribanic. McSwain gave up a solo home run in the bottom of the 3rd, to make it 11-2. McSwain retired the R-Phils in order over the next three innings, until he gave up another solo homer, followed by two singles, in the 7th.
CF Starling Marte singled for the Curve in the 4th but did not score. The Curve went down in order for the next two innings, then they rallied again in the top of the 7th. RF Anthony Norman led off with a walk, and Marte singled again. A throwing error by the R-Phils third baseman let Norman score. Marte advanced to third base, and he scored on SS Jordy Mercer’s sacrifice fly.
Aaron Thompson came on in relief in the 8th inning. He gave up a single and a walk, but retired the next three batters for a scoreless 8th. Reading scored one more time in the bottom of the 9th, on a single, a walk, and an RBI double, but it was way too little and way to late, and the Curve had the win.
Reading Phillies 2, Altoona Curve 1 (scheduled game)
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The Curve should have saved a few hits and runs for this game. They posted 6 hits, with 2 each by CF Starling Marte and RF Brad Chalk, and one each by SS Jordy Mercer and C Tony Sanchez. Their only run came in the top of the 1st, on a single by Marte and Mercer’s RBI double.
The Curve put at least one runner on base in all but one of the rest of the innings, but could not bring anyone around to score. Sanchez and Chalk hit back-to-back singles in the 2nd, and that was their biggest threat. A strikeout and a ground out ended that rally.
Jeff Locke pitched 5 innings in his start. He gave up one single over the first two innings, then gave up a solo home run with two outs in the 3rd to tie the game. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases after the homer, but a fly out got Locke out of that jam. Locke also gave up a single in both the 4th and the 5th.
Donnie Veal relieved Locke to begin the 6th inning. He also gave up a 2-out solo home run for the go-ahead run, and was charged with the loss. The Curve had one last chance in the top of the 7th, when Sanchez led off with a walk, then went to second base on a bunt by Chalk, but he was left stranded when the game ended.
Saturday evening action for the Pirates’ minor league affiliates:
Altoona Curve 11, Reading Phillies 1 (Suspended)
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After rain delayed the start of this game, the Curve must have decided that they needed to score a lot and quickly, in case the rain cut the game short. The rain did come again, but too early for a complete game. Instead, it was suspended in the 3rd inning, with the Curve leading by 10 runs. R-Phils starter Juan Ramirez could not get through the 1st inning. The first four Curve batters reached base safely: a lead-off triple by RF Anthony Norman, a double by CF Starling Marte (one run), a walk by SS Jordy Mercer, and a single by LF Quincy Latimore to load the bases. After a fly out, 3B Jeremy Farrell drove in both Marte and Mercer with an RBI single (runs 2,3). C Travis Scott singled, loading the bases again. 2B Greg Picart grounded to first, and the R-Phils’ first baseman returned the ball to the plate, forcing out Latimore for the second out. Pitcher Aaron Pribanic singled into right field, bringing in Farrell (run 4), and a walk by Norman forced in Scott with the 5th run of the inning. That was the end for Ramirez, and the new reliever, Tyson Brummett, struck out Marte to end the inning.
But the Curve came right back at Brummett in the 2nd. With one out, Latimore singled, and 1B Matt Curry doubled him in. A walk by Scott and a single by Picart brought in Curry, and the Curve extended their lead to 7-0.
Pribanic retired the R-Phils in order in the bottom of the 1st. He gave up one run in the 2nd, on two singles and two ground outs. Then the Curve came roaring right back in the top of the 3rd. Norman led off with a walk, and a fielding error put Marte on first and Norman on second. Mercer singled, plating Norman. After one out, Brummet threw two wild pitches, scoring Marte and leaving Mercer on third base. Curry walked, then Farrell doubled, driving in Mercer. Curry went to third base, and he scored on Scott’s sacrifice fly. A ground out ended the top of the inning, and at that point, the game was halted, with the Curve ahead 11-1. The game will resume at 1:30 pm on Sunday, and the regularly scheduled game will follow, but that game will be only 7 innings long. Hope the Curve didn’t use up all their hits in those first three innings.
Sunday action with the Pirates’ lower minor leaguers:
Portland Sea Dogs 12, Altoona Curve 4
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The Sea Dogs posted 17 hits on their way to 12 runs, scoring in three big innings. They began with 3 runs in the top of the 1st off Curve starter Aaron Pribanic, who suffered the loss. A walk, two singles, and two doubles brought in the runs in the 1st. Portland added a run in the 2nd on a single, two stolen bases, a fielding error, and an RBI ground out. Pribanic retired the side in order in the next two innings, but gave up one more run in the 5th on three singles. Pribanic gave up the 5 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks, with 4 strikeouts. He threw 90 pitches with 61 strikes.
The Curve were held to 6 hits, and three of them belonged to C Kris Watts, including a solo homer. SS Jordy Mercer had 2 hits, both solo home runs. CF Starling Marte’s double was the other run. Watts singled and 3B Jeremy Farrell was hit by a pitch in th 2nd inning, but both were left on base. Mercer put the Curve onto the scoreboard with his first home run in the 4th, and Watts also singled after the homer.
Aaron Thompson pitched a scoreless 6th inning for the Curve, then Donnie Veal, who was just promoted from the Marauders, pitched the 7th. Veal gave up a solo homer to lead off the 7th, then gave up a single and a 2-run homer, giving Portland an 8-1 lead. Things got even worse in the 8th, with Diego Moreno on the mound. a single, a double, and a walk loaded the bases, then a grand slam raised Portland’s lead to 12-1.
Mercer’s second home run came in the bottom of the 8th, after Marte’s double. Watts picked up his third hit in the bottom of the 9th, a solo home run, but that was all the Curve could get.
The Power had an early game today, while the Curve and the Marauders are scheduled for the evening:
West Virginia Power 3, Hickory Crawdads 2
Three Power pitchers combined to hold Hickory to just 4 hits in the late-morning start. Colton Cain earned his 4th win of the season, going 6 innings and allowing 2 runs, only one of which was earned. He gave up 3 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 5 batters. Two of those 3 hits came in the top of the 1st — a lead-off single, then after two outs moved the runner to second base, another single when the batter beat out the throw on a grounder to third base. But Power 1B Justin Howard was paying attention, and he was able to throw from first base back to the plate, where C Elias Diaz tagged out the runner who had rounded third and was trying to score.
Three consecutive hits began the bottom of the 1st for the Power: singles by SS Drew Maggi and CF Mel Rojas, and an RBI double by RF Dan Grovatt, who drove in Maggi. DH Cole White brought in Rojas with an RBI ground out, to give the Power an early 2-1 lead.
Cain retired the side in order in the 2nd, then began the 3rd by giving up a double. A sacrifice bunt moved that runner to third base. The next batter was hit by a pitch, giving Hickory runners on the corners. Then a wild pitch by Cain and a throwing error on Diaz as he tried to retrieve the ball, let both base runners score, to tie the game.
The Power put runners on base over the next two innings, but base running problems eliminated the runners — picked off and caught stealing, and being caught off base on a fly out for a double play. 2B Andy Vasquez singled to lead off the 5th, and he too was doubled off first base when Maggi flied out. Rojas walked after Maggi was out, then Grovatt doubled for the second time in the game, and also drove in his second run, as Maggi gave the Power the lead.
Cain allowed only 2 walks over his last three innings of work. Vincent Payne made his first appearance for the Power this season, with 2 scoreless innings. He retired the side in order in the 7th, then gave up a walk in the 8th, but that runner was caught stealing. Zac Fuesser pitched the 9th. He gave up a single, but also picked the runner of first base, and was credited with his first Save.
The Power had only two base runners over the last 3 innings, when 3B Eric Avila walked and was erased in a double play, and a single by Grovatt, for his third hit of the game, in the 8th. Grovatt stole second base, but was left on base.
The Curve had another morning game today. The Marauders and the Power play on Thursday evening.
Bowie Baysox 4, Altoona Curve 2
Starter Aaron Pribanic struggled in this morning’s game, allowing 4 runs on 10 hits and a walk, with only one strikeout in 5 innings. He suffered his second loss of the season as the Curve lost the series with Bowie, 3 games to 1.
Pribanic had trouble right from the start, when the first Baysox batter of the game tripled into right field. He scored on a sacrifice fly. The Curve got the run back in the bottom of the 2nd inning on C Tony Sanchez’s solo home run.
The Baysox struck again in the top of the 3rd, opening the inning with back-to-back singles. A grounder to first erased the second runner and left Baysox on the corners. The runner on first stole second, and when Sanchez’s throw sailed into center field, the runner on third scored on the error. A walk to former Pirate farmhand C Steve Lerud and a single loaded the bases. Pribanic then gave up an RBI single to bring in the lead runner. A double play ended the rally, and Bowie had a 3-1 lead.
Pribanic gave up a single in the 4th, but left that runner on base. The 5th inning began with a double into right field. Lerud followed with an RBI single, to boost Bowie’s lead to 4-1. Another double play helped Pribanic get out of the 5th.
After that, the Curve bullpen shut down the Baysox. Matt McSwain pitched 3 scoreless innings of relief, working around a single in the 6th and another in the 7th. He retired the side in order in the 8th. Noah Krol pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 9th.
Unfortunately, after scoring in the 2nd inning, the Curve batters were also shut down for most of the rest of the game. 2B Brock Holt had singled and stole second base in the 1st inning, then moved to third base on a throwing error by Lerud. Holt was left standing there on third base when the inning ended. SS Shelby Ford singled in the 5th but was erased in a double play. RF Jose Hernandez also singled in the 5th. CF Starling Marte led off the 6th with a double, and he also doubled in the 8th inning, but both times he was left stranded.
The Curve rallied again in the bottom of the 9th. DH Eric Fryer led off with a walk, and 3B Jeremy Farrell singled. A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position, and Fryer scored on a sacrifice fly. The game ended with a strikeout, before the rally could gain any more momentum.