All of the Pirates’ minor league affiliates lost their season openers on Thursday night:
Erie SeaWolves 3, Altoona Curve 2
One run in the bottom of the 9th made the difference, as the Curve lost in Erie, PA. The SeaWolves were first onto the scoreboard with a pair of runs in the 5th inning. Curve starter Bryan Morris had already escaped from two jams in the early innings. In the 2nd, RF Brad Chalk threw out a runner who was trying to stretch a double into a triple, then Chalk ended the inning when he threw to C Tony Sanchez to nail a runner who was trying to score from second base on a single. Morris loaded the bases in the 4th with a single and two walks, but a timely double play, 3B Jeremy Farrell to 2B Brock Holt, to 1B Miles Durham, ended that inning without a run scoring. Morris’ luck ran out in the 5th, though, when a walk and a 2-run homer gave Erie a 2-0 lead.
The Curve missed a scoring opportunity in the top of the 2nd, when Sanchez singled into left field, and LF Quincy Latimore lined a double just out of the reach of the Erie left fielder. But with runners on second and third, Erie starter Jacob Turner struck out both Farrell and DH Eric Fryer to end the inning. Turner allowed only two base runners for the next 4 innings — he walked Holt, and he hit Sanchez with a pitch. (Sanchez has got to stop being a magnet for opposing pitchers’ pitches.) After Turner left the game, the Curve were able to put men on base again. Farrell singled and Fryer walked in the 7th, though they didn’t score. The 8th inning began with back-to-back walks to Holt and CF Starling Marte. SS Jordy Mercer bunted them over to second and third, then another walk to Sanchez loaded the bases. Latimore came through again, with another double off the left field wall, missing a grand slam by inches, to plate both Holt and Marte and tie the game at 2-2.
Reliever Anthony Claggett finished the 5th inning for Morris with a strikeout and a pickoff of one of the runners Morris had put on base. Aaron Pribanic and Jared Hughes each pitched a perfect inning, with one strikeout for Pribanic and two for Hughes. Michael Dubee struck out the side in the 8th inning to preserve the tie. The Curve batters could not get anything going in the top of the 9th, though, and Dubee came back out to pitch the bottom of the 9th. With one out, a single and a stolen base put a runner in scoring position, and a ground out moved him to third base. Then a sinking line drive, just inches away from the diving Latimore’s glove, fell in for a hit, scoring the runner from third base for the walk-off win.
Dubee was charged with the loss. Morris got a no-decision, with 2 runs on 4 hits and 5 walks, plus 3 strikeouts, in 4.1 innings. The Curve had just 4 hits, two of them doubles by Latimore.
Not exactly prospects, but we have a few more Pirates’ pitchers to look at:
Brian Burres — L/L, 6′ 1″, 165 lb
Burres, who will turn 30 years old this week, was the Giants’ 31st round pick in the 2000 draft. He pitched for 5 years in their organization, then three years in the Orioles’ organization, making his major league debut in Baltimore in September 2006. He was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays and pitched for them in 2009, then was signed by the Pirates for the 2010 season. He was initially assigned to AAA Indianapolis to begin the 2010 season, but at the last minute was called back to Pittsburgh, due to injuries. He made 7 starts and 3 relief appearances for the Pirates over April and May. In the relief spots, he allowed 4 runs on 6 hits in 6.2 innings. He had a couple of good starts, going 5.1 and 7 scoreless innings, but also had some tough starts, allowing 6 runs and 5 runs in two 6-inning starts. He allowed 22 runs on 38 hits in 35 innings, for a 5.66 ERA. Burres was sent to Indianapolis at the beginning of June, and remained there until the end of August, pitching in the starting rotation. July was his best month, when he earned a 3.96 ERA and two wins, allowing 16 earned runs on 29 hits in 36.1 innings. Overall, for his time at AAA, Burres had a 5-4 record and a 4.50 ERA, with 41 earned runs on 75 hits in 82 innings. His walk and strikeout rates were just ok, with 34 walks (3.7 walks/ 9 innings) and 61 strikeouts (6.7 K/ 9 innings). He did have one start, on June 12th, when he struck out 8 batters in 5.2 innings. Burres returned to the Pirates at the end of August, and finished the season there, first making 4 generally difficult relief appearances, then 6 starts. Those 6 starts were his best pitching of the season, as he allowed 12 earned runs on 31 hits in 34.2 innings, for a 3.12 ERA. He walked batters at about the same rate for the Pirates (3.9 walks/ 9 innings) and struck out fewer than in AAA (5.1 K/ 9 innings). Burres was non-tendered by the Pirates at the end of 2010, but was soon signed to a minor league contract. He was invited to spring training, but was reassigned to minor league camp. He will begin the 2011 season in the Indians’ starting rotation.
Anthony Claggett — Bats: Both / Throws: Right; 6′ 3″, 195 lb
Claggett was a waiver claim by the Pirates in September 2009, coming from the Yankees, who obtained him in a trade with the Tigers. He pitched in only one game for the Pirates at the end of the 2009 season (one run on 2 hits in one inning). In 2010, Claggett began the season at AAA, where he pitched entirely in relief. He struggled in April, allowing 9 runs in 13 innings (6.23 ERA), but had his best month in May, when he allowed just 6 runs on 9 hits in 17.2 innings/ 9 appearances (3.06 ERA). Unfortunately, he had some tough outings in June, as his ERA soared to 6.60 for the month. In early July, Claggett was sent to AA Altoona, where he made 12 relief appearances over about 7 weeks. There he gave up 5 runs on 15 hits in 15 innings, for a 3.00 ERA, and those 5 runs came in just two appearances. In his last 7 games for the Curve, he did not allow a run in 10 innings. That earned him a trip back to Indianapolis, where he finished the season. He pitched well in his first three games back in Indy, throwing 3.1 scoreless innings. Then he allowed 12 runs in 4.2 innings over his next three appearances, until he finished with one scoreless inning in the last game of the season. His final stats at Indianapolis: 3-1 record and one save, with a 6.26 ERA, 38 runs and 55 hits in 54.2 innings. Claggett’s strikeout rate was decent: 7.2 K/ 9 innings in Indianapolis and 7.8 K/ 9 innings in Altoona; but his walk rate was up: 3.6 walks / 9 innings in Indy and 3.0 walks/ 9 innings in Altoona. Claggett was removed from the 40-man roster again over the winter, but cleared waivers and signed a minor league contract for 2011, though he was not invited to major league camp. The 25-year-old might have been back at AAA, but seems to have been squeezed out by all of the other pitchers who did not make the Opening Day roster, so he will begin 2011 at Altoona.
Twins 4, Pirates 3
The Pirates finished their Grapefruit League action with an 11-20 record, as they now head north to Pennsylvania, where they will play 2 games against the Philliies in Philadelphia. Reliever Anthony Claggett suffered a Blown Save and the Loss, as he gave up 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th for the Twins’ walk-off win.
The Pirates were leading 3-2 going into the bottom of the 9th. Claggett walked the first batter, then the next hitter lifted a fly ball to center field, which sailed over CF Starling Marte’s head and caromed off the wall for a triple. That brought in the tying run. After a strikeout, the next batter ricocheted a soft liner off Claggett’s lower leg. The ball landed over toward third base, where 3B Josh Rodroguez raced in to make the scoop, but his throw to the plate was not in time for C Jason Jaramillo to tag the runner on third, and the winning run scored.
LF Jose Tabata got the game started with a double into left field to open the top of the 1st. 2B Neil Walker bunted Tabata to third, and CF Andrew McCutchen brought him in with a sacrifice fly. Walker started the Pirates’ 4th inning rally with a lead-off single into center field. 1B Steve Pearce doubled into center, plating Walker, and RF Matt Diaz’s single brought in Pearce. The Pirates had only two baserunners after the 4th inning — Jaramillo singled in the 8th, and Pearce walked in the 9th.
Jeff Karstens made the start, scattering three singles and a walk over the first four innings. With two outs in the 5th, Karstens got Twins’ Denard Span to ground to short, but a wild pitch by SS Ronny Cedeno resulted in a single and a throwing error, and Span positioned on second base. Another single brought Span across the plate with an unearned run. Garrett Olson finished the inning for Karstens, then pitched a scoreless 6th inning. Mike Crotta surrendered his second earned run of the spring, with a walk and a double in the 7th inning. Chris Resop pitched the 8th inning, and kept the Twins from scoring despite a single and a walk.
Also getting into the game: 2B Brian Friday and SS Jordy Mercer
The Pirates traded infielder Josh Fields to the Rockies this afternoon, for a player to be named later or cash. Fields was in Pirates’ camp as a non-roster invitee, minor league free agent. He had been sent to the minor league camp at the end of last week. In 21 Grapefruit League games, he went 5-for-29, and struck out 11 times.
Josh Rodriguez, the Pirates’ Rule 5 pick from last December, has made the 25-man roster. He will have to stay on the major league roster all season, or else go through waivers and be offered back to the Cleveland Indians. Rodriguez will be a back-up infielder and a bat off the bench. That means that Pedro Ciriaco will be heading back to Indianapolis to begin the season.
C Chris Snyder will begin the season on the Disabled List. That leaves Ryan Doumit and Jason Jaramillo to share catching duties for now, and leaves open a spot for OF John Bowker on the 25-man roster.
Former Pirate RHP Nate Adcock, who was chosen by the Royals in the Rule 5 draft, has won a spot on the Royals’ 25-man roster. Like Rodriguez, if he doesn’t stick with the Royals, he’ll have to go through waivers and be offered back to the Pirates. Adcock pitched for A+ Bradenton in 2010, earning an 11-7 record and a 3.38 ERA. In 141.1 innings, he allowed 131 hits, 53 earned runs, 38 walks, and struck out 113. If he comes back to the Pirates, he would likely be assigned to AA Altoona.
The Indy Indians faced off against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in Clearwater, Florida this afternoon…. no results available at this point.
Iron Pigs 6, Indians 5
The Indianapolis Indians ended their 4-game spring training winning streak with a loss today to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. Pirates’ Ronny Cedeno came to minor league camp to DH in the game and posted 3 hits for the Tribe. OF Andrew Lambo singled and tripled for the Indians, and his triple in the 4th inning brought in one run. The score was tied at 4-4 going into the top of the 9th, with reliever Tom Boleska on the mound for the Indians. He gave up 3 hits, including an RBI single by former Pirate Brandon Moss, plus a sacrifice fly, to give the Iron Pigs a 6-4 lead. The Indians got within one run when INF Jim Negrych got on and was brought across the plate by INF Josh Harrison’s RBI single. Lambo’s single loaded the bases with one out. But a double play ended the inning and the game with the Indians unable to catch up.
Twins 4, Pirates 1
Newest Pirate LHP Garrett Olson made his debut with his new team this afternoon, as the Pirates lost to the Twins in Bradenton. Olson came on in relief to pitch the 8th inning, and retired the side in order with a pop out, a fly out, and a ground out.
Paul Maholm made the start for the Pirates. He pitched 6 innings and gave up 9 hits and 2 walks, but allowed only 2 runs. With two outs in the 3rd, Maholm gave up a single, then made a throwing error on a pick-off attempt, which put the runner into scoring position. A single by C Joe Mauer brought in the run. The second run scored in the 5th, when a double, a single, and a walk loaded the bases. A grounder to short started a double play, but the runner from third still scored.
Jose Veras pitched a scoreless 7th inning for the Indians, allowing just a double. Anthony Claggett took the 9th, and he gave up the remaining two Twins’ runs. A walk and a single put runners on the corners, then a ground out plated the first run. A fielding error by SS Pedro Ciriaco allowed the runner from second base to come around and score.
The Pirates’ only run scored in the 2nd inning, and was unearned. A fielding error on a force attempt gave the Pirates runners on first and second. C Jason Jaramillo lined a single into center field for the RBI, as RF Matt Diaz scored from second base.
The Pirates had just 6 hits in the game, including one by LF Steve Pearce. That gives Pearce 9 hits over his last 9 games (9-for-19, .474), and a .308 average overall. LF John Bowker and C Dusty Brown also singled. CF Corey Wimberly, 2B Shelby Ford, 1B Josh Fields, pinch-hitter Starling Marte, and 3B Andy Marte all got into the game.
The Pirates have a day off on Tuesday.
Indianapolis Indians 7, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees 2
The Indians had both the pitching and the hitting tuned up this afternoon as they defeated the Yankees at Bradenton. SS Jordy Mercer, 2B Josh Harrison, and C Eric Fryer each drove in two runs. The scoring started when Harrison tripled in the 3rd inning, when 3 runs came in. Mercer blasted a solo homer, then Fryer’s 2-run double was the gem of the 8th inning, as 3 more runs scored. Starter Justin Wilson pitched 3 scoreless innings, with 4 strikeouts, to earn the win. The Yankees scored their 2 runs in the 5th, with reliever Jared Hughes on the mound. Hughes pitched 2 innings and also struck out 3 batters. Tony Watson pitched 2 scoreless innings (3 K), and Anthony Claggett (2 K) and Ramon Aguero each pitched a scoreless frame.
Pirates 7, Red Sox 5
A 5-run 4th inning put the Pirates well on their way to a win this afternoon at Bradenton. The rally began when 2B Neil Walker reached base on a fielding error and CF Andrew McCutchen walked. 1B Lyle Overbay lifted a double into left field, which brought in both Walker and McCutchen. 3B Pedro Alvarez grounded to third, where Overbay was out, leaving Alvarez on first. RF Matt Diaz lined a single up the middle, and C Dusty Brown loaded the bases on an infield grounder that bounced off Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett. With two outs, Pirates’ starter Kevin Correia slipped a grounder into left field, driving in Alvarez and Diaz. When the throw in to the plate was not in time to get Diaz, the Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia tried to throw back to third to surprise Brown. The real surprise was when Saltalamacchia’s throw sailed into left field, allowing Brown to score and Correia to move up to third. LF John Bowker gave the Pirates 2 more insurance runs with a homer in the 7th inning. Correia also singled in the 3rd inning but was out in a force play at second.
2B Pedro Ciriaco doubled after Bowker’s homer in the 7th. CF Corey Wimberly, RF Josh Fields, and SS Josh Rodriguez got into the game. Steve Pearce played a few innings at third base as well.
Correia pitched 5 innings in his start. He gave up two singles in the top of the 1st and one in the 2nd, but double plays got him out of both innings. He zipped through the 3rd and 4th innings, then gave up 3 runs in the 5th. A walk, a single, and a sacrifice fly brought in the first run. Two more singles added a second run, then a throwing error by Walker at second and a sacrifice fly added an unearned run. Joel Hanrahan pitched a scoreless 6th, with 2 strikeouts. Then Justin Thomas allowed a run to score in the 7th on a run, a double, and a wild pitch. Fernando Nieve pitched the final two innings and earned the save even though he gave up a run on a double, a walk, and a single in the 9th.