Wednesday evening with the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates:
West Virginia Power 7, Hagerstown Suns 1…… suspended in the 2nd inning
Jameson Taillon made his pro debut tonight in West Virginia, but Mother Nature made it shorter than might have been planned. Taillon’s first pitch was a strike, and the first batter singled to short. He got a ground out, which moved the runner to second, then he walked the other phenom in the game — Suns’ RF Bryce Harper. A double lined to right field brought in the lead runner and put Harper on third base. Harper walked the next batter to load the bases, but a grounder to SS Drew Maggi started a double play, and Taillon was out of the inning, with only one run in.
Maggi began the bottom of the inning with a walk, and a passed ball put him on second base. 2B Gift Ngoepe reached base on a throwing error, giving the Power runners on the corners. DH Matt Curry’s single up the middle plated Maggi. 1B Justin Howard moved both the runners into scoring position with a grounder to second, and RF Dan Grovatt brought both in with a double lined into left field.
With rain falling, Taillon returned to the mound for the second inning. He gave up a lead-off single, then got two consecutive force outs at second base. A fly out ended that inning, giving Taillon one run on 3 hits and 2 walks over 2 innings, with no strikeouts.
The Power added to their lead with 4 more runs in the 2nd. LF Andy Vasquez and Maggi began the frame with back-to-back walks, and both scored on Curry’s double. Howard brought in Curry with a 2-run homer over the right field wall. The Suns brought in a new pitcher, who gave up a walk to Gravatt and a double to CF Mel Rojas. That’s when the rain got crazy, and the game was delayed, then suspended. The two teams will try to resume the game tomorrow at 6 pm, and that will be followed by a 7-inning game.
Losses all around in the Pirates’ minor league organization:
Augusta Green Jackets 5, West Virginia Power 3
A 4-run 2nd inning by Augusta had the Power trying to catch up for most of the game. With Zack Dodson getting the start, Augusta scored on two singles, a throwing error by 3B Eric Avila, a 2 RBI triple, and an RBI ground out. Only two of the runs were earned. Dodson retired the side in two other innings, and walked two batters in the 4th. The Power posted 8 hits (to Augusta’s 5 hits), and put runners on base in each of their first four innings but could not bring any of them around to score. The top of the 5th began with back-to-back singles by LF Rogelios Noris and SS Gift Ngoepe. 2B Drew Maggi dropped down a sacrifice bunt, but a missed catch error by the Augusta first baseman put Maggi safe on first, moved Ngoepe to third, and allowed Noris to score. Ngoepe scored on an RBI ground out.
Dodson was relieved by Brooks Pounders to begin the bottom of the 5th. Pounders surrendered another unearned run, on two singles, a passed ball, and a wild pitch in the 5th. He retired the side in order in both the 7th and 8th innings. Ryan Beckman retired the side in order in the 8th inning.
The Power continued to put runners on base in each inning, and they scored again in the 8th. RF Dan Grovatt walked, moved to second base on a ground out, and scored on DH Justin Howard’s line drive single into left field. Ngoepe also singled in the 3rd inning. CF Mel Rojas singled three times: in the 1st, the 3rd, and the 7th. He also stole second base in the 1st.
Altoona Curve 2, Richmond Flying Squirrels 0
The Altoona Curve put on a pitching demonstration in their home opener, as four pitchers combined for a shut-out and held the Squirrels to just 3 hits. Aaron Thompson made the start, and he dominated Richmond. Thompson retired the first 10 batters he faced. He gave up a walk in the 4th inning, but left that runner on base. He gave up a triple to lead off the 5th, but a grounder to third let 3B Jeremy Farrell fire the ball back to C Tony Sanchez, who tagged out the runner at the plate. Thompson had to work around a single and a fielding error in the 6th, but after a sacrifice bunt, two timely strikeouts got him out of that jam. Thompson also struck out 5 batters in his second win of the season.
The Curve posted 8 hits, and 3 of those were singles by RF Brad Chalk, who had been off to a slow start for the season (1-for-16). He singled in the 3rd, the 6th, and the 8th, though he didn’t score. Altoona scored their first run in the 4th, when Sanchez led off with a walk, then scored all the way from first base on 1B Miles Durham’s double into center field. SS Jordy Mercer belted a home run over the left field wall in the 5th inning for the Curve’s second run. That was all the offense that was needed. The Curve put two runners on base in the 6th, when Chalk singled and pinch-hitter Kris Watts was hit by a pitch, but both were left on base. They threatened in the 7th, when CF Starling Marte led off with a single into right field and stole second base. He moved to third on a ground out, and tried for home when Sanchez grounded to third, but was thrown out at the plate on a play similar to what the Curve did to the Squirrels in the 5th. Sanchez and LF Quincy Latimore also had singles in the game.
Mike Colla, Michael Dubee, and Noah Krol each pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the Curve. Krol allowed one hit in the 9th, but left that base runner on, and earned his 3rd Save.
It’s like they said in the movie “Bull Durham”: some days you win, some days you lose, some days it rains. Again on Saturday, the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates experienced all three.
It rained again in West Virginia. The Power and the Savannah Sand Gnats will try for a double header again on Sunday. As best as I can tell, Friday’s game has been “cancelled” and won’t be made up.
Altoona Curve 6, Erie SeaWolves 2
The Curve finally put one in the win column, as they out-hit the SeaWolves 14 – 3 on Saturday afternoon. All but one member of the starting line-up had at least one hit, and while C Eric Fryer didn’t smack a hit, he contributed two walks and scored a run. CF Starling Marte, who had been hitless in the Curve’s first two games, led the onslaught with 4 hits — 3 singles and a double. 2B Brock Holt, DH Kris Watts, and 3B Jeremy Farrell all had two hits, and Holt and Farrell each drove in two runs.
Erie scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the 1st, on an infield single by the first batter of the game, followed by a bunt and a balk by starter Aaron Thompson, and an RBI ground out. Thompson settled in after that, and did not allow another run nor another hit. He walked one and struck out two in his 6 innings of work.
The Curve tied the game in the 3rd inning. Fryer walked, then came around to score on a wild pitch. They took the lead in the 6th, when Marte doubled. SS Jordy Mercer singled, driving in Marte. Watts also singled, and he scored moments later when Farrell singled. RF Brad Chalk added another run in the 7th — he tripled, then came across the plate on Holt’s RBI single. The Curve rallied again in the 8th, for two more insurance runs. Watts started with his second single. Farrell brought him home with a double, and Holt followed up with an RBI single to plate Farrell.
Reliever Brian Leach pitched a scoreless 7th inning and began the 8th, allowing a single. Michael Dubee took over for Leach, but the runner scored on an RBI single. Dubee also pitched a perfect 9th, earning his first save. Thompson earned the win.
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.