Pirates’ Pitchers Busy In Winter Leagues; Morton’s Debut

Wednesday’s winter league games with Pirates’ players and friends…

VENZUELAN LEAGUE

Bravos de Margarita� 6,� Leones del Caracas� 4 — Margarita starter Justin Thomas gave up 2 runs in the 2nd inning on a walk and a home run.� He zipped through the 3rd inning, then allowed a single and a walk in the 4th before being relieved, though both of those runners were left stranded.� Caracas scored 2 more runs in the 5th on three walks, a single, and an error.� Los Bravos had been scoreless for the first 4 innings, then exploded for 6 runs in the bottom of the 5th.� 3B Andy LaRoche followed a lead-off single with an RBI double.� Three consecutive walks by a new Caracas pitcher forced in LaRoche with the second run of the inning, leaving the bases loaded.� Another new Caracas pitcher was greeted by LF Frank Diaz’s grand slam, to give Margarita a 6-4 lead.� Former Pirate farmhand Ronald Belisario pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th to earn the save.

Navegantes del Magallanes� 2,� Cardinales de Lara� 1 — Los Cardenales were held to just 4 hits in this game, while Los Navegantes posted 11 hits.� Magallanes scored their first run in the 3rd inning, on an RBI single by 1B Mark Trumbo (Angels).� Their starter Anthony Lerew (Royals) pitched 6 innings and allowed the 4 hits, one of which was a solo home run in the 6th inning, to tie the score and make Lerew ineligible for the win.� Corey Hamman came on in relief, and pitched a perfect 7th inning.� Jean Machi followed with a perfect 8th, and Yoel Hernandez retired the side in order in the 9th.� In the top of the 8th, DH Mike Ryan broke the tie with a solo home run, which became the game-winner.� That gave Hamman the win and Hernandez his 2nd save.� Ryan went 3-for-4 in the game, raising his batting average to .389.� SS Argenis Diaz went 1-for-4 for Magallanes.

Caribes de Anzoategui� 3,� Tigres de Aragua� 2� –� Brian Bass gave up 2 runs on 2 hits in his start for Los Tigres, and he was lucky that it wasn’t more runs, because he walked 5 batters.� He gave a free pass to 2 batters in each of the 1st and 2nd innings, and both times left them on base.� In the 3rd, he gave up a 2-out walk, and the next batter smacked a 2-run homer.� He gave up a single in the 5th, and was relieved after getting a ground out.� Aragua tied the game in the 5th inning when former Indy Indian LF Jorge Cortes walked, then a hit batter and a ground out pushed Cortes to third.� he scored on an RBI single.� The score remained tied until the bottom of the 10th, when Los Caribes got a lead-off single.� Adenson Chourio came in as a pinch-runner, and he stole second base.� A walk-off double plated Chourio with the winning run.� 1B Hector Gimenez singled and walked twice for Los Tigres, and C Raul Chavez singled and walked, but neither scored.

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE

Criollos de Caguas� 2,� Senadores de San Juan 1 — San Juan scored one run in the top of the 1st on a walk, a stolen base, an error, and an RBI ground out.� Then they had only 4 hits for the rest of the game.� Caguas tied the score in the 5th inning on a walk, a single, and an RBI single by former Indy Indian SS Luis Figueroa.� A solo home run by DH Omir Santos gave Los Criollos the winning run in the 7th inning.� Figueroa had 2 more hits in the game — a double to lead off the bottom of the 1st inning, and a single after the homer in the 7th.� 3B Ramon Vazquez singled twice in the game, in the 6th and the 8th innings.

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Bass And Thomas Pitch Well In Venezuela

Pirates’ players and friends in action in the winter leagues on Wednesday…

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE

Tigres de Aragua� 5,� Aguilas de Zulia� 3� –� Brian Bass pitched 6 shutout innings, allowing only 2 hits for Aragua tonight.� He did not walk anyone, and he struck out 6 batters.� Bass retired the first 10 batters he faced, then with one out in the 4th, gave up a double and a single.� Thanks to some heads-up play by LF Brandon Guyer and C Raul Chavez, the runner who had singled was tagged out at second base, leaving a runner on third.� Bass got a ground out to end that inning.� He hit a batter in the 5th, but Chavez threw him out trying to steal second base, and Bass retired the side again in the 6th.

Unfortunately, Bass did not get the win.� Los Tigres were also held scoreless for the first 6 innings.� They scored one run in the top of the 7th, with Bass still the pitcher of record, on a walk, a single, a wild pitch, and an RBI ground out.� But in the bottom of the 7th, with Jeff Farnsworth taking over for Bass, Zulia scored 3 runs.� Aragua came right back in the top of the 8th.� Guyer singled, and scored from first base on DH Hector Gimenez’s double.� Gimenez went to third on a ground out, then scored on an RBI single.� A 2-run homer by CF Jamie Hoffman gave the lead and the win to Aragua.

Bravos de Margarita� 7,� Navegantes del Magallanes 3 � — Justin Thomas made the start for Margarita, though he lasted only into the 4th inning and was not eligible for the win.� Thomas gave up singles to the first two batters he faced, then got a double play and a strikeout to end the inning.� He faced only 7 batters over the next two innings, surrendering only one hit, to his Indy Indians’ teammate SS Argenis Diaz. Thomas got into trouble in the bottom of the 4th, opening the inning by allowing 3 straight singles, including one to former Pirate/Indian DH Mike Ryan, for a run.� That was the only run Los Navegantes scored until the bottom of the 9th, when a walk and another single by Diaz put runners on the corners.� Diaz moved to second base on defensive indifference, and both runners scored on another single.� It was too little too late, though.� Los Bravos scored 3 runs in the top of the 1st, on four singles, a walk to 3B Andy LaRoche, and a sacrifice fly.� Margarita scored one more run in the 5th, and LaRoche’s RBI double gave them another run in the 5th.� A single, a double, and a sacrifice fly gave Los Bravos two more insurance runs in the top of the 9th.

MEXICAN LEAGUE

Venados de Mazatlan� 8,� Aguilas de Mexicali� 3� — RF Rogelios Noris had 2 hits, a single and a double, raising his average to .273.� Noris was the only member of Los Venados’ lineup to not come to the plate in their 3-run 1st inning.�� They scored after two outs had been recorded, on a walk, a single, a hit batter, then two RBI singles.� Mexicali scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the 3rd, then one more run in the 6th.� In the top of the 5th, Mazatlan added two runs on a double, a triple, and an RBI triple by the hometown favorite Noris.� 1B Robert Saucedo added a 2-run homer in the 8th, followed by another run on a single and a double.� Noris singled in the 7th, but was out at second base on a double play.

Yaquis de Obregon� 3,� Naranjeros de Hermosillo� 0� — Former Pirate CF Jeff Salazar’s batting average dropped to .379, since he had just one hit in 4 at-bats.� He singled to lead off the game, but was left on base.� Obregon scored 2 runs in the 2nd and one more in the 3rd inning.� They held Hermosillo to just 4 hits in the shut-out.� Former Pirate C Humberto Cota went 0-for-4.

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Bass Makes A Venezuelan Start

Just one game in the Mexican Pacific League last night:

Naranjeros de Hermosillo 19, Aguilas de Mexicali 1 — Los Naranjeros did it all on 16 hits, including 2 from former Pirate Humberto Cota, who was playing first base.� Hermosillo scored 11 runs in the 5th inning. They sent 15 batters to the plate, and had 6 singles and 5 walks.� There was one wild pitch and only 2 of Mexicali’s errors occurred in that inning.

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE:

Navegantes del Magallanes� 6,� Bravos de Margarita� 0 — 3B Andy LaRoche had one of Los Bravos 5 hits, and that was a double off fellow Pirate Corey Hamman, who pitched the bottom of the 9th for Los Navegantes.� After a two-out walk in the bottom of the 1st, the next 15 Margarita batters went down in order.� The closest they came to scoring was in the 6th when they loaded the bases on a single, a double, and a walk, but could not score.� LaRoche reached as far as third base in the 9th, when Hamman also gave up a single, but LaRoche was left on base when Hamman ended the inning and the game with a ground out.� Los Navegantes scored one run in the top of the 1st on former Pirate LF Mike Ryan’s RBI single.� Ryan also singled in the 2nd, when Magallanes added another 3 runs.� A solo homer gave them another run in the 3rd, and they scored again in the 7th.� Pirate farmhand Jhonathan Ramos pitched the 8th inning for Margarita, and he struck out three Navegantes in order.� Ramos was followed by former Pirate farmhand RHP Yoffri Martinez, who was a little wild (two walks and two wild pitches) but did not give up a hit or a run in the top of the 9th.

Tigres de Aragua� 9,� Caribes de Anzoategui� 2 — Brian Bass struck out 8 batters in 3.2 innings for Los Tigres and allowed one run on 5 hits and a walk.� He worked around the lead-off walk in the 1st, and a single in the 2nd, then two singles in the 3rd, while striking out two batters in each of those innings.� He gave up another single and struck out two more in the 4th before being relieved.� DH Raul Chavez singled in Aragua’s 3-run 3rd inning.� He singled again, and 1B Hector Gimenez walked and scored in the 3-run 6th inning.� Gimenez also singled and scored in the 2-run 7th inning, and Los Tigres scored again in the 8th.� Former Pirate farmhand C Miguel Perez was 0-for-3 at the plate for Aragua.� Gabriel Alvarado pitched to three batters for Los Caribes in that 6th inning.� He gave up a single (which drove in Gimenez), then threw a wild pitch on strike three, which let another run came in, then got the ground out that ended the inning.� Adenson Chourio had a pinch-hit appearance in the top of the 9th.� He grounded into a force out, but was safe at first, then he stole second base.

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Fall and Winter League Rosters

The Arizona Fall League begins play today, with seven Pirates’ farmhands on the roster for the Mesa Solar Sox.� Players from the Los Angeles Angels, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago Cubs, and the New York Mets will round out the Solar Sox’ roster. � Pitchers Brian Leach, Aaron Pribanic, and Justin Wilson are all participating, and all are expected to pitch in relief, as other pitchers have the priority for starting roles.� Team USA’s Justin De Fratus (Phillies) is also on the roster, so he must be planning to join the Solar Sox later in the week after the Pan Am tournament wraps up.

Behind the plate, look for C Tony Sanchez, who is trying to make up time after missing much of the regular season due to a fractured jaw.� Sanchez has also been asked by MLB to keep a blog of his experiences in the Arizona Fall League.� (He hasn’t started it yet — stay tuned.)� Phillies’ pitcher Josh Zeid and Angels pitcher Ryan Brasier, both slated as starters for the Solar Sox, have also been asked to write blogs.

Altoona infielders Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer will be sharing some infield time with six other infielders, including Josh Vitters of the Cubs.� Their Curve teammate Andrew Lambo will be sharing outfield duties with four other outfielders, including Phillies’ John Mayberry.

Mexican Pacific League

Los Venados de Mazatlan is the hometown team of OF Rogelios Noris. He got in a little playing time last year as a rookie, and was a bit of a surprise, with some home runs and some very good pinch-hit appearances. The 21-year-old hit .236 with the West Virginia Power during the 2010 season.

Also listed on one Mazatlan roster (but not all) is LHP Jovany Lopez. Lopez is a 19 year old from Los Mochis, who has spent two seasons with the Pirates Venezuelan Summer League team.� This season, he made 18 relief appearances (27.2 innings) and had a 5-0 record with a 3.90 ERA.� He gave up 30 hits and 12 earned runs, but allowed only 5 walks and struck out 21.

Three former Pirates are also playing in the Mexican Pacific League:� Inf/Of Yurendell de Caster is with Los Algodoneros de Guasave, C Humberto Cota is on the roster of Los Naranjeros de Hermosillo, and OF Jeff Salazar will be in center field for Los Yaquis de Obregon.

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Rain Postpones Eastern League Playoffs

Tonight’s game Eastern League playoff game between the Altoona Curve and the Trenton Thunder was postponed due to rain.� After waiting for about 35 minutes past the scheduled start time, with no end in sight to the rain, the game was called.� Luckily for the starting pitchers, this means that neither of them got burned by getting all warmed up and starting, then only getting in an inning or two before having to stop.� Justin Wilson will make the start tomorrow, and Game 4 will be played on Saturday.� If a Game 5 is needed, that will be played on Sunday.

In the International League playoffs…. Durham avoided being sent home with a 3-2 win over Columbus.� With the game tied at 2-2 going into the bottom of the 9th, the Clippers helped the Bulls load the bases with a walk, a single, and an intentional walk, with no outs.� A sacrifice fly brought in the winning run.� The Clippers lead the best-of-5 series, 2 games to 1.

The Pirates lost to the Mets, 6-2, and a few recent Indy Indians got into the game.� John Bowker again got the start in right field.� He had an RBI single in the 2nd inning, bringing in the Pirates’ first run of the game.� Alex Presley led off the 7th inning with a pinch-hit single, He dropped down a bunt on the first pitch he saw, and by the time the Mets’ catcher Josh Thole could get to it, the speedy Presley was already crossing first base.� Steven Jackson took the mound to begin the 8th, but after one out, he gave up a single and a walk, then got a ground out that moved both runners into scoring position.� Justin Thomas relieved Jackson, and he gave up a 2-RBI double to Angel Pagan.� Jackson was charged with both runs.

RHP Brian Bass, who was DFA’ed this week, has cleared waivers.� He accepted an assignment to AAA Indianapolis, but it’s a paper move as he will be a minor league free agent when the season ends.

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