Three wins for the Pirates’ lower minor league teams on Tuesday:
Altoona Curve 2, Akron Aeros 0
Starter Bryan Morris threw 6 shutout innings to lead the Curve over the Aeros in Akron. Morris scattered 4 hits and a walk, while striking out 3 for his first win of the season. The only real trouble he had was in the bottom of the 1st, when rehabbing Grady Sizemore began the inning with a walk. After two grounder force outs, a single, Akron had runners on first and second. A single lined into center field had the runner from second charging for home, but CF Starling Marte fired in to C Eric Fryer, who tagged out the runner at the plate. Morris sailed through his remaining 5 innings, allowing just two more hits — singles in the 2nd and the 5th. Brian Leach, Michael Dubee, and Noah Krol each pitched one scoreless inning of relief. Leach and Dubee each allowed one walk, but Dubee struck out the other three batters he faced. Krol earned his second Save of the season.
Both of the Curve’s runs scored in the 3rd inning. 3B Jeremy Farrell began the rally by being hit by a pitch. Fryer singled, and RF Jose Hernandez sacrifice bunted both runners into scoring position. 2B Brock Holt grounded to first, but a fielding error let him reach safely and gave Farrell the chance to score. An RBI grounder by Marte brougth in Fryer with the second run. Marte stole second base and moved to third on a wild pitch, but the inning ended before he could come around to score.
Marte singled after Holt walked in the 5th inning, and both Farrell and Fryer singled in the 7th, but neither of those threats yielded any runs. Farrell lined into right field in the 9th, and rounded second easily, but was thrown out when he tried to stretch it into a triple. He would have scored if he’d stopped at second, because Fryer followed with his own double. Fryer was 3-for-4 in the game, and Farrell went 2-for-3.
A win, a loss, and a rainout in the rest of the Pirates’ minor league organization on Friday evening. The rainout was in West Virginia, where the Power were getting soggy. They will play a double header on Saturday.
Bradenton Marauders 13, Charlotte Stone Crabs 0
And a shutout win, at that. The Marauders blasted 13 runs on 13 hits, while the pitching staff held Charlotte scoreless on 6 hits. The scoring began in the bottom of the 1st, when CF Evan Chambers walked and rehabbing major league catcher Chris Snyder homered over the left field wall. LF David Rubinstein got the fun started in the 2nd inning with a line drive single into right field. A single by 1B Cole White and a walk to SS Benji Gonzalez loaded the bases, then another walk to RF Robbie Grossman forced in Rubinstein. 2B Jarek Cunningham drove in White and Gonzalez with a double, and Grossman scored on Chambers’ sacrifice fly. Snyder added a single, to drive in Cunningham with the 5th run of the inning. Walks to DH Calvin Anderson and Rubinstein loaded the bases again, but a ground out ended the rally.
Rubinstein also began the Marauders’ rally in the 5th. Three consecutive singles, by Rubinstein, White, and 3B Elevys Gonzalez, loaded the bases without an out. Benji Gonzalez’s ground out brought in Rubinstein, and a single by Grossman plated both White and Elevys Gonzalez. A walk to Cunningham and a single by Chambers loaded the bases again. That set up Snyder, who cleared the bases with a double into deep center field, and gave the Marauders 6 runs in that inning, for a 13-run lead. Rubinstein’s third single plus walks to both Gonzalez-es loaded the bases again in the 8th, but a strikeout ended that inning with all three still on base.
The Marauders’ pitching staff was having as much fun as the hitters. Joe Beimel, also on a rehab assignment, pitched the first inning, and retired the side in order on three ground outs. After Beimel’s inning, Matt McSwain came on to pitch. He allowed only one single in his first 3 innings, and retired that runner with a double play. He allowed two singles to lead off the 5th inning, but another double play got him out of that small jam. McSwain finished his outing with 5 scoreless innings, three hits, no walks, and no strikeouts, earning the win. Jeff Inman pitched 2 scoreless innings, allowing just 2 hits, and Gabriel Alvarado also allowed a hit and a walk in the final inning.
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.
The minor league spring training games began today, with the Indy Indians facing off against the Las Vegas 51′s in Dunedin. Info about the minor league games tends to be sketchy at best, and often non-existent, but this evening we got some info:
51′s 5, Indians 2 – Rudy Owens got the start in the Indians’ first game. He pitched 3 innings and allowed 2 runs on 6 hits, no walks, with 3 strikeouts. The runs came in the 3rd, with former Indy Indian (2005-06) Craig Stansberry contributing to the rally. The Indians scored one of their runs in the top of the 1st, on three consecutive hits by CF Gorkys Hernandez, SS Chase d’Arnaud, and 1B Matt Hague (RBI). Stansberry picked up another RBI in Las Vegas’ 3-run 7th inning.
Meanwhile, back to the middle infielders:
Brock Holt — Bats L / Throws R; 5′ 10″, 165 lbsHolt was the Pirates’ 9th round pick in the 2009 draft. He can play both second base and shortstop, and did both at State College in 2009, though more at short. He also hit well for the Spikes, with a .299 average, 6 homers, and 33 RBI in 66 games. The Pirates thought well enough of him to have him begin 2010 at A+ Bradenton (skipping A level West Virginia). It was a good move, at least offensively, as Holt got off to a roaring start — he hit .383 in April, .310 in May, and was 9-for-18 in June. His defense was a little shaky. Holt made 14 errors in 47 games at shortstop. Then in early June, Holt collided with teammate Adenson Chourio during a game and tore the median collateral ligament in his knee. It was a “compound” tear, so it took longer than the average time to heal, and Holt missed the entire rest of the season. He has said that his rehab time went well, and he was ready to go when spring training began. Holt could begin the 2011 season back with Bradenton if the Pirates feel he needs more work on defense at that level, but his hitting in 2010 seems to indicate that he’d be ready for AA Altoona. The 23-year-old Holt has said that he’s equally comfortable at second base and shortstop and that he has no particular preference for either one.
Saturday’s games for the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates
Williamsburg Crosscutters �5, �State College Spikes �3 (box)
A full house sell-out in State College went home disappointed tonight, as the Spikes lost their home opener. �The Crosscutters scored 2 runs off starter Zack Dodson in the 2nd inning, on a walk, a single, a double, and a sacrifice fly. �Dodson gave up only one other hit in 3 more innings of work, and erased that runner with a double play.
The Spikes tied the score with a run in the bottom of the 2nd and another run in the 3rd. �A walk to 1B Gerlis Rodriguez open the inning. �A single by DH Kelson Brown, and a fielding error on CF Justin Bencsko’s ball to first base loaded the bases for the Spikes. �C Miguel Mendez drove in Rodriguez with an RBI ground out. �Another fielding error put SS Walker Gourley on second base to begin the 3rd. �He scored on 3B Chase Lyles’ line drive single into left field.
Mitch Fienemann took over from Dodson to begin the 4th. �After getting two outs, He gave up a single, a stolen base, and an RBI single to take a 3-2 lead. �The Spikes tied it up again in the bottom of the inning, on a double by Mendez, a passed ball, and a single by LF Melvin De La Cruz.
But the Crosscutters kept hammering at Fienemann, scoring a run in the 7th on two singles and a double, and another run in the 8th on four singles. �Sandobal Septimo finished the 8th for Fienemann, then pitched a scoreless 9th, despite giving up a double and a single.
Chase Lyles had two singles for the Spikes, and Justin Bencsko also had a single. �The Spikes collected 6 hits, while the Crosscutters posted 14 hits.