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.
Tonight it’s the Bradenton Marauders who have a scheduled night off….
Altoona Curve 10, Erie SeaWolves 5
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The Curve posted 13 hits, with CF Starling Marte leading the barrage with 3 of them. The Curve jumped out to a 6-0 lead with 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st and 4 more in the 2nd. 2B Brock Holt opened the bottom of the 1st with a double into center field. Marte’s ground out moved Holt to third base, and he scored on SS Jordy Mercer’s single into left field. Mercer advanced to second base on a ground out by LF Quincy Latimore, and he scored on 1B Matt Curry’s RBI single.
The 2nd inning began with a walk by C Tony Sanchez, followed by a ground-rule double by DH Kris Watts. Both runners held their place on a short fly out and a strike out, then Marte singled, driving in Sanchez. Marte stole second base, and the Erie pitcher threw a wild pitch, allowing Watts to score. A 2-run homer by Mercer brought in Marte and gave the Curve the 6-0 lead.
Erie got two of the runs back in the top of the 3rd off starter Jeff Locke. A single and a hit batter gave the SeaWolves 2 runners on base with 2 outs. The lead runner came in on a fielding error by Mercer, then a single plated the second unearned run of the inning. A double, a fielding error by Latimore, and a sacrifice fly gave Erie a third run in the 4th inning.
The Curve kept adding on. Watts blasted a solo homer in the 3rd. In the 5th, Curry doubled, then scored on Sanchez’s line drive single into center field, and the Curve led 8-3. Sanchez also stole second base and went to third on a throwing error, but was left there when Watts struck out.
Locke pitched 6 innings and allowed 3 runs (1 earned) on 6 hits, no walks, while striking out 8 batters. Tim Alderson came on in relief to begin the 7th, but he got into trouble right away. With one out, he gave up a single and three consecutive walks, driving in a run. Michael Dubee replaced Alderson, and he got the next batter to ground out, but that brought in another run, also charged to Alderson. Dubee ended the inning with a strikeout. Dubee also pitched a scoreless 8th inning, allowing 2 singles. Noah Krol pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th.
Altoona rallied one more time in the bottom of the 8th. With one out, Watts was hit by a pitch, and RF Brad Chalk ripped a triple into right field, easily scoring Watts. Chalk scored on Holt’s RBI single, and Marte also added a single — his third of the game.
The Altoona Curve had a scheduled day off on Monday, but the Power and the Marauders were in action.
Delmarva Shorebirds 10, West Virginia Power 7
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A 6-run offensive blast by the Power was enough to tie the score, but not enough for the win. Delmarva got the game started with a 3-run homer off Zack Von Rosenberg in the top of the 1st, after a double and a single. Von Rosenberg put runners on base in the next two innings but did not let them come around to score. A walk and a 2-run homer increased the Shorebirds’ lead to 5-0 with one out in the 4th. A single and a walk followed that homer, and Von Rosenberg was relieved by Porfirio Lopez. Lopez finished the 4th, but gave up two more runs in the 5th on a single, a walk, a balk, another single, and a fielding error by SS Drew Maggi.
The Power led off each of the first four innings with a hit: singles by Maggi (1st), 1B Chase Lyles (2nd), and 3B Eric Avila (3rd), and a double by LF Dan Grovatt (4th). Grovatt was the only one who scored, on RF Justin Howard’s RBI single. The Power went into the bottom of the 5th trailing 7-1, and that’s when the fireworks started. With one out, Avila walked, Maggi doubled, and 2B Kevin Mort walked, to load the bases. Grovatt tapped back to the mound, where the Shorebirds’ pitcher thought he could get a force out at the plate. Instead, he made a fielding error, and Avila scored. A wild pitch brought in Maggi, then Howard walked to load the bases again. Lyles’ RBI single into center field plated Mort with the third run of the inning. C Kawika Emsley-Pai was hit by a pitch, forcing in Grovatt, and after a pitching change, DH Elias Diaz brought in both Howard and Lyles with a 2-RBI single, to tie the score at 7-7. After a fly out, Avila’s second walk of the inning loaded the bases again, but a ground out by Maggi ended the inning.
Zac Fuesser took over on the mound for the 6th, which was scoreless (for both teams). The top of the 7th began with a missed catch error by Lyles at first. Fuesser’s balk pushed that runner to second base, and a bunt advanced him to third. He scored on an RBI double, then a walk, two singles, and a fielding error by RF Howard added two more runs.
Casey Sadler pitched the 8th inning for the Power. He gave up a double and hit a batter, but got out of the inning without a run scoring. The Power put two runner on in the 7th, when Lyles and Diaz both walked, but a double play and a fly out ended that inning. They threatened again in the bottom of the 9th. Grovatt singled, but was erased in a double play. Then Lyles walked and Emsley-Pai and Diaz singled to load the bases, but a strikeout ended the game.
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.
Moving across the infield to look at some of the third basemen in the Pirates’ organization:
Chase Lyles – R/R, 6′ 2″, 210 lb
Lyles was chosen by the Pirates in the 32nd round of the 2010 draft. He reported to State College, where he played third base and DH-ed (plus one game at shortstop). Lyles started on a tear, hitting .327 with 2 homers and 11 RBI in 13 games in June. He dropped off in July though, with a .204 average but two more homers and another 13 RBI. August was a little better, at .217, another 2 homers, and 9 RBI in 14 games. Lyles did have a nice last week of the season, going 5-for-17 (.294). All that combined to give him a .241 average with 6 homers and 33 RBI for the season. Lyles struck out 34 times and walked 24 times, neither really high or really low. The 24-year-old should be able to move up to West Virginia for 2011. He’s even a little bit older for that level — he’s going to need to show the Pirates some improvement this season so that he can keep moving up.
Eric Avila – R/R, 6′ 1″, 165 lb
The 20-year-old Dominican has been in the Pirates’ organization for four years, with three of those spent in the Dominican Summer League. By his third season there, he’d boosted his batting average to .315 with 9 homers, though he was getting older for that league. Avila made his US debut with the GCL Pirates in 2010, where he played for the whole season. In 54 games, he hit a solid .277 and showed some power: 15 doubles, a triple, 7 homers, and 29 RBI. Those 7 homers put him into a tie for the GCL home run leader, and he was also tied for second in the league in doubles. His average tailed off a bit in August, when he dropped to a .239 average, though he still drove in 10 runs and had 2 homers. Avila played all but two of his games last season at third base, but he has played some short and second base in the DSL. Avila could be placed at either State College or West Virginia for 2011. Lyles and Kelson Brown (who is listed as a shortstop, but also played third last year) will probably have priority at West Virginia, so that might squeeze Avila to State College.