Wins In The Lower Minors

Wins all around for the rest of the Pirates’ minor leaguers: 

Altoona Curve  10,  Erie Seawolves  7

(box score)

Three home runs and a 4-run 2nd inning sparked the Curve to their second win of the season on Sunday afternoon.  The scoring got started in the top of the 1st, when 2B opened the game with a single, moved to third on CF Starling Marte’s double, and scored on SS Jordy Mercer’s RBI ground out.  The Curve made it 5-1 with 4 more runs in the 2nd.  DH Eric Fryer led off with a walk, but was forced out at second on RF Jose Hernandez’s grounder, though they avoided the double play.  Holt singled, then stole second base, giving the Curve two runners in scoring position.  Hernandez scored on Marte’s RBI ground out, Mercer drove in Holt with a double, and C Tony Sanchez followed with his first homer of the season, driving in Mercer as well.  

The Curve tacked on another run in each of the next two innings.  3B Jeremy Farrell reached base on a throwing error in the 3rd, and scored on Hernandez’s double.  Marte led off the 4th with a solo home run.  They took a break for two innings, then Farrell added his 2-run homer in the 7th, bringing in Sanchez, who had singled.  Altoona’s final run came in the top of the 9th, with a two-out double by LF Quincy Latimore, an intentional walk by Farrell, and an RBI single by Fryer.
Holt had 3 hits in the game, raising his average to .400.  Marte (.375), Sanchez (.300), and Farrell (.313) each had 2 hits.

Jared Hughes made the start for the Curve.  He pitched 4 innings, and allowed 3 runs.  A double and a single gave Erie one run in the 2nd inning, then a walk, a double, and two ground outs scored two runs in the 3rd.  Mike Colla relieved Hughes to begin the 5th.  A hit batter and a triple gave the Sea Wolves one run in the 6th, but Colla kept Erie from scoring in his other two innings.  Anthony Claggett pitched the 8th inning and gave up two home runs — a solo homer to open the inning, then a 2-run homer after a single.  Noah Krol took the 9th, and loaded the bases with a walk and two singles, but got out of the jam with a strikeout and a game-ending double play.  Colla earned the win, and Krol earned the Save.  

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Two Hits Each For Latimore, Snyder, Rubinstein, And Power

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.  

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2011 Prospect Watching: Miller, Lorin, McPherson, And Welker

Moving on up the chain, looking at the Pirates’ pitching prospects.  There are a big pile of pitchers who seem to “belong” at A level West Virginia this season, and there is just not going to be enough room for everyone.  Some will have to go to State College, some might spend some time in extended spring training, some might get a bump up to A+ Bradenton, and some might even be released.  Today we’ll look at some pitchers who could begin the season in Bradenton.

Quinton Miller  –  R/R,  6′ 1″,  185 lb
Miller was chosen by the Pirates in the 20th round of the 2008 draft.  He made two solid starts at State College, then 12 more starts for West Virginia in 2009.  He finished the season with a combined 2-4 record and a 4.41 ERA.  He had 28 walks in 63.1 innings, and 44 strikeouts.  Miller was promoted to West Virginia to begin 2010.  His threw 5 scoreless innings in his first start, but his second start was halted after one inning, due to what turned out to be biceps tendonitis.  After more than 2 months on the DL, he made one appearance (2 scoreless innings) for the GCL Pirates and started 4 games for State College.  He returned to West Virginia at the end of July and made 8 more starts, but struggled.  In his first start back, Miller didn’t get through the first inning, allowing 7 runs on 6 hits.  His next outing was better, with 5 scoreless innings and 4 hits.  Then another tough outing, when he gave up 4 runs in 5.2 innings. Then back to another good outing — 2 unearned runs on 4 hits in 7 innings.  Miller continued on alternating tougher and better outings.   He finished the season with a 3-6 record and a 5.13 ERA in West Virginia.  In 47.1 innings, he gave up 59 hits and 15 walks and 30 strikeouts.  The 21-year-old Miller has been healthy in spring training and needs to stay healthy for 2011.  He should be ready for Bradenton, where he should keep working on his changeup and slider, and keep the walks down.

Brett Lorin –   R/R, 6′ 7″,  245 lb
Lorin came to the Pirates in July 2009, in the Jack Wilson/Ian Snell trade.  He had been pitching at the A level for Seattle, and stepped into the starting rotation at A West Virginia, where he earned a 1.57 ERA and 3-1 record in 7 starts (34.1 innings) for the Power.  He was ready for a promotion to Bradenton to begin 2010, but a hip injury kept him from starting the season on time.  Lorin was ready for 3 rehab starts for the GCL Pirates by early July (1 run on 2 hits in 7 innings).  He returned to West Virginia at the end of July, and first made three relief appearances for the Power.  In 5 innings of relief, he allowed 3 hits and 1 run, while striking out 7.  The rest of Lorin’s outings were starts, and he had a little more trouble.  He had two starts (August 5th and Sept 6th) when he did not allow any runs, in a combined 9 innings, but in all the rest of his starts, he gave up at least 2 earned runs.  For those 9 starts, Lorin earned a 1-3 record and a5.70 ERA, with 47 hits and 23 earned runs in 36.1 innings.  He walked 9 and struck out 25 batters.  Lorin will turn 24 this week.  He could begin the 2010 season in West Virginia, or move up to Bradenton.  

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Curve and Marauders Both Fall To Big Innings

Harrisburg Senators� 10,� Altoona Curve� 5 ….������ (box)

Two 5-run innings gave the Senators the advantage over the Curve in the first game of their Eastern League playoff series.

The Curve jumped out to the early lead in the bottom of the 1st.� 2B Chase d’Arnaud led off with a walk, and 3B Josh Harrison followed by blasting a home run over the left-center field wall, to give the Curve a 2-0 lead before they even had recorded an out.� Two outs later, LF Andrew Lambo reached base on a fielding error by the Senators’ 2B Steve Lombardozzi.� C Hector Gimenez worked a walk, and RF Miles Durham singled into left field to bring in Lambo from second base, and the Curve had a 3-0 lead.

It didn’t last long, as the Senators sent 10 batters to the plate and scored 5 runs in the top of the 2nd.� Curve starter Rudy Owens had worked around a walk to Lombardozzi in the 1st inning, but got into trouble quickly in the 2nd.� A walk and a single began the inning, then a grounder to the diving 1B Matt Hague produced a force out at second base.� A double into right-center field brought in both base runners, and the Senators had made it a one-run game, 3-2.� A bunt attempt by the Senators’ pitcher, Tom Milone, went right to Owens on the mound, and he turned it into a fielder’s choice out at third, leaving Milone on first base.� But Lombardozzi walked again, then a single loaded the bases.� Owens had two outs with those bases loaded, and he got an 0-2 on the next batter — and another single drove in two more runs, and the Senators had the lead.� That sent Owens to the showers after just 1.2 innings.� Jared Hughes came out of the bullpen, and he loaded the bases again by walking the first batter he faced.� A passed ball by Gimenez allowed the runner in from third base (unearned run, charged to Owens), and when a ground out ended the inning, the Senators had a 5-3 lead.

Milone had the Curve bats under control for the next 6 innings.� D’Arnaud doubled in the 2nd inning, but was left on base when three other Curve batters struck out.� Hughes reached base in the 4th on a fielding error, but was also left stranded. � Durham singled in the 6th, but was also left on base.� Harrisburg’s reliever Hassan Pena pitched the 7th inning, and he also retired the Curve in order.

Hughes did even better than Milone over his next 3 innings — he retired those 9 Harrisburg batters in order.� Bryan Morris was next out of the bullpen.� He retired the side in order in the 6th, and worked his way out of a jam in the 7th.� That inning began with a single, then Lombardozzi reached on fielding error, when his grounder bounced off 3B Harrison’s glove.� With two on and none out (instead of one on and one out), Morris got a strikeout.� Another single loaded the bases, then Morris ended the inning with a three-pitch strikeout and a blazing line drive that went straight to Harrison’s glove.

Mike Dubee took the mound for the Curve to begin the 8th inning, and he found trouble quickly.� Back-to-back singles opened the inning, then Dubee got a strikeout.� An RBI single followed, then Lombardozzi drove a liner down the right field line and into the bullpen, plating the second run of the inning.� An intentional walk loaded the bases, and a grounder to third yielded a force out at third, but Harrison’s throw to first rolled away from 1B Hague, and instead of an inning-ending double play, two more runs scored and the inning continued.� Another single dropped in, in short left field, to drive in the fifth run of the inning.� Craig Hansen relieved Dubee, and he got the pitcher Pena to fly out to end the inning.

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Losses All Around

Losses for all of the Pirates’ affiliates on Friday night:

Reading Phillies� 9,� Altoona Curve� 4 …������� (box)

The R-Phils attacked Curve starter Jared Hughes early, and the Curve bats could not keep up.� Hughes retired the side in order in the 1st inning, but gave up 3 unearned runs on a walk, a single, and two errors in the 2nd inning — the throwing error was by Hughes.� A walk, a double, and a single added 2 more runs in the 3rd inning.� In the 4th inning, Hughes gave up another 3 runs on two singles, a triple, and a double by former Indy Indian Tagg Bozied.� Hughes was done after those 4 innings, having allowed 8 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits and 2 walks, though he struck out 6 batters.

The Curve hitters were hitless in the first 4 innings.� The only batter to get on base was CF Anthony Norman, who reached in the 3rd on Bozied’s fielding error at first.� Two home runs, one by C Kris Watts in the 5th, and one by 2B Chase d’Arnaud in the 6th, got the Indians onto the scoreboard, but they were still trailing 8-2.

Each team scored in the 7th.� Tom Boleska had relieved Hughes to begin the 5th inning, and he retired the first 7 batters he faced in order.� Then in the 7th, he walked Bozied, then gave up a single and a double, allowing Bozied to score.� In the bottom of the frame, 1B Matt Hague led off with a single, then scored on singles by Watts and Norman, to make it 9-3.� The Curve added one more run in the bottom of the 9th, when SS Jordy Mercer, Hague, and RF Miles Durham led off the inning with three consecutive singles to load the bases.� Watts’ sacrifice fly plated Mercer, but two ground outs ended the inning without any further scoring.� Bryan Morris pitched two perfect innings to wrap it up for the Curve.

The Curve have won the Eastern League’s Western Division title, and will begin the first round of playoffs on Wednesday.� None of the other playoff slots have been settled yet.� The Bowie Baysox and the Harrisburg Senators are tied for second place in the Western Division.� The Trenton Thunder are in first place in the Eastern Division, with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats 2.5 games behind, with 3 games left to play.

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