Bixler Returns; Krol Saves #21

IMG_3495The Pittsburgh Pirates have reaquired infielder Brian Bixler (photo) from the Cleveland Indians’ organization.� Bixler, who was originally drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 2004 draft, played in the Pirates’ organization for all of his career until he was traded to Cleveland in January 2010 for infielder Jesus Brito. Bixler did not make the Cleveland major league team out of spring training, and he was removed from their 40-man roster.� He has been playing for AAA Columbus, and has appeared in several games against the Indy Indians.� For the Clippers, the 27-year-old Ohio native has been hitting .278 with 13 doubles, one triple, 3 homers, and 27 RBI.� That’s about the same average but with a little less power than he showed with the Indy Indians in 2009.� Bixler has not been able to take his AAA level success up to the major league level.� In a total of 68 games with the Pirates, Bixler hit .178 with 7 doubles, one triple, and 5 RBI, and struck out 62 times.� Bixler will join the Indy Indians after the All-Star break.

The Indy Indians are off for their All-Star break.� The AAA All-Star game will be played on Wednesday in Lehigh Valley.� The game will not be on ESPN2 as in past years, but will be televised on the MLB network.� It will also be on-line on milb.com.�� More Monday action in the Pirates’ minor league organization:

Richmond Flying Squirrels� 6,� Altoona Curve� 3….. suspended (box)

They got into the 4th inning before rain halted play in Altoona this afternoon.� The Curve got busy in the bottom of the 1st, with a double by 3B Shelby Ford, and an RBI single by 2B Jordy Mercer. Mercer stole second, then went to third on walks to C Kris Watts and LF Brandon Jones. RF Miles Durham drove in both Mercer and Watts with a line drive single into left field.� Durham also stole second, but was left there when the inning ended.

Starter Tim Alderson retired the side in the top of the 1st, but struggled after that.� The Squirrels came right back in the top of the 2nd to tie the score.� The inning began with three consecutive singles, which brought in one run.� A throwing error by 1B Matt Hague loaded the bases, and another single drove in two more runs.� A sacrifice bunt moved two runners into scoring position — and provided the first out of the inning.� A hit batter loaded the bases again, but an infield fly rule pop out and a grounder force out ended the inning.� The second inning did not go any better.� A double, a walk, and a double opened the inning, bringing in 2 runs.� After two ground outs, another double drove in the Squirrels’ 6th run.� Alderson was relieved by Dustin Molleken to begin the top of the 4th, and Molleken retired the side in order.

The Curve went down in order in the 2nd.� Mercer and Watts both singled in the 3rd, though neither scored.� The bottom of the 4th began with a walk to Durham and a single by CF Anthony Norman, moving Durham to third.� Molleken’s sacrifice bunt moved Norman to second base, and that’s how things stood when play was halted.� The game will be resumed on August 26th.

After the game, Alderson was reassigned to A+ Bradenton.� He had made 17 starts for the Curve, and in 86.2 innings, Alderson had allowed 105 hits and 54 earned runs (5.30 ERA).� He had 26 walks and 57 strikeouts, and batters hit .307 against him. His record:� 7-5.

Jeff Locke is being promoted from Bradenton to Altoona — a pitcher swap.� Locke has a 9-3 record with the Marauders.� He also has 17 starts, for 86.1 innings, allowing 82 hits and 42 earned runs (3.54 ERA).� Locke has walked 14 and struck out 83, and batters hit .248 against him.

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Baker Pitches 8 No-Hit Innings; Cayonez’s Perfect Afternoon

Lots of action in the Pirates’ lower minors on Tuesday, partly because of two double headers making up for the two postponements yesterday.

West Virginia Power �7, �Hagerstown Suns �3 (box)

Power starter Nate Baker pitched 8 no-hit innings tonight in Hagerstown, to earn his 6th win of the season. �He was not perfect, though. �After striking out the first two batters he faced, a batter reached base on a throwing error by SS Benji Gonzalez. A grounder force out ended the inning. �With one out in the 2nd inning, Baker hit a batter with a pitch, though he left that runner stranded on base. �From there, Baker retired the next 20 batters he faced, including 8 strikeouts. �Only three of those batters got the ball out of the infield.

Baker did not come out to pitch the 9th inning, probably due to pitch count. �Reliever Gabriel Alvarado took the 9th, and he was the victim of the Suns’ pent-up frustration and stifled hits. � Alvarado struck out the first batter of the inning, but then gave up a line-drive single, a triple, and a home run, as the Suns avoided both the no-hitter and the shut-out.

The Power batters provided Baker with plenty of run support, though not until the later innings. �C Ramon Cabrera had 3 hits and 2 RBI, while CF Evan Chambers, 2B Jarek Cunningham, and 1B Aaron Baker all had 2 hits. �The Power threatened in the 2nd inning, when Cabrera singled, Benji Gonzalez doubled, and Chambers walked, but a strikeout ended the inning. �They got going in the 6th inning, with a single by Aaron Baker, a walk to LF Jose Hernandez, and a 2-RBI triple by Cabrera. �DH Elevys Gonzalez followed with a double, scoring Cabrera, for a 3-0 lead. �They added another run in the 7th, when Chambers led off with a single and scored on Aaron Baker’s double.

Two walks, to 3B Jesus Brito and Cabrera, began the 8th inning, and a fielding error on Elevys Gonzalez’s sacrifice bunt loaded the bases for the Power. �Benji Gonzalez brought in Brito on a grounder force out, then Chambers doubled, scoring Cabrera. �Benji Gonzalez tried to score from first base, but he was thrown out at the plate. �Cunningham also singled, plating Chambers for the Power’s final run of the game.

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Marte Begins Rehab; Spikes’ Rookies Shine In Pro Debut

GCL Pirates 10, �GCL Yankees �1 (box)

The Pirates beat up on the Yankees this afternoon, and faced an old friend. �John Van Benschoten made a rehab start for the Yankees, and the Pirates did not treat him very nicely. �RF�Gregory Polanco singled and stole second base, and LF Exicardo Cayonez walked on Van Benschoten in the 1st inning, though he kept them from scoring. �3B Eric Avila began the 2nd inning with a solo homer off Van Benschoten, and C Joey Schoenfeld also walked.

Once Van Benschoten left (after 2 innings), the Pirates continued to pound at the Yankees. �They scored another run in the 3rd in two errors and an RBI single by Cayonez. �They added 3 more runs in the 4th. �After a walk to 1B Dylan Child, rehabbing CF Starling Marte, working his way back after hand surgery, singled. Child scored on 2B Jorge Bishop’s double, and Marte came in on a wild pitch. �Polanco’s RBI single brought in Bishop.

Colton Cain began the game by giving up one hit over his first two innings, then allowed a run on two singles and two walks in the 3rd inning. �He started the 4th inning and got two outs, then walked a batter, and was relieved by Yeyber Sanchez. Sanchez finished the 4th, then pitched a scoreless 5th, allowing two hits. �James Archibald made his pro debut with three ground outs in the 6th inning. �Bryce Weidman, Dovydas Neverauskas, and Fraylin Campos all added a scoreless inning for the Pirates.

The Pirates scored 2 more runs in the 7th. �Avila was hit by a pitch, then stole both second and third bases, and scored on DH�Luis Solano’s single. �A fielding error allowed Solano to score. �Back-to-back singles by Child and CF�Junior Sosa began the rally in the 9th. �two passed balls loaded the bases, and a ground out scored Child. �Cayonez doubled, driving in two more runs, to give the Pirates a total of 3 in the inning and 10 in the game.

Starling Marte went 2-for-4 for the day, with one run scored. �Cayonez was 3-for-5 with a double and 3 RBI, and Avila was 2-for-3 with 2 runs, a homer, and an RBI.

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Spikes’ Walk-Off Win; Welker Makes A+ Debut

Bradenton catcher Eric Fryer, who was hit in the face by a pitch on Thursday night, has broken facial bones around his eye. �That will require surgery to fix — get the bones properly aligned and stabilized. �He’s going to be out of action for at least several weeks and possibly for the rest of the season. �This is the same type of injury that Paul Maholm had years ago, though his injury occurred when he was hit in the face by a line drive while on the mound.

Friday night’s action:

State College Spikes �5, �Williamsport Crosscutters �4 (box)

Late inning rallies gave the Spikes the walk-off win over Williamsport. � The Spikes got on the scoreboard in the 3rd inning when C Matt Skirving singled and SS Gift Ngoepe blasted his first home run of the season, a 2-run homer. �Williamsport tied it up in the top of the 5th. �The first run, off starter Tyler Waldron, came on a double and a single. �A throwing error and a sacrifice fly brought in an unearned run to tie the score.

Waldron pitched 5 innings and allowed the two runs (one earned) on 6 hits, no walks, with 3 strikeouts. �He was relieved by Trent Stevenson, who pitched the next 3 innings. �He gave up a run in the 6th, on a single, a stolen base with a throwing error, and a double, to give the Crosscutters the go-ahead run. �The Spikes caught up and tied the score again in the bottom of the inning. �Singles by Ngoepe and LF Adalberto Santos and a walk to 3B Chase Lyles loaded the bases. �1B Gerlis Rodriguez drove in Ngoepe with a sacrifice fly.

Williamsport took the lead yet again in the top of the 7th with an unearned run. �A throwing error by Stevenson put the lead-off runner on base, and he scored on a triple. �Rodriguez tied it up again in the bottom of the 8th with a solo home run.

Justin Ennis took the mound for the Spikes for the 9th, and he mantained the tie with a scoreless inning, allowing only a walk while striking out two batters. �That gave the Spikes the chance in the bottom of the inning. �The first two Spikes’ batters struck out. �CF�Kyle Saukko kept the inning going with a line drive into left field for a single. �A passed ball put Saukko on second base. �Ngoepe worked a walk, and a wild pitch put both runners into scoring position. �2B Walker Gourley grounded towards first base, and when he was safe on a fielding error, Saukko scored to win the game.

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Alderson Gets The Win And A Homer; Welker Promoted

Roster moves: �Relief pitcher Duke Welker has been promoted from West Virginia to the Bradenton Marauders. �Welker had made 20 relief appearances for the Power, earning a 1-1 record and 5 saves, with a 3.63 ERA. �In 22.1 in innings, Welker gave up 16 hits, 14 runs (9 earned), with 24 walks and 25 strikeouts. �Opponents hit .198 against him.

The Pirates have signed INF�Yung Chi Chen to a minor league contract and assigned him to Altoona. �Chen had been playing for the AA Midland RockHounds (A’s), but was released in early June. �He had been hitting .168 for Midland, with 5 doubles and 9 RBI in 28 games. �The Taiwan native has been a member of the Taiwan National Team, and was signed by the Mariners in 2004. �He played for AAA Tacoma in 2007 for just a few games before being sidelined with a shoulder injury, and in 69 games in 2008, when he hit .249. �Chen was claimed off waivers by the A’s in late 2008. �He split the 2009 season between AAA Sacramento (where he hit .283 with one homer and 8 RBI in 27 games), AA Midland (.324 and 10 RBI in 17 games) and the Arizona League A’s (.346 with one homer and 8 RBI in 8 games). �Chen appeared in his first game for the Curve on June 30th, when he went 0-for3 with 2 strikeouts.

Thursday’s action:

Altoona Curve �7, �Reading Phillies �1 (box)

Tim Alderson earned his 7th win for the Curve, and he contributed to the offense too, with a 2-run homer. �It was not the first homer of Alderson’s career, though. �He hit one last year for the Curve and another, also last season, while pitching for Connecticut, while he was still in the Giants’ organization.

Alderson got into some trouble right away in the 1st inning, when he gave up what would turn out to be the R-Phils’ only run on a 2-out double and a single. �Then Alderson settled down, scattering a two more hits and two walks over the next 5 innings. �He retired the last 7 batters he faced in order.

After allowing that run in the bottom of the 1st, Alderson took care of the problem himself in the top of the 2nd. �LF Brandon Jones singled, and Alderson gave the Curve a 2-1 lead with his 2-run homer over the left field wall. �The Curve added 4 more runs in the 5th inning. �With one out, 2B Josh Harrison and 1B Matt Hague hit back-to-back singles. �3B Jordy Mercer’s grounder to first forced out Hague at second, but the R-Phils could not turn it into a double play to end the inning. �Instead, they gave C Hector Gimenez a chance, and he took it — a double into center field, scoring both Harrison from third and Mercer all the way from first. �Jones singled, bringing in Gimenez, and a fielding error in center field allowed Jones to advance to second base. �That gave him the opportunity to score on RF Miles Durham’s RBI single.

The next 11 Curve batters went down in order, until CF Gorkys Hernandez singled with one out in the 9th. �A passed ball let Hernandez move up to second base, and he scored on Hague’s RBI single. �Mercer also singled and Gimenez walked to load the bases, but a ground out ended the inning before the Curve could add to their run tally.

Derek Hankins earned his 3rd save for the Curve with 3 scoreless innings of work. �He gave up a walk and a single over those 3 innings, while striking out 2 batters.

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