Hughes Shines In Curve Win; Farrell Homers Again

Altoona Curve �6, �Harrisburg Senators 1 (box)

Starter Jared Hughes earned his first win of the season with 5 solid innings of work for the Curve tonight. �Hughes retired the first 11 Senators he faced, before giving up a solo home run to CF Leonard Davis in the 4th inning. �That was the only run he would allow. �Hughes allowed a single after the home run, but left that runner stranded. �In the 5th, the first three Senators reached base on three consecutive singles. �But Hughes calmly struck out the next two batters, then got a force out at second base to end the inning without a run scoring.

The Curve got onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the 3rd inning. �With two outs, CF Gorkys Hernandez and SS Chase d’Arnaud hit back-to-back singles. �3B Jordy Mercer followed with a line drive into left field for a 2-RBI double. �Hernandez and d’Arnaud contributed to the Curve’s 3-run 4th inning also. �C Hector Gimenez opened the inning with a single, and advanced to third base when CF Davis misplayed the ball. �A walk to 2B Josh Harrison put runners on the corners for 1B Matt Hague. �Hague’s sacrifice fly plated Gimenez. �LF Alex Presley and Hernandez both singled, with Hernandez’s bringing in Harrison. �D’Arnaud added a double to bring Presley home with the third run of the inning, giving the Curve a 5-1 lead. �Mercer scored the final Curve run in the 7th, when he led off with a single and stole second base. �He advanced to third base on a ground out, then scored on Harrison’s RBI single up the middle.

The Curve bullpen wrapped up the game with four scoreless innings. �Tony Watson pitched the 6th and 7th innings, giving up only one walk, while striking out 2 batters. �Dustin Molleken pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 8th. �Jeff Sues loaded the bases with two outs on two walks and a single in the 9th inning, but got the necessary grounder to short to end the inning without a run scoring.

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Prospect Watching: Gorkys Hernandez

Continuing to look at the prospects — another outfielder today:

Gorkys Hernandez came to the Pirates from the Braves’ organization. �The Venezuelan native came to the US in the Tigers’ organization, and hit very well in his two seasons with them: �.327 for the GCL Tigers, and .293 for A level West Michigan. �He was traded to the Braves, and played at their A+ level Myrtle Beach affiliate in 2008, hitting .264, with 23 doubles, 5 homers, and 42 RBI. �Though he had stolen 54 bases at the A level in 2007, he did not do much stealing in 2008 — just 20 steals and 4 times caught stealing. �The drop was thought to be due to a hamstring injury. �Hernandez was moved up to the AA level (Mississippi) to begin the 2009 season. �In 52 games, he hit .316 with 11 doubles and 19 RBI. �He stole bases at about the same rate (10) and struck out at a little higher rate than in 2008 (54 K’s). �In early June, the outfielder was traded to the Pirates in the deal that sent Nate McLouth to the Braves. �Hernandez was assigned to AA Altoona, but his success in the Southern League did not translate well into the Eastern League. �He hit .244 over 24 games for the rest of June, with just 4 RBI and just 2 stolen bases. �He also struck out 19 times in 24 games. �In July he showed a little more power: �.243 with 2 home runs and 13 RBI, three stolen bases, but a whopping 25 strikeouts in 28 games. �Hernandez’s average climbed a bit in August/September, when he hit .285 over 34 games. �He contributed 14 RBI, but still struck out at a high rate — 32 K’s. �That gave him a .262 average for his time with the Curve, with 14 doubles, 2 triples, 3 homers, and 31 RBI. �He stole a total of 9 bases but was caught 8 times. �He also walked 24 times and struck out 76 times. �In the field, Hernandez made 4 errors while with the Curve, but he has good speed in the field and has a strong throwing arm. �There was also some concern about attitude issues when a couple of incidents occurred on the field, but after those two incidents, nothing more happened. �It may have been a matter of a 21-year-old getting used to a new place and new coaching staff. �Hernandez was added to the Pirates’ 40-man roster at the end of the season, and he’s reported to spring training with the major league club. �He got into 8 Grapefruit League games with the Pirates, and went 2-for-10 at the plate, with a walk and 4 strikeouts. �In the first round of cuts, Hernandez was optioned back to Altoona, where he’ll begin the 2010 season. �He’ll need to be working on that strikeout rate, and the Pirates would like to see him show more power. �It would be interesting to have him stealing more bases too.

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Indy Indians Begin Minor League Games With A Win

The Minor League portion of the Grapefruit League began today, and the Indianapolis Indians kicked off their spring training games with a win. �Visiting in Clearwater, Florida, the Indians beat the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Philadelphia) by a score of 3-0.

CF Gorkys Hernandez opened the game with a triple, and SS Brian Friday followed with a 2-run home run to give the Indians a 2-0 lead before the Iron Pigs could even catch their breaths. �The Tribe scored again in the 4th inning, when C Tony Sanchez led off with a double, and 1B Matt Hague brought him in with an RBI single.

On the mound, five Indians’ pitchers combined to shut out the Iron Pigs and hold them to 3 hits. �Starter Virgil Vasquez pitched 4 innings and allowed 2 hits, while striking out 4 batters. �Vasquez earned the win, and reliever Jeff Sues earned the save with a scoreless inning, allowing 2 walks.

Meanwhile, back in Bradenton, the Pirates lost to the Tigers, 6 – 3. � (box)

The Pirates scored in the second inning, when 1B Bobby Crosby led off with a walk, then scored on RF Ryan Church’s double. �3B Andy LaRoche lined out, but it was deep enough to let Church move up to third base. �He scored when Tigers’ starter Nate Robertson committed a balk. �In the 7th, with one out, 3B Pedro Alvarez doubled into center field. �LF Jose Tabata singled, and CF John Raynor plated Alvarez with a single off the glove of the Tigers’ shortstop.

Starter Kevin Hart did not help himself in his bid to join the Pirates’ starting rotation. �He pitched to 12 batters over 1.2 innings, walked 6 of them, hit one of them, and gave up a hit. �He was lucky to escape allowing only one run. �Jeff Karstens got a ground out to finish the 2nd inning, then pitched a 1-2-3 third inning. �DJ Carrasco and Brendan Donnelly each gave up 2 runs in one inning of work, and Vinnie Chulk gave up another run in his inning. �Steven Jackson allowed 2 hits but no runs; Evan Meek and Anthony Claggett both retired the side in order in one inning of work.

Also getting into the game: �2B Gift Ngoepe came in to play second base and did fine; he had a foul pop out in his only trip to the plate. �PH/DH Neil Walker had a line-drive single to lead off the 8th inning, but did not score. �C Erik Kratz went 0-for-1 with a walk. �1B Steve Pearce, RF Jon Van Every, and SS Doug Bernier also got into the game.

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