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.
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.
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.