Grand Slam By Baker Fires Up Marauders

Happy Easter!

The Altoona Curve and the West Virginia Power have scheduled days off today.

Bradenton Marauders  6, Palm Beach Cardinals  3
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1B Aaron Baker gave the Marauders a boost with his grand slam in the 1st inning, and Jason Erickson won his first game of the season.  
 
Starter Quinton Miller began the game with two outs, then gave up a double and a single, to give the Cardinals one run.  The Marauders thundered back with 6 runs in the bottom of the frame, as the first 6 batters reached base before an out was recorded.  RF Robbie Grossman led off with a walk, then went to third when 2B Adalberto Santos doubled.  CF Evan Chambers walked to load the bases and set up Baker, who blasted a grand slam over the right field wall.  DH Calvin Anderson followed the home run with a single, then he advanced to third on C Ramon Cabrera’s double.  After a ground out and a strikeout, SS Benji Gonzalez sent the Palm Beach starter to the showers with a 2-RBI single.  Grossman singled also, but a pop out ended the inning with the Marauders ahead 6-1. 

Then it started raining…. and the game was delayed for more than 2 hours.  When they did get back to business, Erickson took over on the mound for Miller.  Erickson pitched 4 innings, and had trouble in only one, the 4th.  He gave up a single, a double, a single, and a double, to give the Cardinals 2 runs.  With two runners in scoring position, Erickson maintained his composure to strike out the next two batters and get out of the inning.  Diego Moreno pitched the next two innings for Bradenton, allowing a walk and a wild pitch.  He also had a runner reach base due to a throwing error by Gonzalez, but erased that runner with a double play.  Ryan Beckman took the final two innings, and earned his 2nd save of the season, as he retired all 6 batters he faced, including a pair of strikeouts.

Baker did not stop hitting after the 1st inning, though the Marauders did not score again in the game.  He singled in the 2nd, and Anderson doubled behind him, but Baker was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice play.  LF David Rubinstein reached on a fielding error at short, loading the bases, but a ground out ended the inning without a run scoring.  Gonzalez was thrown out at the plate on a fielder’s choice in the 3rd inning, after a walk, a stolen base, and a fly out.  The Marauders had two runners on base due to a single and a walk in both the 4th and 5th innings.  In the 4th, Rubinstein walked and 3B Elevys Gonzalez singled; in the 5th, Santos singled and Chambers walked.  Baker’s third hit came in the 8th, when Chambers drove a ball off the glove of the Palm Beach right fielder.  Chambers rounded second and headed for third, but the center fielder was able to pick up the ball and fire it in to third, where Chambers was tagged out.  Baker singled after Chambers’ hit, but was left on base.  

The Marauders posted a total of 12 hits.  Each member of the lineup reached base at least once, and Rubinstein was the only one without at least one hit.  

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Thompson Is POW; Ngoepe Homers In Wild Power Game

It’s a rainy night for half of the Pirates’ minor leaguers:

The Indianapolis Indians and Toledo Mud Hens had the first game of their 4-game series postponed due to an all-day-long rain.  Yesterday it was snowing in Toledo, and this was not totally unexpected.  The Tribe and the Hens are scheduled to play at 10:30 am on Wednesday, then play a double-header on Thursday at 5:30 pm to make up for today.

Pitcher Jose Ascanio was supposed to join the Indians today, to begin a rehab assignment, but that has obviously been washed away too.  

The Altoona Curve and the Harrisburg Senators were also rained out in Altoona.  They are also playing at 10:30 am on Wednesday, and that is the last scheduled game of this series with the Senators, so they will make up the rain out in June.

Curve pitcher Aaron Thompson was named the Eastern League for last week.  He made two starts in the week, and won both games, earning a 0.75 ERA, with just 3 hits allowed in 12 innings.  

Jupiter Hammerheads  1,  Bradenton Marauders  0
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The Marauders came out on the short end of a pitching duel today.  Quinton Miller pitched well, but was charged with the loss, as he allowed the only run of the game on 5 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings of work, with 2 strikeouts.  Miller gave up the run in the bottom of the 1st.   The inning began with back-to-back singles, then both runners stole a base.  An RBI ground out brought in the run.  A walk and another single had another runner heading for the plate, but CF Evan Chambers made an excellent throw in to the plate, where C Ramon Cabrera tagged out the runner.

Miller scattered a walk and two singles over the next 5 innings, but did not let any further runs score.  He was relieved by Jason Erickson to begin the 7th.  After a 1-2-3 7th, Erickson worked around a single and a walk for a scoreless 8th inning.  

Unfortunately, the Hammerheads’ pitchers were having even better luck against the Marauders’ batters.  Bradenton put two runners on base in the 2nd, when LF David Rubinstein and Cabrera both singled, but Rubinstein was tagged out at third as he tried to pick up two bases on Cabrera’s single.  The Marauders went down in order in the next 3 innings, then RF Adelberto Santos singled to open the 6th, but was left on base.  With their last chance in the bottom of the 8th, 2B Jarek Cunningham lined a 2-out single into center field, and Chambers walked.  But a ground out ended the threat and the game.  

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Three Hits For Rojas, But Losses All Around

Losses all around in the Pirates’ minor league organization:

Augusta Green Jackets  5,  West Virginia Power  3
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A 4-run 2nd inning by Augusta had the Power trying to catch up for most of the game.  With Zack Dodson getting the start, Augusta scored on two singles, a throwing error by 3B Eric Avila, a 2 RBI triple, and an RBI ground out.  Only two of the runs were earned.  Dodson retired the side in two other innings, and walked two batters in the 4th.  The Power posted 8 hits (to Augusta’s 5 hits), and put runners on base in each of their first four innings but could not bring any of them around to score.  The top of the 5th began with back-to-back singles by LF Rogelios Noris and SS Gift Ngoepe.  2B Drew Maggi dropped down a sacrifice bunt, but a missed catch error by the Augusta first baseman put Maggi safe on first, moved Ngoepe to third, and allowed Noris to score.  Ngoepe scored on an RBI ground out.  

Dodson was relieved by Brooks Pounders to begin the bottom of the 5th.  Pounders surrendered another unearned run, on two singles, a passed ball, and a wild pitch in the 5th.  He retired the side in order in both the 7th and 8th innings.  Ryan Beckman retired the side in order in the 8th inning.  

The Power continued to put runners on base in each inning, and they scored again in the 8th.  RF Dan Grovatt walked, moved to second base on a ground out, and scored on DH Justin Howard’s line drive single into left field.  Ngoepe also singled in the 3rd inning.  CF Mel Rojas singled three times:  in the 1st, the 3rd, and the 7th.  He also stole second base in the 1st. 

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Wins In The Lower Minors

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

Altoona Curve  10,  Erie Seawolves  7

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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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2011 Prospect Watching: Strickland, Irwin, And More

Continuing to look at the Pirates’ minor league pitchers, moving upward in the organization:

Hunter Strickland  —   R/R,  6′ 5″,  200 lb
Strickland was the Red Sox’ 18th round pick in the 2007 draft, and he was traded to the Pirates in July 2009 in the deal involving Andy LaRoche.  He joined the West Virginia team, and made 8 starts over the rest of the season (43 innings), going 4-2 with a 3.77 ERA for the Power.  Strickland returned to West Virginia to begin the 2010 season, where he made another 8 starts for another 43 innings.  His results were not as good — an 0-4 record and a 5.86 ERA, with 58 hits and 28 earned runs.  Both his walk rate (8, 1.7 walks/ 9 innings) and his strikeout rate (15, 3.1 K/ 9 innings) were low.  In mid-May, Bradenton needed a pitcher, and Strickland was promoted.  He made two strong relief appearances, combining for 7.2 scoreless innings, allowing 4 hits and one walk, with 5 strikeouts.  Then he made two starts, and got blasted — 8 runs (4 earned) on 8 hits and 2 walks in 2.1 innings, and 3 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks in 4 innings.  At that point, Strickland was having tightness in his right forearm (or maybe it had been there already, and that was why he had been struggling), and he went on the DL, missing the remainder of the season.  Strickland should be ready to go for 2011, and at age 22, he should be back in Bradenton, where he will need to get back on track.

Phillip Irwin  –  R/R,  6′ 3″,   220 lb 
Irwin was the Pirates’ 21st round pick in the 2009 draft.  He pitched well for State College in his pro debut in 2009, with a 2.12 ERA despite a 1-2 record in 29.2 innings for the Spikes.  Irwin was assigned to West Virginia to begin the 2010 season.  He had a solid month of April, making one relief appearance and 3 starts.  In 15 innings, he allowed 3 earned runs (1.80 ERA) on 11 hits and struck out 13 batters for the month.  Then Irwin went onto the DL for a month (injury not specified).  When he returned, he made two relief pitches, for 3 combined scoreless innings), then got back into the starting rotation.  He had an up-and-down rest of the season, finishing with a 6-3 record and a 3.35 ERA.  In a total of 113 innings, he allowed 99 hits and 42 earned runs with just 20 walks and 111 strikeouts.  Irwin said that his tougher starts allowed him to remain focused and kept him motivated during the season.  He was rewarded with a promotion to Bradenton for their brief playoff run, and got into one game.  He threw 1.2 innings and allowed 3 runs on 3 hits, with 2 strikeouts.  Irwin enjoyed his time in Bradenton, and said that he had fun and learned from some of the more experienced players.  The 24-year-old should get a return to Bradenton for the 2011 season, where he says his goal is to “stay healthy and focused”.  

 

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