Spikes’ and Pirates’ Bats Are Booming

Good news and bad news today…

The bad news is that OF Starling Marte has had some problems with his hand after surgery.� Marte had played in two rehab games last week, going 3-for-6, but has not played in over a week.� He’s going to need to rest the hand for awhile yet — a setback indeed.

The good news is that OF Mel Rojas Jr, the Pirates’ 3rd-round pick in the 2010 draft is reported to be on his way to Pittsburgh to sign a contract.� If all goes as expected, he could report to the State College Spikes by the weekend.

A few non-all-star-games going on today:

State College Spikes� 11,� Connecticut Tigers� 1 (box)

The Spikes posted 13 hits on their way to 11 runs this evening in Connecticut. 1B Matt Curry led the team with a 3-for-3 game and 2 RBI.� RF Adalberto Santos, DH Chase Lyles, LF Pat Irvine, and C Miguel Mendez each had 2 hits, and 3B Kelson Brown contributed 3 RBI.

The Spikes started off with 2 runs in the top of the 1st.� 2B Walker Gourley began the rally with a walk, and Santos reached base on a fielder’s choice that Gourley beat out.� Curry singled, scoring Gourley, and Lyles singled, bringing in Santos.� They added 4 runs in the 3rd inning, when Curry and Lyles both singled again.� Irvine followed with a double to plate Curry.� Brown’s single drove in both Lyles and Irvine.� Mendez made it runners on the corners with another single, and Brown scored when CF Kyle Saukko bounced into force out at second but beat the throw to first base.

The Tigers scored their lone run in the bottom of the 3rd, on two singles and a sacrifice fly.� It was the only run that Zack Von Rosenberg allowed in his 5 innings.� He gave up 5 hits and one run, and he struck out 5 batters.� Colton Cain, Casey Sadler, Teddy Fallon, and Jason Townsend all pitched one scoreless inning.� Townsend was the only one who allowed a hit, a single in the 9th.� Fallon was the only one to allow a walk, and he erased that runner with a double play.� Sadler struck out the side, all swinging, in the 7th.

The Spikes kept going after Connecticut scored their run.� Santos tripled with one out in the 4th.� Curry walked, and Lyles reached on a fielding error, as Santos scored.� A throwing error on the play put Curry on third and Lyles on second.� Irvine singled, and Curry crossed the plate, then Brown’s sacrifice fly brought in Lyles.� Spikes ahead, 9-1.� Back-to-back doubles by Santos (ground-rule) and Curry added the first run in the 6th.� A walk to Irvine and Brown being hit by a pitch loaded the bases.� Mendez singled, scoring Curry and giving the Spikes an 11-1 lead.� The Spikes’ bats slowed down after that.� They had only one base runner over the last three innings — Curry walked to begin the 8th, but was erased in a double play.

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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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Krol’s 19th Save; Fienemann’s 2nd Win

IMG_3884The GCL Pirates were off, as usual for a Sunday. �In other holiday action….

Bradenton Marauders �5, �Palm Beach Cardinals �3 (box)

The Marauders jumped out to an early lead with 3 runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning. �1B Calvin Anderson began the inning with a single up the middle, and 3B Adam Davis walked. �Both were advanced with a sacrifice bunt by RF Austin McClune. C James Skelton brought them both in with a 2-RBI double, and another double by SS Greg Picart brought in Skelton.

Three straight singles by McClune, Skelton, and DH Erik Huber gave the Marauders another run in the 4th inning.

The Cardinals scored an unearned run off starter Jeff Locke in the 2nd inning. �A fielding error by 3B Davis put a runner on base, and a double combined with an interference error by SS Picart allowed the run to score. �A single, a walk, and an RBI single added an earned run in the 4th. �Locke pitched a total of 6 innings, allowing those runs on 5 hits and a walk, while striking out 6 batters.

Bradenton scored their final run in the 8th. �With two outs, Anderson doubled, and Davis walked. �McClune singled into right field, and Anderson raced around from second base to score. �Davis tried to score from first base, but was out at the plate on a good throw in from right field.

Mike Colla pitched 2 innings in relief, and allowed another unearned run in the 7th. �With two outs and a runner on first, a throwing error by Colla on a pick-off attempt put the runner on second, and another throwing error by Davis on the next play allowed the runner to score. �Noah Krol pitched a perfect 9th inning to earn his league-leading 19th save (Florida State League).

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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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