Solid Starts From Locke, Adcock, Miller, and Cain

Minor League action with the Pirates’ affiliates on Thursday… lots of good pitching

Altoona Curve� 5,� Trenton Thunder� 3 (box)

The Curve came from behind to take this game from Trenton, despite being out-hit 8-7.� Starter Jeff Locke had trouble in the 1st inning, when 3 runs scored on a double, three singles, a wild pitch, and a throwing error by C Hector Gimenez on a stolen base play.� After that inning, Locke settled in, scattering four hits over the next 5 innings, while striking out 6 batters.

The Curve batters had only 2 hits over the first 3 innings, but they got going in the 4th to put one run on the board.� LF Andrew Lambo walked, and 1B Matt Hague singled.� A ground out to second by Gimenez moved both runners into scoring position, and 2B Jim Negrych picked up an RBI when his groundout scored Lambo.� DH Yung Chi Chen got the 5th inning off to a good start with a triple into left field.� He scored on CF Anthony Norman’s sacrifice fly.� A fielding error in left field put Norman on first base, but he was caught stealing moments later.� SS Chase d’Arnaud kept the rally going with a walk, and he was successful in stealing second.� 3B Josh Harrison was hit by a pitch, and a wild pitch moved d’Arnaud to third and Harrison to second.� Lambo’s grounder to second brought in d’Arnaud from third, and the score was tied at 3-3.

Jared Hughes took over for Locke for the final three innings.� He held the Thunder to just a walk in the 7th, retiring the other 9 batters he faced, with the help of some outstanding outfield work, particularly by Norman, and an infield gem by Negrych.� The Curve threatened in the 6th, when RF Miles Durham singled and Chen walked with 2 outs, but both were left on base.� Harrison began the 7th inning with a walk, and with two outs, he stole second base.� That put him into scoring position, so that when Hague took a 3-0 pitch into left field for a double, Harrison was able to score the go-ahead run.� Gimenez was intentionally walked to get to Negrych, who obligingly grounded to second base for what should have been the final out of the inning.� But the Trenton second baseman made a fielding error — Negrych was safe at first, and Hague scored an insurance run.

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Marauders On A Rampage

Thursday’s action…. I’ll be on the road for the next several days, and internet connections may be spotty.

Bradenton Marauders� 18,� Lakeland Flying Tigers� 5 (box)

The Marauders scored 13 runs in the final three innings of the game and posted a total of 19 hits, as they sent the Tigers flying.� Each member of the Marauders’ line-up had at least one hit, all but two walked at least once, and six recorded RBIs.� Four of them — 2B Shelby Ford, C Eric Fryer, DH Jordan Newton, and SS Adenson Chourio – had 3 hits each.� Of the 19 hits, only 5 were extra-base hits — 3 doubles, and 2 triples, but no home runs.

The game started out with some low-key scoring.� The Marauders put up one run in the top of the 1st, when Shelby Ford singled and scored on Eric Fryer’s triple.� Lakeland came back with 3 runs on 4 singles and a double in the bottom of the 2nd, to take a 3-1 lead.

The Marauders returned fire in the top of the 4th.� LF Quincy Latimore led off with a double.� After two outs, three consecutive singles by Newton, CF Austin McClune, and Chourio brought in two runs, and Ford doubled, plating two more runs.� Bradenton up, 5-3.

Brian Leach pitched the first 5 innings for the Marauders, allowing those 3 runs on 7 hits and a walk, with 5 strikeouts.� He was relieved by Craig Hansen to begin the 6th, Hansen’s first time back on the mound in a live game situation in over a year.� Hansen gave up a single, then got a strikeout, but followed that with three consecutive walks, forcing in a run.� He was relieved by Casey Erickson, who gave up a sacrifice fly for another run (charged to Hansen), then a single.� The throw in from McClune in center field to Fryer at the plate was right on target, and Fryer was able to tag out another runner as he tried to score.� Erickson was charged with a Blown Save, as the game was now tied at 5-5.

At that point, the Marauders really got going.� They took the lead back again (and gave Erickson the win) with 2 runs in the top of the 7th.� Three walks, to Grossman, Fryer, and 1B Calvin Anderson, loaded the bases.� Newton singled up the middle, scoring both Grossman and Fryer.� The 8th inning began with a single by Chourio, a triple by Ford (one run in), and a single by Fryer, scoring Ford (2).� After a pitching change, Latimore and 3B Adam Davis both walked.� A wild pitch and a throwing error allowed Fryer and Anderson to score (3, 4), and a single by Newton brought in Davis (5).� Eight batters had come to the plate in the 8th, and the score was 12-5.

Twelve Marauders’ batters came to the plate in the 9th, and 6 more runs came in.� With one out, Chourio walked and Ford reached on a throwing error.� Grossman’s double scored Chourio and Ford (1,2).� Four singles follwed, by Fryer (Grossman scores — 3), Latimore, Anderson, and Adams.� Adams’ single brought in Fryer and Latimore (4, 5).� After a pop out, McClune and Chourio singled, plating Anderson (6).

Erickson pitched 2 more scoreless innings, and Noah Krol pitched a scoreless 9th inning, with a walk and a single, plus 2 strikeouts.

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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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