Big 6th Inning For Curve; Miller’s Second Win

Fun with the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates on Thursday night…

Altoona Curve  7,  Erie SeaWolves 2
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A big 6-run 6th inning gave the Curve the win over Erie, despite the SeaWolves out-hitting the Curve 15 – 6.  

The Curve got onto the scoreboard first with a run in the bottom of the 2nd inning.  C Tony Sanchez reached base and got all the way to second on a throwing error by the Erie shortstop.  A ground out by DH Kris Watts moved Sanchez to third, and a sacrifice fly by 1B Miles Durham brought Sanchez in to score.  

Altoona starter Aaron Thompson gave up a single in both the 1st and 3rd innings, and both times erased the runners with a double play.  He hit a batter and allowed two singles in the 2nd, but caught one runner stealing, and got out of the inning without a run scoring.  The top of the 4th inning began with a lead-off homer to tie the score.  After a fly out, Thompson gave up another solo homer, and Erie had a 2-1 lead.  

After three hitless innings, the Curve erupted in the 6th, sending 10 batters to the plate.  Holt started the rally with a double into right field.  CF Starling Marte beat out a bunt for a single, moving Holt to third.  LF Quincy Latimore lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Holt, and when the Erie center fielder’s throw back in went wild for an error, Marte moved to second base.  That put Marte in position to score on SS Jordy Mercer’s single.  3B Jeremy Farrell and Watts both walked to load the bases, then Durham lined a single into left field, plating both Mercer and Farrell.  A double by RF Brad Chalk scored Watts and Durham, and the Curve had a 7-2 lead.  

Thompson was relieved after 5 innings, having allowed 2 runs on 9 hits and a walk.  Chris Leroux took over and pitched the next two innings.  He gave up three singles but did not let a run score, and he was the pitcher of record when the Curve scored their 6, so he earned the win.  Michael Dubee began the top of the 8th with three consecutive singles, then got out of the mess with a strikeout and a double play.  He retired the side in order in the 9th.  

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Wins All Around For the Minor Affiliates, Including Taillon’s First

Bradenton Marauders  6,  Charlotte Stone Crabs  2
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Three 2-run innings gave the Marauders enough fire power to get past the Stone Crabs and salvage the last game of this 3-game series.  Starter Kyle McPherson earned his second win of the season, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, no walks, in 7 innings of work.  The 7 innings matched his two previous longest starts this season.  Both of the Stone Crabs’ runs came early in the game.  In the bottom of the 1st, a lead-off triple and an RBI ground out put the first run on the board.  A solo home run brought in the second run in the 2nd inning.  McPherson also gave up a double in the 1st, and a single in the 5th, and he hit one batter in the 3rd inning.  He finished strong by retiring the last 7 batters he faced, four of them on strikeouts.

The Marauders went into the 4th inning behind by a score of 2-0.  The only batter to reach base in the first three innings was SS Benji Gonzalez, who singled with two outs in the 3rd, but was picked off second base.  But the bats started booming in the 4th, beginning with a double into left field by RF Robbie Grossman and a triple by 2B Jarek Cunningham, scoring Grossman.  CF Evan Chambers’ ground out single drove in Cunningham to tie the game.

3B Kelson Brown singled and Benji Gonzalez walked in the 5th inning, but a double play ended that attempt at a rally.  Cunningham and Chambers opened the 6th with back-to-back singles, and a missed catch error by the Charlotte shortstop on a pick-off attempt let both runners move up a base.  A fielding error by the second baseman on the next play off the bat of 1B Aaron Baker allowed both Cunningham and Chambers to score.  The Marauders took a 4-2 lead. Baker added 2 more insurance runs in the 8th inning with a 2-run home run shot over the right field wall.  He brought in Grossman, who had reached base on a fielding error at third base.  
 
The Stone Crabs did not score again after the 2nd inning.  Diego Moreno relieved McPherson to begin the 8th inning, and he walked one, gave up a single, and struck out two, keeping Charlotte scoreless.  Ryan Beckman took the 9th, and he also pitched a scoreless inning, with one walk.  

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Marte Homers, Three Hits For Grovatt

A few roster moves before we get to the games:
The Pirates have signed 1B Gerlis Rodriguez to a minor league contract.  Rodriguez, a Dominican native, played for State College in 2010.  He played about half of his 48 games at first base, and did some DH’ing.  Rodriguez hit .201, with 8 doubles, one triple, one homer, and 24 RBI.  He walked 11 times and was struck out 34 times.  Rodriguez will probably be back with the Spikes when their season begins next month.

Two minor league pitchers have been released:  RHP Gabriel Alvarado and RHP Maurice Bankston.  Alvarado was with the West Virginia Power for the past two seasons, mostly as a starter in 2009 and then as a reliever in 2010.   Bankston also spent most of the last two years with the Power, and he also started in 2009 then moved to the bullpen in 2010.

 
Richmond Flying Squirrels  5,  Altoona Curve  3
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Jeff Locke gave up 4 hits and 4 walks in 5 innings, but got out of jams with timely double plays in his start for the Curve.   Unfortunately, the bullpen gave up 4 more runs and the Squirrels took the win.  The only run Locke gave up came in the bottom of the 1st.  After a lead-off single, Locke got two fly outs, then gave up a walk and an RBI single.  Another walk followed, before Locke ended the inning.  A double play ended the 2nd inning with two runners left stranded (walk and hit batter), and a second double play eliminated a lead-off single in the 3rd.  Locke also worked around a double and a walk in the 4th, then retired the side in the 5th.  

 The Squirrels’ starter retired the first 10 Curve batters in order.  The first hit he gave up was a big one — a solo home run over the left field wall by CF Starling Marte.  The Curve took a 2-1 lead in the 5th inning, on a line drive double by 3B Jeremy Farrell, a passed ball, and an RBI single lined into center field by C Tony Sanchez.  

The lead lasted only one inning.  Tom Boleska relieved Locke to begin the bottom of the 6th  He allowed the first three batters he faced to reach base — two walks and a single back to the mound.  Boleska struck out the next batter, then a grounder force out at second (but not the double play) let the tying run score.  An RBI single gave Richmond a 3-2 lead.  Boleska pitched a scoreless 7th inning, then Matt McSwain took over for the 8th.  The first two batters McSwain faced both smacked solo home runs, and Richmond was up 5-2.

The Curve scratched out one more run in the top of the 9th.  With two outs, LF Quincy Latimore worked a walk, then SS Jordy Mercer and Farrell hit back-to-back singles, plating Latimore.  But that was all they were able to get, as Sanchez’s line out ended the game.  

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One Inning Ruins Marauders’ Morning; Taillon’s Second Start

The Indianapolis Indians were rained out on Monday night.  They and the Durham Bulls will try for two on Tuesday.  Tuesday’s first game is scheduled for 11:05 am, early for a Baseball In Education Day.  That game is scheduled to be shown on the MLB network.  (It’s absolutley pouring down rain now.)

The Marauders played a morning game to accommodate the school kids; the Curve and Power play in the evening.

Palm Beach Cardinals  5,  Bradenton Marauders  1
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A 4-run inning was enough for Palm Beach to secure the win this morning.  Marauders’ starter Kyle McPherson had allowed just one hit over the first two innings, but with one out in the 3rd, he hit two successive batters with pitches.  A fielding error by SS Benji Gonzalez allowed the next batter to reach base safely, loading them up.  An RBI single drove in the runner from third, leaving the bags still full of Cardinals.  Then a double lined into left field cleared the bases to give the Cardinals a 4-run inning.  McPherson put Palm Beach down in order in the 4th and 5th innings, then gave up another run on a pair of doubles in the 6th.  He finished with 5 runs (4 earned) on 5 hits, no walk, and 4 strikeouts in his 6 innings of work.

2B Jarek Cunningham led the Marauders’ batters with 2 hits, a single and a double, and 1B Aaron Baker drove in the only Marauders’ run.  Bradenton missed a big chance in the 2nd inning, when both 3B Elevys Gonzalez and C Travis Scott walked, then LF Adalberto Santos’s infield single loaded the bases.  But a strikeout and a pop out ended the threat with all three runners still in place.  Cunningham began the 3rd inning rally with a double lined into left field.  One out later, Baker lined a single into center field, and Cunningham raced around from second base to score the Marauders’ only run.  The Marauders had another chance with the bases loaded in the 7th — DH Cole White walked, then Cunningham and CF Evan Chambers both singled, but a fly out ended that opportunity.  Scott had the only other Bradenton hit, with a single to lead off the 4th.

Duke Welker pitched a quick 7th inning for the Marauders, getting three ground outs.  Jason Erickson took the bottom of the 8th, and gave up two singles, then got a double play when the next batter lined out to Baker, who threw to SS Benji Gonzalez to double off the runner from second base.  Erickson gave up one more single, but then ended the inning without a run scoring.  
 

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McSwain’s AA Debut; Latimore Homers Twice

Pirates’ lower minor league action for Thursday:  the Curve had an early game, and the Marauders and the Power play in the evening

Harrisburg Senators  6,  Altoona Curve  2
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Matt McSwain made his AA debut today with the Curve, after being promoted from A+ Bradenton to fill the roster spot opened when Bryan Morris went on the DL (oblique strain).   Unfortunately, it was not as happy a debut as McSwain and the Curve would have liked, as the Senators scored 4 runs over their last two at-bats to take the win.

Mike Colla made the start for the Curve, and retired the first 11 batters he faced in order.  Then he gave up back-to-back solo home runs in the 4th.   

The Curve batters were getting on base during those innings, but they weren’t scoring either.  CF Starling Marte and RF Eric Fryer both singled, and 3B Jeremy Farrell and C Kris Watts both doubled, but all were left on base. LF Quincy Latimore put the Curve onto the scoreboard in the 6th, when he led off the inning with a solo home run over the left field wall.  Then he gave the Curve their only other run with another solo home run (to left-center field) in the 8th.  

McSwain came on in relief of Colla to begin the 5th.   He retired the Senators in order in the 5th and 6th innings, then gave up a run in the 7th on a walk, a single, and an RBI double.  With two runners in scoring position, McSwain ended the inning with a ground out and a fly out.  He got into trouble again in the 8th, with a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and an RBI double, to bring in one run.  The next batter, 1B Tyler Moore, homered for the second time in the game, adding another 2 runs.  Colla was charged with his first loss of the season.  

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