Sunday afternoon’s games for the Pirates minor league affiliates:
Erie SeaWolves 10, �Altoona Curve 3 (box)
Six runs in the 3rd inning gave the SeaWolves a huge boost over the Curve in the series finale, and the Curve could not catch up, despite 3 hits from C Kris Watts. Curve starter Jared Hughes retired the first three batters he faced, but got into trouble in the 2nd inning. �A walk and a double put runners on second and third bases, then a ground out brought in the first run. �An RBI singled plated the second runner, and Erie had a 2-0 lead. �The Curve tried to come back in the bottom of the inning. �Watts’ first single, plus a walk to RF Miles Durham put two runners on base. �LF Alex Presley singled into left field, but the throw in to the plate was in time to tag out Watts, and a strikeout ended the inning.
Then came the 3rd inning. �The SeaWolves sent 10 batters to the plate on their way to 6 runs. �Two singles and a hit batter loaded the bases to begin the inning. �A ground out scored one run, and a double into center field brought in two more. �A grounder to third base let 3B Jordy Mercer make an out at third, but left a runner at first base. �Two more singles scored two more runs, and a double brought in the 6th run of the inning. �That was enough to send Hughes to the showers; Tony Watson came on in relief and got a ground out to end the miserable inning. �A solo home run off Watson in the 4th inning gave Erie a 9-0 lead.
The Curve made a little headway in the 4th. �1B Matt Hague led off with a walk, then a double error (fielding, then throwing) by the Erie third baseman put Mercer on base and sent Hague to third base. �Watts singled up the middle, and when the Erie center fielder made a fielding error, both Hague and Mercer scored. �That was all the Curve would get, though. �SS Chase d’Arnaud led off the 5th inning with a single, but the next 13 Curve batters went down in order. �With one out in the bottom of the 9th, Watts singled for his third hit of the game. �Durham doubled, bringing Watts around to score the last Altoona run.
Jared Hughes was charged with his first loss of the season. �Tony Watson allowed the home run in the 4th, and another solo homer in the 6th inning. �He pitched a total of 3.1 innings, and those were the only two hits he allowed. �Michael Dubee pitched the final 3 innings, allowing just one hit. �CF Gorkys Hernandez also had a hit, going 1-for-4 at the plate.
Altoona Curve �9, �Akron Aeros 6 (box)
The Curve swept the 3-game series with the Akron Aeros in their own park with an afternoon win on Wednesday. �DH Jim Negrych continued his hot hitting by going 3-for-4 at the plate, including 2 doubles. �C Kris Watts added a 2-run homer, and SS Chase d’Arnaud and 1B Matt Hague each had 2 hits.
Akron had the early lead. �They scored twice in the 1st inning, with a single and back-to-back doubles off Curve starter Tim Alderson. Another double, a sacrifice bunt, and a sacrifice fly added a run in the 2nd inning, giving the Aeros a 3-0 lead. �That didn’t last long. �The Curve came back with 4 runs in the top of the 3rd. �3B Josh Harrison singled and went to second base on a wild pitch. �He scored on Negrych’s double. �Watts walked, then d’Arnaud also doubled, scoring Negrych. �A single from Hague brought in both Watts and d’Arnaud, and the Curve had a 4-3 lead.
The Aeros tied the score at 4-4 in the 4th inning, on a single, a passed ball by Watts, and an RBI single. �Altoona took the lead again in the top of the 5th. �Negrych led off the inning with a single, and Watts’ homer gave the Curve a 6-4 lead. �The Aeros fought back and tied the score again in the bottom of the inning. �A walk and a single with two outs chased Tim Alderson from the game. �Tony Watson came on in relief, but he gave up a double, scoring both base runners. �Alderson was responsible for those runs, for a total of 6 (5 earned) on 7 hits and 2 walks, plus one strikeout.
Finally, the Curve scored an unanswered run in the top of the 6th. �With one out, RF Alex Presley singled into center field. �Josh Harrison lined a single into right field, but was out at second when he tried to stretch it into a double. �While the Aeros were busy with Harrison, Presley was able to score the go-ahead run. �The Curve then added two insurance runs. �In the 8th, Matt Hague led off with a walk, and 2B Shelby Ford singled, moving Hague to third base. �That gave LF Jose De Los Santos the chance to bring in Hague with a sacrifice fly. �In the 9th, walks to Watts and CF Gorkys Hernandez plus a single by Hague gave Altoona even more insurance.
Tony Watson pitched 3 more innings. �He had a batter reach in the 6th on a throwing error by d’Arnaud, but retired the other 9 batters he faced. �Watson was credited with the win. �Jeff Sues earned his third save with a scoreless 9th inning.
Harrisburg Senators 6, �Altoona Curve 4 (box)
As the world looked in on the baseball-happy town of Altoona, via ESPNews and MLB, Stephen Strasburg made his pro debut against the Curve. �Some people, maybe those who thought Strasburg didn’t need to bother with the minors at all, �may have thought that Strasburg would breeze through this start. �The Curve were not among that group, though. �Yes, Strasburg got his first pro win in his first pro start. �Yes, he did strike out 8 batters. �But the Curve did not make it easy, as they scored 4 runs off Strasburg on 4 hits and 2 walks, and reminded Strasburg and anyone else that those guys with the bats in their hands are dangerous, no matter who’s on the mound.
With Curve radio broadcaster Dan Zangrilli and former Pirate pitcher Stan Belinda doing the honors on national tv, Strasburg started off strong. �He got 2B Jim Negrych on a sky-high pop out to short, and got CF Gorkys Hernandez to ground out. �Then LF Alex Presley lined Strasburg’s 2-0 pitch to the base of the wall in right field, and sped around to score when RF Miles Durham followed with a line drive into center field. �C Kris Watts worked a walk, even though the 4th ball came in at 98 mph. �3B Josh Harrison struck out to end the inning, but the Curve had scored a run off Strasburg.
Strasburg settled down to retire the Curve in order in the 2nd and 3rd innings, with 2 strikeouts in each. �He began the 4th inning with a fly out off Durham’s bat, but then Kris Watts worked another walk. �Josh Harrison bounced a grounder to Harrisburg SS (and former Curve and Indy Indian) Pedro Lopez. �Lopez scooped up the ball as he was moving behind second base, and flipped it to his 2B Michael Martinez. �But Martinez missed the flip, and instead of an inning-ending double play, both runners were safe. �1B Shelby Ford struck out, then SS Jose De Los Santos slipped a single just under his counterpart Lopez’s glove and into center field. �Watts scored easily, and when the throw in from CF Leonard Davis came in to the plate way up the line and got past the Harrisburg catcher, Harrison rounded third and slid into the plate just ahead of the tag. �Next up was Altoona pitcher Rudy Owens, who had told the Altoona Mirror’s Cory Geiger that he was more concerned about his first professional plate appearance against Strasburg than about pitching against the big prospect. �(Below the AA level, designated hitters are always used and pitchers never hit.) �Owens needn’t have worried. �He collected his first pro hit and his first RBI too, with a single up the middle, scoring De Los Santos from third base. �A strikeout ended the inning, with the Curve ahead 4-0.
Phillies (Reading Phillies) �4, �Pirates (Altoona Curve) �3 � (box)
The Pirates’ spring training schedule ended this afternoon with another game at Citizens’ Bank Park in Philadelphia. �The starters got things going, and the Philadelphia starters did all of their scoring, but by the end of the game, it was mostly the AA level players who were on the field — and they scored two of the Pirates’ three runs.
Starter Paul Maholm pitched 3 innings, and allowed 2 runs on 5 hits — and apparently was not feeling well most of the day. �He gave up a double followed by an RBI single in the 2nd inning, and two singles for the second run in the 3rd inning.
Hayden Penn, who was acquired by the Pirates off waivers from the Marlins this week, made his second appearance in a Pirates’ uniform. �He had pitched 1.2 innings and gave up 2 hits (one brought in a run) on Thursday. �Today, he entered the game in the 4th inning, and it was not the inning he wanted to show off to Pirates’ management. �Jayson Werth sent Penn’s 2-1 pitch over the left field wall for a solo home run. �A double and a single put runners on the corners with no outs. �A double play let the runner from third base score, before Penn struck out the next batter to end the inning.
Brendan Donnelly, Octavio Dotel, Jack Taschner, and Michael Dubee each pitched a 1-2-3 inning to wrap it up for the Pirates. �Dubee, up from the Curve, had the experience of pitching in front of his father, Phillies’ pitching coach Rich Dubee, and a host of family and friends — in the stadium where he hung out with his dad as a teen and a college student.
The Pirates’ regulars got the first run on the board, in the 2nd inning. �1B Jeff Clement led off with a single, 3B Andy LaRoche walked, and SS Ronny Cedeno singled to load the bases with no outs. �C Jason Jaramillo popped into an unusual double play: �he popped up to short left field, and the runners held up because it looked like Phillies’ shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who was going backwards, was going to catch it. �But at the last second, the ball popped out of his glove. �Clement scored from third, with an RBI going to Jaramillo. �Rollins was able to pick up the ball and fire in to second, to force out Cedeno, and then the relay to third beat LaRoche, for a double play.
The Curve players started entering the game in the 4th inning: �RF Miles Durham, SS Chase d’Arnaud, and 3B Jordy Mercer, with Steve Pearce at first base. �RF�Alex Presley and 2B Josh Harrison came in for the 5th, and C Hector Gimenez in the 7th. �Jim Negrych and Kris Watts each got a pinch-hitting appearance. �D’Arnaud singled in the 6th, but was left on base. �Negrych, Durham, and Pearce led off the 8th inning with consecutive singles, and Negrych came around from second to score easily on Pearce’s RBI single. �Presley singled with one out in the 9th, and Watts moved him to third base with a line drive into right field. �Durham’s RBI single brought in Presley, but Watts and Durham were left stranded on base when Pearce struck out to end the inning and the game.
That’s it for the spring. �The Pirates headed right to Pittsburgh after the game. �They will have a workout tomorrow, and the final roster decisions must be made by 3 pm.
The Indianapolis Indians were also scheduled to play their last spring training game today, against the Phillies’ AAA team, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. �No word about the results. �Minor league rosters should be announced within a couple more days.