Saturday evening action with the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates:
Richmond Flying Squirrels 5, Altoona Curve 0
Strong pitching by Richmond and one big inning for the Squirrels’ batters combined for another Curve loss. The Curve were held to just two hits — one each by 3B Jeremy Farrell and C Tony Sanchez. Five walks did not help either, as the Curve left 7 runners on base. 1B Miles Durham was the only base runner for Altoona over the first 3 innings, when he walked in the 3rd. LF Quincy Latimore walked with one out in the 4th. He was forced out at second on SS Jordy Mercer’s ground out. Mercer reached third base when Farrell slipped a single through the left side of the infield, but both runners were left stranded.
Farrell walked and Sanchez singled with one out in the 7th, but a double play ended that attempt at a rally. The Curve’s biggest threat came in the 9th inning, when with two outs, Mercer was hit by a pitch, then Farrell and Sanchez worked back-to-back walks. A pop up to the catcher in foul territory by Durham ended the game with all three still on base.
Three errors by the Curve fielders did not help out their pitchers, who gave up a combined 11 hits. Starter Aaron Thompson worked around a pair of two-out singles in the 1st, then struck out three batters around a walk in the 2nd. Then things fell apart in the 3rd. The inning began with three consecutive singles, loading the bass. The next batter grounded to short, but Mercer’s fielding fumble left everyone safe, and the lead runner scored. Thompson looked like he had a chance to get out of the inning without further damage when he got the next two batters with a fly out and a strikeout. But a bases-clearing double into left field made the score 4-0. The throw in from LF Latimore was relayed from the cutoff man Mercer to Farrell at third, who tagged out the batter at third as he tried to stretch the double into a triple.
Thompson kept the Squirrels from scoring in the 4th, despite a fielding error by CF Starling Marte and another single. A lead-off single began the 5th inning, and a throwing error by Sanchez on a steal attempt put the runner on third base. Thompson struck out two batters, then was relieved by Anthony Claggett, who ended the inning with a ground out, leaving that runner on third. Claggett pitched a scoreless 6th, but gave up a run in the 7th on a hit batter and an RBI double. Two walks after the double loaded the bases, but Claggett escaped the inning with a ground out. Chris Leroux took over for the bottom of the 8th. He also gave up a double and hit a batter, but did not allow a run. Thompson took the loss, going 4.2 innings with 4 runs (one earned) on 8 hits with 7 strikeouts.
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
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.
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
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.
Wednesday evening with the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates:
West Virginia Power 7, Hagerstown Suns 1…… suspended in the 2nd inning
Jameson Taillon made his pro debut tonight in West Virginia, but Mother Nature made it shorter than might have been planned. Taillon’s first pitch was a strike, and the first batter singled to short. He got a ground out, which moved the runner to second, then he walked the other phenom in the game — Suns’ RF Bryce Harper. A double lined to right field brought in the lead runner and put Harper on third base. Harper walked the next batter to load the bases, but a grounder to SS Drew Maggi started a double play, and Taillon was out of the inning, with only one run in.
Maggi began the bottom of the inning with a walk, and a passed ball put him on second base. 2B Gift Ngoepe reached base on a throwing error, giving the Power runners on the corners. DH Matt Curry’s single up the middle plated Maggi. 1B Justin Howard moved both the runners into scoring position with a grounder to second, and RF Dan Grovatt brought both in with a double lined into left field.
With rain falling, Taillon returned to the mound for the second inning. He gave up a lead-off single, then got two consecutive force outs at second base. A fly out ended that inning, giving Taillon one run on 3 hits and 2 walks over 2 innings, with no strikeouts.
The Power added to their lead with 4 more runs in the 2nd. LF Andy Vasquez and Maggi began the frame with back-to-back walks, and both scored on Curry’s double. Howard brought in Curry with a 2-run homer over the right field wall. The Suns brought in a new pitcher, who gave up a walk to Gravatt and a double to CF Mel Rojas. That’s when the rain got crazy, and the game was delayed, then suspended. The two teams will try to resume the game tomorrow at 6 pm, and that will be followed by a 7-inning game.
Bradenton Marauders 12, St. Lucie Mets 6
For the second time in three days, the Marauders put up a big first inning — and this one was even bigger than the 6-run inning two games ago. Bradenton sent 14 batters to the plate in the bottom of the 1st, scoring 10 runs. The fun began with back-to-back singles by RF Robbie Grossman and 2B Jarek Cunningham. CF Evan Chambers loaded the bases with a walk, and 1B Aaron Baker brought in Grossman with a sacrifice fly (1). After a strikeout by DH Adalberto Santos, C Ramon Cabrera walked to load the bases again, then LF David Rubinstein lined a single into left field, bringing in Cunningham and Chambers (2,3). 3B Elevys Gonzalez and SS Benji Gonzalez lined back-to-back doubles into center field, with Elevys driving in Cabrera and Rubinstein (4,5), and Benji plating Elevys (6). That brought Grossman up again. He walked, then Cunningham drove in Benji and Grossman with a 3-run homer (7,8,9). Chambers walked again, and Baker lined a single into right field, and with the help of a throwing error that sent the ball into the stands, Chamber came in with the 10th run of the inning. Santos’ second strikeout of the inning ended the rally
The Mets tried to come back, but fell far short. Starter Nate Baker scattered 6 hits over 5.2 innings, and the only run he allowed came in the 5th, on a double and an RBI single. Baker walked one and struck out 2. With one on and two out in the top of the 6th, Duke Welker relieved Baker, finishing that inning with a strikeout. Welker gave up 2 runs in the 7th, on two lead-off walks, a balk, and an RBI ground out, then an RBI single. He also walked a batter in the 8th, and had a batter reach base on a fielding error by SS Benji Gonzalez, but a timely double play got Welker out of that jam. Jhonathan Ramos pitched the 9th inning, and he gave up back-to-back doubles and a 2-run homer, but even that was not enough for the Mets to catch up.
The Marauders added another run in the 4th inning on a pair of doubles by Rubinstein and Elevys Gonzalez. Cunningham hit his second homer of the game (6th of the season) in the 7th inning to give the Marauders their final run.