Tuesday night’s action in the Pirates’ lower minor leagues:
West Virginia Power 5, Charleston RiverDogs 1
Colton Cain took his second win of the season, allowing 3 hits and one run over 5 innings, with one walk and 3 strikeouts. Cain had some trouble in the 1st inning, when a lead-off single, a sacrifice bunt, and an RBI single drove in a run for Charleston. After a walk, Cain got the next batter to fly out to center, where a nice throw from CF Mel Rojas to 3B Eric Avila ended the inning. Cain retired the next 10 batters in order, then gave up a double in the 5th inning. He struck out two batters to end his evening’s work.
The Power batters gave Cain all the run support he needed in the top of the 2nd. With one out, DH Jairo Marquez lined a double into right field, then went to third base when C Elias Diaz reached base on a fielding error. Diaz stole second base, then LF Rogelios Noris singled into right field, plating Marquez. Noris advanced to second base on the throw in from the outfield, which put him into position to score behind Diaz on Avila’s 2-RBI single. The Power added a run in the 3rd for a 4-1 lead. RF Dan Grovatt singled, then 1B Justin Howard’s double advanced Grovatt to third. Rojas picked up the RBI with a ground out, scoring Grovatt.
Kevin Decker relieved Cain to begin the 6th inning. He pitched 3 perfect innings, including 3 strikeouts. Brooks Pounders took the 9th inning and allowed only a single in his scoreless inning.
Charleston committed errors in both the 4th and the 5th innings, but the Power were not able to take advantage of those errors to score. The Power scored one more run in the 9th, when Marquez bed off with a single, and was bunted to second by Diaz. Noris’ ground out moved Diaz to third, and he scored on a wild pitch.
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.
The Indianapolis Indians and the West Virginia Power both had scheduled days off today.
OF John Bowker, who was DFA’ed last week, has cleared waivers and has been assigned to the Indianapolis Indians.
LHP Dan Meyer has been activated off the Indians’ disabled list.
RHP Chris Leroux was moved to the Altoona Curve to make room for Meyer on the Indians’ roster.
Akron Aeros 6, Altoona Curve 3
Chris Leroux was sent down to Altoona, then was charged with the loss in his first game for the Curve. The game began with Akron scoring 3 runs in the top of the 1st. Mike Colla, making his second start of the season, gave up a walk, a single, and a walk to load the bases. The next batter grounded to third, but a fielding error by 3B Jeremy Farrell let the lead runner score and left the bases still loaded. A single and a sacrifice fly each added another run, for a 3-0 lead.
The Curve got one run back in the 3rd inning. DH Kris Watts led off with a double, and 1B Miles Durham’s single put Watts on third base. Two pop-outs later, Durham stole second base, then RF Eric Fryer walked to load the bases. Just like the Aeros in the 1st inning, a grounder to third and an error by the third baseman let a run score. But that was all the Curve could get, as they left the bases loaded. The Curve loaded the bases again in the 4th inning, with back-to-back singles by 3B Shelby Ford (who took over for Farrell) and C Tony Sanchez, a balk, and a walk to Watts. Durham’s sacrifice fly drove in Ford, before a double play ended that inning. Fryer tied the score at 3-3 in the 5th with a solo home run.
Colla pitched 4 more innings after the 1st, and allowed just one batter to reach base — a single in the 4th. Then Sanchez threw that runner out trying to steal second base. Matt McSwain pitched a 1-2-3 inning for the Curve in the 6th. Leroux took the mound to begin the 7th. The first batter he faced smacked a solo home run. The next batter reached base on a missed catch error by Durham at first, and a double put two runners into scoring position. A fielder’s choice play was not fast enough, so let the runner from third score, and a sacrifice fly brought in the third run of the inning, for a 6-3 score. Only one of the runs was earned.
Anthony Claggett relieved Leroux to begin the 8th. He gave up a walk, and that runner reached second base on a balk, and third base on a passed ball, but Claggett did not let him score. Then he worked around a walk and a single in the 9th.
SS Jordy Mercer and Ford both singled in the 5th inning after Fryer’s homer, but both were left stranded. Only one Curve batter reached base after the 5th. Watts singled to lead off the 6th, but was erased in a double play.
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.
The Indianapolis Indians and the Columbus Clippers were rained out in Columbus tonight. They will try for two on Monday, beginning at 5 pm. Sunday’s game is scheduled for 4 pm.
Infielder Pedro Ciriaco was optioned back to the Indians, after just a brief visit to Pittsburgh. The Pirates’ new shortstop Brandon Wood got himself to Pittsburgh very quickly, so no need for Ciriaco to fill in. Jose Ascanio, who was hit in the head by a line drive on Thursday, has been diagnosed as having “just” a contusion (a bruise). He’s doing better today.
Kannapolis Intimidators 8, West Virginia Power 7 (Game 1)
The Pirates were able to fight back after Kannapolis scored 6 runs in the 2nd inning, but 2 runs in the bottom of the 7th gave Kannapolis the win. The Power had the early lead with one run in the 1st and 2 more in the 2nd. CF Mel Rojas walked, and 1B Matt Curry singled. LF Rogelios Noris’ fly out moved Rojas to third, and then Rojas scored on RF Justin Howard’s single through the hole into left field. C Kawika Emsley-Pai walked to load the bases, but a ground out ended the inning without any more runs scoring. With one out in the top of the 2nd, back-to-back doubles by DH Jairo Marquez and SS Drew Maggi brought in one run, then a wild pitch and a fielding error allowed Maggi to score, giving the Power a 3-0 lead.
Starter Colton Cain had retired the Intimidators in order in the 1st, but got in trouble in the bottom of the 2nd, when the first 6 batters who came to the plate reached base safely. A single, a double, and a walk loaded the bases, then a hit batter forced in the first run. A double plated two more, and a single added another two. Another double made it 6 runs in the inning, and the Power were behind 6-3.
The Power battled right back in the top of the 3rd. Walks to Howard and 3B Andy Vasquez both walked, and Emsley-Pai was hit by a pitch to load the bases again for the Power. An RBI ground out drove in Howard, then Marquez’s single scored both Vasquez and Emsley-Pai to tie the score at 6-6. The Power took the lead in the 4th on Curry’s lead-off home run.
Trent Stevenson relieved Cain to begin the 3rd inning, and he pitched 3 scoreless innings. He allowed 3 hits and struck out one. The Power bats suddenly went quiet after the 4th, with no more hits until the 7th, when Howard tripled. Emsley-Pai and Marquez both walked, but two ground outs and a strikeout left all three on base. Jason Townsend pitched the 6th inning for the Power, allowing just one hit. Casey Sadler came on to pitch the 7th, and with one out, Sadler gave up three consecutive singles. The third hit went to Howard in right field, and Howard’s throw back to the plate was right to Emsley-Pai, who tagged out the lead runner at the plate. But the next batter doubled to tie the score again, and the fourth single of the inning drove in the winning walk-off run.