All of the Pirates’ minor league affiliates lost their season openers on Thursday night:
Erie SeaWolves 3, Altoona Curve 2
One run in the bottom of the 9th made the difference, as the Curve lost in Erie, PA. The SeaWolves were first onto the scoreboard with a pair of runs in the 5th inning. Curve starter Bryan Morris had already escaped from two jams in the early innings. In the 2nd, RF Brad Chalk threw out a runner who was trying to stretch a double into a triple, then Chalk ended the inning when he threw to C Tony Sanchez to nail a runner who was trying to score from second base on a single. Morris loaded the bases in the 4th with a single and two walks, but a timely double play, 3B Jeremy Farrell to 2B Brock Holt, to 1B Miles Durham, ended that inning without a run scoring. Morris’ luck ran out in the 5th, though, when a walk and a 2-run homer gave Erie a 2-0 lead.
The Curve missed a scoring opportunity in the top of the 2nd, when Sanchez singled into left field, and LF Quincy Latimore lined a double just out of the reach of the Erie left fielder. But with runners on second and third, Erie starter Jacob Turner struck out both Farrell and DH Eric Fryer to end the inning. Turner allowed only two base runners for the next 4 innings — he walked Holt, and he hit Sanchez with a pitch. (Sanchez has got to stop being a magnet for opposing pitchers’ pitches.) After Turner left the game, the Curve were able to put men on base again. Farrell singled and Fryer walked in the 7th, though they didn’t score. The 8th inning began with back-to-back walks to Holt and CF Starling Marte. SS Jordy Mercer bunted them over to second and third, then another walk to Sanchez loaded the bases. Latimore came through again, with another double off the left field wall, missing a grand slam by inches, to plate both Holt and Marte and tie the game at 2-2.
Reliever Anthony Claggett finished the 5th inning for Morris with a strikeout and a pickoff of one of the runners Morris had put on base. Aaron Pribanic and Jared Hughes each pitched a perfect inning, with one strikeout for Pribanic and two for Hughes. Michael Dubee struck out the side in the 8th inning to preserve the tie. The Curve batters could not get anything going in the top of the 9th, though, and Dubee came back out to pitch the bottom of the 9th. With one out, a single and a stolen base put a runner in scoring position, and a ground out moved him to third base. Then a sinking line drive, just inches away from the diving Latimore’s glove, fell in for a hit, scoring the runner from third base for the walk-off win.
Dubee was charged with the loss. Morris got a no-decision, with 2 runs on 4 hits and 5 walks, plus 3 strikeouts, in 4.1 innings. The Curve had just 4 hits, two of them doubles by Latimore.
The Pirates played two split-squad spring training games this afternoon (Monday):
Orioles 6, Pirates 4
The Pirates were held to 5 hits at McKechnie field this afternoon, but one of the big ones was a 2-run homer over the left field wall in the bottom of the 9th by RF Miles Durham, who was up from minor league camp. 1B Lyle Overbay also singled for the Pirates, scoring the first Pirates’ run of the game in the 5th. 3B Pedro Alvarez knocked in the remaining run for the Pirates, in the 6th inning. LF Jose Tabata led off the inning with a single, stole second base, then scored on Alvarez’s single Alvarez also doubled for the Pirates.
LF John Bowker, SS Brian Friday, CF Mel Rojas, 3B Andy Marte, 1B Steve Pearce, 2B Chase d’Arnaud, 2B Jim Negrych, and C Wyatt Toregas all got into the game for the Pirates.
Paul Maholm took the loss for the Pirates. He gave up a run in the 1st inning on a double and a single, then another on a solo homer in the 2nd. Jeff Locke allowed a run on two hits in the 6th. He allowed a single and a walk, then with two outs, an RBI single brought in a run. Justin Wilson got the first out, then walked the next three batters to load the bases in the 8th. A double and a sacrifice fly drove in all three of the base runners. Jeff Karstens pitched 2 scoreless innings, then Tyler Yates, and Mike Crotta each pitched a scoreless frame. Cesar Valdez finished up the 8th for Karstens, then pitched a scoreless 9th, facing only 4 batters.
Continuing to look at Pirates’ minor leaguers as we move further into spring training…. Today we’ll look at three outfielders all acquired in the 2010 amateur draft.
Mel Rojas Jr. — Bats both/ throws right, 6′ 3″, 200 lb
Rojas was the first position player the Pirates took in the 2010 draft, going in the third round. The 20-year-old, who came out of junior college in Illinois, is thought to have all the tools, plus a major league pedigree. He had enough speed to play center field in State College, and combined with base running smarts, he stole 61 bases in his college season. The steals dried up at State College, but Rojas also did not get on base nearly as much, hitting only .207 for the Spikes. He did better in July (.265) than in August (.175), but almost identically against righties vs. lefties (.207 vs. .209). Strikeouts were a big problem. Still, the Pirates seemed encouraged by Rojas’ pro debut, and also seemed to take into account the fact that he was playing with older players, who had had more college experience. They hope that he develops some power over the next few years. He will probably be assigned to West Virginia to begin the 2011 season.
Dan Grovatt – L/L, 6′ 1″, 195 lb
Grovatt was chosen in the 11th round of the draft, coming out of his junior year at University of Virginia. He’d had two strong seasons at UV, hitting .324 and .356 in those years. Grovatt slumped in his junior year, hitting .291, though his 9 homers and 60 RBI were both more than in either of his previous seasons. He attributed the slump in part to a ligament injury in his left elbow. That was also part of the reason that he signed with the Pirates at the last moment, instead of returning to UV for his senior year. Because he signed late, Grovatt got in only 3 games in his pro debut with the GCL Pirates. He went 2-for-22, and both hits were doubles, for 2 RBI. He had good strike zone judgement in college, though not a lot of power, with an unusual swing, which the Pirates may end up tinkering with. Grovatt might spend a little time at State College, but seems slated to move to West Virginia to begin 2011.
Sunday’s action with the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates… this is the season finale for the Spikes, and the regular season finale for the Marauders.
West Virginia Power� 4,� Hagerstown Suns� 3 ….��� (box)
Elevys Gonzalez was the hero in the bottom of the 10th inning with a blast over the right-center field wall for a walk-off homer.� The Suns had scored first with a solo home run off Power starter Eliecer Navarro to lead off the 2nd inning and another solo blast to begin the 4th inning.� Navarro scattered 5 more hits over the rest of the first 5 innings without allowing a run to score.� He began the 6th inning by giving up a walk, then an RBI double to give the Suns their third run.� Maurice Bankston relieved Navarro to finish the 6th inning, then went on to pitch 2 scoreless innings.
The Power got one run back in the bottom of the 4th, with the help of 3 consecutive walks.� CF Evan Chambers walked first, but was caught stealing second base.� Walks to 1B Aaron Baker and DH Jose Hernandez put two runners on base, then C Ramon Cabrera skipped a ground-rule double over the left-center field wall, scoring Baker.� A pop out ended the inning without any further scoring.
The bottom of the 7th began with the Power trailing 3-1.� Cabrera led off with a line drive single up the middle, then LF Rogelios Noris doubled, and 3B Andy Vasquez tripled, tying the score as both Cabrera and Noris scored.� Vasquez was cut down after rounding third base, on the throw in from the outfield.
Bankston hit a batter with a pitch in the bottom of the 8th, but left him stranded.� Jhonathan Ramos pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th.� The Power went down in order in ther 8th.� Noris singled and stole second base in the bottom of the 9th, but could not come around to score, and the game went into extra innings.� Ramos gave up a one-out single in the top of the 10th, but then struck out the next two batters.� That set up the bottom of the 10th, when Elevys Gonzalez greeted the new Suns’ reliever with the game-winning homer.
On Friday night, all of the Pirates’ minor league affiliates lost.� On Saturday night, all but State College won….
Bradenton Marauders� 4,� Charlotte Stone Crabs� 2 …���� (box)
The Marauders assured themselves at least a spot in the playoffs with this win tonight.� Nate Adcock won his 11th game of the season with 2 runs allowed in 5.2 innings of work.� He gave up a run in the bottom of the 1st, with a 2-out walk, a wild pitch, and two singles.� He surrendered another run on a walk and a double to lead off the 3rd inning.� He scattered 4 more hits, but left two stranded and erased two with double plays.� In the top of the 6th, Adcock got two outs and gave up a single, then that runner stole both second and third base.� He was relieved by Kyle McPherson, who finished that inning with a strikeout, then gave up just one hit over the next 2 innings, including 3 more strikeouts.� Noah Krol earned his league-leading 34th save of the season with a scoreless 9th inning, working around a missed catch error.
Bradenton picked up one run in the 2nd inning, when C Eric Fryer singled, then moved to second base on a groundout.� 3B Adam Davis’ RBI single brought in Fryer.� The Marauders were on the receiving end of several walks over the next few innings — one in the 3rd to SS Shelby Ford, one in the 4th to Fryer, three in the 5th to DH Jordan Newton, 2B James Skelton, and RF Robbie Grossman to load the bases — but all were left on base.� They did score again in the 6th, when LF Quincy Latimore led off with a single.� He was forced out at second on Fryer’s grounder, leaving Fryer at first.� Davis singled again, advancing Fryer to third bse, then Newton doubled in both Fryer and Davis, to take a 3-2 lead.� They added an insurance run in the 4th.� Grossman singled with one out, then scored on CF Starling Marte’s double.� The Marauders threatened again in the 8th, as Davis was hit by a pitch and Newton walked, then Skelton bunted them both into scoring position.� A strikeout and a ground out ended the inning, but it turned out to not matter, and the Marauders season is going to continue beyond the weekend.