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.
Altoona Curve 3, �Erie SeaWolves 2 (box)
3B Jordy Mercer was the man of the night for the Curve, as he went 3-for-4 at the plate, raising his batting average to .348. �He drove in two of the Curve’s three runs and scored the first and third. �LF Alex Presley went 3-for-3, and 1B Matt Hague contributed two hits and the remaining RBI.
Starter Rudy Owens earned his first win of the season. �He allowed one run on 5 hits and a walk over 6 innings, and struck out 5 Erie batters. �The run came in the 2d inning, on a single, a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and an RBI single. �Owens stopped the scoring at one run by getting the next batter to bounce into a double play. �Owens also worked around base runners in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th innings, then retired the SeaWolves in order in the 5th and 6th.
The Curve bats were quiet in the early innings. �Their first hit was a single by Presley to lead off the 3rd. �Mercer tied the score at 1-1 with his first home run of the season, a blast over the left field wall with one out in the 4th. �Hague and Presley both singled following the homer, but were both left on base. �The go-ahead run came in the 5th inning. �CF Gorkys Hernandez led off with a single into right field that had deflected off the Erie pitcher. �SS Chase d’Arnaud bunted Hernandez to second base, then RF Miles Durham was hit by a pitch. �That brought up Mercer, who doubled down the left field line, scoring Hernandez.
Owens was relieved by Michael Dubee to begin the top of the 7th. �Dubee retired the side in order that inning, but the top of the 8th began with a batter reaching on a fielding error by Mercer. �After a stolen base, a walk, and a strikeout, Dubee was relieved by Danny Moskos. Moskos got a grounder for a force out at third, then a second ground out to end the inning without a run scoring.
Mercer started the rally in the bottom of the 8th that gave the Curve an insurance run. �He led off with a triple into right field, which was followed by a walk to C Kris Watts, and two singles by Hague (RBI) and Presley. �With the bases loaded and one out, Hernandez grounded to third, forcing Watts out at the plate, and another grounder ended the inning. �The insurance run was necessary, because Erie scored one more time in the top of the 9th on a double and a single off Moskos, who held on to end the inning and earn his third save.
Altoona Curve 4, �Richmond Flying Squirrels 2 (box)
The Curve beat the Flying Squirrels tonight to earn a sweep of the 3-game series against Richmond. �Starter Jared Hughes earned his second win of the season (in two starts), going 5.2 innings and allowing 2 runs on 7 hits and one walk, while striking out 7 batters. �The two runs against him were both solo home runs — one came in the 4th inning and one in the 5th. �Hughes had little trouble until the 3rd inning, when a lead-off single, a double, and a hit batter loaded the bases with one out. �But Hughes left all three where they stood when he struck out the next two batters. �Besides the homers, Hughes gave up a walk in the 4th, then a single in the 5th. �The top of the 6th began with two outs, then Hughes gave up a single, and that was the end of his evening.
Reliever Michael Dubee came in for Hughes. �He loaded the bases with a walk and a single before getting a grounder for a force out to end the inning. �Dubee gave up a double to lead off the 7th, then retired the next three batters, including two strikeouts. �Jeff Sues earned his second save with 2 scoreless innings of work. �He gave up three hits and struck out two batters.
The Curve batters got onto the scoreboard first, when C Hector Gimenez led off the 2nd inning with a solo homer. �2B Josh Harrison followed the homer with a double. �He moved to third base on 1B Matt Hague’s ground out, then a squeeze bunt by LF Jose De Los Santos brought in Harrison with the second run of the inning. �Harrison scored again in the 4th inning. �With two outs, he beat out a single to short, then scored on Hague’s RBI double.
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.