Holt And Cunningham Continue To Hit

Sunday afternoon with the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates….  the West Virginia Power were rained out in Charleston.  They will try for two games with the Greensboro Grasshoppers on Monday, beginning at 6:05 pm.

Altoona Curve  6,  Erie SeaWolves  5
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2B Brock Holt continued his hot hitting with two singles and a triple, as the Curve scored two runs in their last at-bat for the win.   The game began with each team scoring 2 runs in the 1st inning.  The SeaWolves began with a walk, a single, and a ground out, to put two runners into scoring position.  A double lined into center field drove in both runners.  Starter Aaron Thompson gave up another single, for runners on the corners, but he got out of the inning with a line out to third and a ground out.  

Holt got the Curve rally started with a lead-off triple into right field.  CF Starling Marte singled of the Erie third baseman’s glove and into left field, bringing in Holt.  A balk moved Marte to second base, then he tagged up and advanced to third on a fly out.  SS Jordy Mercer’s sacrifice fly plated Marte to tie the score at 2-2.  A fielding error in center kept Mercer on the bases, but he was thrown out as he tried to get all the way to third base.  The inning continued with 3B Jeremy Farrell hit by a pitch, then moving on to second with a stolen base and to third on a passed ball.  DH Tony Sanchez was also hit by a pitch, but a ground out ended the inning with the two still standing on the corners.  Two batters in a row being hit prompted the umpires to warn both benches.

The Curve took the lead in the 2nd inning, when C Eric Fryer singled, then RF Brad Chalk replaced him at first with a grounder force out.  Chalk stole second base, then scored on Marte’s RBI single into center field.   

Thompson allowed only a one hit over the 2nd and 3rd innings, then gave up a run in the 4th on a single, a stolen base, and a very wild pitch, as Erie tied the score at 3-3.  

Fryer was hit by a pitch to begin the bottom of the 4th, and that resulted in both the Erie pitcher LJ Gagnier and the Erie manager Chris Cron to be ejected.  Fryer was left on base as the new reliever Jared Gayhart retired the next three batters.  But Gayheart began the 5th by hitting LF Quincy Latimore with a pitch (not sure why he wasn’t also ejected).  Latimore was picked off first, though, and after a single by Mercer and a walk to Sanchez, Sanchez was also picked off first.  

The Curve took the lead again in the 6th.  1B Miles Durham singled, moved to second on Fryer’s sacrifice bunt, on to third on a ground out, and scored on Holt’s single lined into right field.  

Thompson finished with 6 innings of work, having allowed 3 runs on 6 hits with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts.  He was relieved by Anthony Claggett to begin the 7th, with the Curve ahead 4-3.  Claggett gave up two walks, but the first base runner was caught stealing, and the inning ended without a run scoring.  Michael Dubee took the mound to begin the 8th inning.  Dubee got a strike out, a ground out, and another strikeout — but strike three went wild, and the batter reached first base safely.  Dubee walked the next batter, then a double scored both base runners, and Erie had a 5-4 lead, while Dubee had a Blown Save.

But the Curve batters rescued Dubee in the bottom of the frame.  Sanchez walked to begin the rally, and was bunted to second.  Chalk doubled, and Sanchez scored, then Holt singled for his third hit of the game, and combined with a throwing error by the shortstop on the relay throw, Chalk also scored, giving the Curve the lead again.  Dubee pitched a scoreless top of the 9th, and the Curve and Dubee had the win.  

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Taillon’s Debut Cut Short; Curve Win In 11

Wednesday evening with the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates:

West Virginia Power  7,  Hagerstown Suns  1…… suspended in the 2nd inning
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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.

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2011 Prospect Watching: Alderson, Thompson, Dubee, And More

More pitchers in the Pirates’ minor league organization:

Tim Alderson —  R/R,  6′ 6″,  217 lb
Alderson joined the Pirates as part of the trade that sent Freddy Sanchez to the Giants in 2009.  There was some concern at the time that Alderson’s velocity had dropped.  He struggled a bit when joining the Curve after the trade.  He made 7 starts, for 38.2 innings, with a 3-1 record and a 4.66 ERA.  He allowed 20 runs on 39 hits, with 13 walks and 18 strikeouts, though 7 of those hits and 11 of those runs came in his last start.  Alderson returned to Altoona to begin 2010, and his velocity improved through the season, though it didn’t keep him from getting bombarded.  He’d had an odd delivery when he began his pro career, and the Giants had made some changes, thinking that the oddness would make him prone to injury.  Alderson wanted to go back to his original delivery, and the Pirates were ok with that, but it didn’t work out as well as he’d hoped.  In his first start, Alderson pitched 5 shutout innings and allowed 4 hits.  After that, things went downhill.  He gave up 12 earned runs over his next 3 starts, giving him a 5.49 ERA in April.  He made 6 starts in May — one was very good, going 7 scoreless innings with 4 hits, and one where he allowed one run in 6 innings, but the rest were problematic.  He finished May with a 4.32 ERA, allowing 16 runs on 37 hits in 33.1 innings.  June was no better, with a 5.11 ERA, and 14 runs in 24.2 innings, including one outing in which he did not get out of the 2nd inning.  Alderson gave up 15 runs in 12 innings over 3 starts in early July, and at that point, the Pirates decided to send him down to Bradenton, to be able to work on his mechanics more.  The move did not help tremendously.  He gave up 7 runs in 1.2 innings in his first start for the Marauders, then 7 more in 4 innings in the second.  Over the rest of the season, Alderson pitched 33 innings in 6 games (2 in relief), and allowed 18 runs, for a 4.91 ERA.  That added up to a 6.98 ERA for his time in Bradenton, and a 4-3 record.  In 38.2 innings, he allowed 30 earned runs on 47 hits.  Alderson struck out a total of 84 batters (5.8 K/ 9 innings in Altoona, and 5.9 K/ 9 innings in Bradenton).  He walked 40 (3.0 walks/ 9 innings and 2.7 walks/ 9 innings).  Alderson has said that he was surprised that he was traded from the Giants, and then was surprised and horrified to struggle so much in 2010.  He did feel that he was able to make some mental adjustments in Bradenton, even though his results were not much better.  He continued to work on his mechanics in the fall instructional league, and again in winter mini-camp.  The 22-year-old should be back in Bradenton’s starting rotation to begin 2011, hopefully with mechanics that are working.  

Aaron Thompson —   L/L,  6′ 2″, 190 lb
The Pirates picked up Thompson from the Nationals on waivers in December.  He had been the Marlins’ first round pick in 2005, and was traded to the Nationals in July 2009.  The Nationals had him at AA Harrisburg for all but one game in 2010 (one game at AAA Syracuse, with one run in 5 innings), and that was his third season at the AA level.  It was an up-and-down season for Thompson.  He allowed 8 runs on 24 hits in 27.1 innings for a 2.63 ERA in April.  That ballooned to an 8.31 ERA in May, when he allowed 28 runs on 54 hits in 30.1 innings — a 10-hit game, an 11-hit game, and a 13-hit game included.  June and July were kind of medium, when he earned a 4.17 ERA, and won 2 games.  The season ended on a shaky note, as Thompson allowed 28 earned runs on 43 hits in 33.2 innings, for a 7.49 ERA.  Neither his walk rate nor his strikeout rate were really good or really bad —  53 walks (3.5 walks/ 9 innings) and 95 strikeouts (6.3 K/ 9 innings) while at Harrisburg.  Thompson just turned 24 years old.  He could be assigned to AA again, or possibly give AAA a try, but both levels are going to be crowded in both the starting rotation and in the bullpen.  Because he was picked up on waivers, he’s on the 40-man roster.  

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Pirates’ Starting Lineup Shiver In Philly

Phillies  8,  Pirates  5

The Pirates’ regular starters played the entire game on a chilly night in Philadelphia — a big change from the weather they’d enjoyed in Florida for the past 6 weeks.  2B Neil Walker provided the offensive boost, reaching base in 4 of his 5 at-bats, with a walk, three singles, and one RBI.  Starter Ross Ohlendorf lasted 4 innings, and allowed 6 runs (4 earned) on 7 hits, one walk, and 3 hit batters.

LF Jose Tabata led off the game with a walk, and Walker followed with a single slipped into right field in the top of the 1st.  1B Lyle Overbay brought both runners in with a double, to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead.  The Phillies got one run back in the bottom of the frame, on a pair of singles and a throwing error by C Ryan Doumit.  Ohlendorf began the bottom of the 2nd by surrendering a solo homer to Phillies’ Ben Francisco, then loaded the bases with a walk and two hit batters.  A fielding error by SS Ronny Cedeno and a sacrifice fly brought in two more runs for Philadelphia.  The Phillies made it 6-2 in the 4th, when Ohlendorf hit his third batter of the game, and allowed 3 more singles.  

Minor leaguer Mike Dubee, whose father Rich Dubee is the Phillies’ pitching coach, pitched a perfect 5th inning for the Pirates.  Chris Leroux started the 6th inning and allowed a walk and a single, then an RBI ground out.  He was relieved by Garrett Olson, who finished the inning with a fly out and a ground out.  Jose Veras threw a 1-2-3 inning in the 7th.  Evan Meek took the bottom of the 8th, and began by giving up two singles, including one to former Pirate/Indy Indian C Erik Kratz.  A fielding error by Walker kept the inning going, and Kratz scored an unearned run on an RBI ground out.  

The Pirates scored again in the top of the 5th.  Pinch-hitter Josh Rodriguez and Tabata both walked to open the inning, and Walker lined into right field, where Francisco misplayed the ball.  Both runners scored and Walker ended up on third base, credited with a single.  CF Andrew McCutchen plated Walker with another single.  

The Indy Indians were scheduled to play the Las Vegas 51’s in Dunedin this afternoon — no word on the results. 

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Six-Run Inning Stops Pirates, But Indians Get A Win

Orioles  13,  Pirates  3
Indianapolis area native C Jake Fox beat up on the Pirates’ pitching this afternoon in Bradenton, with two booming home runs and 4 RBI.  The first homer capped a 6-run 3rd inning, when Pirates’ starter Ross Ohlendorf gave up four singles and a double before the homer.  Fox struck again in the 7th — Scott Olsen gave up a double to DH Matt Wieters, followed by Fox’s second homer.  Olsen surrendered a single and a walk after the homer, and he was relieved by Mike Dubee.  Dubee struck out the first batter he faced, then gave up an RBI single, before ending the inning with a fly out.  The Orioles added 3 runs in the 8th off Joe Beimel.  A double, a walk, and a single loaded the bases, then a single and two ground outs drove in the runs.  Former Indy Indian C Michel Hernandez singled for the Orioles in the top of the 9th, and scored on an RBI triple off reliever Sean Gallagher.  Daniel McCutchen pitched 2 scoreless innings for the Pirates, allowing 3 hits.  

While the Orioles were busy posting 20 hits, the Pirates managed 8.  Two of those were by 3B Pedro Alvarez, who also had the Pirates’ only extra base hit, a double in the 7th, which was ruled a ground-rule double.  That made a difference, because 2B Neil Walker had opened the inning with a walk.  He raced around and crossed the plate on Alvarez’s double, but then was called back to third base when the umpires ruled it a ground-rule.  Walker was left standing on third base, when a strikeout and a ground out ended the inning.  

The Pirates did score one run in the 2nd inning.  1B Lyle Overbay began the rally with a single lined into right field.  RF Matt Diaz grounded to short, forcing Overbay out at second, but Orioles’ shortstop (and another former Indy Indian) JJ Hardy made a throwing error on his relay to first, allowing Diaz to reach second base.  Diaz advanced to second on a fly out, and scored on C Jason Jaramillo’s RBI single.  LF Jose Tabata led off the 5th inning with a walk, and moved to second base on Walker’s ground out.  CF Andrew McCutchen plated Tabata with a single up the middle.  Overbay reached base on a catcher’s interference call, then Diaz brought in McCutchen with a line drive single into right field.  

Also getting into the game:  LF John Bowker, 3B Andy Marte, Corey Wimberly in center field, RF Miles Durham, RF Steve Pearce, 2B Josh Harrison, pinch-hitter Pedro Ciriaco, 1B Garrett Atkins, C Dusty Brown, and SS Josh Rodriguez.  Durham entered the game to play right field in the top of the 8th.  In the top of the 9th, he crashed into the wall trying to catch the ball that turned out to be a triple.  Durham was down for a few moments, but was able to get up and walk off the field under his own power.  Pearce took over for Durham in right field, then singled in the bottom of the inning.  Josh Rodriguez also singled in the 8th inning, and Josh Harrison worked a walk in the 9th.  

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