One win on Monday night in the Pirates’ lower minor leagues:
Akron Aeros 6, Altoona Curve 5
CF Starling Marte had 3 hits for the Curve in their loss in Akron. Starter Aaron Pribanic gave up only a double over the first 3 innings, then surrendered a solo homer in the 4th. Akron scored 2 runs in the 5th, when rehabbing Cleveland Indians’ star Grady Sizemore doubled after two singles.
The Curve had only one hit, a single by LF Quincy Latimore, in their first 5 innings, though they also had two batters reach on errors — 2B Brock Holt in the 3rd and C Tony Sanchez in the 4th. Down 3-0 going into the top of the 6th, the Curve got going. With one out, Marte beat out a bunt single, and SS Jordy Mercer walked. Sanchez also beat out an infield single to third to load the bases, and 1B Miles Durham’s line drive into left field brought in Marte, leaving the bases loaded again. Latimore plated Mercer with a sacrifice fly. Then 3B Jeremy Farrell drove in Sanchez and Durham when he tripled into center field, giving the Curve a 4-3 lead.
Tim Alderson relieved Pribanic to begin the 6th inning. He gave up two singles in that inning, but kept the Aeros from scoring. Akron also singled twice in the bottom of the 7th, including one by Sizemore, but this time, a throwing error by Holt on the force attempt let in one unearned run. After a ground out, a double drove in two more runs, also unearned, and Akron had the lead back, 6-4.
The Curve added one more run in the 8th, when Latimore walked, then came around to score on Farrell’s double into right field. Walks to DH Eric Fryer and RF Brad Chalk loaded the bases again, but the Curve could not capitalize, and all three were left stranded. Tom Boleska finished the game for the Curve with a 1-2-3 inning in the 8th. Alderson was charged with the loss, as well as a Blown Save.
A win, a loss, and a rainout in the rest of the Pirates’ minor league organization on Friday evening. The rainout was in West Virginia, where the Power were getting soggy. They will play a double header on Saturday.
Bradenton Marauders 13, Charlotte Stone Crabs 0
And a shutout win, at that. The Marauders blasted 13 runs on 13 hits, while the pitching staff held Charlotte scoreless on 6 hits. The scoring began in the bottom of the 1st, when CF Evan Chambers walked and rehabbing major league catcher Chris Snyder homered over the left field wall. LF David Rubinstein got the fun started in the 2nd inning with a line drive single into right field. A single by 1B Cole White and a walk to SS Benji Gonzalez loaded the bases, then another walk to RF Robbie Grossman forced in Rubinstein. 2B Jarek Cunningham drove in White and Gonzalez with a double, and Grossman scored on Chambers’ sacrifice fly. Snyder added a single, to drive in Cunningham with the 5th run of the inning. Walks to DH Calvin Anderson and Rubinstein loaded the bases again, but a ground out ended the rally.
Rubinstein also began the Marauders’ rally in the 5th. Three consecutive singles, by Rubinstein, White, and 3B Elevys Gonzalez, loaded the bases without an out. Benji Gonzalez’s ground out brought in Rubinstein, and a single by Grossman plated both White and Elevys Gonzalez. A walk to Cunningham and a single by Chambers loaded the bases again. That set up Snyder, who cleared the bases with a double into deep center field, and gave the Marauders 6 runs in that inning, for a 13-run lead. Rubinstein’s third single plus walks to both Gonzalez-es loaded the bases again in the 8th, but a strikeout ended that inning with all three still on base.
The Marauders’ pitching staff was having as much fun as the hitters. Joe Beimel, also on a rehab assignment, pitched the first inning, and retired the side in order on three ground outs. After Beimel’s inning, Matt McSwain came on to pitch. He allowed only one single in his first 3 innings, and retired that runner with a double play. He allowed two singles to lead off the 5th inning, but another double play got him out of that small jam. McSwain finished his outing with 5 scoreless innings, three hits, no walks, and no strikeouts, earning the win. Jeff Inman pitched 2 scoreless innings, allowing just 2 hits, and Gabriel Alvarado also allowed a hit and a walk in the final inning.
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.
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.
Lots of action for the Pirates’ minor league affiliates on Thursday….
Richmond Flying Squirrels� 9,� Altoona Curve� 6�� (Game 1)..� (box)
This was the wrap-up of a suspended game from… awhile back.� 2B Jordy Mercer had 3 hits in the game with an RBI, and LF Jim Negrych had a single, a double, and an RBI for the Curve.� The Curve scored first, with 3 runs in the bottom of hte 1st, on a double by 3B Shelby Ford, an RBI single by Mercer, walks to both C Kris Watts and LF Brandon Jones (back when he was still on the team), and a 2-RBI single by RF Miles Durham.
Richmond came back to tie the score with 3 runs in the top of the 2nd, on four singles and a throwing error by 1B Matt Hague. Then they took the lead with another 3 runs in the top of the 3rd, on a walk and three doubles.� Starter Tim Alderson was responsible for 6 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits and a walk over 3 innings.� Dustin Molleken took over for Alderson, and retired the side in the top of the 4th inning.� The Curve began the bottom of the inning with a walk to Durham, a single by CF Anthony Norman, and a sacrifice bunt by Molleken, to put both runners into scoring position.� That was when play was halted.� When the game resumed, SS Chase d’Arnaud singled, scoring Durham.� PH/3B Josh Harrison grounded to short, which let Norman score also.� Mercer singled again, but was left on base.� The Curve had closed the gap, 6-5
Derek Hankins took over for Molleken after the restart.� He pitched 5 innings, scattering two hits and a walk over the first four of those innings.� The Curve also put runners on base in the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings, but did not score.
In the top of the 9th, Hankins gave up a single and an RBI double, then three more singles, increasing Richmond’s lead to 9-5.� The Curve got one of the runs back in the bottom of the 9th, when Hague walked, and moved to third on a fielding error that also put Watts on base.� Jim Negrych singled into left field, bringing in Hague from third.� Watts also tried to score, coming from second base, but he was out at the plate on the throw in from left field, ending the game.
Curve� 5,� Flying Squirrels� 1�� (Game 2)..� (box)
The Curve turned the tables in the second game, which was scheduled for only 7 innings.� Rudy Owens buzzed through 6 scoreless innings, allowing only 2 hits and one walk, while striking out 5 batters.� He surrendered a single in the 2nd and a double in the 4th, then a walk in the 6th.� It was Owens’ 11th win of the season.� Daniel Moskos wrapped things up in the 7th inning.� He loaded the bases with two walks and a single.� A grounder force out brought in Richmond’s only run, but then Moskos ended the game with a strikeout.
2B Jordy Mercer’s bat was still hot, as he collected another 2 hits.� He and LF Jim Negrych both singled in the 4th, then C Hector Gimenez reached on a throwing error, which brought in Negrych with the first run of the game.� A walk to 3B Josh Harrison and singles by 1B Matt Hague and Mercer scored Harrison with another run in the 5th.� SS Chase d’Arnaud added three more runs with a 3-run homer in the 6th, also plating CF Anthony Norman, who had walked, and pinch-hitter Andrew Lambo, who had singled.