Altoona Curve 2, Richmond Flying Squirrels 0
The Altoona Curve put on a pitching demonstration in their home opener, as four pitchers combined for a shut-out and held the Squirrels to just 3 hits. Aaron Thompson made the start, and he dominated Richmond. Thompson retired the first 10 batters he faced. He gave up a walk in the 4th inning, but left that runner on base. He gave up a triple to lead off the 5th, but a grounder to third let 3B Jeremy Farrell fire the ball back to C Tony Sanchez, who tagged out the runner at the plate. Thompson had to work around a single and a fielding error in the 6th, but after a sacrifice bunt, two timely strikeouts got him out of that jam. Thompson also struck out 5 batters in his second win of the season.
The Curve posted 8 hits, and 3 of those were singles by RF Brad Chalk, who had been off to a slow start for the season (1-for-16). He singled in the 3rd, the 6th, and the 8th, though he didn’t score. Altoona scored their first run in the 4th, when Sanchez led off with a walk, then scored all the way from first base on 1B Miles Durham’s double into center field. SS Jordy Mercer belted a home run over the left field wall in the 5th inning for the Curve’s second run. That was all the offense that was needed. The Curve put two runners on base in the 6th, when Chalk singled and pinch-hitter Kris Watts was hit by a pitch, but both were left on base. They threatened in the 7th, when CF Starling Marte led off with a single into right field and stole second base. He moved to third on a ground out, and tried for home when Sanchez grounded to third, but was thrown out at the plate on a play similar to what the Curve did to the Squirrels in the 5th. Sanchez and LF Quincy Latimore also had singles in the game.
Mike Colla, Michael Dubee, and Noah Krol each pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the Curve. Krol allowed one hit in the 9th, but left that base runner on, and earned his 3rd Save.
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.
Wins all around for the rest of the Pirates’ minor leaguers:
Altoona Curve 10, Erie Seawolves 7
Three home runs and a 4-run 2nd inning sparked the Curve to their second win of the season on Sunday afternoon. The scoring got started in the top of the 1st, when 2B opened the game with a single, moved to third on CF Starling Marte’s double, and scored on SS Jordy Mercer’s RBI ground out. The Curve made it 5-1 with 4 more runs in the 2nd. DH Eric Fryer led off with a walk, but was forced out at second on RF Jose Hernandez’s grounder, though they avoided the double play. Holt singled, then stole second base, giving the Curve two runners in scoring position. Hernandez scored on Marte’s RBI ground out, Mercer drove in Holt with a double, and C Tony Sanchez followed with his first homer of the season, driving in Mercer as well.
The Curve tacked on another run in each of the next two innings. 3B Jeremy Farrell reached base on a throwing error in the 3rd, and scored on Hernandez’s double. Marte led off the 4th with a solo home run. They took a break for two innings, then Farrell added his 2-run homer in the 7th, bringing in Sanchez, who had singled. Altoona’s final run came in the top of the 9th, with a two-out double by LF Quincy Latimore, an intentional walk by Farrell, and an RBI single by Fryer.
Holt had 3 hits in the game, raising his average to .400. Marte (.375), Sanchez (.300), and Farrell (.313) each had 2 hits.
Jared Hughes made the start for the Curve. He pitched 4 innings, and allowed 3 runs. A double and a single gave Erie one run in the 2nd inning, then a walk, a double, and two ground outs scored two runs in the 3rd. Mike Colla relieved Hughes to begin the 5th. A hit batter and a triple gave the Sea Wolves one run in the 6th, but Colla kept Erie from scoring in his other two innings. Anthony Claggett pitched the 8th inning and gave up two home runs — a solo homer to open the inning, then a 2-run homer after a single. Noah Krol took the 9th, and loaded the bases with a walk and two singles, but got out of the jam with a strikeout and a game-ending double play. Colla earned the win, and Krol earned the Save.
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 had a busy Spring Training day today:
LHP (starter) Garrett Olson was claimed off waivers from Seattle. Olson is a 27-year-old California native who was the Orioles’ 1st round pick in the 2005 draft. He made his major league debut in July 2007, and split both the 2007 and 2008 season between Balitmore and AAA Norfolk. His combined stats for Baltimore: 10-13 record in 31 starts, 165 innings, 6.87 ERA, 111 K, 90 BB. And combined stats for Norfolk: 10-9 record in 29 starts, 164.1 innings, 3.12 ERA, 159 K, 55 BB. One big problem, though, is that he surrendered 35 homer runs over those two years. At the beginning of 2009, Olson was traded to the Cubs, and 10 days later was traded to the Mariners (with Ronny Cedeno) to the Mariners. He split both the 2009 and 2010 seasons between Seattle and AAA Tacoma. In 2009, he started 9 games for Tacoma, earning a 2-3 record and a 4.94 ERA, but in Seattle, he was also used in relief. He made 11 starts and 20 relief appearances for a total of 80.1 innings – and gave up 19 home runs. Olson made 6 starts and 6 relief appearances for Tacoma in 2010, then made 35 relief appearances in Seattle. His record in Seattle was 0-3 with 1 save, and a 4.54 ERA. In 37.2 innings, he allowed 6 homers, 15 BB, with 21 K. Throughout all these seasons, Olson allowed about as many or more hits as innings pitched: 79 hits in 80.1 innings in Seattle in 2009, and 42 hits in 37.2 innings in 2010. His overall major league total is 10.53 hits/9 innings. The Pirates plan to have Olson compete for a spot as a lefty out of the bullpen. Scott Olsen (oh, we’re going to have fun confusing those two) and Joe Beimel are also in consideration but have lost time time this spring due to injury. Brian Burres and Justin Thomas are also in the mix. In order to make a spot for Olson on the 40-man roster, the Pirates placed Kevin Hart on the 60-day DL. Olson is out of options, which is why the Mariners had to put him on waivers. If he does not make the Pirates’ active roster out of camp, then he will have to go on waivers again. The hits and the homers are concerning, and the Pirates will have to see how Olson does in some spring appearances in the next two weeks.
Phillies 3, Pirates 2
The Phillies rallied in the bottom of the 9th for a come-from-behind win over the Pirates in Clearwater, FL this afternoon. With Chris Leroux on the mound, the first two batters of the frame both singles. Former Pirate/Indian Erik Kratz bounced a pinch-hit grounder to third, but instead of going for the double play, 3B Jeremy Farrell went for the tag of the runner going from second to third. The runner avoided the tag but was called out anyway because he went out of the basepath. That left runners on first and second with one out. The next batter slapped a grounder to second, and though 2B Josh Harrison made a great stab to keep the ball from going into right field, he was only able to make the out at first. With two runners in scoring position, Leroux gave up a single up the middle, and both runners (including Kratz) scored, for the walk-off win.