Less than 24 hours until the Pirates begin 2011, and just a week until the minor leagues begin their season… and a few more pitchers to look at:
Tyler Cox — Bats Right/ Throws Left; 6′ 3″, 200 lb
Cox was the Pirates’ 35th round pick in the 2008 draft. He pitched well for the GCL Pirates that year, but struggled at West Virginia to begin 2009. He was moved to State College, and had better results: an 8-3 record and a 3.93 ERA in 10 starts and 5 relief appearances. The relief appearances seemed to be a good idea, and in 2010, Cox was moved to the bullpen and pitched exclusively in relief. It seemed to agree with him, as he earned a 6-2 record and one save, and an overall 3.32 ERA in 62.1 innings. Cox did not allow a run in his first 3 outings (6.2 innings), and he gave up only 2 runs and 8 hits in the month of April, for a 1.35 ERA in 13.1 innings. He struggled in May, though, allowing 12 runs and 15 hits in 12.1 innings (8 appearances), for an 8.76 ERA. But when the calendar turned to June, Cox turned over a new page too — he gave up 2 runs on 5 hits over 12.2 innings for a 1.42 ERA. In July it was more of the same: 2 runs on 8 hits in 12 innings, and a 1.50 ERA. Cox had a streak of 14 consecutive appearances over June and July in which he did not allow any runs at all, not even unearned runs. The season ended with 4 runs on 11 hits in 12 innings over August and September, which boosted his ERA a little bit. Cox also bumped up his strikeout rate with the move to the bullpen — 70 strikeouts (10.1 K/ 9 innings), though his walks were a little high too (33, 4.8 walks/ 9 innings) when his control got shaky. Cox will turn 25 in a few weeks. He should be ready to move to AA Altoona for 2011.
Diego Moreno – R/R, 6′ 1″, 177 lb
Moreno is a 24-year-old Venezuelan, who has played only two seasons in the US. He pitched very effectively in two games in State College and 18 games in West Virginia in 2009, for a combined 1-3 record and 5 saves, with a 2.60 ERA in 50 innings. He was assigned to Bradenton to begin the 2010 season, and had great success against the Florida State League. He allowed one run in April, on 5 hits and one walk, in 13 innings, for a 0.69 ERA. He also struck out 19 batters in the month, including one outing on April 26th when he struck out 7 batters in 3 hitless and scoreless innings. He buzzed through May also, and didn’t get his ERA above 1.00 until his last game with the Marauders on May 22nd, when he allowed 2 runs on 2 hits (one was a home run). He gave up 3 runs total in May, on 6 hits in 13.1 innings, and finished his time in Bradenton with a 1.37 ERA in 26.1 innings. He’d walked two batters and struck out 39. Moreno was promoted to Altoona, and made his first AA appearance on May 24th (one hit and two strikeouts in one inning) — then went onto the DL with a shoulder strain. When he returned, Moreno made another 6 appearances for Altoona. He gave up 6 runs in that time, but 5 came in one game. His totals in Altoona, in 7 games were 6 runs on 10 hits in 7.2 innings and a 7.04 ERA. At that point, Moreno had an unfortunate incident with the Altoona staff, and was first suspended, then demoted to Bradenton. He made another 12 relief appearances for the Marauders, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits over 12 innings for a 1.50 ERA, and 18 strikeouts. Moreno should have another chance in Altoona to begin 2011.
Two of the Pirates’ affiliates in playoff action:
Altoona Curve� 6,� Harrisburg Senators� 4 ….������ (box)
The Senators and the Curve battled back and forth, with errors and poor base running on both sides, but it was the Curve who came out on top to even the best-of-5 series at 1 game each.� The Curve scored their runs on 7 hits, 5 of which were doubles.� LF Andrew Lambo and 2B Chase d’Arnaud let the way with two hits each, and Lambo contributed 3 RBI.
Harrisburg scored first, with an unearned run in the top of the first.� With one out, Curve starter Jeff Locke walked two batters, then got the next batter to ground to short, for what should have been a double play.� SS Jordy Mercer made the throw to 2B Chase d’Arnaud for the force out at second, but d’Arnaud’s relay to first base was off-target.� The batter was safe, and the runner who had been on second base came around to score.
The Curve got the run back again in the bottom of the 2nd.� 1B Matt Hague led off with a double, moved to third base by tagging up on C Hector Gimenez’s fly out, and scored on Andrew Lambo’s RBI ground out.� The Curve managed only a double by 3B Josh Harrison in the 3rd, then scored again in the 4th.� Hague and Gimenez opened the 4th with back-to-back walks.� Lambo rocketed a line drive down to the right field corner, bringing in Hague to take the lead.� RF Miles Durham grounded to short, but a quick play by the Senators going to the plate, had Gimenez out at home.� Lambo moved up to third base on the play, and he scored on CF Anthony Norman’s sacrifice fly.� Curve up, 3-1.
The Senators came right back in the top of the 5th to tie the score again.� Jeff Locke had kept the Senators from scoring over three innings, despite having runners on base in both the 2nd (walk and single) and 3rd (double and walk).� Another double led off the 5th, then Locke got the next two batters out.� The next batter lifted a fly deep into the left-center field alley, which sailed beyond Norman’s leap and to the wall.� Lambo couldn’t get to it either, and the runner scored.� The Senators made it runners on the corners when a short fly ball skipped off d’Arnaud’s glove and bounced away.� That was all for Jeff Locke, who had pitched 4.2 innings and allowed 2 runs so far, one earned and one not, on 4 hits and 4 walks, with 5 innings.� Derek Hankins relieved Locke, but he threw a wild pitch, which allowed the runner from third to score, also charged to Locke.� Hankins ended the inning with a strikeout, but the score was tied again, 3-3.
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.
Losses for all of the Pirates’ affiliates on Friday night:
Reading Phillies� 9,� Altoona Curve� 4 …������� (box)
The R-Phils attacked Curve starter Jared Hughes early, and the Curve bats could not keep up.� Hughes retired the side in order in the 1st inning, but gave up 3 unearned runs on a walk, a single, and two errors in the 2nd inning — the throwing error was by Hughes.� A walk, a double, and a single added 2 more runs in the 3rd inning.� In the 4th inning, Hughes gave up another 3 runs on two singles, a triple, and a double by former Indy Indian Tagg Bozied.� Hughes was done after those 4 innings, having allowed 8 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits and 2 walks, though he struck out 6 batters.
The Curve hitters were hitless in the first 4 innings.� The only batter to get on base was CF Anthony Norman, who reached in the 3rd on Bozied’s fielding error at first.� Two home runs, one by C Kris Watts in the 5th, and one by 2B Chase d’Arnaud in the 6th, got the Indians onto the scoreboard, but they were still trailing 8-2.
Each team scored in the 7th.� Tom Boleska had relieved Hughes to begin the 5th inning, and he retired the first 7 batters he faced in order.� Then in the 7th, he walked Bozied, then gave up a single and a double, allowing Bozied to score.� In the bottom of the frame, 1B Matt Hague led off with a single, then scored on singles by Watts and Norman, to make it 9-3.� The Curve added one more run in the bottom of the 9th, when SS Jordy Mercer, Hague, and RF Miles Durham led off the inning with three consecutive singles to load the bases.� Watts’ sacrifice fly plated Mercer, but two ground outs ended the inning without any further scoring.� Bryan Morris pitched two perfect innings to wrap it up for the Curve.
The Curve have won the Eastern League’s Western Division title, and will begin the first round of playoffs on Wednesday.� None of the other playoff slots have been settled yet.� The Bowie Baysox and the Harrisburg Senators are tied for second place in the Western Division.� The Trenton Thunder are in first place in the Eastern Division, with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats 2.5 games behind, with 3 games left to play.
Monday’s action in the Pirates’ lower minor leagues…�� The Altoona Curve had a scheduled day off.
Palm Beach Cardinals� 6,� Bradenton Marauders� 5 (box)
The Marauders wanted to celebrate the return of 3B Jeremy Farrell with a big win, but a 3-run 7th inning by the Cardinals spoiled their plans.� Farrell finished his rehab stint with the GCL Pirates and returned to the Marauders’ line-up for the first time since he injured his knee on a foul ball in mid-June.� Farrell got right back at it, doubling in a run in the 5th, and scoring in the Marauders’ 4th inning rally.
Bradenton was the first to have the lead in the game, when they scored a run in the 2nd.� LF Quincy Latimore was hit by a pitch, moved to second base on Farrell’s groundout, and scored on C Eric Fryer’s RBI single.� The Cardinals tied the game in the bottom of the 3rd with a solo home run, then followed the homer with back-to-back doubles to take a 2-1 lead.
The Marauders responded with 2 runs in the top of the 4th.� Latimore again got the rally started, this time with a walk.� Farrell grounded to short, but was safe when the Cardinals’ second baseman missed the catch on the flip from his shortstop.� Instead of what might have been a double play, the Marauders had runners on first and second bases with no outs.� A fly out let Latimore tag up and move to third base.� Fryer knocked another RBI single, scoring Latimore, and DH Jordan Newton RBI single brought in Farrell.
RF Robbie Grossman teamed up with Farrell to make it 4-2 in the 5th, when Grossman singled, and scored on Farrell’s double.� The Marauders picked up another run in the 6th, when 2B Adam Davis singled, then advanced to third base on a throwing error.� He scored on another RBI single by Newton.� Palm Beach got one of the runs back in the bottom of the 6th, on two walks and a single.
Nate Baker made the start for the Marauders, going 5 innings and allowing the 2 runs in the 3rd, on a total of 6 hits, no walks, and 3 RBI.� Yerfi Taveras, in his debut with the Marauders, gave up the run on two walks and a single in the 6th, but also struck out a batter and induced an inning-ending double play.
Tyler Cox took over for Taveras to begin the 7th, and he was charged with both the Blown Save and the loss.� He gave up a walk and a single, then a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third.� A fielding error by SS Shelby Ford allowed 2 runs to score (one earned, one not) and a throwing error by Farrell allowed the third run to come in (also unearned).� Duke Welker retired the side in order in the 8th, and the Marauders went down in order in both the 8th and 9th.