Big First Inning For Curve; Power Win In Extras

Two early games on Wednesday, plus a few more in the evening:

Altoona Curve� 6,� Erie SeaWolves� 3 (box)

The Curve and the SeaWolves played early and scored early this afternoon.� All the scoring was done by the middle of the 3rd inning.� The Curve began the game with 4 runs in the top of the 1st.� SS Chase d’Arnaud went 3-for-4 in the game, and he opened the game by beating out an infield single to short.� He then stole his 19th and 20th bases of the season, then scored from third on 2B Jordy Mercer’s sacrifice fly.�� 1B Matt Hague followed with a solo home run over the left-center field wall.� C Hector Gimenez, who had missed a few games due to illness, walked after the homer, and he scored when RF Miles Durham hit the second home run of the inning over the left field wall.

Erie came right back in the bottom of the inning, scoring 2 runs after 2 outs had been recorded.� After a hit batter and a walk, a grounder to third should have been the end of the inning, but a throwing error by 3B Jose De Los Santos resulted in two runs scoring.

Erie did more 2-out scoring in the 2nd inning, and it was even more costly for the Curve.� OF Gorkys Hernandez is already out for the rest of the season with a broken right ring finger, and now another key player, 2B Jordy Mercer, had to be removed from the game after being injured on a play.� With two outs in the 2nd, a pop up into short left field was “deflected” by Mercer, and fell in for a double as Mercer had to leave the game.� Much defensive shuffling ensued — De Los Santos moved to second base, Josh Harrison came in to play third base, Brandon Jones moved from DH to right field, Miles Durham moved to center field, Anthony Norman came out of the game, and pitcher Justin Wilson had to move into the batting order with no more DH.� After all the rearranging, Erie got two back-to-back singles, scoring a run.

The Curve were still up by one run, but they added some insurance in the top of the 3rd.� Matt Hague doubled and Hector Gimenez singled then stole second base, giving the Curve two runners in scoring position.� Miles Durham’s sacrifice fly plated Hague, then Brandon Jones doubled, bringing in Durham.

That was all the scoring.� The Curve collected only two more hits in the rest of the game — Chase d’Arnaud singled to begin the 4th and moved to second base on a wild pitch, but was left there; LF Yung Chi Chen singled in the 8th, but was forced out at second.� The 8th inning was the closest the Curve came to scoring again.� After Chen was forced out on Jose De Los Santos’ grounder, walks to d’Arnaud and Josh Harrison loaded the bases, but relief pitcher Tom Boleska, in what was probably his first pro at-bat, struck out to end the inning.

Starter Justin Wilson pitched 6 innings and allowed the 3 runs, only one of which was earned.� He allowed 6 hits and 2 walks, with 4 strikeouts.� After the 2nd inning, he gave up only a walk and two hits in the rest of his outing.� Tom Boleska had much better luck on the mound than he did at the plate.� He pitched 3 scoreless and hitless innings, striking out 3 batters.� He allowed only a walk, and immediately erased that runner with a double play to end the game.

Altoona’s RHP Derek Hankins has been promoted to AAA Indianapolis today.� He will join the Indians in Syracuse.� Hankins has made 6 starts and 20 relief appearances for the Curve this season and has earned a 5-3 record with 5 saves, and a 1.82 ERA.� Opposing batters have been hitting .215 against Hankins, who has allowed 58 hits in 79 innings of work, with 27 walks and 48 strikeouts.� To make room for Hankins, reliever Brian Bass will be assigned to Altoona, though this might be on paper only.

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Marauders and Spikes Win Shut-Outs

Sunday afternoon and evening with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates…..as usual, the GCL Pirates are off today.� The West Virginia Power and the Hagerstown Suns apparently did not have any sun, and their game was postponed.� They will try for two on Monday.

Altoona Curve 6,� Trenton Thunder� 4 (box)

The Thunder thundered early, but the Curve stormed back with 6 runs in the 5th inning for the win.� C Kris Watts and LF/CF Anthony Norman each went 2-for-3, and Norman picked up 2 RBI.�� Starter Tony Watson lasted only 3 innings, and he gave up runs in each of those innings.� A hit batter and an RBI single gave Trenton one run in the 1st inning.� A lead off� home run began the 2nd inning, then a single, a ground-rule double, and a sacrifice fly added 2 more runs in the 2nd.� Another lead-off home run in the 3rd gave the Thunder a 4-0 lead.� Jared Hughes relieved Watson and pitched 5 scoreless innings, scattering 3 hits and 2 walks.� He was credited with the win, since he was the pitcher of record when the Curve took the lead.� Derek Hankins gave up a triple in the 9th, but left that runner stranded to earn his 5th save.

The Curve had posted only 2 hits over the first four innings.� Then came the fireworks in the 5th, when the Curve sent 10 batters to the plate.� DH Brandon Jones opened the inning with a walk, then singles by RF Miles Durham and Watts loaded the bases.� Norman bounced a ground-rule double over the wall in right field, scoring Jones and Durham.� 3B Josh Harrison singled, bringing in Watts.� Norman scored on a throwing error when the Thunder tried to pick-off Harrison.� The Thunder got two outs at that point, 1B Matt Hague singled, plating Harrison.� Hague stole second base, and scored on 2B Jordy Mercer’s RBI single.� The Curve had only one hit in the rest of the game, a single by Norman, who was then caught stealing second base.

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Three Hits For Avila, Three RBI for Noris

Wednesday, with games going on all afternoon and evening….

Bradenton Marauders� 3,� Tampa Yankees� 1 (box)

A 3-run 5th inning was all it took from the Marauders’ bats this afternoon.� The inning began with 3B Jose De Los Santos reaching base on a fielding error.� RF Robbie Grossman singled, moving De Los Santos to third base, and LF Quincy Latimore doubled, scoring De Los Santos.� Both Grossman and Latimore scored on 1B Erik Huber’s single into right field.� Huber stole second base, but was left there when the inning ended on a fly out. All three runs were unearned.

Those three hits were half of the Marauder’s total for the game.� Latimore and Huber also singled in the 2nd inning, and C James Skelton walked, loading the bases, but three consecutive strikeouts ended the inning with all three runners still in place.� CF Austin McClune singled to lead off the 6th, 2B Adenson Chourio reached on a fielding error, but a double play ended the inning with Chourio forced out at second.� The Marauders went down in order in the last three innings of the game.

The only run the Yankees scored was also unearned.� Bradenton starter Aaron Pribanic pitched 5 innings and scattered 4 hits.� He came back out to begin the 6th, but was relieved after giving up a single and a walk.� Tom Boleska struck out the first batter he faced, then Skelton threw out the second runner as he tried to steal second in a double steal.� When the next batter reached on a throwing error by De Los Santos, the runner (who had stolen third base) scored from third.� Boleska pitched a scoreless 7th.� Tyler Cox allowed a single and a walk in the scoreless 8th.� Diego Moreno, who has finished his organizational suspension and has been reassigned to the Marauders, pitched a scoreless 9th, allowing just one walk.

Reliever Mike Colla has been promoted from the Marauders to AA Altoona, trading spots with Moreno.

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Locke Wins Curve Debut; Latimore’s Walk-Off Homer

Friday evening’s news….

Altoona Curve� 3,� Harrisburg Senator� 0 (box)

Three Curve pitchers combined for a shutout, as starter Jeff Locke earned the win in his Curve debut.� Locke pitched 5 scoreless innings and struck out 5 batters.� He scattered 4 hits, and did not allow a walk.� Tony Watson relieved Locke to begin the 6th.� Watson allowed only one hit and one walk, both in the 6th inning, then retired the side in the 7th and 8th.� Derek Hankins earned his 4th save with a scoreless 9th, as he worked around a lead-off double.

The pitching trio got their first bit of run support before Locke even took the mound.� SS Chase d’Arnaud began the game with a double into center field.� CF Gorkys Hernandez followed with a single up the middle, driving in d’Arnaud.� Hernandez stole second and reached third on a ground out, but was left stranded.� The Curve scored again in the 3rd.� D’Arnaud walked, and his base running blunder was erased by an error by the Harrisburg first baseman.� D’Arnaud was picked off first base and caught stealing, but when the first baseman missed the catch for an error, d’Arnaud advanced to second safely.� 2B Josh Harrison lined a single into right field, and d’Arnaud scored.

One more run scored in the 7th.� Back-to-back singles by RF Miles Durham and LF Brandon Jones put two runners on base, and Tony Watson’s sacrifice bunt moved them both into scoring position.� A wild pitch let Durham race home from third with the Curve’s final run.

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Bixler Returns; Krol Saves #21

IMG_3495The Pittsburgh Pirates have reaquired infielder Brian Bixler (photo) from the Cleveland Indians’ organization.� Bixler, who was originally drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 2004 draft, played in the Pirates’ organization for all of his career until he was traded to Cleveland in January 2010 for infielder Jesus Brito. Bixler did not make the Cleveland major league team out of spring training, and he was removed from their 40-man roster.� He has been playing for AAA Columbus, and has appeared in several games against the Indy Indians.� For the Clippers, the 27-year-old Ohio native has been hitting .278 with 13 doubles, one triple, 3 homers, and 27 RBI.� That’s about the same average but with a little less power than he showed with the Indy Indians in 2009.� Bixler has not been able to take his AAA level success up to the major league level.� In a total of 68 games with the Pirates, Bixler hit .178 with 7 doubles, one triple, and 5 RBI, and struck out 62 times.� Bixler will join the Indy Indians after the All-Star break.

The Indy Indians are off for their All-Star break.� The AAA All-Star game will be played on Wednesday in Lehigh Valley.� The game will not be on ESPN2 as in past years, but will be televised on the MLB network.� It will also be on-line on milb.com.�� More Monday action in the Pirates’ minor league organization:

Richmond Flying Squirrels� 6,� Altoona Curve� 3….. suspended (box)

They got into the 4th inning before rain halted play in Altoona this afternoon.� The Curve got busy in the bottom of the 1st, with a double by 3B Shelby Ford, and an RBI single by 2B Jordy Mercer. Mercer stole second, then went to third on walks to C Kris Watts and LF Brandon Jones. RF Miles Durham drove in both Mercer and Watts with a line drive single into left field.� Durham also stole second, but was left there when the inning ended.

Starter Tim Alderson retired the side in the top of the 1st, but struggled after that.� The Squirrels came right back in the top of the 2nd to tie the score.� The inning began with three consecutive singles, which brought in one run.� A throwing error by 1B Matt Hague loaded the bases, and another single drove in two more runs.� A sacrifice bunt moved two runners into scoring position — and provided the first out of the inning.� A hit batter loaded the bases again, but an infield fly rule pop out and a grounder force out ended the inning.� The second inning did not go any better.� A double, a walk, and a double opened the inning, bringing in 2 runs.� After two ground outs, another double drove in the Squirrels’ 6th run.� Alderson was relieved by Dustin Molleken to begin the top of the 4th, and Molleken retired the side in order.

The Curve went down in order in the 2nd.� Mercer and Watts both singled in the 3rd, though neither scored.� The bottom of the 4th began with a walk to Durham and a single by CF Anthony Norman, moving Durham to third.� Molleken’s sacrifice bunt moved Norman to second base, and that’s how things stood when play was halted.� The game will be resumed on August 26th.

After the game, Alderson was reassigned to A+ Bradenton.� He had made 17 starts for the Curve, and in 86.2 innings, Alderson had allowed 105 hits and 54 earned runs (5.30 ERA).� He had 26 walks and 57 strikeouts, and batters hit .307 against him. His record:� 7-5.

Jeff Locke is being promoted from Bradenton to Altoona — a pitcher swap.� Locke has a 9-3 record with the Marauders.� He also has 17 starts, for 86.1 innings, allowing 82 hits and 42 earned runs (3.54 ERA).� Locke has walked 14 and struck out 83, and batters hit .248 against him.

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