Lots of action in the Pirates’ lower minors on Tuesday, partly because of two double headers making up for the two postponements yesterday.
West Virginia Power �7, �Hagerstown Suns �3 (box)
Power starter Nate Baker pitched 8 no-hit innings tonight in Hagerstown, to earn his 6th win of the season. �He was not perfect, though. �After striking out the first two batters he faced, a batter reached base on a throwing error by SS Benji Gonzalez. A grounder force out ended the inning. �With one out in the 2nd inning, Baker hit a batter with a pitch, though he left that runner stranded on base. �From there, Baker retired the next 20 batters he faced, including 8 strikeouts. �Only three of those batters got the ball out of the infield.
Baker did not come out to pitch the 9th inning, probably due to pitch count. �Reliever Gabriel Alvarado took the 9th, and he was the victim of the Suns’ pent-up frustration and stifled hits. � Alvarado struck out the first batter of the inning, but then gave up a line-drive single, a triple, and a home run, as the Suns avoided both the no-hitter and the shut-out.
The Power batters provided Baker with plenty of run support, though not until the later innings. �C Ramon Cabrera had 3 hits and 2 RBI, while CF Evan Chambers, 2B Jarek Cunningham, and 1B Aaron Baker all had 2 hits. �The Power threatened in the 2nd inning, when Cabrera singled, Benji Gonzalez doubled, and Chambers walked, but a strikeout ended the inning. �They got going in the 6th inning, with a single by Aaron Baker, a walk to LF Jose Hernandez, and a 2-RBI triple by Cabrera. �DH Elevys Gonzalez followed with a double, scoring Cabrera, for a 3-0 lead. �They added another run in the 7th, when Chambers led off with a single and scored on Aaron Baker’s double.
Two walks, to 3B Jesus Brito and Cabrera, began the 8th inning, and a fielding error on Elevys Gonzalez’s sacrifice bunt loaded the bases for the Power. �Benji Gonzalez brought in Brito on a grounder force out, then Chambers doubled, scoring Cabrera. �Benji Gonzalez tried to score from first base, but he was thrown out at the plate. �Cunningham also singled, plating Chambers for the Power’s final run of the game.
Roster moves: �Relief pitcher Duke Welker has been promoted from West Virginia to the Bradenton Marauders. �Welker had made 20 relief appearances for the Power, earning a 1-1 record and 5 saves, with a 3.63 ERA. �In 22.1 in innings, Welker gave up 16 hits, 14 runs (9 earned), with 24 walks and 25 strikeouts. �Opponents hit .198 against him.
The Pirates have signed INF�Yung Chi Chen to a minor league contract and assigned him to Altoona. �Chen had been playing for the AA Midland RockHounds (A’s), but was released in early June. �He had been hitting .168 for Midland, with 5 doubles and 9 RBI in 28 games. �The Taiwan native has been a member of the Taiwan National Team, and was signed by the Mariners in 2004. �He played for AAA Tacoma in 2007 for just a few games before being sidelined with a shoulder injury, and in 69 games in 2008, when he hit .249. �Chen was claimed off waivers by the A’s in late 2008. �He split the 2009 season between AAA Sacramento (where he hit .283 with one homer and 8 RBI in 27 games), AA Midland (.324 and 10 RBI in 17 games) and the Arizona League A’s (.346 with one homer and 8 RBI in 8 games). �Chen appeared in his first game for the Curve on June 30th, when he went 0-for3 with 2 strikeouts.
Altoona Curve �7, �Reading Phillies �1 (box)
Tim Alderson earned his 7th win for the Curve, and he contributed to the offense too, with a 2-run homer. �It was not the first homer of Alderson’s career, though. �He hit one last year for the Curve and another, also last season, while pitching for Connecticut, while he was still in the Giants’ organization.
Alderson got into some trouble right away in the 1st inning, when he gave up what would turn out to be the R-Phils’ only run on a 2-out double and a single. �Then Alderson settled down, scattering a two more hits and two walks over the next 5 innings. �He retired the last 7 batters he faced in order.
After allowing that run in the bottom of the 1st, Alderson took care of the problem himself in the top of the 2nd. �LF Brandon Jones singled, and Alderson gave the Curve a 2-1 lead with his 2-run homer over the left field wall. �The Curve added 4 more runs in the 5th inning. �With one out, 2B Josh Harrison and 1B Matt Hague hit back-to-back singles. �3B Jordy Mercer’s grounder to first forced out Hague at second, but the R-Phils could not turn it into a double play to end the inning. �Instead, they gave C Hector Gimenez a chance, and he took it — a double into center field, scoring both Harrison from third and Mercer all the way from first. �Jones singled, bringing in Gimenez, and a fielding error in center field allowed Jones to advance to second base. �That gave him the opportunity to score on RF Miles Durham’s RBI single.
The next 11 Curve batters went down in order, until CF Gorkys Hernandez singled with one out in the 9th. �A passed ball let Hernandez move up to second base, and he scored on Hague’s RBI single. �Mercer also singled and Gimenez walked to load the bases, but a ground out ended the inning before the Curve could add to their run tally.
Derek Hankins earned his 3rd save for the Curve with 3 scoreless innings of work. �He gave up a walk and a single over those 3 innings, while striking out 2 batters.
Binghamton Mets �7, �Altoona Curve �6 (box)
The Curve thought they were in the drivers’ seat going in to the bottom of the 9th. �They were leading the Mets, 6-1. �Their starter Bryan Morris had pitched 7 innings and allowed only that one run on two walks and a single in the 5th, and he had scattered 2 other hits. �Reliever Mike Dubee had retired the Mets in order in the 8th. �Curve batters had scored 3 runs in the 2nd inning, on singles by newcomer LF Brandon Jones and C Kris Watts, an RBI force out by RF Anthony Norman, Morris reaching base on a wild pitch for strike three, and a huge triple by SS Chase d’Arnaud. They scored again in the 3rd on 1B Matt Hague’s 2-run homer after 3B Josh Harrison was hit by a pitch. �Harrison also doubled in the 7th and scored on Mercer’s RBI single. �So, the Curve thought things were going just fine.
Then the bottom of the 9th. �Diego Moreno came on to relieve Dubee. �He gave up a walk, then a wild pitch put that runner on second base. �After a strikeout, a single and a 3-run homer brought the score to 6-4. �Another walk and a single, and Moreno was relieved by Jeff Sues. Sues struck out the first batter he faced, then gave up an RBI single and a walk. �Now the tying run was on first base, and the winning run was coming to the plate. �Mets’ SS Luis Hernandez doubled into left field, scoring two runs to give the Mets the win.
Brandon Jones, who was removed from the Indianapolis Indians’ roster when Aki Iwamura was assigned to Indianapolis, was sent to the Curve “on paper” last week. �Now he’s there in body too. �Righty reliever Ramon Aguero, who has had an elbow injury, was promoted to the Curve from the Bradenton Marauders. �INF James Skelton was sent to Bradenton to make space on the roster.
Wednesday’s action in the rest of the Pirates’ minor league organization. �The West Virginia Power had the day off, wrapping up the South Atlantic League’s All-Star break
Altoona Curve �8, �Portland Sea Dogs �1 (box)
Bryan Morris pitched into the 7th inning in his 4th win of the season, allowing only one run on 6 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 4 for the Curve. �The first batter Morris faced doubled to open the gam, and Portland’s second batter lined a single into center field, complicated by a fielding error by CF Gorkys Hernandez, to score a run. �Morris gave up a walk, but ended the inning with 2 strikeouts, and put up zeros after that. �He retired the next 7 batters, before allowing two singles in the 4th, then getting out of that jam with a double play. �He breezed through the 5th and 6th innings, then gave up a single and a walk in the 7th, and was relieved by Jeff Sues. Sues finished the 7th inning, but loaded the bases in the 8th on a walk and two singles (one by former Curve Ray Chang). �He got out of that mess with two pop outs (all three of the outs that inning were pop outs). Diego Moreno, fresh off the Disabled List, pitched the 9th inning, allowing a walk amid three strikeouts.
The Curve batters provided Morris with plenty of run support, beginning with 4 runs in the bottom of the 1st. �With one out, the next 5 batters reached base on hits. �Singles by Gorkys Hernandez and 3B Josh Harrison were followed by a double by 1B Matt Hague, which brought in two runs. �2B Jordy Mercer singled, scoring Hague. �C Hector Gimenez doubled, moving Mercer to third base. �LF Alex Presley bounced to first base for a fielder’s choice, as Hague was tagged out at the plate. �Gimenez scored the fourth run of the inning on a passed ball. �RF Miles Durham got in on the act in the 4th inning with a 2-run homer, after a walk by Presley. �Gimenez led off the 6th with a solo homer, then Presley scored on a double and a fielding error on DH Shelby Ford’s ball to first.
Saturday’s games for the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates
Williamsburg Crosscutters �5, �State College Spikes �3 (box)
A full house sell-out in State College went home disappointed tonight, as the Spikes lost their home opener. �The Crosscutters scored 2 runs off starter Zack Dodson in the 2nd inning, on a walk, a single, a double, and a sacrifice fly. �Dodson gave up only one other hit in 3 more innings of work, and erased that runner with a double play.
The Spikes tied the score with a run in the bottom of the 2nd and another run in the 3rd. �A walk to 1B Gerlis Rodriguez open the inning. �A single by DH Kelson Brown, and a fielding error on CF Justin Bencsko’s ball to first base loaded the bases for the Spikes. �C Miguel Mendez drove in Rodriguez with an RBI ground out. �Another fielding error put SS Walker Gourley on second base to begin the 3rd. �He scored on 3B Chase Lyles’ line drive single into left field.
Mitch Fienemann took over from Dodson to begin the 4th. �After getting two outs, He gave up a single, a stolen base, and an RBI single to take a 3-2 lead. �The Spikes tied it up again in the bottom of the inning, on a double by Mendez, a passed ball, and a single by LF Melvin De La Cruz.
But the Crosscutters kept hammering at Fienemann, scoring a run in the 7th on two singles and a double, and another run in the 8th on four singles. �Sandobal Septimo finished the 8th for Fienemann, then pitched a scoreless 9th, despite giving up a double and a single.
Chase Lyles had two singles for the Spikes, and Justin Bencsko also had a single. �The Spikes collected 6 hits, while the Crosscutters posted 14 hits.