Altoona beat Bowie behind a big night from utility infielder Kelson Brown, who was subbing at short for an injured Brock Holt. Brown drove in Altoona’s first run in the first inning with a sac fly, scored a go-ahead run after leading off the 6th with a double, and drove in the eventual winner in the top of the 10th with a two-out triple. The left fielder missed a diving catch on the play or it would have been a single, but the run still would have scored. Brown finished 3-3 with the sac fly and a hit batsman. He’s now batting .351.
Nate Baker Battles Control Problems, Relievers More Effective
Altoona starter Nate Baker, who’s largely struggled this year, ran into control problems right from the start. He walked two and hit one batter in the first, leading to two runs. He managed to pitch scorelessly after that, but was lifted with two outs in the fifth as he’d thrown 94 pitches. He finished with three hits allowed and five walks, and he fanned only one against a weak Bowie lineup. Baker’s fastball sat at 89 and he showed a good change. His breaking stuff was less impressive as he generally lacked much control of it.
Three Altoona relievers had less trouble, with the only glitch being an ill-timed Vic Black balk. Kris Harvey followed Baker and threw an inning and a third, allowing one hit. Harvey’s fastball sat at 91, which is less velocity than he had earlier in his career. Black came on with the Curve up 3-2 and threw two innings. He allowed two hits and no walks, while fanning four. The one run came when the first hitter Black faced–the very weak-hitting Steven (son of Al) Bumbry–doubled to the opposite field, just missing a HR. After a sacrifice put Bumbry on third, Black got a strikeout, but he stumbled in a delivery to the next hitter, balking in the tying run. Black’s fastball ranged from 91-96, sitting at 94 until partway through his second inning he started hitting 96 frequently. He showed a low-80s breaking ball that could be either a slider or a hard curve, I’m not sure which. It had a sharp break at times. Black’s command still needs work, but he struggled far less to throw strikes in this game than when I’ve seen him in the past. In this game he threw 24 of 33 pitches for strikes. Duke Welker pitched the 9th and 10th innings to get the win. Welker’s fastball velocity was 96-99 in his first inning. It dropped a little to 94-97 in his second inning, and his control also became more shaky. He threw a slider that registered 88 at times. The slider still needs work, which probably is why Welker hasn’t fanned all that many hitters this year, just 6.5 per nine innings. Welker allowed just a walk in the two innings, and fanned one.
Notes on Other Players
— Quincy Latimore has been having a rough year, but in this game he went 2-4 and gunned a runner down at home with a perfect throw.
— Robbie Grossman went 1-5 with two strikeouts, just as he did the day before. The one hit was a triple to lead off the game.
— The Curve blew a scoring opportunity in the 5th when they had the bases loaded with one out. Grossman hit into a double play at that point, one of four the Curve hit into on the day. They nearly blew another scoring chance in the 6th when Matt Curry struck out with a runner on third and two out. Fortunately, Ramon Cabrera followed with a double lined over the leftfielder’s head. Cabrera now leads the Curve with 20 RBIs.
Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.