The two minor league playoff series went in opposite directions last night, as Altoona went down 2-1 in the series against Akron and Bradenton opened the Florida State League finals with an 8-1 victory.
Altoona has to win the next two games in Akron to move on to the Eastern League finals. They will go with Brandon Waddell tonight and if they win to stay alive, then Tyler Eppler will get the ball on Sunday. Waddell has faced Akron three times this season already. He pitched once in Akron and had no control in that game, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits and six walks in 4.2 innings. Less than half of his pitches went for strikes that night. Akron seems to have a great eye against Waddell, or he just has trouble throwing them strikes all of the time. In 14.2 innings, he has issued 15 walks. The good news is that his last outing against them was one run over six innings.
As mentioned yesterday, Bradenton doesn’t technically have the home field advantage in their series, but since Tampa is having stadium renovations done, all of the games are at McKechnie Field. That means the last three games of the best-of-five series will see the Marauders bat in the top of the inning. Austin Coley gets the ball tonight, and not to look ahead to game three, but if Bradenton can win today’s game, then Mitch Keller will get a chance to wrap up the series. Before we get to that point, Coley still needs to get his team the win and that might not be easy.
Austin Coley had a strong start to the season, but things have fallen apart during the second half. In his last ten appearances, he has a 6.56 ERA over 48 innings. He has also faced Tampa twice this season and allowed a total of nine earned runs on 15 hits and six walks in 9.1 innings. Perhaps the worst part about that is that both of those starts came before his recent bad stretch. Meaning that even when he was at his best this season, they were knocking him around the ballpark. What that likely means is that he will throw six shutout innings tonight because baseball is a crazy game. Just don’t be surprised if he does poorly.
The two teams have had their bats working so far in the playoffs. Except for Clay Holmes, the Double-A showdown hasn’t been a series dominated by pitching. Altoona’s down in the series despite collecting 33 hits in the three games. They’re led by Kevin Newman with a .538 average and Stetson Allie hitting seven points higher. Bradenton has been even better, collecting 37 hits and scoring 23 runs. That has led to them winning all three playoff games so far. After a horrible first game (0-for-5, four strikeouts) Connor Joe has been the hitting hero the last two games. He has two homers, scored five times and drove in four runs. Pablo Reyes has also been a nice bat with his 5-for-11 and three walks, all while playing three games in center field. That’s a position he played five times during the regular season
Just like on Friday night, we will have live coverage of both series, with Tim Williams in Bradenton and Sean McCool on a road trip in Akron. We even have live coverage of the Pirates from Alan Saunders so all three teams still playing are being covered live. Before you know it, we will also have live coverage from the Fall Instructional League. I’ll be headed there for the first time for instructs, just as soon as we get the schedule and I can figure out the best days to go.
**Here are the playoff schedules for Altoona and Bradenton, which will remain up in the Morning Report until both teams either win, or have been eliminated. Note that the FSL finals says “@ Tampa” for the final three games, but they will be played in Bradenton, with the Yankees batting in the bottom of the inning.
9/6: Marauders 11, St Lucie 6
9/7: Marauders 4, St Lucie 1
Marauders win series 2-0
9/9: Marauders 8, Tampa 1
9/10: Marauders vs Tampa 6:30 PM
9/11: Marauders @ Tampa 5:00 PM
9/12: Marauders @ Tampa 6:30 PM (if necessary)
9/13: Marauders @ Tampa 6:30 PM (if necessary)
9/7: Akron 12, Altoona 8
9/8: Altoona 3, Akron 1
9/9: Akron 9, Altoona 4
9/10: Altoona @ Akron 7:05 PM
9/11: Altoona @ Akron 6:05 PM (if necessary)
The Pirates trail the second wild card spot by a five games.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 4-3 to the Reds on Friday night. Drew Hutchison gets the start tonight, making his debut for the Pirates. He had two starts and one relief appearance for the Blue Jays this season, posting a 4.97 ERA in 12.2 innings. His last big league game was on July 7th against the Tigers, when he allowed three runs over six innings, while striking out seven batters. The Reds will go with Robert Stephenson, who is also making his fourth big league appearance this season. He made two starts in April, then got called up in September, giving up two runs over 5.1 innings to the Mets on Monday.
MLB: Pittsburgh (69-70) vs Reds (58-82) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Drew Hutchison (NR)
AAA: Indianapolis (70-74) (season preview)
AA: Altoona (1-2) @ Akron (2-1) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Brandon Waddell (4.12 ERA, 61:94 BB/SO, 118.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (1-0) vs Tampa (0-1) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (4.65 ERA, 44:90 BB/SO, 139.1 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (71-68) (season preview)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (38-38) (season preview)
Rookie: Bristol (25-43) (season preview)
GCL: Pirates (22-34) (season preview)
DSL: Pirates (27-42) (season preview)
Here is a home run from Stetson Allie, his 56th while as a member of Altoona. That ties the team career record for most between playoffs and regular season combined.
9/9: Curtis Partch and Kelvin Marte sent outright to Indianapolis.
9/7: Josh Smith assigned to Altoona.
9/6: Pirates recall Tyler Glasnow, Drew Hutchison, Trevor Williams and Pedro Florimon. Kelvin Marte and Curtis Partch designated for assignment.
9/6: Henry Hirsch assigned from Altoona to Bradenton.
9/5: Jung Ho Kang activated from disabled list.
9/3: Jacob Taylor assigned to Morgantown.
9/2: Pirates recall Jameson Taillon, Steven Brault, Jason Rogers and Adam Frazier. Chris Stewart activated from disabled list.
9/1: Jung Ho Kang sent to Indianapolis on rehab.
9/1: Pirates receive Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez from Mariners to complete earlier trade for Arquimedes Caminero.
8/31: Pirates trade Kyle Lobstein to Baltimore Orioles for Zach Phillips.
8/31: Logan Ratledge promoted to Bradenton. Alfredo Reyes activated from West Virginia disabled list.
8/31: Pirates release Raymond Rodriguez, Ramy Perez and Ramon Garcia.
8/31: David Whitehead assigned to Morgantown.
8/30: Tito Polo and Stephen Tarpley sent to New York Yankees as part of Ivan Nova trade from August 1st.
8/30: Jason Creasy and Jhondaniel Medina promoted to Indianapolis.
8/30: Justin Maffei and Trace Tam Sing assigned to Indianapolis.
8/30: Henry Hirsch and Junior Lopez promoted to Altoona
8/30: Nick Neumann activated from Bradenton disabled list.
8/30: Alen Hanson promoted to Pirates. Jameson Taillon and Steven Brault assigned to Bristol.
8/30: Pirates purchased contract of Kelvin Marte. Kyle Lobstein designated for assignment.
8/30: Mitch Keller and Sean Keselica promoted to Bradenton. Scooter Hightower and Matt Frawley promoted to West Virginia
8/30: Mike Wallace promoted to Morgantown.
8/29: Pirates recall Steven Brault. Gerrit Cole placed on disabled list.
8/28: A.J. Schugel recalled from Indianapolis. Adam Frazier optioned to Bristol.
8/28: Pirates activate Tyler Glasnow from disabled list. Optioned to Indianapolis.
8/28: Justin Topa placed on disabled list. Henry Hirsch activated from temporary inactive list.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one Hall of Famer. We start with a disappointing player for the Pirates, 1958-59 first baseman, Ted Kluszewski. He was once a feared slugger, but the Pirates got him on the downside of his career. From 1953-56, he hit at least 35 homers and drove in at least 100 runs each season. With the Pirates, hit hit .284 and drove in 54 runs in 160 games.
Others players born on this date include:
Neil Walker, 2009-15 second baseman. I think you know who he is.
Chad Hermansen, 1999-2002 outfielder. Sigh.
Bob Garber, 1956 pitcher. Signed with Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1948 and missed time serving in the Korean War. Gave up one run over four innings in his only two Major League games.
Brandy Davis, 1952-53 outfielder. Hit .187 over 67 games in his only two years in the majors.
Kid Durbin, pinch-runner on June 30, 1909. His only game with the Pirates was also the first game ever in Forbes Field. The Pirates traded for him a month earlier and he ended up playing just that one game, which was his last Major League game. He played just 32 games in the majors, yet still played for three teams that won the World Series.
The Pirates had a young first baseman named George Kelly for a brief time during the 1917 season. He started the year with the New York Giants and when Honus Wagner got hurt, the Pirates got Kelly to replace him. Wagner was in his last season and playing first base. When Wagner returned, Kelly went back to the Giants. It didn’t look like a big deal at the time, but it could have changed Pirates’ history if they kept him.
Kelly was one of the leading run producers in the NL from 1920-25, averaging more than 100 RBIs a season. During that time, the Giants went to four straight World Series. That eventually led him to get elected to the Hall of Fame. During the Giants four World Series seasons, the Pirates finished second once and third three times, so having Kelly and keeping him away from the Giants could have made a difference those years.