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Matt Morris Report: West Virginia loses no-hitter

I'm going to start off with Altoona because I was at the game.  With Angel Sanchez (pictured) starting, I went with low expectations despite the six shutout innings he threw in his first start.  He managed to repeat the feat, though, and Altoona blanked Richmond, 3-0.  Sanchez went six, throwing just 63 pitches, 46 of them for strikes.  He gave up five hits, walked none and struck out two.  John Kuchno pitched the next two innings and Yhonathan Barrios the 9th.  The Curve had little success against former Giants' top prospect Chris Stratton and three relievers, managing only three hits.  Josh Bell had two of them and drove in all three runs.

Some notes on individual players:

Sanchez:  His command was far better than I've seen before, as he got ahead of hitters and kept the ball down consistently enough that he allowed no long drives.  His fastball sat at 90-92, bumping up as high as 95 just a few times.  He threw a mid- to upper-80s cutter and slider, and just two curves.

Kuchno:  His fastball was anywhere from 88-96, with the harder ones, probably four-seamers, tending to ride high.  He threw little if anything else.  His control was erratic, but the Richmond hitters weren't willing to work the count, which helped him.  He did, however, give up two long drives that were caught.

Barrios:  His control was much better than I've seen before, as he consistently got his fastball over and threw 11 of 14 pitches for strikes.  The fastball was 94-96, except one time when it registered 102.  (The stadium gun failed to pick up about a third of Barrios' pitches for some reason, so I don't totally trust it.)  He also threw an upper-80s slider.  The first couple were too far out of the zone for the hitters to chase.  On the last hitter, though, he got a slider over, then got the hitter to chase a slider, then threw a 96-mph fastball by him to end the game.

Bell:  He had one bad AB when he fanned on a change that bounced well outside, but otherwise made hard contact.  He doubled down the RF line batting left-handed, which was one of the very few times I've seen him pull a ball, and singled to deep right-center batting right-handed.  In the field, he fumbled around with a very softly hit bouncer, although he recovered in time to get the out.

Curve hitters generally:  Stratton threw 90-91 mph fastballs and lots of changeups.  His command was mediocre at best, but it didn't matter that much as Curve hitters mostly weren't inclined to work the count.  Willy Garcia, Eric Wood and Sebastian Valle, especially, tended to chase most pitches.  There were some long drives that were caught (Stetson Allie hit one to the wall in left, Valle one to the wall in right-center) or went foul (Garcia had a drive to right blown foul by a stiff breeze).  Sanchez actually showed better strike zone judgment than most of the hitters, working a walk that led to Bell's two-run double following another walk to Max Moroff.  (In AAA and AA, there's no DH when two NL affiliates play.  It was nice seeing pinch hitters and double switches just like in, you know, real baseball.)

Garcia:  One Richmond hitter tried to stretch a single down the LF line into a double, which ended predictably.

Moroff:  He and Gift Ngoepe turned two nice 6-4-3 double plays.  They were routine, but the two turned them so quickly that the runner was out at first both times by more than you typically see on a routine 6-3 groundout.  Moroff also had a nice, over-the-shoulder catch on a pop fly well out into RF.  At the plate, he lined out sharply twice, drew a walk and reached on an error.

Ngoepe:  He's no longer switch-hitting.  I'll be curious to see whether it helps, as I've always thought he looked much better hitting right-handed.  He had a drive to center caught at the wall.  The guy has incredibly quick hands; on the two GIDPs, he barely touched the ball in making fast, accurate flips to second.

-- Indianapolis lost to Louisville, 2-1.  The Indians' offense continues to struggle, with just seven extra-base hits and no HRs through seven games.  Today they managed just three singles off journeyman Dylan Axelrod and two relievers (former Pirate Nate Adcock pitched the 9th).  Alen Hanson and Chris Stewart each went 1-4.  Brent Morel was 0-4 with four strikeouts and is hitting .118.  Adrian Sampson had a decent, although not very efficient, start, allowing the two runs in five and a third innings.  It took him 97 pitches to get that far.  He gave up seven hits and two walks, and struck out seven.  Pedro Florimon came in late as a pinch-runner, his first appearance in the Pirates' system.

-- Bradenton continued to hammer out hits to no avail in a 6-5 loss to Dunedin.  Barrett Barnes (now batting .450) was 4-5 with a double, Reese McGuire (.409) 2-4 with two doubles, and Austin Meadows (.385) 2-5 with a double.  JaCoby Jones, the only one of the team's better prospects struggling at this point, was 0-4.  Felipe Gonzalez gave up two runs over six innings and left with a 3-2 lead, but Henry Hirsch gave up three runs in the 7th.  Bradenton got a run in the 8th and then tied the game when Jordan Steranka led off the 9th with his first HR.  A very wild Clario Perez gave up a walkoff RBI single with one out in the 9th.

-- West Virginia got a seven-inning no-hitter from three pitchers in the opener of a doubleheader, but still lost, 1-0, to Hagerstown.  Starter Jake Burnette discovered a new variation on three true outcomes:  He faced five batters, striking out two, walking two and hitting one.  After he exited, no doubt due to a single-inning pitch limit, Jose Regalado walked in a run.  Regalado then retired 16 straight hitters and Eric Dorsch followed with a perfect 7th.  The Power, however, managed only four hits.  Cole Tucker was 0-3, Taylor Gushue and Tito Polo! each 1-3.

The second game was suspended due to rain after an inning and a half with the Power trailing, 1-0.