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Cannonballs Coming: Most of Pirates organization hits

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The GCL Pirates were postponed.

-Indianapolis beat Toledo, 6-1. Willy Garcia (pictured) homered, and Tony Sanchez had three hits, including two doubles. Keon Broxton went 2-for-4 with a triple. Adrian Sampson allowed one run over six innings, striking out three and walking two.

-Altoona lost both ends of a doubleheader to Richmond. Wilbur was at both games, and I believe he's planning on writing something.

-Bradenton beat Lakeland, 7-2. JaCoby Jones had three hits, doubling twice. Austin Meadows and Edwin Espinal had two hits apiece. Luis Heredia had a very strong start, pitching 6.1 innings while striking out eight and walking two.

The West Virginia Power outlasted Lexington, 10-6. Pablo Reyes went 3-for-4, and Cole Tucker doubled twice. Austin Coley allowed four runs over four innings, although he struck out five and walked two. Jose Regalado struck out five and gave up one run in three innings of relief to get the win.

-The West Virginia Black Bears beat State College, 7-3. The Black Bears offense had a breakout game -- Ty Moore led the way with three hits, and Casey Hughston, Maximo Rivera, Christian Kelley, and Kevins Newman and Kramer all had two. It appears not many of those were bunts, either. Newman hit his first pro homer, a two-run shot in the third. Dario Agrazal struck out seven batters and walked none over six innings, allowing just one run.

-Bristol lost to Bluefield, 10-9, in 11 innings. Carlos Munoz led the way with three hits, including a homer. Henrry Rosario, Logan Ratledge, Jordan George, Trae Arbet and Nick Buckner all had two hits. Neil Kozikowski gave up three runs, two earned, over five innings. Bristol relievers walked 11 batters.

-The DSL Pirates lost 4-2 to one of the Red Sox' teams. Domingo Robles allowed four runs, one earned, over five innings. Jeremias Portorreal, Mikell Granberry and Yondry Contreras all tripled.

UPDATE (WTM):  Altoona at Richmond.

Yep, the Curve lost both games, the first 2-0 and the second 2-1.  Even though they're one of the Eastern League's best hitting teams, every time I see Altoona at Richmond I feel like I'm watching the Pirates early this year, when the offense was completely dead.  Tonight they were victimized by two similar pitchers in different career situations.

The game one Richmond starter was Kelvin Marte, a 27-year-old non-prospect who's putting up good numbers this year.  He was similar to pitchers you see from time to time in AA.  His stuff was OK at best, a 90-91 mph fastball and no secondary pitch worth mentioning, with poor command.  The Altoona hitters got ahead in the count repeatedly, but couldn't resist the temptation to swing at pitches that were seldom over the plate, resulting in a long string of weak grounders and popups.  Tons of popups, which against a pitcher who isn't a Tyler Glasnow is a sign to me of poor approaches at the plate.  Marte struck out just one and got almost no swings and misses, but there was almost nothing hit hard.  The only guy who got good swings against him was Max Moroff, who singled twice.  The first time, though, Moroff lined a ball off the left-field wall, only to be called out (incorrectly) at second.  The left fielder got the ball in quickly, but I was surprised Moroff didn't have the speed to leg out an umpire-proof double.  There's just nothing else to say about the hitters; bad swing after bad swing was the norm.

The Altoona starter was Chad Kuhl, one of the organization's sinkerball specialists, although he hasn't been as extreme a groundball pitcher this year as he was last year.  His fastball ranged from 88-95, mostly 92-93.  I don't know whether there were some four-seamers mixed in with the two-seamers.  He got up to 94-95 more often in his last couple innings (he threw a six-inning complete game), which is also when he got away from a steady diet of fastballs, so I wonder whether he was mixing in a four-seamer more.  Other than a couple changeups to LH hitters, Kuhl threw nothing but fastballs until the 4th.  After that he mixed in a breaking ball quite a bit.  I'm not sure whether it was a curve or slider.  It was generally about 84-86 mph and Kuhl throws from a 3/4 angle -- similar to Charlie Morton but with less extension -- and breaking balls from that angle always look like sliders to me.  Anyway, the breaking ball looked flat, but nevertheless seemed to make him more effective.  The couple of balls hit hard against him came early.  Kuhl gave up five hits, of which only two left the infield.  The two runs were both unearned and came in the 1st courtesy of a soft liner that left fielder Jose Osuna muffed.

Richmond's game two starter was Matt Gage, another lefty with stuff very similar to Marte's, except he had a pretty good change.  Gage is only 22 and was called up, probably for a spot start, from low A, where his ERA was over 4.00.  Altoona hit a number of balls hard off him, but missed several scoring chances.  Oddly, though, Moroff looked awful against Gage.  His first two times up, he seemed unable to pick up the ball and struck out.  His third time, he evidently gave up and tried to bunt his way on, but bunted hard right back to the pitcher.  (Stetson Allie, the team's HR leader, also tried to bunt his way on, late in the game with the Curve trailing by one, with predictable results.  Brilliant.)  Osuna was the only Altoona player with two hits.

The Altoona starter was Matt Benedict, an organizational pitcher who seems to alternate good outings with awful ones.  He throws 87-91, with a decent change and curve.  Benedict retired the first nine, then had some trouble in the 4th and was taken out, probably due to a pitch count.  Both runs scored with two out and after Benedict left, one on a bad hop single that Josh Bell couldn't knock down, the other on an infield hit.  Richmond hit almost nothing hard the whole game, in fact the whole doubleheader for that matter.

Bell played only the second game.  He mostly looked bad against Gage, which maybe isn't surprising because he's struggled hitting RH all year.  The first time up he lined a fastball for a single to left, one of the very few times I've seen him pull a ball.  The next two times he got a lot of offspeed stuff which kept him off-balance, despite the inexperienced pitcher he was facing.  He struck out one time and bounced weakly back to the mound the other.  Bell had a couple nice scoops at first.