More extended comments on Altoona's game at the bottom.
-- Despite blowing one-run leads in the bottom of the 8th and 11th innings, Indianapolis beat Columbus, 6-3, in 12 innings. Vance Worley went eight, giving up two runs on eight hits. He walked none and struck out two, but gave up a two-out HR in the 8th that tied the game. Indy went up again in the 11th, but Blake Wood gave up a leadoff HR to tie the game before striking out the side. Gorkys Hernandez was 2-4 with a double and John Bowker 2-6 with a double. Keon Broxton hit his sixth AAA HR. Willy Garcia hit a two-run single in the 12th that put Indy up for good. He hit it off Dustin Molleken, whom the Pirates drafted in
1903 2003. Alen Hanson was 1-4 with two walks and two steals, giving him 35 of the latter. None of the six players reported to be heading for the majors (Travis Snider, Pedro Florimon, Elias Diaz, Jaff Decker, Radhames Liz and Bobby LaFromboise) appeared in the game.
-- Bradenton got by Palm Beach, 4-3. Austin Meadows and Harold Ramirez each went 3-4 and Jin-De Jhang 2-4. Meadows and Jhang had doubles. Felipe Gonzalez gave up one run in six and two-thirds innings. Montana DuRapau allowed a two-run HR in the 9th, but got the last out for the save.
-- West Virginia lost to Lexington, 8-1. Stephen Tarpley pitched another strong game after two errors and a passed ball cost him two unearned runs in the 1st. He threw five scoreless innings after that, allowing just three hits and two walks total in the game and striking out five. Kevin Newman went 3-4, raising his average with the Power to .299. Kevin Kramer was 1-4.
-- Morgantown lost to Batavia, 5-4. Mitchell Tolman and Daniel Arribas each went 2-4 with a double. Ke'Bryan Hayes went 1-4. Carlos Munoz pinch hit for Casey Hughston, who had struck out three times, and fanned himself. Starter Juan Paula gave up three runs, two earned, in three innings.
-- Bristol rallied for two runs in the top of the 9th to take a 5-4 lead over Elizabethton, only to give up single runs in the bottom of the 9th and 10th to suffer a 6-5 loss. Raul Siri hit a three-run HR, his first in the Appalachian League. Erik Lunde was 2-4, and Nick Buckner and Carlos Ozuna each 2-5. Lunde and Ozuna each had a double. Mitch Keller had some control issues, walking three and giving up four hits in three and two-thirds innings. He was charged with two runs, one earned, and fanned six.
-- Poor infield defense proved fatal as Altoona lost, 7-4, to Bowie. The Curve got a good start from Zack Dodson (pictured), who left with two outs and none on in the 8th, and a 4-3 lead, only to see the fielding cave in behind John Kuchno. Kuchno's first batter grounded hard right at Eric Wood at third, who booted the ball. The next hitter grounded a chopper up the middle that second baseman Erich Weiss fielded behind the bag, but Max Moroff, playing short, didn't get to the second base bag quickly and Weiss' toss reached him when he was off the bag. The next batter grounded to Moroff's right and Moroff fumbled the ball to load the bases. A hit batsman forced in the tying run and two line singles plated three more.
Altoona hit very few balls hard against a good lefty who threw in the low-90s. Their eight hits were mostly the product of swinging bunts and seeing-eye grounders. Erich Weiss and Jose Osuna each went 2-4, in both cases including a slow roller down the line and a grounder that just got through the infield. Just a couple of individual comments:
-- Dodson has frequently, but not always, struggled since the early season. I wonder whether I saw the reason today, as what used to be a low-90s fastball sat at just 85-88, hitting 89 a few times and 91 once. He threw two breaking balls, a tight slider that was generally in the low-80s and a big curve that came in as low as 68 mph. Both pitches had good break and produced swings and misses, and Dodson generally was able to get them over for strikes. He gave up three runs in the first five innings, throwing mostly fastballs. One came on a long HR, one on a double and a single, and one as the result of an error. Over his last few innings, Dodson went heavily with the breaking balls and had little trouble. He'll be a minor league free agent after the season unless the Pirates add him to the 40-man roster, which I can't see happening.
-- I've been watching Jose Osuna since he moved to first base for good in 2012. For the first couple years he was pretty awkward, although possibly not as much so as Josh Bell is now. He's improved significantly and looks like an average or better defensive player. He had two chances today to turn double plays on grounders right at the bag, both of which required him to step on first and throw to second for the tag play. He was flawless on the first, but on the second hit the runner in the helmet, eventually costing Dodson a run. I'm not sure it was Osuna's fault, as the runner didn't slide for some reason. Anyway, if Osuna is any example, I'd say it's too soon to panic over Bell's defense. Or not. First base is, after all, incredibly hard.