It’s on to Winston-Salem!

Good Evening Keys Fans!

The Keys try and snap a 20-inning scoreless stretch on Thursday night, when the club takes on the Winston-Salem Dash in the Ole North state. Frederick fell to Potomac 10-0 on Wednesday, as the Nationals scored multiple runs in three of their first three trips to bat.

Left-hander John Means gets the ball for the Keys in game one and will be opposed by Dash right-hander Spencer Adams. First pitch is slated for 7:00 p.m and the broadcast can be heard on 1450 AM The Source and frederickkeys.com. Doug Raftery has the call.

Tonight’s notes are below. Shake your keys!

Geoff

Thursday, August 27, 2015 · Game #130 · Road Games #67

Frederick Keys (61-68/29-30) vs Winston-Salem Dash (66-61/36-21)

LHP John Means (0-1, 10.80) vs. RHP Spencer Adams (1-0, 3.48)

ONE OF THOSE NIGHTS: The Potomac Nationals scored in each of their first four at-bats, tallying three different multi-run innings during that time, en route to a 10-0 shutout of the Frederick Keys on Wednesday night at Pfitzner Stadium. It marked the second straight game where the orange and black had been shut out by the P-Nats. Coupled with a Lynchburg win over Salem and it moved the Keys five games back in the CL North standings with 11 games remaining. Luis Gonzalez struggled over 2.2 innings, allowing eight runs (six earned) on eight hits. Four of those runs scored in the first, as Grant DeBruin drove in Rafael Bautista with an RBI single, before Narciso Mesa hit a three-run homer off the leftfield foul pole. DeBruin (walk) and Mesa (sac-fly) posted RBIs during a three-run P-Nats second, before an RBI double by Bautista and two wild pitches by Dylan Rheault in the fourth completed Potomac’s scoring. Optioned to the Nationals before the game, big leaguer Tanner Roark made the start and tossed four clean innings, while Brian Dupra followed suit to earn the win

LOOKING FOR A SPARK:  Offensively, the Keys have struggled since the first game of their Tuesday doubleheader at Potomac. The Keys have not scored a run in their last 20 innings (dating back to the third inning of game one on Tuesday). That marks the club’s second-longest scoring drought of the season. This year’s high is 28.2 innings from June 29-July 2 against Wilmington and Potomac. During that time, the Keys were also shutout in consecutive games (June 30-July 1).

SHUTOUT NOTES: This season, the Keys have endured consecutive shutout losses twice. Prior to the second game of Tuesday’s twinbill, Frederick had not been shutout since July 21. Since the all-star break, the Keys are 5-5 in shutout games, while the team’s shutout record for the year is 8-10. Although that mark is second-worst among CL teams, Wilmington, Myrtle Beach and Carolina have all been shutout more.

WRAPPING UP DIVISIONAL PLAY: The Keys wrapped up divisional play on Wednesday. With the loss, the club finishes the year with a 35-36 mark against divisional opponents. In spite of finishing one game below .500, Frederick posted winning records against Potomac (13-9) and Lynchburg (12-11). Most of the team’s struggles came against Wilmington (10-16).

NEED TO GET MOVING: With time running out, the Keys saw their playoff elimination number drop to seven with only 11 games remaining in the season. That means any combination of Frederick losses and Lynchburg wins which equals seven will knock the Keys out of playoff contention. Making matters worse, the orange and black face a Winston-Salem team that holds the top mark of an CL team in the second-half (36-21) and is on the verge of clinching its first playoff berth since 2012. Entering Thursday, the Dash’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot is six.

AGAINST WINSTON-SALEM: There is no team that Frederick will see more than Winston-Salem over the last week and a half of the season. Eight of Frederick’s last 11 games will come against the Dash, a team that the Keys have gone 8-5 against this year. Winston-Salem has had more problems with Frederick than any team on their schedule, with the Keys taking three of the four series. Head-to-head, the orange and black are batting .271 against the Dash and hold a 4.51 ERA. Winston-Salem is batting .243 off Keys arms but boast a 3.44 staff ERA.

THE HESS EXPRESS: David Hess put together his first professional complete game and his first shutout in the front-end of Tuesday’s twinbill. Delivering seven innings, the Tennessee allowed just one hit, walked one and struck out five. The only hit Hess allowed was a single to David Masters in the third. It was the second one-hitter by a Carolina League pitcher this season, while Hess picked up his fourth win in five August outings. Since the start of the month, the right-hander is 4-0 with a 0.99 ERA (27.1 IP/3ER) and is holding opponents to a .186 average. Hess has not allowed a run in his last 11.1 innings to trim his ERA to 3.58, ninth-best in the circuit.

STREAKS WERE MEANT TO BE BROKEN: Garrett Cortright saw his scoreless innings streak conclude on Tuesday at 12.1 innings, while it marked the first time he had allowed an earned run in an eye-popping 36.1 innings. Prior to last night, Cortright had not given up an earned run since May 30 when he was pitching for Low-A Delmarva. The four runs were a season-high for Cortright, who had allowed three runs just once (on May 30). Overall 2015 has been an outstanding one for the former Canisius product, who is 3-1 with a 1.11 ERA over 41 combined games between Frederick and Delmarva.

O’BRIEN NAMED PITCHER OF THE WEEK: On Monday, Mikey O’Brien was named the Carolina League’s “Pitcher of the Week” for August 17-23. The honor comes after O’Brien threw a seven-inning no-hitter at Lynchburg on Thursday in the back-end of a quasi-doubleheader. Over seven innings he struck out nine, walked one and allowed only two baserunners to reach. The right-hander retired 19 of the last 20 batters he faced. The no-hitter was the fourth individual no-hitter in club history, as O’Brien joined Nathan Moreau, John Maine and Eric Shullstrom as the only Keys pitchers to throw their own no-no.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHERS: Right-hander Spencer Adams makes his 22nd overall start this season and his third with the Dash. Combined between Winston-Salem and Low-A Kannapolis he is 10-5 with a 3.26 ERA. With the Dash he is 1-0 with a 3.48 ERA over two starts. Adams’ most recent outing came last Thursday against Myrtle Beach. Receiving a no-decision, he allowed four runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings. He walked two and struck out four. Promoted to Winston-Salem on July 19, Adams went 9-5 with a 3.24 ERA at Kannapolis and was 12th in the SAL in ERA at the time he was moved up. Entering the year ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the White Sox system according to Baseball America, Adams was selected by Chicago in the second round of the 2014 draft out of White County High School. Just 19 years old, the right-hander went 3-3 with a 3.67 ERA with the AZL White Sox after signing. He posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 14.8 and struck out nearly 13 batters per nine innings. Adams was committed to the University of Georgia out of White County (GA) High School but elected to go pro. He throws a fastball, a slider and a changeup.

Time to Wrap up Divisional Play Strong!

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

The Keys wrap up their divisional slate against the Potomac Nationals on Wednesday night at Pfitzner Stadium. With a victory tonight, Frederick can clinch a winning record over its division rivals. Sitting at 35-35 for the year, the Keys hold a 13-8 mark against the P-Nats. That is the Keys top mark against any CL opponent this year.

Luis Gonzalez makes the start for the Keys tonight and will be opposed by Austen Williams. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m and the broadcast can be heard on 1450 AM The Source and frederickkeys.com. Doug Raftery has the call.

Lineups will be posted shortly, while today’s batch of game notes is below.

Talk soon and shake your Keys!

Geoff

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 · Game #129 · Road Games #66

Frederick Keys (61-67/29-29) vs Potomac Nationals (59-68/26-31)

LHP Luis Gonzalez (5-10, 6.79) vs. RHP Austen Williams (4-4, 2.62)

KEYS AND NATIONALS SWAP SHUTOUTS: The Frederick Keys and the Potomac Nationals exchanged shutouts as the two sides split a doubleheader on Tuesday night at Pfitzner Stadium. In game one, David Hess led the orange and black to a 4-0 victory, posting the first complete game shutout of his career. At the plate, the Keys scored three times in the second against Tyler Mapes. With a pair in scoring position and two outs, Derek Peterson drove in both men with a single to center, before scoring on an RBI double by Josh Hart. P-Nats starter, Ian Dickson, was effectively wild in game two but guided the Nationals to a 7-0 win. Despite walking four and throwing only 44 of his 85 pitches for strikes, the right-hander tossed five shutout innings of one-hit baseball. The Nationals scored once in the third, before adding six more runs in their last two at-bats. Four of those runs were pinned on Garrett Cortright, but only two were earned due to a throwing error by the Keys pitcher.

THE HESS EXPRESS: David Hess put together his first professional complete game and his first shutout in the front-end of Tuesday’s twinbill. Delivering seven innings, the Tennessee allowed just one hit, walked one and struck out five. The only hit Hess allowed was a single to David Masters in the third. It was the second one-hitter by a Carolina League pitcher this season, while Hess picked up his fourth win in five August outings. Since the start of the month, the right-hander is 4-0 with a 0.99 ERA (27.1 IP/3ER) and is holding opponents to a .186 average. Hess has not allowed a run in his last 11.1 innings to trim his ERA to 3.58, ninth-best in the circuit.

SHUTOUT NOTES: On Tuesday, the orange and black posted their second shutout win in five games, but were also blanked for the first time since July 21. In that game, the Nationals defeated the Keys 7-0 at Nymeo Field. Since the all-star break, the Keys are 5-4 in shutout games, while the team’s shutout record for the year is 8-9. Although that mark is second-worst among CL teams, Wilmington, Myrtle Beach, Carolina and Salem have all been shutout more.

ONE LAST TASTE OF DIVISIONAL PLAY: The Keys will play their final divisional game of the year on Wednesday. Frederick is currently four games out of first with an elimination number of nine. Any combination of Lynchburg wins/Frederick losses will trim that mark. Against the Nationals, the Keys are 13-8 and have fared better against the Nationals than any other CL team this year. Tonight, the Keys will try for a win to clinch a winning regular season record against divisional opposition. Frederick claimed its season-set with Lynchburg (12-11) while ending 10-16 against Wilmington.

YET ANOTHER RUBBER GAME: For the second straight series (and the third time in five sets) the orange and black will play a rubber game. In deciding games this year, the Keys are 7-8 following a 9-7 loss to Myrtle Beach on Sunday. This season, the Keys and Nationals have played two rubber games, with both sides winning one each.

STREAKS WERE MEANT TO BE BROKEN: Garrett Cortright saw his scoreless innings streak conclude on Tuesday at 12.1 innings, while it marked the first time he had allowed an earned run in an eye-popping 36.1 innings. Prior to last night, Cortright had not given up an earned run since May 30 when he was pitching for Low-A Delmarva. The four runs were a season-high for Cortright, who had allowed three runs just once (on May 30). Overall 2015 has been an outstanding one for the former Canisius product, who is 3-1 with a 1.11 ERA over 41 combined games between Frederick and Delmarva.

COME BACK BALL!: After not allowing any more than three home runs in their first 124 games, Keys pitching surrendered four home runs on both Saturday and Sunday. That accounted for 18 of Myrtle Beach’s 19 runs over the last two days of the two teams’ recent series. Three of those came from Ben Carhart, who became the fourth opposing player to hit two home runs in a game off Keys pitching this year. Meanwhile, Mitch Horacek (three), John Means (two) and Dylan Rheault (two) either set or tied their career-highs for home runs allowed. This season, Keys pitching has given up 81 home runs, tops in the CL.

O’BRIEN NAMED PITCHER OF THE WEEK: On Monday, Mikey O’Brien was named the Carolina League’s “Pitcher of the Week” for August 17-23. The honor comes after O’Brien threw a seven-inning no-hitter at Lynchburg on Thursday in the back-end of a quasi-doubleheader. Over seven innings he struck out nine, walked one and allowed only two baserunners to reach. The right-hander retired 19 of the last 20 batters he faced. The no-hitter was the fourth individual no-hitter in club history, as O’Brien joined Nathan Moreau, John Maine and Eric Shullstrom as the only Keys pitchers to throw their own no-no.

AGAINST POTOMAC: Frederick is 13-8 against the Nationals this year, and 8-4 in games at Pfitzner Stadium, the Keys best mark in any road venue this season. As a team, the Keys are batting .234 against Potomac and boast a 3.33 staff ERA. P-Nats hitters are batting .246 against the Keys and hold a 3.14 staff ERA.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHERS: Right-hander Austen Williams makes his 22nd overall start on Wednesday and his ninth with the Nationals. Combined between Potomac, Low-A Hagerstown and Triple-A Syracuse Williams is 12-6 with a 2.59 ERA over 121.2 innings. With the Nationals, he is 4-4 with a 2.62 ERA in eight games. His most recent outing came last Friday at Lynchburg. Tagged with the loss, Williams allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits over six innings. He walked one and struck out six. That loss ended a three-game winning streak for the 22-year-old, who had allowed just one earned run in 18 innings over that time (all six inning starts). Promoted to Potomac from Low-A Hagerstown on July 8, Williams went 8-1 with a 2.10 ERA in 13 starts (73 innings) and was named a South Atlantic League all-star. Wednesday marks the second time the Texan will face the Keys. Facing them on July 22, Williams suffered the loss, giving up four runs (two earned) on five hits in 4.2 innings.  A pitcher known for very good command, Williams has a BB/9IP ratio of 2.0 this season, while is equal to his career mark. Selected by Washington in the sixth round of the 2014 draft out Texas State, Williams was a college teammate of Keys pitcher Donnie Hart. Drafted after his junior year, he went 8-3 with a 3.65 ERA for the Bobcats as the team’s Friday starter. Hoping to go to Texas Tech like many of his family members, Williams was not recruited by the Red Raiders since they did not think he threw hard enough. Williams throws a fastball, a curveball and a changeup.

Let’s Play Two!

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

Well Monday night’s game might have been rained out, but it means that tonight, it’s double the pleasure, double the fun and yes…double the baseball!

The Keys and Nationals will play a doubleheader starting at 5:00 p.m from the “Rusty Tank” aka. Pfitzner Stadium. As amazing as this sounds, this will be Frederick’s first true doubleheader since the all-star break. In three twinbills this season, the Keys are 5-1, the top mark in the Carolina League.

That being said,  the Keys have played the fewest twinbills in the league…by far. Every other team has played at least six. We’ll chalk it up to outstanding groundskeeping at Nymeo Field (where all three have taken place) and some goodwill from the baseball gods.

A sweep of the doubleheader would give the Keys a big lift. After a loss by Lynchburg last night, the orange and black are within 3.5 games of the Hillcats for first place.

The Keys will have two of their best on the mound tonight, as David Hess starts game one for the Keys and Mikey O’Brien gets the ball in game two. Some of you might recall what O’Brien did in his last start.

To say O’Brien being named Carolina League Pitcher of the Week after his no-no was not surprising would be the understatement of the season.

O'Brien POW 640

Potomac has not fared well against their Beltway rival this season, dropping 12 of the 17 head-to-heads. However, the Nationals will have some reinforcements tonight, as Dan Uggla and Tyler Moore join the P-Nats on big league rehab assignments.

As a broadcasters aside, here is one of my favorite home run calls involving Dan Uggla:

First pitch is slated for 5:00 p.m tonight as Tyler Mapes pitches for the P-Nats in game one and Ian Dickson gets the ball in game two. Both are right-hander pitchers, while both of tonight’s games can be heard on 1450 AM The Source and frederickkeys.com. Doug Raftery will keep you company on the radio.

Doug will post both lineups later on, but until that time, check out today’s game notes.

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 · Game #127/#128 · Road Games #64/#65

Frederick Keys (60-66/28-28) vs Potomac Nationals (58-67/25-30)

G1: RHP David Hess (8-4, 3.78) vs. RHP Tyler Mapes (4-2, 2.51)

RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY: The Frederick Keys and the Potomac Nationals were postponed on Monday night due to rain. That sets up a doubleheader on Tuesday night at Pfitzner Stadium, beginning at 5 p.m. Both games will be seven innings. This season, the Keys have played three true doubleheaders (quasi-doubleheaders excluded). All took place in the first half, with the Keys sweeping two (both against Lynchburg) and splitting the other against Myrtle Beach. Frederick’s 5-1 doubleheader record is the best in the Carolina League, while Potomac’s 7-7 mark places them fifth. The Keys three doubleheaders are by far the fewest in the CL, as all other teams have played at least six twinbills.

LONGBALL HELPS PELICANS WITHSTAND LATE RALLY: The Frederick Keys rallied for three runs in the ninth inning, but four Myrtle Beach Pelicans home runs proved to be too much to overcome, in a 9-7 setback on Sunday afternoon at Nymeo Field. With the loss, the season-series ends in an 8-8 draw. Down 5-4 going to the ninth inning, the Keys committed a critical error which opened the gates to a four-run Pelicans frame. With two outs and a runner at first, Chesny Young hit a groundball to Tanner Witt at third, which appeared to be the final out of the inning. However, Witt’s throw sailed into rightfield to put runners at the corners. From there, Pin-Chieh Chen singled home Kevin Brown, while Ben Carhart hit a three-run homer to left. Despite holding a five-run lead, the Pelicans turned to their closer Jasvir Rakkar, who needed 31 pitches to get through the home-ninth. Two walks and a single by Jeff Kemp loaded the bases with one out, before Wynston Sawyer drove in a run with a sac-fly. An infield single by Tad Gold then reloaded the bases for Adrian Marin. He hit a groundball to third, but Carhart’s throw sailed into right, allowing two more runs to score. In the end, the comeback came up short though, as Conor Bierfeldt bounced out to end the game.

COME BACK BALL!: After not allowing any more than three home runs in their first 124 games, Keys pitching has surrendered four home runs in back-to-back contests. That accounted for 18 of the Pelicans 19 runs over the last two days of the series. Three of those came from Ben Carhart, who became the fourth opposing player to hit two home runs in a game off Keys pitching this year. Meanwhile, Mitch Horacek (three), John Means (two) and Dylan Rheault (two) either set or tied their career-highs for home runs allowed. This season, Keys pitching has given up 81 home runs, tops in the CL.

ONE LAST TASTE OF DIVISIONAL PLAY: For the final time in the regular season, the Keys will face a divisional opponent when they begin a three-game series with the Potomac Nationals on Tuesday. Frederick is currently 2.5 games ahead of Potomac in the CL North standings, while the orange and black have already claimed the season-set against the P-Nats. Owners of a 12-5 record against the P-Nats, the Keys have fared better against the Nationals than any other CL team this year. The last time the Keys faced the Nationals, the orange and black earned a three-game sweep (July 22-24).

HERE COME THE BATS: After scoring three runs or less in seven straight games, the Keys offense has shown some improvement in its last three contests, posting four runs or more each time. Ending with seven runs and 11 hits, the Keys put together their most productive day at the plate since August 12, when the team scored 10 runs on 14 hits against Lynchburg. Another encouraging sign, was the Keys 5-for-14 showing with runners in scoring position, after the team went just 9-for-64 (.141) in its previous nine games. This season when Frederick scores four or more runs in a game, the team is 45-16 as opposed to 15-50 when tallying three or less.

O’BRIEN NAMED PITCHER OF THE WEEK: On Monday, Mikey O’Brien was named the Carolina League’s “Pitcher of the Week” for August 17-23. The honor comes after O’Brien threw a seven-inning no-hitter at Lynchburg on Thursday in the back-end of a quasi-doubleheader. Over seven innings he struck out nine, walked one and allowed only two baserunners to reach. The right-hander retired 19 of the last 20 batters he faced. The no-hitter was the fourth individual no-hitter in club history, as O’Brien joined Nathan Moreau, John Maine and Eric Shullstrom as the only Keys pitchers to throw their own no-no. Outstanding since his return from Double-A, O’Brien has not allowed a run in his last 17.1 innings and has not given up an earned marker in his last 19.1 stanzas.

SAWYER SLUGGING: Wynston Sawyer has driven in six runs in his last four games, while he is 4 for his last 11 at the plate. Three of those hits have gone for extra-bases, while Sawyer hit home runs on both Friday and Saturday, his first two longballs of the year. Entering Monday with 32 RBIs, nearly half of them have come in the month of August, as Sawyer has 15 in 18 games.

AGAINST POTOMAC: Frederick is 12-7 against the Nationals this year, and 7-3 in games at Pfitzner Stadium, the Keys mark in any road venue this season. As a team, the Keys are batting .242 against Potomac and boast a 3.37 staff ERA. P-Nats hitters are batting .251 against the Keys and hold a 3.24 staff ERA. Individually, the Keys are led by Conor Bierfeldt, who is batting .300 (6-for-20) against Nationals arms over eight games.

ANOTHER PHOTO FINISH: Since Frederick’s 8-2 loss to Lynchburg last Tuesday night, four of the Keys last five games have been decided by two runs or less. Since July 25, 19 of the Keys last 27 games have come down to three runs or less (the Keys are 12-15 during that time). Frederick has fared well in nail-bitters this season, with the team boasting a 22-17 mark in one-run games (second-best in the league) and the circuit’s top mark in two-run games (15-9).

STILL STREAKING: Garrett Cortright kept his scoreless innings streak intact last Thursday, tossing two clean innings. Dating back to his time at Low-A Delmarva, the New York native has not allowed a run in his last 11.2 frames while he has not surrendered an earned run in an eye-popping 35.2 innings (the last earned run he allowed came on May 30). Over six games with the Keys, Cortright has tossed nine scoreless innings, giving up five hits to go with a walk and six strikeouts. Opponents are batting only .167 against him.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHERS: Right-hander Tyler Mapes makes his 30th appearance this season and his sixth start. Combined between Potomac and Low-A Hagerstown he is 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA and has logged 77.2 innings. His most recent outing came at Wilmington last Tuesday. Tossing a season-high six innings, Mapes picked up the win allowing one run on five hits. He walked one and struck out five. Promoted to the Nationals on April 20, Mapes is 4-2 with one save and a 2.51 ERA over 27 games (five starts) for the Nationals. Outstanding as a starter with Potomac, the right-hander has gone 3-0 with a 0.78 ERA (23 IP/2ER) while he has struck out 17 and walked only one. Opponents are batting nearly 100 points lower when Mapes starts (.205) compared to when he throws in relief (.300). Last season, Mapes turned in a combined 1.14 ERA over 17 games (all in relief) between the GCL Nationals and Short-Season Auburn. Selected by Washington in the 30th round of the 2014 draft out of Tulane, Mapes pitched three seasons for the Green Wave and went 5-5 with a 2.20 ERA as a redshirt senior. A pitcher with outstanding command, Mapes left the school with the eighth-best single-season BB/9IP ratio (1.65). One of three colleges Mapes attended, the Texan spent one season at the Naval Academy (2010) and one year at Navarro College (2011) where he helped lead the Bulldogs to an NJCAA National Championship and was a third-team All-American. Mapes throws a fastball, a slider and a split-changeup. Ian Dickson makes the game two start for the P-Nats. Splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen, the right-hander’s most recent outing came last Wednesday at Wilmington. Pitching two innings of relief, Dickson allowed two runs on two hits. Prior to that game, Dickson made four consecutive starts. As a starter is he is 2-2 in five games with a 4.50 ERA. Dickson opened the year on the disabled list, and joined the team on July 2. With the Nationals in 2014, he went 5-9 with a 4.37 ERA. He was acquired from the Cubs in a trade for Nationals right-hander Henry Rodriguez in June 2013.

The Keys Last Divisional Series Gets Underway Tonight!

Good Evening Keys Fans!

The Keys begin a three-game series and a seven-game roadtrip on Monday night. Potomac is first on the docket, while it marks the final three divisional games the Keys will play in the regular season. This season, the Keys have enjoyed playing their Beltway rival, winning 12 of the 17 meetings. Seven of those wins have come at Pfitzner Stadium.

To keep the trend going, the Keys will send David Hess to the mound. The Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Month for July will be opposed by Nationals righty Tyler Mapes.

For those who didn’t hear, Mikey O’Brien was named the Carolina League’s Pitcher of the Week earlier today after throwing a seven-inning no-hitter last Thursday at Lynchburg. Probably one of the easiest “Pitcher of the Week” calls the league has had to make all year.

Tonight’s First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m and the broadcast can be heard on 1450 AM The Source and frederickkeys.com. Doug Raftery will keep you company for this series and the upcoming one to Winston-Salem.

Today’s notes are below.

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

Monday, August 24, 2015 · Game #127 · Home Game #64

Frederick Keys (60-66/28-28) vs Potomac Nationals (58-67/25-30)

RHP David Hess (8-4, 3.78) vs. RHP Tyler Mapes (4-2, 2.51)

LONGBALL HELPS PELICANS WITHSTAND LATE RALLY: The Frederick Keys rallied for three runs in the ninth inning, but four Myrtle Beach Pelicans home runs proved to be too much to overcome, in a 9-7 setback on Sunday afternoon at Nymeo Field. With the loss, the season-series ends in an 8-8 draw, while Lynchburg gains a game in the CL North standings following a 2-0 win over Potomac. Down 5-4 going to the ninth inning, the Keys committed a critical error which opened the gates to a four-run Pelicans frame. With two outs and a runner at first, Chesny Young hit a groundball to Tanner Witt at third, which appeared to be the final out of the inning. However, Witt’s throw sailed into rightfield to put runners at the corners. From there, Pin-Chieh Chen singled home Kevin Brown, while Ben Carhart hit a three-run homer to left. Despite holding a five-run lead, the Pelicans turned to their closer Jasvir Rakkar, who needed 31 pitches to get through the home-ninth. Two walks and a single by Jeff Kemp loaded the bases with one out, before Wynston Sawyer drove in a run with a sac-fly. An infield single by Tad Gold then reloaded the bases for Adrian Marin. He hit a groundball to third, but Carhart’s throw sailed into right, allowing two more runs to score. In the end, the comeback came up short though, as Conor Bierfeldt bounced out to end the game.

LONGBALL BLUES: After not allowing any more than three home runs in their first 124 games, Keys pitching has surrendered four home runs in back-to-back contests. That accounted for 18 of the Pelicans 19 runs over the last two days of the series. Three of those came from Ben Carhart, who became the fourth opposing player to hit two home runs in a game off Keys pitching this year. Meanwhile, Mitch Horacek (three), John Means (two) and Dylan Rheault (two) either set or tied their career-highs for home runs allowed. This season, Keys pitching has given up 81 home runs, tops in the CL.

ONE LAST TASTE OF DIVISIONAL PLAY: For the final time in the regular season, the Keys will face a divisional opponent when they begin a three-game series with the Potomac Nationals on Monday. Frederick is currently 2.5 games ahead of Potomac in the CL North standings, while the orange and black have already claimed the season-set against the P-Nats. Owners of a 12-5 record against the P-Nats, the Keys have fared better against the Nationals than any other CL team this year. The last time the Keys faced the Nationals, the orange and black earned a three-game sweep (July 22-24).

HERE COME THE BATS: After scoring three runs or less in seven straight games, the Keys offense has shown some improvement in its last three contests, posting four runs or more each time. Ending with seven runs and 11 hits, the Keys put together their most productive day at the plate since August 12, when the team scored 10 runs on 14 hits against Lynchburg. Another encouraging sign, was the Keys 5-for-14 showing with runners in scoring position, after the team went just 9-for-64 (.141) in its previous nine games. This season when Frederick scores four or more runs in a game, the team is 45-16 as opposed to 15-50 when tallying three or less.

O’BRIEN NAMED PITCHER OF THE WEEK: On Monday, Mikey O’Brien was named the Carolina League’s “Pitcher of the Week” for August 17-23. The honor comes after O’Brien threw a seven-inning no-hitter at Lynchburg on Thursday in the back-end of a quasi-doubleheader. Over seven innings he struck out nine, walked one and allowed only two baserunners to reach. The right-hander retired 19 of the last 20 batters he faced. The no-hitter was the fourth individual no-hitter in club history, as O’Brien joined Nathan Moreau, John Maine and Eric Shullstrom as the only Keys pitchers to throw their own no-no. Outstanding since his return from Double-A, O’Brien has not allowed a run in his last 17.1 innings and has not given up an earned marker in his last 19.1 stanzas.

SAWYER SLUGGING: Wynston Sawyer has driven in six runs in his last four games, while he is 4 for his last 11 at the plate. Three of those hits have gone for extra-bases, while Sawyer hit home runs on both Friday and Saturday, his first two longballs of the year. Entering Monday with 32 RBIs, nearly half of them have come in the month of August, as Sawyer has 15 in 18 games.

AGAINST POTOMAC: Frederick is 12-7 against the Nationals this year, and 7-3 in games at Pfitzner Stadium, the Keys mark in any road venue this season. As a team, the Keys are batting .242 against Potomac and boast a 3.37 staff ERA. P-Nats hitters are batting .251 against the Keys and hold a 3.24 staff ERA. Individually, the Keys are led by Conor Bierfeldt, who is batting .300 (6-for-20) against Nationals arms over eight games.

ANOTHER PHOTO FINISH: Since Frederick’s 8-2 loss to Lynchburg on Tuesday night, four of the Keys last five games have been decided by two runs or less. Since July 25, 19 of the Keys last 27 games have come down to three runs or less (the Keys are 12-15 during that time). Frederick has fared well in nail-bitters this season, with the team boasting a 22-17 mark in one-run games (second-best in the league) and the circuit’s top mark in two-run games (15-9).

STILL STREAKING: Garrett Cortright kept his scoreless innings streak intact on Thursday, tossing two clean innings. Dating back to his time at Low-A Delmarva, the New York native has not allowed a run in his last 11.2 frames while he has not surrendered an earned run in an eye-popping 35.2 innings (the last earned run he allowed came on May 30). Over six games with the Keys, Cortright has tossed nine scoreless innings, giving up five hits to go with a walk and six strikeouts. Opponents are batting only .167 against him.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Right-hander Tyler Mapes makes his 30th appearance this season and his sixth start. Combined between Potomac and Low-A Hagerstown he is 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA and has logged 77.2 innings. His most recent outing came at Wilmington last Tuesday. Tossing a season-high six innings, Mapes picked up the win allowing one run on five hits. He walked one and struck out five. Promoted to the Nationals on April 20, Mapes is 4-2 with one save and a 2.51 ERA over 27 games (five starts) for the Nationals. Outstanding as a starter with Potomac, the right-hander has gone 3-0 with a 0.78 ERA (23 IP/2ER) while he has struck out 17 and walked only one. Opponents are batting nearly 100 points lower when Mapes starts (.205) compared to when he throws in relief (.300). Last season, Mapes turned in a combined 1.14 ERA over 17 games (all in relief) between the GCL Nationals and Short-Season Auburn. Selected by Washington in the 30th round of the 2014 draft out of Tulane, Mapes pitched three seasons for the Green Wave and went 5-5 with a 2.20 ERA as a redshirt senior. A pitcher with outstanding command, Mapes left the school with the eighth-best single-season BB/9IP ratio (1.65). One of three colleges Mapes attended, the Texan spent one season at the Naval Academy (2010) and one year at Navarro College (2011) where he helped lead the Bulldogs to an NJCAA National Championship and was a third-team All-American. Mapes throws a fastball, a slider and a split-changeup.

Keys look to win rubber match with Myrtle Beach

Last night the Keys fell 10-5 to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans despite getting a late rally as this set up a rubber match on Sunday afternoon. Frederick did not fall in the standings as they still trail Lynchburg in the standings by three games. Looking to win the series finale, the orange and black will look to send out southpaw Mitch Horacek (7-14, 4.41) as he would be making only his second start against the Pelicans this season as he is 0-1. Horacek will be countered with Brad Markey (5-0, 0.85) who is making his third appearance against the Keys this year where he is 1-0. Today’s game will start at 2:00 PM. It is also your last chance to meet the 2015 Frederick Keys.

Today’s lineup

Josh Hart CF

Jay Gonzalez LF

Jeff Kemp 2B

Wynston Sawyer 1B

Tad Gold RF

Adrian Marin SS

Conor Bierfeldt DH

Anthony Caronia 3B

Daniel Fajardo C

8/23 Game Notes

LONGBALL LEADS PELICANS PAST KEYS: The Myrtle Beach Pelicans hit a season-high four home runs en route to a 10-5 win over the Frederick Keys on Saturday night at Nymeo Field. All 10 Birds runs came via the longball and forces a Sunday rubber match. John Means surrendered two homers in his Carolina League debut, with the first coming in the third. After back-to-back singles by Carlos Penalver and Kevin Brown, Pin-Chieh Chien slammed a three-run homer off the rightfield foul pole to make it 3-0. The Keys deficit would grow to as many as eight runs, as Ben Carhart slugged a three-run shot in the sixth and Mark Zagunis followed with a two-run blast in the seventh. In the home seventh, the Keys rallied, scoring five times while sending all nine men to bat. The big blows came from Wynston Sawyer and Conor Bierfeldt, with Sawyer hitting a two-run homer to right and Bierfeldt driving in a pair with a double down the leftfield line. Bierfeldt later scored on an error by the pitcher to push the Keys within three, bur Jacob Rogers hit a two-run homer in the eighth to put the game on ice for the Pelicans.

LONGBALL BLUES: On Friday, Keys arms allowed a season-high four home runs. The previous high-water mark was three home runs, something that occurred six times (most recently last Sunday against Carolina). John Means tied his career-high with two longballs allowed, while it marked the first time Dylan Rheault had given up two home runs in a game. This season, Keys pitching has given up 77 home runs, most in the Carolina League. However prior to last night, Frederick arms had given up just three home runs in 14 games against the Pelicans.

TIME FOR ANOTHER RUBBER MATCH: Sunday will mark the Keys 15th rubber match of the season. In deciding games this year, the Keys are 7-7, with the most recent one taking place 10 days ago at Nymeo Field (a 2-1 Keys win over Lynchburg). This season, all four three-game sets between the Keys and Pelicans have come down to a rubber game, with the orange and black winning two of the three so far.

HERE COME THE BATS: The five-run seventh inning on Saturday was a breath of fresh air for the Keys offense. It was the team’s biggest inning since July 19, when Frederick scored five times in the third inning against Reynaldo Lopez en route to a 6-0 win. Moreover, the five runs marked the most the Keys had scored in their last nine games. After scoring three runs or less in seven straight games, Frederick has racked up nine total runs in their last two contests. Still, Frederick has scored three runs or less in 12 of its 19 games in August, and is averaging 3.47 runs per game this month.

A LITTLE HELP!: Hitting with runners in scoring position has been a challenge over the last nine games, with the Keys batting just .141 (9-for-64) during that time. Frederick has also left 44 runners on base and averaged just six hits per game. Currently, the orange and black are hitting .252 with runners in scoring position, placing them seventh out of eight teams in the CL.

ANOTHER PHOTO FINISH: Since Frederick’s 8-2 loss to Lynchburg on Tuesday night, three of the Keys last four games have been decided by two runs or less. One week prior, things were even tighter, with the orange and black playing three straight one-run games from August 13-15. Since July 25, 18 of the Keys last 26 games have come down to three runs or less (the Keys are 12-14 during that time). Frederick has fared well in nail-bitters this season, with the team boasting a 22-17 mark in one-run games (second-best in the league) and the circuit’s top mark in two-run games (15-8). The last series between Frederick and Myrtle Beach at Nymeo Field was very tight, with all three games coming down to two runs and two coming down to a single marker.

O’BRIEN NO-HIT NUGGETS: Pitching in his home state with family and friends in attendance, Mikey O’Brien pitched his first career no-hitter on Thursday night in the second game of a quasi-doubleheader against Lynchburg. Over seven innings he struck out nine, walked one and allowed only two baserunners to reach. The right-hander retired 19 of the last 20 batters he faced. The no-hitter was the fourth individual no-hitter in club history, as O’Brien joins Nathan Moreau, John Maine and Eric Shullstrom as Keys pitchers to throw their own no-no. Outstanding since his return from Double-A, O’Brien has not allowed a run in his last 17.1 innings and has not given up an earned marker in his last 19.1 stanzas.

STILL STREAKY: Over the last month, the Keys have been incredibly streaky. Beginning on July 22, the Keys went on a four-game winning streak. That was followed by a six-game losing streak (tying a season-high) from July 26-31, before the club rattled off four more wins from August 1-5. From there, the Keys dropped four of five, won four straight from August 12-16, ended a three-game slide Thursday and have now won back-to-back games. Since the all-star break, the club has turned in four different four-game winning streaks, as well as three different skids of three contests or more.

STILL STREAKING: Garrett Cortright kept his scoreless innings streak intact on Thursday, tossing two clean innings. Dating back to his time at Low-A Delmarva, the New York native has not allowed a run in his last 11.2 frames while he has not surrendered an earned run in an eye-popping 35.2 innings (the last earned run he allowed came on May 30). Over six games with the Keys, Cortright has tossed nine scoreless innings, giving up five hits to go with a walk and six strikeouts. Opponents are batting only .167 against him.

AGAINST MYRTLE BEACH: The Keys and Pelicans square off for the 16th and final time on Sunday. Frederick holds an 8-7 lead in the season series. As a team, the Keys are batting .256 against Pelicans pitching and hold a 4.43 staff ERA. Myrtle Beach hitters are batting .279 against Keys arms and hold a 3.30 ERA. Individually, Josh Hart (.314/16-51) leads the Frederick offense while Chesney Young (.421/24-57) and Jacob Rogers (.400/10-25) pace the Pelicans.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Right-hander Brad Markey makes his 20th overall appearance on Sunday and his eighth start. Between Myrtle Beach and Low-A South Bend he is 5-0 with a 1.51 ERA (71 IP/12ER). With the Pelicans Markey is 5-0 with a 0.85 ERA (42 IP/4ER) to go with six walks and 28 strikeouts. Opponents are batting just .170 against him. Markey’s most recent outing came last Sunday against Lynchburg. Picking up the win, Markey tossed 6.2 shutout innings, giving up one walk and striking out four. All of the right-hander’s starts have been quality outings, while he has won five of his last six games. After making 15 appearances out of the bullpen last year, Markey has thrived as a starter, posting a 1.27 ERA (42.2 IP/6ER) between Low-A and Advanced-A. This will be Markey’s third start against the Keys. He is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA (12 IP/2ER) against the orange and black. Promoted to Myrtle Beach on July 5, the Bel Air, MD native went 0-0 with two saves and a 2.48 ERA in 12 games with Low-A South Bend. Although he did not make a start until his final appearance, eight of Markey’s 11 relief appearances last two or more innings. Selected by Chicago in the 19th round of the 2014 draft out of Virginia Tech, the righty went a combined 1-1 with a 3.10 ERA (15 relief appearances) between the AZL Cubs and Short-Season Boise Hawks of the Northwest League. Markey played college baseball at three different schools. He began at Georgia Tech and rarely pitched, transferring to Santa Fe (FL) the same JUCO his counterpart Chris Lee attended (the two did not play together). From there, Markey moved to Blacksburg and was twice an ACC All-Academic selection.

Keys look to win series vs Myrtle Beach tonight

Last night the Keys kept to momentum going from the no-hitter on Thursday to win the first game of the series with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans last night by a score of 4-3 thanks to a pair of home runs from Wynston Sawyer and Adrian Marin, plus a clutch sacrifice fly from Josh Hart.

Frederick will look to win the three game set tonight as they will send out southpaw John Means (0-0, – -) as he will be making his Keys debut. The Pelicans look to counter with Paul Blackburn (6-5, 2.99) who is making his fourth appearance against the orange and black this season as he is 1-2. Tonight’s contest will begin at 6:00 PM as it is Salute to the Orioles night. Kevin Gausman bobbleheads will be given out at the gates.

Tonight’s lineup

Josh Hart CF

Tad Gold RF

Jeff Kemp 2B

Wynston Sawyer C

Yaisel Mederos 1B

Adrian Marin SS

Anthony Caronia 3B

Conor Bierfeldt DH

Jay Gonzalez LF

8/22 Game Notes

O’BRIEN THROWS NO-HITTER, KEYS SPLIT TWINBILL: A pickoff play gone wrong led to a bizarre finish on Friday night at Nymeo Field, as the Frederick Keys hung on for a 4-3 win over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The win allows the Keys to keep pace with Lynchburg in the CL North standings, after the Hillcats defeated Potomac in the Hill City. With his team ahead by a run, Cody Wheeler came out of the bullpen to face the bottom-third of the Pelicans order. Pin-Chieh Chen appeared to be the first out, but a pop-up at the mound was dropped by first baseman Yaisel Mederos. Daniel Lockhart then bunted Chen to second, but Wheeler bounced back with a strikeout of Carlos Penalver. Needing one more out, the decision was made to intentionally walk Chesny Young, the league’s top hitter, and face Ben Carhart instead. However he never saw a pitch. An attempted pickoff throw to second sailed into center field, allowing Chen to advance to third. Josh Hart’s throw from the outfield snuck by third baseman Anthony Caronia, but Wheeler backed the play up in foul territory. Seeing the throw elude Caronia, Young attempted to advance to second and got in a rundown after Wheeler threw to second. Eventually Young would be retired to end the game. Following a three-run Pelicans fifth which tied the game, Frederick regained the lead in the home-fifth after a triple by Jay Gonzalez and a sac-fly by Hart. The other three Keys runs would come via home runs, as Adrian Marin hit a two-run shot in the second and Wynston Sawyer hit a solo blast in the fourth.

ANOTHER PHOTO FINISH: Since Frederick’s 8-2 loss to Lynchburg on Tuesday night, the Keys have played three straight games decided by two runs or less. One week prior, things were even tighter, with the orange and black playing three straight one-run games from August 13-15. Since July 25, 18 of the Keys last 25 games have come down to three runs or less (the Keys are 12-13 during that time). Frederick has fared well in nail-bitters this season, with the team boasting a 22-17 mark in one-run games (second-best in the league) and the circuit’s top mark in two-run games (15-8). The last series between Frederick and Myrtle Beach at Nymeo Field was very tight, with all three games coming down to two runs and two coming down to a single marker.

FOUR RUN MAGIC: Friday marked the first time the Keys had posted more than three runs in a game since August 12, when the club topped Lynchburg 10-2. In the ensuing seven games, Frederick managed three runs or less, while until last night, the Keys had scored two runs or fewer in five straight contests. Over the last eight contests, the Keys have scored 16 runs (two runs per contest). Although the team has won five of those games, this trend has been present since the start of August. Of Frederick’s 18 games this month, 12 have seen the orange and black score three runs or less (the club is averaging 3.35 runs per game). When the Keys score four or more runs in a game they are 45-14, as opposed to 15-50 when posting three or less.

O’BRIEN NO-HIT NUGGETS: Pitching in his home state with family and friends in attendance, Mikey O’Brien pitched his first career no-hitter on Thursday night in the second game of a quasi-doubleheader against Lynchburg. Over seven innings he struck out nine, walked one and allowed only two baserunners to reach. The right-hander retired 19 of the last 20 batters he faced. The no-hitter was the fourth individual no-hitter in club history, as O’Brien joins Nathan Moreau, John Maine and Eric Shullstrom as Keys pitchers to throw their own no-no. Outstanding since his return from Double-A, O’Brien has not allowed a run in his last 17.1 innings and has not given up an earned marker in his last 19.1 stanzas.

A LITTLE HELP!: Hitting with runners in scoring position has been a challenge over the last eight games, with the Keys batting just .138 (8-for-58) during that time. Frederick has also left 40 runners on base and averaged just six hits per game. Currently, the orange and black are hitting .252 with runners in scoring position, placing them seventh out of eight teams in the CL.

STILL STREAKY: Over the last month, the Keys have been incredibly streaky. Beginning on July 22, the Keys went on a four-game winning streak. That was followed by a six-game losing streak (tying a season-high) from July 26-31, before the club rattled off four more wins from August 1-5. From there, the Keys dropped four of five, won four straight from August 12-16, ended a three-game slide Thursday and have now won back-to-back games. Since the all-star break, the club has turned in four different four-game winning streaks, as well as three different skids of three contests or more.

MEANS JOINS KEYS: With Sean Bierman going on the disabled list last Saturday, the Keys have received left-hander John Means from Low-A Delmarva. He makes his Carolina League debut on Saturday when he starts against Myrtle Beach. At the time of his promotion, Means was 9-8 with a 3.50 ERA over 23 games with the Shorebirds. Pitching 118.1 innings, he allowed 136 hits, walked 26 and struck out 89. The highlight of his season came on July 31 against Charleston, when the southpaw threw a seven-inning no-hitter. It was the Shorebirds’ first no-hitter in 17 years. In a corresponding move, Ronan Pacheco was placed on the seven-day disabled list (retroactive to August 19) when a left finger blister.

STILL STREAKING: Garrett Cortright kept his scoreless innings streak intact on Thursday, tossing two clean innings. Dating back to his time at Low-A Delmarva, the New York native has not allowed a run in his last 11.2 frames while he has not surrendered an earned run in an eye-popping 35.2 innings (the last earned run he allowed came on May 30). Over six games with the Keys, Cortright has tossed nine scoreless innings, giving up five hits to go with a walk and six strikeouts. Opponents are batting only .167 against him.

AGAINST MYRTLE BEACH: The Keys and Pelicans square off for the 15th time on Friday. Frederick holds an 8-6 lead in the season series, while the two clubs will meet just two more times this year (including tonight). As a team, the Keys are batting .261 against Pelicans pitching and hold a 4.02 staff ERA. Myrtle Beach hitters are batting .275 against Keys arms and hold a 3.25 ERA. Individually, Josh Hart (.340/16-47) and Yaisel Mederos (.318/7-for-22) trigger Frederick’s offense while Chesney Young (.423/22-52) and Mark Zagunis (.375/15-40) pace the Pelicans.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Right-hander Paul Blackburn makes his 17th start of the season on Saturday and his fourth against the Keys. The right-hander’s most recent outing came last Saturday against Lynchburg. Earning the win, Blackburn tossed seven innings and allowed one run on four hits. He struck out a career-high nine and hit a batter. Blackburn has turned in three straight quality starts and has lowered his ERA from 3.82 to 2.99 during that time. Placed on the disabled list on June 15, Blackburn has been outstanding since his return (he missed 26 games and was activated on July 13).  Since returning, he has allowed two earned runs in 33 innings, while opponents are hitting .214 against him. Blackburn has turned in consecutive quality starts against the Keys, with the most recent coming on July 8 on the Grand Strand. Tossing six innings, the right-hander allowed two unearned runs on four hits, but was outdueled by David Hess. In three games against Frederick, Blackburn is 1-2 with a 2.50 ERA (18 IP/5ER). Currently in his first season at the Advanced-A level, Blackburn was named a Midwest League All-Star in 2014 for Low-A Kane County. The 21-year-old ended the year with a 9-4 record and a 3.23 ERA, second-best among Cubs farmhands. Selected by the Cubs with the 56th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Blackburn had a baseball scholarship to attend Arizona State, but elected to sign for a reported $911,700. He was a compensation sandwich pick that Chicago received for losing Carlos Pena to free agency. A three-pitch pitcher, Blackburn throws a fastball, curveball and changeup.

Keys host Myrtle Beach for 3 games

Despite losing three of four to the division leading Lynchburg Hillcats down in Lynchburg, the Keys managed to salvage a game in the series finale with a no-hitter from Mikey O’Brien, the first for Frederick since 2010. Trying to carry that momentum over to the next series, the orange and black will be taking on the Myrtle Beach Pelicans for their second to last home series of the season. To begin this three-game set, the Keys will trot out Luis Gonzalez (5-10, 6.84) as he makes his third start of the year against Myrtle Beach as he is 2-0. The Pelicans will be countering with Jeremy Null (2-1, 3.58) for his second appearance against Frederick this season where he is 1-0. Only behind the Hillcats by three games in the standings, this will be a critical series for the orange and black. Tonight’s contest will begin at 7:00 PM as it is Fredneck Night at Nymeo Field.

Tonight’s lineup

Josh Hart CF

Tad Gold RF

Jeff Kemp 2B

Wynston Sawyer C

Austin Wynns DH

Adrian Marin SS

Yaisel Mederos 1B

Anthony Caronia 3B

Jay Gonzalez LF

8/21 Game Notes

O’BRIEN THROWS NO-HITTER, KEYS SPLIT TWINBILL: Mikey O’Brien threw the seventh no-hitter in Frederick Keys history, as the club split a quasi-twinbill with the Lynchburg Hillcats on Thursday night at City Stadium. Earning a 2-0 victory in game two, O’Brien became the first Keys pitcher to accomplish the feat since Nathan Moreau did it on June 30, 2010 at Salem. The Keys helped out O’Brien with single markers in the fifth and seventh innings. Austin Wynns opened the fifth with the double, moved to third on sac-bunt by Adrian Marin, before coming home on a suicide squeeze. Wynns finished with three of Frederick’s four hits in game two, the other was a double by Marin in the seventh which brought home Wynns from first. Frederick dropped game one 2-1, as Yhoxian Medina gave the Hillcats a walk-off win. Eric Haase opened the inning with a bloop double and got to third on a sac-bunt. To set up a lefty-lefty matchup with LeVon Washington, Donnie Hart intentionally walked the next two batters, before striking out Washington. Needing just one more out, the lefty jumped ahead of Medina 1-2, before the Hillcats two-hole batter tapped a ball up the third baseline to score the winning run.  

NO-HIT NUGGETS: Pitching in his home state with family and friends in attendance, Mikey O’Brien pitched his first career no-hitter. Over seven innings he struck out nine, walked one and allowed only two baserunners to reach. The right-hander retired 19 of the last 20 batters he faced. The no-hitter was the fourth individual no-hitter in club history, as O’Brien joins Nathan Moreau, John Maine and Eric Shullstrom as Keys pitchers to throw their own no-no. Outstanding since his return from Double-A, O’Brien has not allowed a run in his last 17.1 innings and has not given up an earned marker in his last 19.1 stanzas.

ESCAPING THE SWEEP: Thanks to O’Brien’s efforts, the Keys were able to salvage the series and avoid being swept for the fifth time in 2015. Additionally, the club moved back within three games of Lynchburg for the top spot in the CL South. Frederick will not play the Hillcats again this season, while the team has only three divisional games remaining (all against Potomac). The other 14 games will come against Myrtle Beach, Carolina and Winston-Salem. Collectively against these opponents, the Keys are 17-22. Half of those losses have come to Carolina, a team Frederick will see four more times.  

OFFENSE LOOKS FOR A LIFT: Since the Keys 10-2 win over Lynchburg last Wednesday, the club has posted three runs or less in each of its last seven games. In each of the last five contests, Frederick has scored two runs or less. Over the last seven contests, the Keys have scored 12 runs, and have averaged 1.71 runs per contest. Although the team has won four of those games, this trend has been present since the start of August. Of Frederick’s 17 games this month, 12 have seen the orange and black score three runs or less (the club is averaging 3.35 runs per game). When the Keys score four or more runs in a game they are 44-14, as opposed to 15-50 when posting three or less.

A LITTLE HELP!: Hitting with runners in scoring position has been a challenge over this seven game stretch, with the Keys batting just .151 (8-for-53) during that time. Frederick has also left 36 runners on base and averaged just 5.43 hits per-game. In Thursday’s quasi-twinbill, Frederick managed just seven hits in 16 innings, while at one point, the Keys went 12.1 innings without a run. Currently, the orange and black are hitting .253 with runners in scoring position, putting them seventh in the league.

STILL STREAKY: Over the last month, the Keys have been incredibly streaky. Beginning on July 22, the Keys went on a four-game winning streak. That was followed by a six-game losing streak (tying a season-high) from July 26-31, before the club rattled off four more wins from August 1-5. From there, the Keys dropped four of five, won four straight from August 12-16, and come off a three-game losing streak on Thursday  night after Mikey O’Brien’s no-hitter. Since the all-star break, the club has turned in four different four-game winning streaks, as well as three different skids of three contests or more.

CLOSE CALLS: Sunday snapped a string of three straight one-run games for the Keys, the second time in 2015 the club had been involved in three consecutive games hinging on one run. Since July 25, 17 of the Keys last 24 coming down to three runs or less (the Keys are 11-13 during that time). Frederick has fared well in nail-bitters this season, with the team boasting a 21-17 mark in one-run games (second-best in the league) and the circuit’s top mark in two-run games (15-8). The last series between Frederick and Myrtle Beach at Nymeo Field was very tight, with all three games coming down to two runs and two coming down to a single marker.

MEANS JOINS KEYS: With Sean Bierman going on the disabled list last Saturday, the Keys have received left-hander John Means from Low-A Delmarva. He will make his Carolina League debut on Saturday night when he starts against Myrtle Beach. At the time of his promotion, Means was 9-8 with a 3.50 ERA over 23 games with the Shorebirds. Pitching 118.1 innings, he allowed 136 hits, walked 26 and struck out 89. The highlight of his season came on July 31 against Charleston, when the southpaw threw a seven-inning no-hitter. It was the Shorebirds’ first no-hitter in 17 years. In a corresponding move, Ronan Pacheco was placed on the seven-day disabled list (retroactive to August 19) when a left finger blister.

STILL STREAKING: Garrett Cortright kept his scoreless innings streak intact on Thursday, tossing two clean innings. Dating back to his time at Low-A Delmarva, the New York native has not allowed a run in his last 11.2 frames while he has not surrendered an earned run in an eye-popping 35.2 innings (the last earned run he allowed came on May 30). Over six games with the Keys, Cortright has tossed nine scoreless innings, giving up five hits to go with a walk and six strikeouts. Opponents are batting only .167 against him.

AGAINST MYRTLE BEACH: The Keys and Pelicans square off for the 14th time on Friday. Frederick holds a slim 7-6 lead in the season series, while the two clubs will meet just three more times this year (including tonight). As a team, the Keys are batting .256 against Pelicans pitching and hold a 4.10 staff ERA. Myrtle Beach hitters are batting .278 against Keys arms and hold a 3.16 ERA. Individually, Josh Hart (.318/14-44) and Jay Gonzalez (.300/6-for-20) trigger Frederick’s offense while Chesney Young (.429/21-49) and Mark Zagunis (.389/14-36) pace the Pelicans.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Jeremy Null makes his 20th start of the season and his eighth with the Pelicans. Combined between Myrtle Beach and Low-A South Bend, the righty is 8-3 with a 2.79 ERA and ranks fourth among Chicago farmhands in ERA. With the Birds, Null is 2-1 with a 3.58 ERA in seven starts. His most recent outing came last Friday against Lynchburg. Tossing five innings shutout innings in a no-decision, he scattered three hits, walked one and struck out two. Null won his lone start against Frederick on August 7, tossing 5.2 innings and giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits. Promoted to Myrtle Beach on June 28, the 6-7 right-hander was lights out for Low-A South Bend, going 6-2 with a 2.33 ERA in 12 starts. A Midwest League All-Star (East Division), Null was the starting pitcher and game MVP, striking out the side in the first inning. The spoils from a fantastic start to the season, Null allowed one earned run across his first five starts, spanning 30.2 innings, while he did not issue a walk until the sixth inning of his fourth start (28.1 IP). With the Cubs, he walked only four in 65.2 innings. For the year, he has a BB/9IP ratio of 0.7 (92.2 IP/7BB). Selected by the Cubs in the 15th round of the 2014 draft, Null played his college baseball at Western Carolina, where he was a second-team All-Southern Conference selection as a sophomore and junior. Null was selected by Seattle in the 37th round of the 2011 draft but did not sign. The right-hander hails from Conover, NC, a town of just over 8,000. Known for its NASCAR presence, Conover is the home of Dale Jarrett Racing ventures. Null throws a fastball, a slider and a changeup.

It’s Time for A Doubleheader (Sort of)

Good Afternoon Keys Fans,

The Frederick Keys and Lynchburg Hillcats conclude their season-set on Thursday night. Last night the two teams were suspended in the bottom of the third inning, so today’s game will be a “quasi-doubleheader.” It is a twinbill in the sense that two games will be played, but it isn’t  a true doubleheader, because one of the games is already underway. That being said, if you want to tell your friends the Keys and Hillcats are playing a doubleheader, we’re okay with that.

When the game resumes, Lynchburg’s Joe Sever will be stepping to bat with runners on first and second and one out. Frederick holds a 1-0 lead, after Josh Hart opened the game with a triple and scored on a sac-fly by Wynston Sawyer. Both sides will be going to their bullpens, and we’ll have to see what each manager decides to do pitcher-wise.

What we can tell you, is that in game two (which will be seven innings) Virginia native, Mikey O’Brien, will be on the mound against left-hander Luis Lugo. O’Brien comes off 7.1 scoreless innings last Saturday against Carolina. This will be the           right-hander’s first time facing the Hillcats.

We’ll have the broadcast beginning at 5:15 on 1450 AM The Source, while first pitch will be at 5:30. Keys hitting coach, Paco Figueroa, will be our pre-game guest. For those of you who missed yesterday, I’ve listed the Keys lineup (minus the pitcher) and attached today’s game notes.

Talk soon and shake your keys!

Geoff

LINEUP

LF Josh Hart

CF Jay Gonzalez

1B Wynston Sawyer

DH Yaisel Mederos

C Austin Wynns

SS Adrian Marin

RF Conor Bierfeldt

2B Anthony Caronia

3B Tanner Witt

Thursday, August 20, 2015 · Game #122/#123 · Road Game #62/#63

Frederick Keys (58-63/26-25) vs Lynchburg Hillcats (62-59/29-22)

G2: RHP Mikey O’Brien (2-4, 2.05) vs. LHP Luis Lugo (7-9, 4.34)

KEYS AND HILLCATS SUSPENDED: The Frederick Keys and the Lynchburg Hillcats were suspended with one out in the bottom of the third inning on Wednesday night. That game will resume at 5:30 p.m on Thursday and will be followed by a seven inning contest. When the contest was stopped, the Keys had a 1-0 lead, though Lynchburg had runners at first and second. Frederick got its run in the top of the first thanks to a triple by Josh Hart and a sac-fly by Wynston Sawyer.

SORT OF A DOUBLEHEADER: Thursday marks the fourth quasi-doubleheader the Keys will play this season. The previous two have come against Wilmington, while the third was against Winston-Salem on May 7. In these contests, the orange and black are 2-4. Frederick last played a pseudo-twinbill on July 15 against the Blue Rocks, falling in the front-end 15-10 (due in large part to a 10-run Wilmington seventh) before winning game two 5-2 in 11 innings thanks to a go-ahead two-run double by Tad Gold.

HAASE SETS RECORD IN HILLCATS WIN: The Lynchburg Hillcats got three RBI games from Eric Haase and Clint Frazier, as well as strong pitching from Michael Peoples to top the Frederick Keys 8-2 on Tuesday night at City Stadium. With the loss, the orange and black drop to three games back of Lynchburg for first in the CL North standings. In the game, the Hillcats scored in six of their eight trips to bat, including at least once in each of the last five stanzas. Lynchburg’s biggest inning was the eighth, as Haase etched his name into the league record books. Batting with his team up 5-2, Haase drilled his third triple off the left-center field wall to clear the bases. It marked the first time a Carolina League player had posted three triples in a game since Chone Figgins did it on June 7, 2000. Meanwhile, Frazier hit two home runs to account for single runs in the fourth and sixth innings. Frederick’s only two runs came in the eighth, as Yaisel Mederos and Adrian Marin posted RBI singles. Peoples was tough through 6.2 shutout innings, scattering six hits and striking out six.

OFFENSE LOOKS FOR A LIFT: Since the Keys 10-2 win over Lynchburg last Wednesday, the club has posted three runs or less in each of its last five games. During that time, the Keys have scored nine runs, and have averaged 1.8 runs per contest. Although the team has won three of those games, this trend has been present since the start of August. Of Frederick’s 15 games this month, 10 have seen the orange and black score three runs or less (the club is averaging 3.6 runs per game). When the Keys score four or more runs in a game they are 44-14, as opposed to 14-49 when posting three or less.

A LITTLE HELP!: Hitting with runners in scoring position has been a challenge over this five game stretch, with the Keys batting just .163 (8-for-49) during that time. Frederick has also left 33 runners on base and averaged just over six hits per game. For the season, the orange and black are hitting .254 with runners in scoring position. That puts the Keys seventh in the Carolina League.   

AVOIDING A BACKSLIDE: Since the all-star break, the Keys have turned in six different winning streaks of three or more games. However in four of those instances, the Keys have dropped two or more games afterwards. That includes slides of four games (July 8-11) and six games (July 26-31). On Thursday, the club tries to get back on track with just 19 games remaining and only five divisional games on the slate. Two of those will come against the Lynchburg and three will come against Potomac.

CLOSE CALLS: Sunday snapped a string of three straight one-run games for the Keys, the second time in 2015 the club had been involved in three consecutive games hinging on one run. Over the last three weeks, the orange and black have been involved in a host of tight games, with 15 of the last 22 coming down to three runs or less (the Keys are 10-11 during that time). Frederick has fared well in nail-bitters this season, with the team boasting a 21-16 mark in one-run games (second-best in the league) and the circuit’s top mark in two-run games (14-8). This season, eight of the Keys 21 games with Lynchburg have come down to two runs or less, including three of the last four at City Stadium.

SISCO GETS CALLED UP: On Friday, the Baltimore Orioles announced that Keys catcher, Chance Sisco, had been promoted to the Double-A Bowie Baysox. He becomes the 14th Keys player to receive a call-up to either Double-A or Triple-A this year, and the second Keys player to receive a promotion this week. On Monday, relief pitcher Jon Keller received his first promotion to the Eastern League. In 75 games with the orange and black, Sisco hit .308 with four home runs and 26 RBIs. Over his first 11 August games, the Californian was batting .375, while he hit .324 in 46 games since the all-star break.

BULLPEN ARMS TO WATCH: Garrett Cortright and Donnie Hart have both proven to be outstanding additions to the Keys bullpen. On Thursday, the duo combined to strike out the final four Hillcats hitters and give the Keys a series win. Promoted to Frederick on August 3, Cortright has posted five scoreless outings (7IP/0R/3H) and has held opponents to a .136 batting average. He has not allowed a run in his last 9.2 frames (between Low-A and Advanced-A) while he has not surrendered an earned run in an eye-popping 33.2 innings (the last earned run he allowed came on May 30). Hart is 4-0 with three saves and a 0.91 ERA (29.2 IP/3ER) over 20 games with the Keys. He has walked seven and struck out 24, while opponents are batting .219 against him. He has not given up a run in his last five outings.  

AGAINST LYNCHBURG: The Keys hold an 11-10 lead in the season series against the Hillcats and can claim the season-set with a win on Wednesday night. Although Frederick holds the upper hand in the season-set and in games at Nymeo Field (7-3), Lynchburg holds a 6-4 edge in games played at City Stadium. Frederick has dropped two of its three series in the Hill City, while splitting a four-game sweep over Memorial Day weekend. Offensively, the Keys are hitting .267 against the Hillcats and have a 5.19 staff ERA. Lynchburg is batting .265 off Frederick arms and holds a 4.09 ERA.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Left-hander Lefty Luis Lugo makes his 22nd start of the season and his third against the Keys. He is the No. 21 prospect in the Indians system according to Baseball America. His most recent outing came last Friday at Myrtle Beach. Receiving a no-decision, Lugo allowed two runs (one earned) on one hit over five innings. He walked two and struck out three. In three August starts, Lugo has gone 1-0 with a 2.04 ERA (17.2 IP/4R) while opponents are hitting .219 against him this month. Walks have occasionally been a problem for Lugo this season. He has walked 45 in 103.2 innings and has averaged just under four rides per start thus season. This is Lugo’s third start against the Keys, on the year he is 0-1 with a 4.55 ERA (9.2 IP/5ER/13 SO). He last pitched against the orange and black on June 2 and suffered the loss, giving up three runs on five hits over five innings. His CL debut also came against the Keys on April 13, a game that went 16 innings and ranks as the longest game in the league this year.  From May 1-9 Lugo was on the disabled list. Originally from Barquisimeto, Venezuela, the 21-year-old spent all of 2014 at Low-A Lake County. In 27 games (22 starts) Lugo went 10-9 with a 4.92 ERA in 126.1 innings. Finishing third in the Midwest League in strikeouts (146) he racked up 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings. Ending the year strong, the southpaw registered a 2.14 ERA in August after a disastrous July (9.12 ERA 30R/26ER/25.2 IP). Signed as an international free agent for a reported $415,000, Lugo had a bevy of control issues during his first pro season in 2011 (5.9 BB/9IP) before improving the consistency of his mechanics (according to Baseball America). A four pitch pitcher, Lugo throws a fastball in the low 90s, a curveball, a slider and a changeup, with his changeup receiving high marks. An avid fisherman, Lugo enjoyed bass fishing in the Grand River and Lake Erie while playing for Lake County.

The Keys Try and Get Back On Track

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

The Keys try and bounce back after an 8-2 loss in the Hill City on Tuesday night. Eric Haase and Clint Frazier stole the show, as Haase became the first Carolina League player to record three triples in a game since 2000 (Chone Figgins did it for Salem that year) and Frazier hit two home runs to go with three RBIs.

Frederick still leads the season-series 11-10 and will try and win the season-set on Wednesday night with David Hess on the mound. The Orioles Minor League “Pitcher of the Month” in July, Hess has won all three of his August starts, going 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA during that time.

He will be opposed by Hillcats southpaw Jayson Aquino. This will be his third Carolina League start, after he was traded to the Indians on July 29 for cash considerations. A traveling man in 2015, Aquino has been traded three different times this year. Additionally, he has been designated for assignment three times (taken off a MLB team’s 40-man roster). Combined between the Hillcats and the Pirates and Blue Jays Florida State League teams, Aquino is 4-9 with a 3.47 ERA over 114 innings.

While we are on the topic of left-handed pitchers, a happy birthday to Keys southpaw Cody Wheeler! He turns 26 today.

Wheeler has been one of the CL's top relievers in 2015, leading the league in saves, games pitched and games finished

Wheeler has been one of the CL’s top relievers in 2015, leading the league in saves, games pitched and games finished.

Today’s lineup will be posted later, but until then a batch of game notes are below.

First pitch is slated for 6:30 and you can catch the broadcast on 1450 AM The Source and frederickkeys.com.

Talk soon and shake your keys!

Geoff

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 · Game #122 · Road Game #62

Frederick Keys (58-63/26-25) vs Lynchburg Hillcats (62-59/29-22)

RHP David Hess (8-4, 3.85) vs. LHP Jayson Aquino (0-1, 2.79)

HAASE SETS RECORD IN HILLCATS WIN: The Lynchburg Hillcats got three RBI games from Eric Haase and Clint Frazier, as well as strong pitching from Michael Peoples to top the Frederick Keys 8-2 on Tuesday night at City Stadium. With the loss, the orange and black drop to three games back of Lynchburg for first in the CL North standings. In the game, the Hillcats scored in six of their eight trips to bat, including at least once in each of the last five stanzas. Lynchburg’s biggest inning was the eighth, as Haase etched his name into the league record books. Batting with his team up 5-2, Haase drilled his third triple off the left-center field wall to clear the bases. It marked the first time a Carolina League player had posted three triples in a game since Chone Figgins did it on June 7, 2000. Meanwhile, Frazier hit two home runs to account for single runs in the fourth and sixth innings. Frederick’s only two runs came in the eighth, as Yaisel Mederos and Adrian Marin posted RBI singles. Peoples was tough through 6.2 shutout innings, scattering six hits and striking out six.

OFFENSE LOOKS FOR A LIFT: Since the Keys 10-2 win over Lynchburg last Wednesday, the club has posted three runs or less in each of its last five games. During that time, the Keys have scored nine runs, and have averaged 1.8 runs per contest. Although the team has won three of those games, this trend has been present since the start of August. Of Frederick’s 15 games this month, 10 have seen the orange and black score three runs or less (the club is averaging 3.6 runs per game). When the Keys score four or more runs in a game they are 44-14, as opposed to 14-49 when posting three or less.

A LITTLE HELP!: Hitting with runners in scoring position has been a challenge over this five game stretch, with the Keys batting just .163 (8-for-49) during that time. Frederick has also left 33 runners on base and averaged just over six hits per game. For the season, the orange and black are hitting .254 with runners in scoring position. That puts the Keys in a tie for fifth with Carolina.  

AVOIDING A BACKSLIDE: Since the all-star break, the Keys have turned in six different winning streaks of three or more games. However in four of those instances, the Keys have dropped two or more games afterwards. That includes slides of four games (July 8-11) and six games (July 26-31). On Wednesday, the club tries to get back on track with just 18 games remaining and only five divisional games on the slate. Two of those will come against the Lynchburg and three will come against Potomac.

CLOSE CALLS: Sunday snapped a string of three straight one-run games for the Keys, the second time in 2015 the club had been involved in three consecutive games hinging on one run. Over the last three weeks, the orange and black have been involved in a host of tight games, with 15 of the last 22 coming down to three runs or less (the Keys are 10-11 during that time). Frederick has fared well in nail-bitters this season, with the team boasting a 21-16 mark in one-run games (second-best in the league) and the circuit’s top mark in two-run games (14-8). This season, eight of the Keys 21 games with Lynchburg have come down to two runs or less, including three of the last four at City Stadium.

SISCO GETS CALLED UP: On Friday, the Baltimore Orioles announced that Keys catcher, Chance Sisco, had been promoted to the Double-A Bowie Baysox. He becomes the 14th Keys player to receive a call-up to either Double-A or Triple-A this year, and the second Keys player to receive a promotion this week. On Monday, relief pitcher Jon Keller received his first promotion to the Eastern League. In 75 games with the orange and black, Sisco hit .308 with four home runs and 26 RBIs. Over his first 11 August games, the Californian was batting .375, while he hit .324 in 46 games since the all-star break.

WHEELER RETURNS: After a 10-day absence, Cody Wheeler returned to action on Sunday, tossing a clean ninth inning while picking up a double play. Activated from the seven-day disabled list on Saturday, it was Wheeler’s first action since August 1 against Myrtle Beach. One of the Carolina League’s top relief arms this season, the Virginian paces the circuit in saves (16), games (39) and games finished (32). In 12 July games, Wheeler led all Keys pitches with a 0.69 ERA (13 IP/ER) as well as six saves in as many chances. On Wednesday, Wheeler celebrates his 26th birthday.

BULLPEN ARMS TO WATCH: Garrett Cortright and Donnie Hart have both proven to be outstanding additions to the Keys bullpen. On Thursday, the duo combined to strike out the final four Hillcats hitters and give the Keys a series win. Promoted to Frederick on August 3, Cortright has posted five scoreless outings (7IP/0R/3H) and has held opponents to a .136 batting average. He has not allowed a run in his last 9.2 frames (between Low-A and Advanced-A) while he has not surrendered an earned run in an eye-popping 33.2 innings (the last earned run he allowed came on May 30). Hart is 4-0 with three saves and a 0.91 ERA (29.2 IP/3ER) over 20 games with the Keys. He has walked seven and struck out 24, while opponents are batting .219 against him. He has not given up a run in his last five outings.  

HESS NAMED PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Last Monday, David Hess was named the Orioles Minor League “Pitcher of the Month” for July. He becomes the third member of the Keys to receive a monthly organizational honor, joining former teammates Drew Dosch and Trey Mancini, who were named players of the month in April and May. In six July starts, Hess went 2-0 with a 1.82 ERA, allowing only seven runs and 22 hits in 34.2 innings. Since the all-star break (nine starts) the Tennessee native has not allowed any more than two runs in a game.

AGAINST LYNCHBURG: The Keys hold an 11-10 lead in the season series against the Hillcats and can claim the season-set with a win on Wednesday night. Although Frederick holds the upper hand in the season-set and in games at Nymeo Field (7-3), Lynchburg holds a 6-4 edge in games played at City Stadium. Frederick has dropped two of its three series in the Hill City, while splitting a four-game sweep over Memorial Day weekend. Offensively, the Keys are hitting .267 against the Hillcats and have a 5.19 staff ERA. Lynchburg is batting .265 off Frederick arms and holds a 4.09 ERA.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Left-hander Jayson Aquino makes his 21st start on Wednesday and his third with Lynchburg. Combined between three different Advanced-A clubs (Lynchburg, Dunedin, Bradenton) Aquino is 4-9 with a 3.47 ERA over 20 games (114 innings). During that time he has struck out 76 and walked 27. The left-hander’s most recent outing came last Thursday against the Keys, and was his second as a member of the Hillcats. Working 5.2 innings, Aquino took the loss, giving up two runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out four. In two starts with Lynchburg he is 0-1 with a 2.79 ERA. Acquired by the Indians from the Pirates on July 29 for cash considerations, it marked the third time this season that Aquino had been traded. He has also been designated for assignment each time. On February 4, he was dealt from Colorado to Toronto in exchange for left-handed pitch Tyler Ybarra. From there, he was sent from the Blue Jays to the Pirates on May 10 for cash considerations and from there was sent to the Indians in late-July for cash considerations. Of Aquino’s 20 games, 13 have come with Bradenton, where he went 2-6 with a 3.78 ERA. Entering 2015 ranked as the No. 25 prospect in the Rockies system according to Baseball America, Aquino went 5-10 with a 5.13 ERA between Advanced-A Modesto and Double-A Tulsa last season. He pitched two games at Double-A. He was placed on the Rockies 40-man roster after the 2013 season. Originally signed by Colorado as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2009. He throws a fastball, a changeup and a slider. Baseball America rated his changeup as “well above average.”

Back to the Hill City!

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

The Keys begin their penultimate roadtrip of the year, a three-game series in Lynchburg. This is a critical series for the orange and black, as the Hillcats hold a two-game lead in the CL North. Moreover this is the last series these two teams will play against each other, and marks the second-to-last series the Keys will play against a division rival.

Mitch Horacek gets the ball in game one for the Keys and has beaten the Hillcats every time he has faced them this year. He will be opposed by Lynchburg right-hander Michael Peoples who takes the rotation spot of Rob Kaminsky.

First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m with pre-game coverage slated for 6:15 on 1450 AM The Source and frederickkeys.com. Lineups will come your way shortly, while below are today’s batch of game notes.

Talk soon and shake your keys!

Geoff

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 · Game #121 · Road Game #61

Frederick Keys (58-62/26-24) vs Lynchburg Hillcats (61-59/28-22)

LHP Mitch Horacek (7-13, 4.34) vs. RHP Michael Peoples (8-3, 3.98)

LONGBALL DENIES KEYS SERIES SWEEP: The Carolina Mudcats used three home runs and a strong start by Seth Webster to defeat the Frederick Keys 6-1 on Sunday afternoon at Nymeo Field. The loss snapped the Keys four game winning streak and denied the club a three-game sweep. Frederick’s lone run came against Webster in the bottom of the second. After Yaisel Mederos opened the inning with a single, he advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt/error and moved to third on a single by Caronia. Later in the frame, Mederos would come in on a bounce out by Jay Gonzalez. Luis Gonzalez stranded six on base through the first three innings, but a pair comes home in the fourth. Reed Harper opened the frame with a solo homer while Keith Curcio brought in Johan Camargo on a sac-fly. Carolina plated runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to close out their scoring. Camargo hit a two-run homer in the sixth, three straight singles by Dustin Peterson, Jacob Schrader and Joseph Odom accounted for a run seventh inning marker, before Curcio hit a solo shot to close out the scoring in the eighth. On the mound, Webster tossed seven innings and allowed one unearned run.

STREAK SNAPPED/AVOIDING A BACKSLIDE: For the second time in two weeks and for the third time in just less than a month, the Keys saw a four-game winning streak come to a close. The hot stretch matched the club’s second-longest run of the season (the longest of the year is a six-gamer from April 10-15). Since the all-star break, Frederick has turned in four different four-game winning streaks, however in three of those instances, they have been followed by slides of two games or more. The worst of those was a six-game slump from July 26-31 (tying a season-high).

PITCHING PROVIDES A LIFT: Frederick’s four-game run was fueled by pitching, as in all four contests, a Keys starter went at least five innings and did not surrender any more than three runs. That included quality starts by Sean Bierman and Mikey O’Brien. However the real story was the bullpen. On Sunday, Keys relievers concluded wrapped up a string of 13.2 scoreless innings (starting in the ninth inning last Tuesday and concluding in the sixth inning on Sunday).

AGAINST THE GRAIN: Strong pitching triggered the winning streak, as the Keys offense managed only six total runs over the final three games of the run. Meanwhile, the club’s offense registered only five runs over the three-game series with Carolina and has scored only seven combined runs in the four games since posting a 10-2 win over the Hillcats last Wednesday. Nonetheless, in six of Frederick’s last 10 wins, the club has scored three runs or less. The six wins make up a large chunk of the Keys yearly total for victories by three or fewer runs (14-47), while 10 of the 14 have come since the all-star break. Frederick opened the season 1-17 in games when posting three runs or less.

CLOSE CALLS: Sunday snapped a string of three straight one-run games for the Keys, the second time in 2015 the club had been involved in three consecutive games hinging on one run. Over the last three weeks, the orange and black have been involved in a host of tight games, with 15 of the last 21 coming down to three runs or less (the Keys are 10-11 during that time). Frederick has fared well in nail-bitters this season, with the team boasting a 21-16 mark in one-run games (second-best in the league) and the circuit’s top mark in two-run games (14-8). This season, eight of the Keys 20 games with Lynchburg have come down to two runs or less, including each of the last three at City Stadium.

SISCO GETS CALLED UP: On Friday, the Baltimore Orioles announced that Keys catcher, Chance Sisco, had been promoted to the Double-A Bowie Baysox. He becomes the 14th Keys player to receive a call-up to either Double-A or Triple-A this year, and the second Keys player to receive a promotion this week. On Monday, relief pitcher Jon Keller received his first promotion to the Eastern League. In 75 games with the orange and black, Sisco hit .308 with four home runs and 26 RBIs. Over his first 11 August games, the Californian was batting .375, while he hit .324 in 46 games since the all-star break.

WHEELER RETURNS: After a 10-day absence, Cody Wheeler returned to action on Sunday, tossing a clean ninth inning while picking up a double play. Activated from the seven-day disabled list on Saturday, it was Wheeler’s first action since August 1 against Myrtle Beach. One of the Carolina League’s top relief arms this season, the Virginian paces the circuit in saves (16), games (39) and games finished (32). In 12 July games, Wheeler led all Keys pitches with a 0.69 ERA (13 IP/ER) as well as six saves in as many chances.

BULLPEN ARMS TO WATCH: Garrett Cortright and Donnie Hart have both proven to be outstanding additions to the Keys bullpen. On Thursday, the duo combined to strike out the final four Hillcats hitters and give the Keys a series win. Promoted to Frederick on August 3, Cortright has posted five scoreless outings (7IP/0R/3H) and has held opponents to a .136 batting average. He has not allowed a run in his last 9.2 frames (between Low-A and Advanced-A) while he has not surrendered an earned run in an eye-popping 33.2 innings (the last earned run he allowed came on May 30). Hart is 4-0 with three saves and a 0.91 ERA (29.2 IP/3ER) over 20 games with the Keys. He has walked seven and struck out 24, while opponents are batting .219 against him. He has not given up a run in his last five outings.  

HESS NAMED PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Last Monday, David Hess was named the Orioles Minor League “Pitcher of the Month” for July. He becomes the third member of the Keys to receive a monthly organizational honor, joining former teammates Drew Dosch and Trey Mancini, who were named players of the month in April and May. In six July starts, Hess went 2-0 with a 1.82 ERA, allowing only seven runs and 22 hits in 34.2 innings. Since the all-star break (nine starts) the Tennessee native has not allowed any more than two runs in a game.

AGAINST LYNCHBURG: The Keys hold an 11-9 lead in the season series against the Hillcats and can claim the season-set with a win on Tuesday night. In spite of the Keys two game lead, Lynchburg holds a 6-4 edge in games played at City Stadium. Frederick has dropped two of its three series in the Hill City, while splitting a four-game sweep over Memorial Day weekend. Offensively, the Keys are hitting .267 against the Hillcats and have a 5.02 staff ERA. Lynchburg is batting .261 off Frederick arms and hold a 4.20 ERA.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Right-hander Michael Peoples makes his 22nd appearance on Tuesday and his 20th start. His most recent outing came last Wednesday at Nymeo Field when he pitched out of the bullpen. Working 3.2 innings, he allowed four runs (one earned) on six hits to go with two walks and six strikeouts. It was the most number of runs he had allowed since June 28. Peoples moves back to the rotation after Rob Kaminsky was placed on the disabled list last Thursday. After a rough first half, where he posted a 5.68 ERA over 12 games, Peoples has turned the corner since the all-star break, going 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA over nine games (seven starts). Outstanding in July, Peoples went 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA. Peoples has not done well against the Keys going 1-1 with a 5.53 ERA (27.2 IP/17ERA) in six games (five starts). In his second full season in the CL, Peoples went 7-8 with a 4.34 ERA in 26 games for Carolina last year. He fared better as a reliever (3.20 ERA/9G) than as a starter going 6-6 with a 4.61 ERA in 17 outings (82 innings. Peoples spent the 2013 season at Low-A Lake County and did not give up a run in 13.1 innings (working out of the bullpen) and was called up to Carolina at the end of May. He went 1-4 with a 5.27 ERA in eight starts before going on the disabled list on July 8 and missing the rest of the year with a right shoulder injury. Drafted in the 14th round of 2012 out of Western Oklahoma State College, Peoples registered a 3.33 ERA in his college career and had a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. There, he was part of the 2011 National Championship team. Other school alumni include Andrelton Simmons (former Hillcats shortstop and CL batting champion). WOSC was forced to forfeit all of its baseball games last year after it was found six players on the team did not complete high school. Peoples throws a fastball, a curveball and a changeup.

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