The drive for five starts tonight, No peanuts, Rudy highlights and some extras

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Nicky Delmonico and the Keys need to win five in a row to win the Carolina League North. Their win-streak has to start tonight.

Now that I’m back from taking the tarp off the field, how about a blog post before we enter the final series of first half? (Yes, it looks as though the skies will be kind tonight and there will be baseball played at Harry Grove Stadium.)

The Keys open a four-day, five-game series with Potomac tonight, trailing the P-Nats by five games for first-place in the Carolina League North. Lynchburg is a game ahead of the Keys.

Thus, for the Keys to win the first-half in the North and earn a playoff berth two things need to happen:

  1. Frederick takes all five from P-Nats this weekend
  2. Lynchburg drops one game in their five-game series against Salem

So on peanut-free night at The Grove, it’s time for the Keys to start a winning-streak.

*How did we get here? Well, the Keys just got swept at Myrtle Beach to conclude a 1-5 road swing. Here’s a recap from last night’s game, a 5-1 loss, on FrederickKeys.com.

*Tonight there will be no peanuts in any way, shape or form at Harry Grove Stadium and Brady Wager makes his second Carolina League start. He struggled against the P-Nats on Saturday, but has a chance at redemption tonight. A.J. Cole, who dominated the Keys on Saturday (6 IP, 11 K, and just one run), starts for the P-Nats.

No peanuts and hopefully no P-Nats’ win.

*The Keys placed Travis Adair on the DL today with a knee injury and Anthony Caronia took his place on the roster.

*More info on tonight’s game in the game notes:

KEYS STARTER: RHP Brady Wager (0-0, 11.25)

  • Made his first Carolina League start in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader at Potomac and struggled, allowing five runs in four innings. Left-handers did most of the damage, going 4-8 with a double and 3 RBIs.
  • Posted a 2-3 record with a 4.33 ERA in nine starts with Class-A Delmarva before his promotion on June 4, which followed his worst start of the season on May 30: 6.2 IP, 15 H, 8 ER.
  • Drafted by the Orioles in the ninth round of the 2012 draft out of Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz. Highest drafted player from GCU since 2003, when the Montreal Expos selected RHP David Perrin in the third round.
  • Led the Pacific West Conference in strikeouts (78 in 84 IP), won seven games and posted a 3.45 ERA in 2012, his last season at Grand Canyon.

LAST APPEARANCE FOR WAGER:

DATE

OPP

RES

DEC

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

6/8

@POT

L

ND

4.0

6

5

5

2

5

NATIONALS STARTER: RHP A.J. Cole (3-2, 4.62)

  • Beat the Keys in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader at Potomac, striking out 11 over six innings while allowing one run. Has won last his last two starts.
  • Rated as the No. 3 prospect in the Oakland organization prior to the 2013 season, according to Baseball America.
  • Originally drafted by the Nationals in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Draft. One of four players traded to Oakland in exchange for Gio Gonzalez prior to the 2012 season. Returned to Washington this offseason as part of three-way trade that sent OF Michael Morse to Seattle.

KEYNOTES:

FIVE IN A ROW: The Keys’ only chance of winning the first-half Carolina League North crown and securing a playoff berth entails taking all five games of this series from Potomac. They also need a loss from Lynchburg, which is a game in front of Frederick in the standings, at some point this weekend. Anything less and the P-Nats will almost certainly be celebrating a first-half title at Harry Grove Stadium this weekend.

WAGER ME THIS: Keys starter Brady Wager recorded more outs by fly ball and line drive than he did by grounders in his first Carolina League start. That’s not this recipe for success. In Delmarva, Wager recorded more than three times as many groundouts as he did air outs, and with the exception of his first and last starts for the Shorebirds, pitched well. Ground balls will likely be the key to his success.

POWER OUTAGE: The Keys’ offense lost its momentum in Myrtle Beach, posting just six runs and 13 hits in the three-game sweep. Coming back home might help, as Frederick slugs nearly 50 points higher and has homered nine more times in eight fewer games at The Grove.

*Johnny Ruettiger moved back into the leadoff spot last night a picked up a couple hits and stole two bases. He was the bright spot in a dismal series at Myrtle Beach. Two of his highlights:

Rudy’s two-RBI single on Tuesday

Rudy’s diving catch on Monday

*The Star-Spangled Banner’s original manuscript and its author will be reunited this weekend and the Keys will be part of the historical fanfare. Francis Scott Key’s original manuscript arrives in Frederick tomorrow and around 6 p.m., the official unveiling of a historical marker in front of Harry Grove Stadium will take place. The Keys will also be flying a 15-star U.S. flag at The Grove for the remainder of the year starting tomorrow. More details are in this Frederick News-Post article.

*For a little extra Keys luck, former Key Will Startup’s pregame ritual from the 2011 season, when the Keys last won Mills Cup:

Shake your Keys.

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