Frederick Keys Game Notes 5-7

Good Evening!

The Keys try and avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Potomac Nationals on Wednesday night. First pitch is moments away, but here are some game notes to comb through this evening! Local boy, Branden Kline makes the start for the Keys and will be going for his third win.

Shake your Keys!

Geoff

                                  Wednesday, May 7, 2014 · Game #30 · Road Game #18

                                    Frederick Keys (12-17) vs Potomac Nationals (18-10)

                          RHP  Branden Kline (2-1, 2.36) vs. RHP Ronald Pena (2-0, 6.23)

SOME ENDINGS AREN’T MEANT FOR HOLLYWOOD: Ahead 3-0 after five innings, the Frederick Keys saw their lead and eventually the game slip away on Tuesday night at Pfitzner Stadium. In the bottom of the sixth, the Potomac Nationals tied things up on a three-run homer by Oscar Tejeda, which set the table for a dramatic finish. Down to their final at-bats, the P-Nats got a one-out baserunner, after Gene Escat walked Justin Miller. The Keys right-hander retired Narciso Mesa, but Randolph Oduber doubled to right-center to give Potomac a 4-3 walk-off victory. It was the Nationals first walk-off win of 2014, and dropped Frederick to a season-worst five games below .500. On Wednesday, the Keys will try and avoid being swept for the second time this season.

KISS IT GOODBYE: Tuesday marked the third time in 2014 that Frederick had suffered a walk-off defeat. The other two came during the first series of the year at Lynchburg, when the Hillcats won via a walk-off on back-to-back nights. On April 5, Kyle Wren recorded a game-winning single off Lex Rutledge, while the night prior, Daniel Castro victimized Matt Price with a base-hit down the third baseline. Frederick has one walk-off win in 2014. Coming during the last homestand, Wynston Sawyer played the role of hero with a walk-off double off Myrtle Beach’s Keone Kela on April 25.

NORTHERN EXPOSURE: So far, the Keys have not fared well against Northern Division competition. The club has dropped two of its three intra-division series this year, while the orange and black have now lost three straight games against a team from the north. After a four-game split at Lynchburg to open the year, the Hillcats took three of four at Harry Grove Stadium, before Frederick’s struggles resumed this week. Through 10 games, the Keys are 3-7 against divisional competition. In 2013, the Keys went 24-35 against teams from the CL North, the worst divisional mark in the league.

HERBST HELD IN CHECK: On Tuesday, Lucas Herbst’s nine-game hitting streak came to an end. He finished the night 0-for-3 with a sacrifice, making it the first time since April 23 that the Californian had not tallied a base hit. The nine-game swing is tied for the sixth-longest hitting streak in the Carolina League this season. Over that stretch, Herbst hit .389 (14-for-36) with three doubles, seven RBIs and five runs scored. In the process, his batting average climbed from .286 to .351 (65 points). Now batting at .333, Herbst is second on the team in hitting next to Glynn Davis. The .333 mark would put Herbst among the league’s top 10 in hitting, but he does not have enough plate appearances to qualify.

CATCHING SOME ZZZSSSS: Zane Chavez put together his third multi-hit effort in four games on Tuesday. Going 2-for-4, he finished with a double and a run scored, and is now 6 for his last 16 at the dish, with a double an RBI and a run scored. The hot stretch has pushed Chavez’s average from .167 to .286. A player that has found his stroke since joining the Keys, the 27-year-old hit just .158 over six games at Double-A Bowie (3-for-21) to open the year. Last season, Chavez hit .295 with seven homers and 49 RBIs with Frederick, and was named a CL All-Star.

TOP DOG: Despite failing to record a hit on Tuesday, Glynn Davis still ranks among the league’s top hitters. After 27 games,he rates second in the Carolina League in batting average (.357), hits (40) and runs scored (24), while he is currently fourth in on-base percentage (.410) and total bases (50). Davis’ 14 games of two-hits or more also lead the ballclub.

ARMS RACE: Over the roadtrip, Frederick has received a number of good performances from its starting rotation. Brady Wager (6IP/2R) and Matt Taylor (7IP/0R) have each put together quality starts, while Branden Kline and Parker Bridwell each allowed only one earned run in their respective outings. Taylor and Kline have been the Keys best performers out of the rotation so far. Taylor leads all Orioles minor leaguers in ERA (1.32), and Kline rates third (2.36). Both individuals are also in the top 10 in the CL in ERA, with Taylor’s mark leading the loop. The Georgian is also tied for second in the CL in wins (three). Kline tries to equal Taylor’s total tonight, when he makes his seventh start of the season. In each of his last three, he has allowed one run or less.

TWIN KILLINGS: Frederick has been susceptible to the double-play ball over the last four days. During that time, the Keys have hit into six twin-killings. That has ticked the club’s season-total up to 25, the most in the Carolina League this season. Salem is the only other club that has hit into at least 20 or more double plays (22). One-fifth of the Keys twin killings have come from Jason Esposito, who is tied for the CL lead in double-play balls.

FREDERICK VS POTOMAC: Tuesday’s defeat was Frederick’s 15th in its last 22 games against Potomac, stretching back to last year. The Keys went 7-13 against the Nationals in both 2012 and 2013, while the orange and black have not claimed a season series against the Nationals since 2010. Potomac earned three shutout wins over the Keys last season, while an 8-0 Nationals victory on June 13 gave the P-Nats the first-half CL North title.

PENA TO DL, HAUSER JOINS KEYS: Last Tuesday, Jerome Pena was placed on the seven-day DL with a left wrist sprain. The move is retroactive to April 28. Taking his place on the roster is RHP Matt Hauser. Originally drafted by Minnesota out of the University of San Diego in 2010, Hauser was signed as a free-agent by Baltimore in mid-April. He spent each of the last four years as a Twins farmhand, reaching as High as Double-A. Splitting last season between New Britain and High-A Ft Myers, Hauser went 4-5 with a 5.09 ERA over 30 games.

NAME THAT PUJOLS!: Luis Pujols becomes the 20th manager in Keys history, after spending 2013 as the skipper at Low-A Delmarva. He takes the reins from Ryan Minor, who went 61-78 in his lone season as Frederick’s head man. The cousin of Angels star, Albert Pujols, the 58-year-old has considerable experience as a player, manager and coach in the majors and minors. Since spending nine years as a big league catcher with Houston, Kansas City and Texas, Pujols has worked as a bench/first base coach for Montreal (1993-00) and San Francisco (2003-06), while he served as interim manager for the Detroit Tigers in 2002, after Phil Garner was fired six games into the season. He has also managed for Double-A affiliates in the Detroit and Houston systems.

PROSPECTING: This year’s Keys team does not lack for talent. Frederick’s Opening Day roster features five of Baltimore’s Top 30 prospects according to Baseball America. Shortstop Adrian Marin (12) highlights the list and is joined by right-handed pitchers Parker Bridwell (19), Branden Kline (20) and Mychal Givens (23). Glynn Davis (29) rounds out the group. Of the five players, only Givens (one game in 2010) and Davis played at the Advanced-A level prior to 2014.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Right-hander Ronald Pena makes seventh start of the season on Wednesday night and his first against the Keys. His most recent outing came last Friday at Winston-Salem. Over five innings, the right-hander received a no-decision allowing three runs on a season-high nine hits. He walked two, surrendered a home run and did not strike anyone out. So far, Pena has not worked any deeper than 5.1 innings, while he has allowed three or more runs in four of his six starts (including five runs on two occasions). In his third professional season, Pena spent all of 2013 at Low-A Hagerstown. In 28 games (10 starts), he went 4-3 with a 3.48 ERA. He performed better as a reliever (2.25 ERA) than as a starter (4.70). Selected by Washington in the 16th round of the 2012 draft out of Palm Beach State College (FL), Pena was 9-2 with a 2.72 ERA. That season, he hit 95 mph during the JUCO state tournament. The righty transferred to Palm Beach State from the College of Charleston after his freshman season, due to financial reasons. Pena throws a 90-92 mph fastball, which can reach 94. He also throws a curveball and a changeup.

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