Keys Game Notes 5-12-14

Good evening Keys fans!

The Keys concluded their four game series against the Winston-Salem Dash this weekend at Harry Grove Stadium, giving the over 5,000 fans who came out on Mother’s Day quite a show. After splitting the first two game of the series, heavy rain on Saturday night forced a suspension of the third game. When play picked up in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Keys trailed the dash 3-0. Tucker Nathans drove in Michael Burgess in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving the Keys their first run of the game. Trailing 3-1 with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Sammie Starr blasted his first homer of the year over the center field wall. The two-run shot tied the game at three and set the table for someone to be a hero. Brenden Webb was just that, driving in Glynn Davis with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to give the Keys a 4-3 walk-off victory.

The success did not carry over to second game of the day; however, as the Keys fell 5-2 to the Dash. Winston-Salem first baseman Keon Barnum was 2-3 on the day, including a home run and two RBI’s. Adrian Marin provided a bright spot for the Keys, going 3-3 on the day including a ground rule double in the fourth inning.

The split series put the Keys in a three-way tie for second in the Northern division of the Carolina League, 4.5 games back of the Potomac Nationals.

Speaking of Potomac, guess who the Keys begin a three game set with tonight? That’s right. The Nationals travel to Harry Grove Stadium to take on the Keys, who look to close the gap in the division before hitting the road for a series at Winston-Salem.

They Keys send Frederick native Branden Kline to the mound, who comes in boasting a .745 ERA in his last four starts. The Nationals, who took two of three from the Keys earlier in the season, will start righty Ronald Pena who is 2-1 with a 5.63 ERA.

Below are some game notes in reference to tonight’s game.

 

Monday, May 12, 2014 · Game #35 · Home Game #17

Frederick Keys (15-19) vs Potomac Nationals (15-19)

RHP Branden Kline (3-1, 2.01) vs. RHP Ronald Pena (2-1, 5.63)

SPLITTSVILLE: The Frederick Keys earned a four-game split against the Winston-Salem Dash, after the two sides completed a suspended game as well as a seven-inning affair on Sunday afternoon. After Saturday’s game was halted with one out in the bottom of the fifth, the two sides picked things up at 1 o’clock Sunday. Trailing 3-0 when the game was resumed, Frederick scored one run in the sixth, before plating three in the ninth off Euclides Leyer to give the club their first ninth inning come-from-behind win of the season. Sammie Starr evened the score with a two-run homer, while Brenden Webb drove in Glynn Davis to give the home team a walk-off win. In the series finale, the Dash used home runs from Courtney Hawkins and Keon Barnum as well as six-innings of two-run baseball from starter Tony Bucciferro to hand the visitors a 5-2 triumph.

COMEBACK KIDS: The Keys recorded their second walk-off victory on Sunday afternoon, as Brenden Webb drove home Glynn Davis to cap-off a three-run ninth inning. The other walk-off win came on April 24, when Wynston Sawyer doubled off Myrtle Beach’s Keone Kella to lift the Keys to a 5-4 victory. Sunday’s walk-off win was extra special, as it marked the first time all season that the Keys had secured a win when trailing after eight innings. Prior to the game, Frederick had gone 0-14 when playing behind to start the ninth.

SLAMMIN SAMMY: Sammie Starr was one of the heroes in Frederick’s ninth inning rally on Sunday. His first home run of the season evened the score against the Dash, before Brenden Webb stroke the game-winner later in the inning. Starr also played second base in the second game of the day, finishing a collective 2-for-7 with a home run, two RBIs and a run scored. The Canadian has now hit safely in back-to-back games for the first time all year, while the dinger was his first since September 1, 2013, the penultimate game of last season. A year ago, five of Starr’s six homers came at Harry Grove Stadium.

LITTLE HELP!: Despite splitting their past series with Winston-Salem, the Keys struggled mightily with runners in scoring position. Over the four game series, the team went a combined 4-for-30 with men at second or third base. On the season, Frederick is hitting .223 with men closest to home, .171 with men at second and third and two outs, and only .190 with the bases loaded.

FEELING THE BREEZE: Over the last four days, Frederick has struck out a combined 35 times. During the final two games of the series, the Keys went down on strikes 13 times. On Friday, the orange and black went down 12 times, as Dash starter J.B. Wendelken recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts. That was the most strikeouts by an opponent starting pitcher against the Keys this season. Frederick also struck out 10 times on Thursday (with Mike Recchia recording nine punchouts). Currently, the Keys are fourth in the Carolina League in strikeouts (267).

A HOUSE BUT NOT A HOME: After Sunday’s split, the Keys are just 5-11 at Harry Grove Stadium this year. The 11 losses is tied for the second-most in the Carolina League, with the Keys trailing only Winston-Salem (6-12) in setbacks at home. In contrast, Frederick’s 10 road wins are tops in the Northern Division and third-most in the CL. In general, home wins have been tough to come by in the Carolina League this season. Only Potomac (10-8) has a winning record at home, while every other club excluding Salem (10-10) is below the .500 at their home venue.

WELCOME BACK WEBB!:Sincebeing activated from the disabled list on Thursday, Brenden Webb has looked sharp at the plate. In his first three games back following a right shoulder strain, the Californian is 4-for-12 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored. The hero in the third game of the series, Webb stroked a walk-off single down the rightfield line to give the Keys a 4-3 come-from-behind win on Sunday. Through 18 games this year, he is batting .292 with a home run and 10 RBIs to go along with six doubles.   

TURN OUT THE LIGHTS, THE PARTY’S OVER: When the Keys have opened the eighth inning with a lead, the results have often been favorable for the orange and black. In games where the team has the lead after seven innings, the Keys are 13-2. That mark improves to 9-1 when Frederick is ahead going into the ninth. In contrast, the team’s success late in games has been limited. Prior to Brenden Webb’s walk-off RBI single in the penultimate game of the series, the Keys were 0-14 when playing from behind entering the ninth.

TOP DOG: A staple of consistency at the top of the lineup, Glynn Davis has recorded at least one hit in 26 of 32 games this season that he has played. Currently, the Baltimore native rates second in the Carolina League in batting average (.351), hits (46) and runs scored (29), while he is third in total bases (62). Davis’ 15 games of two-hits or more also lead the ballclub.

TWIN KILLINGS:Frederick has been susceptible to the double-play ball over the last eight days. During that time, the Keys have hit into 10 twin-killings. That has ticked the club’s season-total up to 29, the most in the Carolina League this season. Nearly one-third of that total has come from Jason Esposito and Wynston Sawyer who have each hit into five apiece.

FREDERICK VS POTOMAC: Frederick has dropped 15 of its last 23 games to Potomac stretching back to last year. This season, the orange and black are 1-2 against their Northern Division rival after the P-Nats pulled a 4-0 shutout in game one, and shocked the Keys by a 4-3 margin in game two, thanks to a walk-off double by Randolph Oduber. Luis Pujols’ club salvaged a win in the series finale, as Branden Kline tossed six scoreless innings and Matt Hauser worked around trouble for his second save. The Keys went 7-13 against the Nationals in both 2012 and 2013, while Frederick has 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.

 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 eighth start of the season on Monday and his second against the Keys in 2014. His most recent outing came last Wednesday against Frederick at Pfitzner Stadium. Tagged with the loss, the right-hander put together his first quality start of the season. He allowed two runs on four hits, walked one struck out one and gave up a homer. It equaled the longest outing of his career. year, Pena also tossed six innings  last May 21, when he tossed six innings of three-run baseball as a member of the Hagerstown Suns. 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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