Keys Game Notes 5-21-14

The Frederick Keys and Myrtle Beach Pelicans take to Harry Grove Stadium tonight for their second of three games this week. The Pelicans took game one of the series last night when starter Chi Chi Gonzalez took a  perfect game into the fifth inning and a no-hitter into the seventh. Keys starter Parker Bridwell, who nearly threw a no hitter in his last outing, was solid as well. Bridwell gave up a run in the first inning, but recovered by retiring 10 of 11 batters. At night’s end, he allowed three runs over six innings pitched, striking out eight Myrtle Beach batters. The Pelicans scored a run in the fifth and sixth inning and eventually went on to win the game 3-1.

Tonight right-hander Joe Van Meter gets the start for the Keys, facing off against Myrtle Beach starter Andrew Faulkner.

Tonight’s game against the Pelicans also features Kid’s Courtesy Admission! If a child shows up (with a paying adult) wearing a little league baseball uniform that child will receive a free ticket to the game! Hope to see plenty of future Frederick Keys in the stands tonight!

Below are some game notes about tonight’s game.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 · Game #43 · Home Game #21

Frederick Keys (19-23) vs Myrtle Beach Pelicans (28-15)

RHP Joe Van Meter (0-0, 4.15) vs. LHP Andrew Faulkner (2-0, 2.79)

LUMBER LIQUIDATOR: Chi Chi Gonzalez carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, while the Frederick Keys were held to only one hit on the game, as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans earned a 3-1 victory on Tuesday night at Harry Grove Stadium. It was the fewest hits Frederick had recorded in a game all season. After tossing eight shutout innings against the orange and black on May 3, Gonzalez was even sharper on Monday. Over the first six innings, the Rangers No. 5 prospect allowed only four runners to reach base, while the team did not record its first hit until the seventh on an opposite field single by Michael Burgess. The Keys lone run came later that inning on a wild pitch. Parker Bridwell kept the Keys close over six innings, surrendering only three runs, but was tagged for his sixth loss of the season.

CHECKMATE: On Tuesday, Frederick was one-hit for the first time since April 20, 2013, when Potomac’s Taylor Hill shutout the Keys over seven innings at Pfitzner Stadium. Prior to yesterday, the Keys season-low for hits in a game had been two. Facing Dylan Baker on April 8, the Mudcats right-hander retired 18 in-a-row before Glynn Davis tripled to begin the seventh. This season the Keys have struggled mightily against Gonzalez. In two starts against the Keys, the right-hander has gone 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA (15IP/1R).

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Frederick has struggled terribly in series openers this year. Since winning of the first game of a four-game set at Carolina on April 18, the orange and black have dropped eight straight games to begin a series. In the first game of a series this year, the Keys are 3-10. That has contributed to only two series victories all year (to go with four defeats and six splits). Frederick’s last series win came during its last homestand, when the team took two of three against the Potomac National, the top club in the CL North.

PELICAN BRIEFS: The Keys have not fared well against the Pelicans at Harry Grove Stadium. Frederick has dropped three of its four home games to Myrtle Beach, while Tuesday’s loss was the team’s fifth to the Birds this season. The 2014 head-to-head series got off to an inauspicious start for Frederick, who fell 21-6 on April 23, the club’s worse loss since June 11, 2006. The Keys bounced back the following night with their first walk-off win of the season, courtesy of Wynston Sawyer, but Pelicans pitchers combined on a 16 strikeout performance the following night to take the three-game set. Meeting on the Grand Strand to open the month of May, the two sides split the next four games. Pitching was the main storyline, with Chi Chi Gonzalez tossing eight shutout innings in the third game of the set, before Matt Taylor spun seven shutout frames in the series finale. A one-sided affair over the last two years, Frederick went 6-14 against Myrtle Beach in both 2013 and 2012. Both seasons, it marked the team’s worse showing against a CL opponent.

THE FLORIDIAN FORCE: Michael Burgess closed the book on the no-hit bid by Chi Chi Gonzalez on Tuesday with a single to left in the top of the seventh. Additionally, it allowed the Tampa native to extend his hitting streak to six games, tying his longest swing of the year (he also hit in six straight from April 23-May 1). Over the current six-gamer he is batting .435 (10-for-23) with a home run, four doubles, nine RBIs and four runs scored. One of the slugger’s best games of the year came on Sunday at Winston-Salem, when he finished 3-for-3, and became the third Keys player to drive in four runs this year. It was the most runs Burgess had brought home in a game since last May 13, when he tallied eight RBIs as a member of the Corpus Christi Hooks. Currently third in the Carolina League in RBIs, Burgess trails only Winston-Salem’s Courtney Hawkins (34) and Myrtle Beach’s Joey Gallo (39).

NATHANS KNOCKING: Tucker Nathans saw his season-high five game hitting streak end on Tuesday. During the five-game jaunt he hit .500 (10-for-20) with three doubles, five RBIs and two runs scored. Four of Nathans hits came on Saturday at Winston-Salem, when he tied his career-high for hits (four) and RBIs (three) in a game. Although the streak is over, the New York native is still batting .327 over 14 games in May.

TEXAS TOAST: Parker Bridwell turned in his second straight quality start in the series opener against the Pelicans, but was tagged with his sixth loss. Coming off a near no-hitter, the reigning Carolina League “Pitcher of the Week” allowed three runs on six hits over six stanzas. He walked two and tied his season-high with eight strikeouts. The six losses is tied for the most in the CL, but is not indicative of how well Bridwell has pitched of late. After posting a 7.56 ERA in the month of April, the right-hander has tallied a 3.33 ERA (24.1 IP/9R) in four May starts.

 TAYLOR TO THE DL: On Monday left-hander Matt Taylor was placed on the seven-day disabled list retroactive to May 19. One of the Carolina League’s top starting pitchers this season, the Georgian is currently tied for the circuit’s lead in wins (five) and is third in ERA (1.94). Winner of three straight starts, Taylor’s most recent triumph came last Wednesday against Potomac, where he allowed five runs over five innings. The Orioles have not made a corresponding roster move.

 ON THE WAY HOME: Glynn Davis sawhis string of games with a run scored come to an end on Friday. Entering game one of the doubleheader with a run scored in nine straight, Davis never advanced past second base. He made up for it in the backend of the twinbill though, scoring twice. The Baltimore native has now come home 14 times in his last 13 contests, while he is second in the league in that department (37). One of the CL’s top threats at the plate, Davis is also tied for fourth (.331), is second in hits (53) and fifth in total bases (72). He has at least one hit in 31 of the 40 games he has played this season.

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:Left-hander Andrew Faulkner makes his 10h appearance of the year on Wednesday as well as his seventh start. The 21-year-old’s most recent start came against Potomac last Friday. Earning the win, Faulkner allowed four runs on nine hits over six innings. He walked three and struck out four. That snapped a string of back-to-back quality starts by Faulkner, though he has tossed six innings in each of his last three outings. Currently, the southpaw is ninth in the Carolina League in ERA (2.79), and is one of two Pelicans pitchers among the 10 best (Chi Chi Gonzalez rates fifth with a 2.38 mark). Faulkner has split the season between the rotations and the bullpen. He began the year piggybacking with fellow lefty Luis Parra (alternating starting and relief roles) and has pitched almost exclusively out the rotation since Cody Buckel was placed on the disabled list in mid-April, and later moved to the bullpen. In his first year with the Pelicans, Faulkner spent all of 2012-13 with Low-A Hickory. Despite not joining the team until May 15 last year, the South Carolina native posted the second most starts on the staff (19). In 21 total games, he went 6-5 with a 3.48 ERA over 111.1 frames. The only member of the Pelicans who hails from the Palmetto State, Faulkner was selected by Texas in the 14th round of the 2011 draft out of South Aiken High School. As a senior, he went 6-2 with a 2.32 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 48 innings, becoming only the second player in his high school’s history to be drafted. He was signed by the Rangers for a reported $125,000 signing bonus. A four-pitch pitcher, Faulkner throws a fastball (89-92), curveball, changeup and split.

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