Keys Game Notes 5-22-14

Rise and shine Keys fans!

The guys are hitting the field early this morning for the rubber match of a three game set with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The Keys won last night, taking the lead in the sixth inning when three consecutive hits from Tucker Nathans, Michael Burgess, and Creede Simpson gave Frederick a 3-2 lead. The Keys tacked on another in the inning when Adrian Marin singled to drive in Simpson. Frederick didn’t look back, tallying another run in the seventh inning and eventually winning 5-4.

Today’s first pitch is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. at Harry Grove Stadium. Keys starter right-hander Mark Blackmar will face off against Pelicans’ lefty Victor Payano.

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

Thursday, May 22, 2014 · Game #44 · Home Game #22

Frederick Keys (20-23) vs Myrtle Beach Pelicans (28-16)

RHP Mark Blackmar (2-1, 4.66) vs. LHP Victor Payano (3-2, 4.26)

SIXTH INNING SURGE: Held to only one run on three hits through their first five trips to bat, the Frederick Keys sent eight men to bat and plated three runs in the sixth, as the orange and black defeated the Myrtle Beach Pelicans 5-4 on Wednesday night at Harry Grove Stadium. In the inning, Tucker Nathans led off with a single and scored on a double to left-center by Michael Burgess. That tied the game at two, while an RBI single by Creede Simpson gave the Keys their first lead. Later in the frame, Adrian Marin added insurance with a single to center which scored Simpson. The Pelicans made a comeback bid in the eighth thanks to a two-run homer by Christopher Bostick, but Mychal Givens retired the final five batters he faced to earn his third save.

MEAT AND POTATOES: Tuesday proved to be a good night for the heart of the Keys order. Five of the team’s nine hits and three of the five RBIs came courtesy of the three-five hole, while Tucker Nathans (2-for-2, R) and Michael Burgess (2-for-4, 2RBI, R) each finished with multi-hit games. For Burgess, it was his 11th multi-hit game of the year and moved his average up to .284 on the campaign, the highest it has been all season. Meanwhile, it was Nathans third multi-game in his last four contests.

ADRIAN!: Adrian Marin enjoyed a strong night at the plate after being stuck in a 2-for-23 slump over his previous six games. On Wednesday, the Miami native tied his season-high for hits, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. The Keys shortstop also finished with three hits against Winston-Salem on May 11. Thanks to his performance in the middle game of the series, Marin moved his batting average up to .237, the highest it has been in a week. Only 20 years old, he is batting .266 over 18 games in May after hitting just .211 over 19 April contests.

CLOSE CALLS: Frederick’s win on Wednesday was their fifth one-run victory of the campaign. On the season, the team is 5-8 in ballgames decided by a single tally. After dropping their first five one-run ballgames to begin the year, the orange and black have come out victorious in three of their last four games hinging on a single run. So far, Potomac and Lynchburg have the most wins in one-run games in the Carolina League (nine), while Salem has the best winning percentage in game coming down to one run (7-2).

THE FLORIDIAN FORCE: Michael Burgess extended his hitting streak to a season-high seven games on Wednesday. After closing the book on the no-hit bid by Chi Chi Gonzalez on Tuesday, the power-hitting lefty ended 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored last night. Over the seven game stretch, he is batting .444 (12-for-27) with a home run, five doubles, 11 RBIs and five 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 (35) and Myrtle Beach’s Joey Gallo (39).

NATHANS KNOCKING: Tucker Nathans saw his season-high five game hitting streak end on Tuesday, but the New York native bounced back with his eighth multi-hit effort on Wednesday night. In the process it moved his batting average up to .248, the third-highest it has been all season. Over his last seven games, Nathans is batting .500 (12-for-24) with three doubles, five RBIs and four runs scored. One-third of that output came on Saturday at Winston-Salem, when the infielder his career-high for hits (four) and RBIs (three) in a game. After a dismal April where he hit only .148 over 14 games, Nathans is batting .353 over 15 games in May.

PELICAN BRIEFS:. Wednesday’s triumph was just the team’s second win over the Birds at Harry Grove Stadium 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. Frederick 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.

TAYLOR TO THE DL/HOBGOOD RETURNS: 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, when he allowed five runs over five innings. In a corresponding move on Wednesday afternoon, reliever Matt Hobgood was reinstated from the seven-day DL after missing nearly two weeks with right shoulder inflammation. In eight games this season, the California native is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA.

 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 14 contests, while he is second in the league in that department (37). One of the CL’s top threats at the plate, Davis is third in batting average (.331) and second in hits (53). He has at least one hit in 31 of the 41 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 Victor Payano makes his 10th start of the season on Thursday morning and his third against Frederick in 2014. His most recent start came against Potomac last Saturday, and was his second quality outing of the year. Over six stanzas, he allowed only two runs on four hits. He walked four and struck out three. In each of his last three starts he has tossed five innings or more and allowed two runs or less. When Payano has gotten into trouble this year, walks have often been the problem. The Carolina League’s leader in free tickets, the 21-year-old leads the eight-team circuit in free passes (36). A problem throughout his entire career, Payano has walked 206 over 328.2 innings as a professional, or roughly six per nine innings. The lefty spent all of 2013 with Myrtle Beach, going 5-7 with a 6.67 ERA over 21 games (20 starts). In 82.1 innings, he allowed 82 hits, walked 54 and surrendered a career-high 11 home runs. Payano’s best season came with Low-A Hickory in 2012. As a 19-year-old that season, he went 6-8 with a 4.63 ERA over 25 games (20 starts). The Pelicans opening day starter this season, Payano was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by Texas in February 2010. Clocked in the upper 80s as a 16-year-old, the Dominican originally agreed to terms with Boston for $900,000, but failed his physical. That allowed Texas to swoop in and sign him for a reported $75,000. Payano throws a low-mid 90s fastball, a curveball and a changeup.

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