The Keys are Back in Town and……..It’s Christmas Time! (Well Sort of….)

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!

After a long overnight bus trip, the Keys are back home to take on the Lynchburg Hillcats! It will be a quick three-game series, with the team receiving an off-day on Monday. The Keys are coming off another successful trip to the Grand Strand, where the club took two out of three against the top overall club in the Carolina League this season. Thanks to wins on Tuesday and Wednesday, Frederick was able to claim the season-series (with the Keys taking 11 of the 20 matchups). This season, the Keys are the only team that has a winning record against Myrtle Beach, while the Keys ended the season-set by winning five of the final six matchups.

Jason Esposito was the star of Wednesday night’s game, as he hit two home runs for the first time in his career and tied his career-high with four RBIs. He also became the second member of the Keys to hit a pair of dingers in  a game this year. Michael Burgess also accomplished the feat on July 5 at Lynchburg, when the Keys earned a 17-3 win against the Hillcats.

For those that missed it, here is a recap of Esposito’s performance. Following a tough June where the former Commodore hit .205, the 24-year-old is batting .355 in 20 games this month. During that time, he has hit two homers and driven in 13 RBIs. In general, the second-half has been much kinder to Esposito than the first-half. In less than half the games, he has more RBIs (17 vs 14 in first-half) while he is hitting more than 100 points higher than he did before the All-Star break.

While Esposito’s performance was fun to watch, so was Dylan Bundy’s on Tuesday. His fourth Carolina League start was his best yet, as the Oklahoma native picked up his first win since having Tommy John surgery last June. Over six shutout innings he allowed only three hits. He attributed much of the success to a good fastball-changeup combo.

Some other news and notes from this week:

-After strong seasons with the Keys, Glynn Davis and Michael Burgess were both promoted to Double-A Bowie. A Carolina League All-Star, Davis makes his first foray into the Eastern League while Burgess returns to Double-A after spending 2012-13 in the Southern (Tennessee) and Texas (Corpus Christi) Texas Leagues. The Carolina League Player of the Month for June,  Burgess led the league in RBIs, doubles, slugging percentage (.579), extra-base hits (51), total bases (186) and intentional walks (four). The full release can be found here.

- Chi-Hsien Chiang and Johnny Ruettiger take the roster spots of Davis and Burgess. Ruettiger returns to Frederick for a third straight season after beginning the year at Bowie. Chiang makes his first tour through Frederick, after also beginning the year with the Baysox. Signed as a free agent during the offseason, Chiang played with the Rangers Double-A affiliate in Frisco last year. He is batting .300 in his first three games with the Keys.

- Brady Wager earned back-to-back wins for just the second time in his career thanks to six innings of two-run (one earned run) baseball on Wednesday. It was also the Arizona native’s third victory in four starts.

- Not once during the roadtrip, but TWICE, the Keys held the Pelicans to just three hits in a game. The three hits rank as the second-fewest allowed by Frederick pitching in a game all year

-Frederick’s newest member of the bullpen, Jon Keller, made his Keys debut on Monday against Winston-Salem. In 2.1 innings, he gave up one run on three hits. He walked three, but struck out five and featured a lively fastball.

Before we move to the upcoming promotions for this homestand, one final note from the road: following batting practice, Keys strength and conditioning coach Chris Cecere and your humble radio announcer engaged each other in a “pitch-off.”

My prediction was that I would hit 74 mph, which I did successfully, however things did not turn out as planned:

77mph from Chris to claim the belt of “Keys pitch-off champion.” A devastating blow, but I’ll get over it….eventually. We’ll be posting Thursday’s pregame interview conducted by Keys hitting coach Torre Tyson with myself and Chris a little bit later to the team’s soundcloud page. Who knows, it may even find its way onto this week’s edition of Keys Corner  (which can be heard on Saturday afternoon from 1-1:30 on 1450 AM The Source).

Alright without further or do…it’s time to take a look at this weekend’s promotions!

Well it may be warm weather, but given that Friday is June 25, we’re going to kick off the homestand with Christmas in July!

There will be a ton of holiday themed events throughout the night, while who knows, maybe Jolly Old Saint Nick will make an early trip down from the North Pole. I mean the sleigh probably needs a test run doesn’t it? We’ll also be getting into the holiday cheer a couple months early by doing a Toys for Tots drive, Everyone who donates one toy will receive a general admission ticket. Some more details can be found here

Saturday is jam-packed full of fun as it is Salute to the Orioles Night. The first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive a Nick Markakis bobblehead sponsored by Flying Dog Brewery. Then before the game the Key City Roller Derby will be in town for a pre-game bout. It will take place in the parking lot and will be carnival themed, so there will be plenty to do before the game! For those that haven’t seen the Key City Roller Derby, here is a little bit more about them:

Finally, we’ll close things out with a 4 p.m. Sunday Funday! There will be a pregame catch in the outfield, fans can get autographs before the game, while it is Superhero Night!

Who knows, maybe even this guy will be back since Dylan Bundy is with the Keys again:

Bundy Man

 

If you haven’t guessed, this guy is “Bundy Man.” So come on dressed up as your favorite superhero as the Keys wrap up a quick homestand against the Hillcats.

And there you have it folks! Plenty of great reasons to come out to the Grove this weekend.

See everybody at the ballpark and shake your keys!

Geoff

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