Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-14-14

Thursday, August 14, 2014 · Game #118 · Road Game #63

Frederick Keys (53-64/21-29) vs Wilmington Blue Rocks (57-60/24-25)

RHP Branden Kline (7-6, 3.93) vs. RHP Johnny Walter (5-1, 3.81)

SHUTDOWN: The Frederick Keys were shutout in both ends of a doubleheader on Wednesday night, falling to the Wilmington Blue Rocks 4-0 in game one and 1-0 in game two. It was the first time all season that the orange and black had been shutout in back-to-back games, while it pushed the team to a season-worst 11 games below .500. Sean Manaea dazzled in the first contest, tossing the first complete game shutout by a Blue Rocks pitcher this season. Scattering only two hits, the lefty struck out seven and never threw any more than six pitches to an individual batter all game. Glenn Sparkman was equally as effective in the nightcap. Over six innings, he surrendered only one hit, while the Blue Rocks won on a walk-off strikeout/wild pitch which scored Ramon Torres from third. The Keys try and avoid the three-game sweep on Thursday in the final match-up between the two clubs in 2014.

TOO MANY GOOSEEGGS: With the pair of shutout defeats on Wednesday, the Keys have now been blanked 11 times in 2014. The 11 shutout losses are the most in the Carolina League, and give the Keys two more than the next closest team (Winston-Salem has been held off the board nine times this year). Meanwhile, the pair of shutout wins pushed the Blue Rocks yearly total to 15-the most in the circuit. The pair of losses on Wednesday marked the first time that Frederick had been shutout in back-to-back games since June 13-14, 2013, when the Keys fell to Potomac 8-0 and 4-0 in consecutive games.

WHERE DID THE BATS GO?: After pounding out 12 hits in a 5-2 win over Wilmington on Sunday, Frederick was held to two hits in back-to-back games. The two hits are tied for the third-fewest number of hits the Keys have recorded in a game all season. On July 20, the team posted only one hit against Winston-Salem’s Tony Bucciferro, who carried a no-hitter into the ninth. Additionally, the Myrtle Beach duo of Chi Chi Gonzalez and Jose Leclerc combined to one-hit the Keys on May 20. In that game, Gonzalez carried a no-hitter into the seventh, before Michael Burgess broke it up.

AVOIDING THE SWEEP: Frederick tries to avoid being swept for the seventh time this season on Thursday night. Since the All-Star break, the Keys have been swept four times by four different teams (Wilmington, Winston-Salem, Potomac and Lynchburg). However, all four of those broomings have taken  place at Harry Grove Stadium. This season, the Keys have been swept only once on the road-something accomplished by Lynchburg from May 27-29. Wilmington took three straight against Frederick from June 22-24.

NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Intra-division competition for the Keys has often been problematic. Against Wilmington, Lynchburg and Potomac, Frederick is just 17-31, while the orange and black do not have a winning record against any CL North club. Frederick is the only team without at least 20 wins against divisional competition. This season, 24 of the Keys 31 losses in northern play have come to Wilmington and Lynchburg. The Keys have been defeated by each team 12 times, though Frederick has a worse winning percentage against the Hillcats (5-12). With the loss in Wednesday’s doubleheader, the club has dropped four of the last five series it has played against a CL North team.

TOUGH LUCK LOSER: Parker Bridwell put together the second complete game by a Frederick Keys pitcher on Wednesday. Tossing game one of the doubleheader, the Texan allowed four runs over six innings to go along with two walks and nine strikeouts (tied a season-high). Although he gave up just three hits, two were home runs, both two-run shots to Raul Mondesi and Fred Ford. It was Bridwell’s first complete game since July 21, 2012, when he was pitching at Low-A Delmarva.

THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE MARIN: Adrian Marin’s season-high eight game hitting streak came to an end on Thursday. Over the eight-game jaunt, he hit .375 (12-for-32) with two homers, four doubles, eight RBIs and six runs scored, while he saw his batting average jump from .236 to .248. During the streak, Marin also tallied four two-hit games. After hitting .242 over 23 games in July, the Miami native has looked good in August, batting .353 over nine games. His best month of the season was May, when he hit .289 over 27 games, and won Carolina League “Player of the Week” for May 26-June 2.

JASON, JASON, HE’S OUR MAN: Although the calendar has flipped to August, Jason Esposito has maintained the torrid pace he set in July. After hitting .354 with four homers and 16 RBIs last month, the former Vanderbilt Commodore is batting .359 (14-for-39) over his first nine August tilts to go along with a home run, four doubles and seven RBIs. He has multiple hits in four of his last eight games (and six of his last 12 tilts). During that time, he has seen his batting average climb 15 pts (.258 to .273).

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. Pitcher Dylan Bundy (1) and shortstop Adrian Marin (12) highlight the list and are joined by right-handed pitchers Parker Bridwell (19) and Branden Kline (20). Jon Keller (17) and Trey Mancini (25) joined the club after the All-Star break, while Mychal Givens (23) and Glynn Davis (29) opened the year with the Keys but were promoted in the second-half. 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 Johnny Walter makes his 26th appearance of the year and  his second professional start. His most recent outing came on Saturday against the Keys. Tossing three innings, the righty allowed one run on four hits. The lone run came on a homer to Adrian Marin. Thursday will be Walters sixth appearance against the Keys. Over five games (one start) he is 1-0 with a 6.00 ERA (12 IP/8R). This season he has not thrown more than 4.1 innings in a game. A pitcher who has enjoyed the friendly confines of Frawley Stadium, Walters is 3-0 with 1.76 tally at home and 2-1 with a 7.11 mark in road games. Of the 21 runs he has allowed, 15 have been surrendered on the road. Walters missed just under a month with a strained abdominal muscle in the first-half, spending time on the D.L from April 8-May 4. Originally a 29th  round draft pick of the Royals in 2012, the New Jersey native split last season between Rookie-Idaho Falls and Low-A Lexington. Dominant with the Legends, Walter posted a 1.01 ERA in 18 games, giving up only three runs in 26.2 innings to go along with 31 strikeouts and four walks. He attended Penn State, and was named Third-Team All Big 10 as a sophomore. Not the only member of his family to go to spend time in Happy Valley, his father John played football from 1982-85, while his mother Bonnie was a field hockey player from 1982-86. A three-pitch pitcher, Walter throws a fastball, curveball and changeup.

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