Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-21-14

Thursday, August 21, 2014 · Game #124 · Road Game #66

Frederick Keys (57-66/25-31) vs Carolina Mudcats (56-68/27-30)

LHP Steven Brault (0-0, –) vs. RHP Adam Plutko (3-8, 4.33)

MUDDIES GET THE LAST WORD: A Jerrud Sabourin walk in the bottom of the eighth forced home the go-ahead run, as the Carolina Mudcats overcame a four-run Frederick Keys seventh to win 6-5 on Wednesday night at Harry Grove Stadium. It was the Keys fourth straight loss to the Mudcats, while it pushed Frederick 3.5 games behind Wilmington for the second-half CL wildcard spot. After an RBI double by Eric Haase tied the game at five in the seventh, Carolina went on top for good in the eighth. Logan Vick gave the Mudcats a one-out baserunner, before Dennis Torres plunked Yhoxian Medina to put two on base. Yandy Diaz then hit a groundball to Jason Esposito at third. Looking like a double play ball, Esposito misplayed it to load the bags for Sabourin, who coaxed a five-pitch walk to bring home the eventual winning run.

CLOSE CALLS: Wednesday’s loss dropped the orange and black to 16-17 in one-run games this year. That mark puts the Keys in fourth place in the CL. Potomac owns the best record in games decided by a single marker at 29-11. This season, five of the 17 games between Frederick and Carolina have hinged on a single run, with the Muddies taking four of the five contests (even though Carolina has the second-worst record in one-run games in the league). Since the All-Star break, the Keys are .500 (6-6) in one-run contests.

KEEP THE BROOMS IN THE CLOSET: Frederick tries to avoid being swept for the seventh time this season on Thursday. 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. Carolina swept the Keys from April 8-10.

POWER SURGE: Over their last six games, the Keys have hit seven home runs. After Steel Russell’s first professional home run in the fifth inning on Thursday, the club’s total is up to 79. That mark ranks second in the Carolina League (only Myrtle Beach at 101 has more) but is still well short of last year’s total (109). Since 2011, Frederick has hit 99 home runs or more in a season. Of the seven deep flies, two have come from Trey Mancini and Tucker Nathans. Mancini homered on Friday and Saturday, while Nathans went long on Saturday and hit another blast on Sunday. Making these home runs more destructive is that four of them have come with men on base.

AVOID THE BACKSLIDE: Oftentimes this season, Keys winning streaks have been followed by backslides. In the second-half, Frederick has enjoyed a season-best six-game winning streak (July 5-10) but it was followed by a four-game losing streak. This also occurred during the team’s most recent three-game winning streak (July 21-23). Following a win over Winston-Salem and two against Myrtle Beach, the team dropped six in-a-row to Lynchburg and Winston-Salem. The most extreme example though, came at onset of the second-half. Going into the All-Star break on a three-game streak, the Keys dropped eight of their first nine to open second-half play (that included a season-worst seven-game losing streak).

GO JOHNNY GO!: Johnny Ruettiger has been in a groove at the plate over the last week. The former Arizona State Sun Devil has hit safely in five of his last six games. During that time, he is batting .407 (11-for-27) with a home run, a double, six RBIs and four runs scored and has seen his batting average climb 69 points (.155 to .224).. In four of the six games, Ruettiger has two hits or more, while on Wednesday, he posted a season-high three hits going 3-for-5, with a run scored and a stolen base.

CALLED UP: On Wednesday, Branden Kline was officially called up to Double-A Bowie, becoming the eighth member of the Keys to advanced to the Eastern League in 2014 (Michael Burgess, Glynn Davis, Mychal Givens, Mike Yastrzemski, Zane Chavez, Sammie Starr and Ashur Tolliver were the others). Originally scheduled to pitch for the Keys last night, Kline made his Double-A debut instead against the Reading Phillies. Although he received the loss, Kline gave up just one run on three hits to go along with two walks and two strikeouts. Rated the No. 20 prospect in Orioles system according to Baseball America, Kline went 8-6 with a 3.84 ERA over 23 starts. At the time of his call-up, the Frederick native ranked ninth in ERA (3.84) and four among starters in walk/nine innings pitch ratio (2.27).

NEW FACES: Taking the place of Branden Kline in the Keys rotation is left-hander Steven Brault, who will make his Carolina League debut on Thursday. Rated the No. 14 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America, the Californian joins Frederick from Low-A Delmarva. It is his first promotion to the Carolina League. One of the South Atlantic League’s top arms, Brault led the circuit in WHIP (1.04), was second in strikeouts (115) and batting average against (.227) and sixth in ERA (3.05). Two-thirds of Brault’s starts (14 of 21) also ranked as quality outings. Originally from El Cajon, CA, Brault was an 11th round selection by Baltimore out of Division II Regis (CO) University last season.

HO-HUM: Mark Blackmar now leads all active Keys pitchers with eight wins thanks to seven more strong innings in the season finale against Salem. Handing out only two unearned runs, Blackmar cut his ERA from 3.21 to 3.02, the lowest it has been all season. He currently sits fifth in the CL in ERA, and sports the second-lowest mark for a right-hander. Undefeated as a starter, the Texan is 7-0 with a 2.53 ERA as a rotation-hand, while he has a 0.45 ERA in three August starts (20.0 IP/7R/1ER). Currently, he paces all full-season Orioles farmhands in ERA as well.

BUNDY TO THE DL: Just before Thursday’s game against Wilmington, Dylan Bundy was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a right latissimus strain. Taking his spot on the roster was Branden Kline, who was received from Short-Season Aberdeen. In six starts with the orange and black, Bundy is 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA. In his last start 10 days ago, the Oklahoma native tossed 4.1 innings of shutout baseball against Carolina and struck out seven.

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.

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Right-hander Adam Plutko makes his 26th start of the season and his 15th with Carolina on Thursday. Rated the No. 18 prospect in the Indians system according to Baseball America, the right-hander’s most recent outing came last Thursday at Myrtle Beach and was one of his best with the Mudcats. Despite suffering the loss, Plutko gave up just one run on two hits over seven innings to go along with a walk and four strikeouts. Provided no run support, the righty saw the Pelicans duo of Sam Wolff and Luis Parra limit his offense to just three hits in a 1-0 Pelicans win. It was the fourth time he had completed seven innings with the Muddies and dropped his ERA to 4.33. In three August starts, he is 0-3 with a 4.15 ERA In his first professional season, Plutko was promoted from Low-A Lake County on May 29. Over 10 starts with the Captains, the 22-year-old went 3-1 with a 3.93 ERA over 10 games. A strikeout machine, Plutko registered 66 punchouts in 52.2 stanzas. His best start came against Bowling Green on May 8, when the Californian tossed eight shutout innings and struck out 13 while scattering only three hits. At Lake County, he held opponents to a .241 batting average against. Selected by Cleveland in the 11th round of the 2013 draft out of UCLA, Plutko headlined the Bruins pitching staff last season, as he led the team to its first national championship. Named the “Most Outstanding Player” at the College World Series, Plutko received a reported $300,000 signing bonus (fourth-largest given to a member of the Indians draft class last year). Plutko found out he had been drafted by the Indians right before the Bruins NCAA Super Regional game against Cal State Fullerton. The righty was also drafted by the Astros in the sixth run out of high school but did not sign. A four-pitch pitcher, Plutko throws a fastball (87-91), a curveball, a slider and a changeup.

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