Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-23-14

Saturday, August 23, 2014 · Game #126 · Road Game #68

Frederick Keys (58-67/26-32) vs Potomac Nationals (71-53/33-22)

RHP Mark Blackmar (8-1, 3.02) vs. RHP Ian Dickson (4-8, 4.78)

IT WAS THERE FOR THE TAKING:  The Frederick Keys committed four errors, including a pair in the ninth inning alone, which allowed the Potomac Nationals to rally for a 4-3 win on Friday night at Pfitzner Stadium. Down to their final out in the ninth, the Keys grabbed a 3-2 lead on a two-run homer by Wynston Sawyer. However, back-to-back errors by Jason Esposito at third and Matt Hobgood on the mound kept the door open in the bottom of the ninth. Taking advantage, Tony Renda riffled a single up the middle to force extra innings. After Gilberto Mendez held the Keys off the board in the top of the 10th, the Nationals loaded the bases against Dylan Rheault. Making his Advanced-A debut, Rheault walked the leadoff batter, before a sacrifice bunt, an intentional walk and a hit-by-pitch set up a chance for Estarlin Martinez. Grounding a ball slowly to third, Esposito’s throw hit Shawn Pleffner in the back to give Potomac a walk-off victory. Despite the loss, the Keys did not lose any ground in the second-half wildcard race, as Wilmington was also a 4-3 loser in 10 innings to Salem.

TOUGH DAY WITH THE LEATHER: On Friday, the Keys committed four errors, tying a season-high. Previously, the team had made four errors on only one occasion this season. Coming off an overnight bus trip from Myrtle Beach, the orange and black made four defensive miscues en route to an 11-1 loss (including three in the first inning). A team that is well-regarded for its defense, Frederick has made 12 errors in its last 10 games, and has made at least one miscue in eight of the 10 contests. Currently, the team is tied with Wilmington for the CL lead in fielding percentage (.977), while the Keys have made the second-fewest errors (107).

FREE BASEBALL IS NOT ALWAYS FUN: The series opener was the Keys 12th extra-inning game on the year. This year, the club is 5-7 in games stretching past regulation, giving Frederick the third-worst mark in the Carolina League. Only Carolina (3-8) and Winston-Salem (3-5) have fared worse, while Lynchburg leads the circuit with a 7-1 record. Friday was the first extra-inning tilt for the Keys since July 13, when Potomac earned a 2-1 victory at the Grove in 13 innings.

SPEAK SOFTLY, BUT CARRY A BIG STICK: Wynston Sawyer paced the Keys offensively, accounting for all three of the team’s RBIs on Friday. Going 2-for-3 with a double a two-run homer and three RBIs, the Californian briefly gave Frederick the lead in the ninth with a longball off Gilberto Mendez. The three RBIs were a new season-high for Sawyer, and gave him his first three RBI game since last August 19, when he was playing for Low-A Delmarva.

MORE NEW FACES: Gene Escat was officially promoted to Double-A Bowie on Friday, becoming the second member of the orange and black to move up to the Eastern League in the last three days. On Wednesday, Branden Kline got called up, and made his debut against the Reading Phillies. Including Kline and Escat, nine Keys have been promoted to Double-A this year (Michael Burgess, Glynn Davis, Mychal Givens, Mike Yastrzemski, Zane Chavez, Sammie Starr and Ashur Tolliver were the others). In 31 games with Frederick, Escat went 2-5 with one save and a 3.49 ERA. Taking Escat’s place on the roster is Dylan Rheault, who moves up from Low-A Delmarva. In 34 games, the 6-9 right-hander went 8-4 with three saves and a 2.82 ERA. At the time of his promotion, he had not allowed any earned runs in August (10 IP).

NOT A BAD FIRST IMPRESSION: Steven Brault excelled in his Advanced-A debut, tossing six shutout innings. The only hit he allowed was a single to James Roberts, while he was highly efficient, tossing just 74 pitches (48 strikes over the course of his outing). Going back to his final two starts with Low-A Delmarva, Brault has won three in-a-row, and has allowed just one run over his last 19 innings (0.47) on nine hits. Taking the rotation spot of Branden Kline (who was promoted to Double-A Bowie on Wednesday), Brault has been one the organization’s elite pitchers in 2014. Entering Saturday, Brault paces all full-season O’s farmhands in ERA (2.91) and is tied for second in wins (10).

POWER SURGE: Over their last eight games, the Keys have hit nine home runs. After Wynston Sawyer’s fourth home run in the ninth inning on Friday, the club’s total is up to 81. That mark ranks second in the Carolina League (only Myrtle Beach at 102 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 nine deep flies, two have come from Trey Mancini and Tucker Nathans. Mancini homered last Friday and Saturday, while Nathans went long last Saturday and Sunday. Making these home runs more destructive is that five of them have come with men on base.

BOOMER: Trey Mancini has posted three straight multi-hit games. During that stretch he is batting .354 (7-for-15) with two doubles, two RBIs, and two runs scored. In the process, he has seen his average climb from .245 to .260, the highest it has been since July 12. Following a challenging July where Mancini hit only .229, the former Big East batting champ is hitting .303 over 19 games in August.

BUNDY TO THE DL: Just before last 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 Ian Dickson makes his 28th appearance of the year, and his 13th Carolina League start. His last outing was the best of his career. Working a career-high eight innings, Dickson did not allow any runs and gave up one hit. He walked two and struck out eight to earn his second win in three starts. For his effort, Dickson was named the Carolina League “Pitcher of the Week” becoming the second Potomac pitcher to earn the weekly honor (Austin Voth won the award in back-to-back weeks earlier this year). Following a rocky first-half (6.25 ERA), Dickson has registered a 3.12 ERA over 12 games (seven starts) in the second-half). He has a 1.93 ERA over three games in August (18.2 IP/4ER) and has given up two runs or less in each outing. Saturday will be Dickson’s third game against the Keys and his second start. During that time he is 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA (13 IP/R/10H). Pitching against Mark Blackmar on July 13, Dickson tossed five shutout innings the last time he saw the Keys and picked up a no-decision, as the Nationals won 2-1 in 13 innings. Originally a 35th round draft pick of the Cubs in 2011, Dickson split 2013 between two Low-A clubs (Kane County and Hagerstown). Over 27 games (13 starts), he went 7-5 with a 5.26 ERA over 101 innings. During that time, he showed a propensity for picking up the strikeout (103). Dickson was acquired from the Chicago Cubs last June in exchange for Nationals right-hander Henry Rodriguez (who was designated for assignment by Washington right before the trade took place). When he received word he had been traded he was rushing to meet his girlfriend. Selected by the Cubs out of Lafayette College, Dickson went 1-4 with a 7.00 ERA in two seasons (2009-10) with the Leopards. He did not play during the 2011 season due to injury.

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