Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-24-14
Sunday, August 24, 2014 · Game #126/127 · Road Games #68/69
Frederick Keys (58-67/26-32) vs Potomac Nationals (71-53/33-22)
RHP Mark Blackmar (8-1, 3.02) vs. LHP Hector Silvestre (1-1, 4.57)
RAIN MEANS ANOTHER DOUBLEHEADER: After some afternoon showers and an additional cell of rain right before first pitch, the Frederick Keys and the Potomac Nationals were postponed on account of rain. Saturday’s game will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Sunday starting at 5 p.m. Both games will be seven innings in length. Over the final week of the season, the orange and black will play three doubleheaders, including two against Potomac (with one taking place next Sunday in Frederick). The Keys most recent twinbill came last Wednesday in Wilmington, a set which was swept by the Blue Rocks (both via shutout). Potomac swept its last doubleheader on Wednesday in Lynchburg. Frederick holds a 4-4 record in doubleheaders (third-best in CL), Potomac is in fifth (10-10).
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.
TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Left-hander Hector Silvestre makes his 23rd start of the season and his fifth as a member of the Nationals. His most recent outing came on Tuesday at Lynchburg, as part of game one of a doubleheader (the second game was later postponed due to rain). Receiving a no-decision, Silvestre went four innings and allowed one run on six hits. He struck out two and did not walk a batter. Sunday will mark the fourth time in five games that the southpaw has pitched in one end of a scheduled doubleheader. The first time that occurred proved to be a memorable outing. Facing Carolina on August 3 in Zebulon, Silvestre came within one out of a seventh inning no-hitter, before a triple by Yandy Diaz broke it up. He lost the shutout one batter later, as Jeremy Lucas followed with a homer and LeVon Washington and Luigi Rodriguez contributed singles before Silvestre was taken out. A pitcher who has commanded his stuff extremely well, the lefty has walked just two in 21.2 innings and has not walked any more than one in an individual outing. Since signing with the Nationals, Silvestre’s BB/9 IP ratio is just 2.6 (and a combined 1.8 this year). Promoted to Potomac on July 26, the 21-year-old opened the year at Low-A Hagerstown, where he went 6-7 with a 4.14 ERA (91. 1 IP/42ER). Prior to his call-up, he was 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA over four games in July. Signed as an international free agent by Washington out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, Silvestre signed as an 18-year-old. He spent 2011-12 with the DSL Nationals before moving stateside to the GCL Nationals in 2013. A postseason GCL All-Star, he ranked second in ERA (1.82) and WHIP (0.82) and tied for second in wins (seven). He also made one start for Potomac. Originally from San Pedro de Macoris, DR, the baseball rich town in the Dominican has produced Major League stars such as Robinson Cano, Johnny Cueto, Starlin Castro, Sammy Sosa, Tony Fernandez and Julio Franco.