Frederick Keys Game Notes 8-31-14

Sunday, August 31, 2014 · Game #135/#136 · Home Game #65/#66

Frederick Keys (65-69/33-34) vs Potomac Nationals (75-58/37-27)

LHP Matt Taylor (6-2, 3.13) vs. RHP Ross Ohlendorf (0-1, 27.00)

CLOSER TO CLINCHING: The Frederick Keys earned their third straight win on Saturday night, utilizing a three-run second inning to defeat the Potomac Nationals 4-3 at Harry Grove Stadium. Coupled with a loss by the Lynchburg Hillcats, Frederick is now tied for the CL North wildcard spot with three games remaining in the regular season. Receiving a boost from the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Keys pulled into a tie after a grand slam by Ryan Cordell which gave the Birds a 5-2 win last night. Utilizing several defensive mistakes by the Nationals, the orange and black scored three times off Brian Rauh. Following a leadoff walk to Chih-Hsien Chiang, he advanced to third on a single by Tucker Nathans before Austin Wynns brought Chiang home with a short grounder to second which was misplayed by Khayyan Norfork. An RBI single by Jerome Pena and a fielder’s choice by Johnny Ruettiger rounded out the scoring. Parker Bridwell endured a long second inning, but allowed only two runs through six innings to earn his seventh win.

PLAYOFF SCENARIOS: Any number of scenarios would help Frederick reach the playoffs. Entering today, the Keys and the Lynchburg Hillcats are tied for the wildcard, but the orange and black have three games left and the Hillcats have only two. Should the Keys sweep Sunday’s doubleheader, they would clinch a playoff berth with a Lynchburg loss, while if Frederick dropped both ends of the twinbill, a Hillcats win would send them to the postseason. A Keys sweep of the doubleheader and a Hillcats win would put the Keys a half-game up. If Frederick splits, a Lynchburg lead would drop the Keys a half-game behind, but a Hillcats loss would put the orange and black a half-game ahead. Losses by all parties on Sunday, gives Lynchburg a half-game edge going into Monday. Wilmington hangs on by a thread going into Sunday against Salem. For the Blue Rocks to make the postseason, they would need to win out and the Keys and the Hillcats would need to lose all their remaining games.

PLAYOFFS, PLAYOFFFS?: On Sunday, Frederick will have a chance to reach postseason play for the first time since 2011. That season, Frederick won its fourth Carolina League title, defeating the Kinston Indians for the Mills Cup. Should the Keys advance to the postseason, it would mark the club’s sixth trip to the playoffs in 10 seasons.

BLACKMAR TRADED TO WHITE SOX: The Keys playoff hopes took a blow on Saturday night, as Mark Blackmar was traded to the White Sox in a trade for outfielder Alejandro De Aza.  Former Keys pitcher Miguel Chalas was also sent to Chicago in the deal. One of Baltimore top minor league arms this season, Blackmar went 10-1 with one save and a 3.18 ERA over 26 games (18 starts). At the time of the trade, he was fifth in the CL in ERA, third in WHIP (1.08) and fourth in batting average against (.229). His ERA was also second-best among Orioles farmhands. De Aza was hitting .243 with five home runs and 31 RBIs to go along with 15 stolen bases at the time of the deal.

HOME COOKING?: Despite problems at home all year long, Frederick has won nine of its last 10 home games. That included a six-game home winning streak from August 10-27. That is the club’s longest home winning streak of the year, and represents a monumental turnaround from the club’s abysmal second-half start at the Grove, where the Keys went 1-10 in the first 11 second-half home games. This season, the Frederick is 3-4 against Potomac at the friendly confines.

ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END: Chih-Hsien Chiang saw his 12-game hitting streak come to an end on Thursday after going 0-for-3 with a run, two walks and two strikeouts. It was the first time he had failed to record a hit since August 8 against Wilmington. Over the 12-gamer, Chiang hit .325 (13-for-40) with a homer, two doubles, four RBIs and three runs scored. In the process, he saw his average jump 58 points (.175 to .233). This year, two members of the Keys have posted 12-game hitting streaks, as Jason Esposito hit in 12 in-a-row from April 14-May 2.

BURGESS NAMED POSTSEASON CL ALL-STAR: On Thursday morning, Michael Burgess was named a Carolina League postseason All-Star. The only Frederick player selected for the squad, it marked the third time that the Floridian had been named to a CL mid-season or postseason All-Star squad. As a member of the Potomac Nationals, Burgess won midseason accolades in 2009 and 2010. One of the league’s top hitters this season, the 25-year-old hit .315 over 83 games-and still qualifies as the league’s leader in batting average. He was promoted to Double-A Bowie on July 22, but was limited to only seven games due to injury.

NATIONALS KILLER: Once again, Parker Bridwell shutdown the Nationals, working eight innings of shutout baseball on Monday night. Carrying a perfect game into the seventh, Tony Renda broke it up with a single to right. Still, it was a great night for Bridwell who ended with 13 strikeouts, one short of his career-high (which occurred last August 14 against Lakewood). Meanwhile, the eight innings was one out short of the 23-year-old’s personal-best, which he set in his first outing against Potomac. In that ballgame, Bridwell carried a no-hitter into the ninth, before Renda singled to center. This season, Renda is the only Potomac hitter to record a hit off of Bridwell. In 16.1 shutout innings, the righty is 2-0 with 21 strikeouts and two walks.   

KEYS NAMED TO THE ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE: Late on Tuesday afternoon, two members of the Keys roster as well as four former Frederick players were named to the Arizona Fall League. Parker Bridwell and Jason Esposito were selected to the Glendale Desert Dogs preliminary roster, while past Keys Mychal Givens, Ashur Tolliver, Michael Ohlman, Zach Davies and Dariel Alvarez were also selected to the squad. Coming off eight shutout innings on Monday, Bridwell is 6-10 with a 4.51 ERA over 25 games this season. Rated the No. 19 prospect in the Orioles system according to Baseball America, the Hereford, TX native tallied seven straight quality home starts from May 13-June 27. Esposito also gets the call after a terrific second-half. Over 59 games since the All-Star break, he is batting .314 with six homers and 30 RBIs, while he is hitting .266 in 119 games.

BRAULT NAMED PITCHER OF THE WEEK: On Monday afternoon, Steven Brault was named the Carolina League “Pitcher of the Week” for August 18-24. He becomes the fifth Keys player to take home a weekly honor this year, and the second pitcher to receive the award. Parker Bridwell (May 12-19) was the last pitcher to earn pitcher of the week honors, while Michael Burgess, Mike Yastrzemski and Adrian Marin were all named “Players of the Week.” It is the first weekly award of Brault’s professional career. Promoted from Low-A Delmarva on Thursday, Brault dazzled in his Advanced-A debut that same night, tossing six innings of shutout, one-hit baseball. Rated the No. 14 prospect in the Baltimore system according to Baseball America, Brault leads all Orioles farmhands in ERA (2.91) and is tied for second in wins (10).

TODAY’S OPPOSING PITCHER: Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf joins the Nationals on a Major League rehab assignment and is making his second appearance against the Keys. Currently, Ohlendorf is on the 60-day disabled list with a right lumbar strain. This season, he has pitched in just four games, going a combined 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA between Potomac, Triple-A Syracuse and the GCL Nationals. In his lone start against Frederick on May 14, Ohlendorf was tagged for seven runs on 11 hits. He struck out two and did not walk a batter. His most recent outing came on Tuesday in the GCL. There, he allowed one run on two hits over 1.2 frames. This season, Ohlendorf has not thrown any more than five innings in a start. A player with just over four years of Major League service time, Ohlendorf has pitched for the Yankees, Pirates, Padres and Nationals. In the big leagues, he is 22-33 with a 4.88 ERA. He last pitch with the Washington Nationals in 2013, going 4-1 with a 3.28 ERA in 16 games (seven starts).

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