Good Afternoon Keys Fans!
It’s time for the start of the ALCS! Things get underway at 8 p.m. tonight, but it may be a little rainy:
Nonetheless, the game should still be played. Rainfall is expected to be light, and shouldn’t be enough to drive the O’s, Royals and the rest of the Camden faithful away from the Yards. And just in case you like reassurance from those with meteorology degrees, here is their take.
There is a ton on the line in this series for both sides’ fanbases. The Orioles have not won a World Series since 1983, and KC has been crownless since 1985.
For the most part, the Orioles will stick with the same roster they employed in the ALDS with one exception. O’s lefty Brian Matusz has been added to the playoff roster and will take the spot of Ubaldo Jimenez.
Matusz was mostly left off the ALDS roster because of Detroit’s right-handed heavy lineup, one which did not require a late-inning lefty specialist. The Royals on the other hand are a different story. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas both fared very well in the ALDS against the Angels, while Alex Gordon is a key lefty bat at the top of the Royals lineup.
When it comes to getting left-handers out, few do it better than Matusz. This year he held that group to a .223 average. In general, Hosmer and Gordon don’t fare horribly against lefties, but Moustakas was another story. Against southpaws he hit just ,172, which could mean bad news if Matusz or Zach Britton is on the mound. And if you were wondering, both homers that Moustakas hit in the ALDS came off righty pitching.
Even though Matusz for Ubaldo is the only change, here is the O’s ALCS roster for record-keeping purposes. The Royals roster is here. Kansas City’s ALCS roster is the same as it was in the ALDS. Both teams are carrying 11 pitchers, while the Royals also have Terance Gore on their squad as a pinch-running specialist. It may be rare, but when you’ve got Olympic caliber speed there is a place for you on a baseball field.
Gore’s name may sound familiar to Keys fans, because he opened the year with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, Frederick’s second-closest geographic rival. So what are the chances the two sides are engaging in some type of a contest? The Keys obviously were down, but how about the Blue Rocks? We’ll get the answer from Cosmo Kramer on this one:
Don’t worry nothing too insane is going on, but we do have a little “Wager” at play. If the Orioles win, then the Blue Rocks have to pony up 200 tickets to the Keys for a 2015 Keys and Blue Rocks game at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington, DE. Half of that amount will be given to Keys fans (details about an enter-to-win drawing will take place if the O’s advance to the World Series) while the other half will be donated to Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County on the Keys behalf. If the Royals win, the Keys will give 100 tickets to Blue Rocks fans and send the other 100 to the Frederick Rescue Mission on Wilmington’s behalf.
And of course the loser’s mascot will have to don the other’s jersey for a game. So root for O’s and Buck the Blue!
This series hits especially close to home for Keys and Blue Rocks fans. In total, 19 O’s and Royals players have spent time in Frederick or Wilmington. Eight members of the current Orioles team have Keys connections, if you count Steve Pearce and Ryan Flaherty who have both rehabbed for the orange and black.
That number is assured to grow in future years, and one place to look at some Orioles of the future is the Arizona Fall League. All seven players representing the O’s have Keys ties, but only two were in action yesterday. After slugging a home run and a triple in his first game, Jason Esposito finished 1-for-4 with two strikeouts, while in his AFL debut, Michael Ohlman ended 1-for-2 with a walk and an RBI.
We’ll have more AFL updates 0n Monday as well as a look at how some ex-Keys fared in the ALCS this weekend.
Buck the Blue and Shake Your Keys!
Good Evening Keys Fans!
The first game of the 2015 season may not be until April 9, but the Keys front office staff is already well into its planning for next year. This season featured a ton of great new promotions such as the Candy Drop, as well as old favorites like Fredneck night and the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo. Now, we want to get your take! On Thursday, we will be having our annual marketing retreat, where we will look at this past season, and discuss new promotions and ways to make the fan experience better. So tell us your ideas by sending us a tweet (@frederickkeys) or by visiting our Facebook page.
Although we may be planning for next season, a number of Keys are still focusing on THIS YEAR. Currently, seven former members of the orange and black are playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League. That includes four individuals who spent time at the Grove this season: Jason Esposito, Parker Bridwell, Ashur Tolliver and Mychal Givens. Following a monster second-half where he .320 over 67 games, the ex-Vanderbilt Commodore picked up where he left off yesterday. In his first game since Labor Day, Esposito went 2-for-4 with a home run and a triple while playing third base and hitting out of the nine-hole.
Parker Bridwell also pitched well, working two scoreless innings, while adjusting to bullpen life.
According to O’s Director of Player Development Brian Graham, Bridwell will pitch in relief during the Fall League. In his minor league career, the righty has pitched only four games out of the pen, but possesses excellent stuff and could flourish there. Graham has more about Bridwell and the O’s other six fall leaguers here.
Former Key Zach Davies got the start in the Desert Dogs first game, giving up two runs in 1.2 innings and Garabez Rosa went 1-for-5, in the Desert Dogs 9-3 win over the Mesa Solar Sox. Glendale’s game today was rained out, but we’ll have a full round up of the team’s contest tomorrow against Surprise on Friday.
We also wanted to wish congratulations to former Key Zach Britton and his wife on the birth of their baby boy Zander Lee Britton. The full story can be found here.
Britton is expected to be ready for game one of the ALCS against the Royals. Britton may be joined by another former Keys lefty in the bullpen when the ALCS rosters are announced. MASN’s Roch Kubatko has more here. It should be a fun series, as neither team has claimed a World Series since the 80s (O’s won it all in ’83 while the Royals were champs in ’85). One of my favorite articles of the day was this one by David Wilson which talks about what members of that ’83 team are up to now.
The Keys staff is very excited about the Orioles chances, but the staff of the Wilmington Blue Rocks (the Royals Carolina League affiliate) is also pretty gung-ho, that their quest for the crown (bonus points for the pun) will also be successful. Do I sense a wager anyone?
If there is one, my guess is that it won’t be for one mmmmmmmilllion dollars. Stay tuned though!
Keep those promotional ideas coming and shake your keys!
Good Afternoon Keys Fans!
Well it’s official, the O’s are going back to the ALCS! On Sunday evening, Buck Showalter’s team polished off the Detroit Tigers with a 2-1 win. And in case you missed it, former Key Zach Britton picked up the final double play which wrapped it up.
Although it may have been more fun to celebrate at Camden Yards (Adam Jones pieing fans again would have been flat out awesome) many folks were still celebrating on Monday, and skipped work to greet the club as they arrived back home:
A very cool sight. Here is a little bit more about the welcome home rally from Steve Melewski.
Thanks to their ALDS victory, the Orioles are back in the ALCS for the first time since 1997. That year, Baltimore took on the Cleveland Indians, eventually falling in six games. The O’s were led by the likes of Cal Ripken, Mike Mussina, Rafael Palmeiro and Roberto Alomar.
Although that team didn’t have a ton of ex-Keys on it, there were still a few alumni on the squad, including Armando Benitez, Rocky Coppinger, David Dellucci, Arthur Rhodes, Nerio Rodriguez and Rick Krivda.
Meanwhile, a host of others also spent time rehabbing in Frederick. In fact if you take a look at the O’s four primary starters that season (Jimmy Key, Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson and Scott Kamieniecki) Mussina was the only member of the quartet who never donned a Keys uniform.
This year’s Orioles club has a few more Keys players. Currently five former Keys are on the team’s playoff roster (Zach Britton, Jonathan Schoop, Nick Markakis, Caleb Joseph, Kevin Gausman) while Steve Pearce and Ryan Flaherty have both rehabbed with the Keys. That number should increase by one for the ALCS, as Brian Matusz (2009, ’11 rehab) will likely be needed to contain some of Kansas City’s left-handed bats. Namely, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, who sported the two top OPS’ in their series against the Angels (Hosmer finished with a 1.703 and Moustakas a 1.048). Both were great in clutch spots as well, with Moustakas hitting a go-ahead homer in game one against the Halos, and Hosmer supplying the eventual game winning blast in game two.
Matusz was left off the ALDS roster to create space for Ubaldo Jimenez, a righty who never saw the mound in the Tigers series.
Like the O’s, the Royals are hungry, having not been back to the World Series since 1985. That year they won it all, topping their I-70 rival, St Louis.
There’s no question, the ALCS will be very emotional for both sides. But besides the hunger factor, the Royals present a number of challenges. MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli does a good job of outlining five big questions facing the Orioles. In case you are wondering, a couple of former Keys factored into the conversation.
Speaking of former Keys, best of luck to Parker Bridwell, Jason Esposito, Mychal Givens, Zach Davies, Ashur Tolliver, Michael Ohlman and Garabez Rosa who will start play in the Arizona Fall League tomorrow! That group is playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs. First up: the Mesa Solar Sox. Here is a complete breakdown of the Desert Dogs roster, which is comprised of Orioles, White Sox, Tigers, Dodgers and Brewers prospects. Although former Key Dariel Alvarez is mentioned in the article, he has been replaced by Rosa on the roster.
Shake your Keys! #IBACKTHEBIRDS #WEWONTSTOP
Good Afternoon Keys Fans!
The wait is over! At 5:37, the ALDS will kickoff between the Orioles and the Tigers from Camden Yards.
As you can see, the field is perfectly manicured. Now they just need the O’s, the Tigers and a full-house to round out the ensemble. With the wildcard round all wrapped up, the club knows it will be playing tonight at 5:37 and Friday at 12:07 at Camden Yards. Saturday will be an off-day, before the series picks up in Detroit on Sunday at 3:45. As we mentioned earlier, the Orioles will face Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, David Price and Rick Porcello. Baltimore will counter with some combination of Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris.
Meanwhile, former Key Kevin Gausman (’12) will work out of the bullpen. Told earlier “be ready for Thursday” if Gausman throws today, it would mark his first relief appearance of the year. Still it is nothing he is unfamiliar with, having thrown 15 times out of the bullpen in 2013. Of course this could always change if the O’s advance to the ALCS or someone gets hurt (remember you can’t make roster changes until the next round of the playoffs).
Speaking of playoff rosters, the O’s officially submitted theirs this morning. Due at 10 a.m. Gausman was one of seven former Frederick players to make the cut.
The other former Keys include:
Steve Pearce (rehab)
Ryan Flaherty (rehab)
You are probably thinking to yourself, wait…there should be another left-handed pitcher here. That southpaw, of course being Brian Matusz (’09 Keys/’11 rehab). However, Matusz was left off the ALDS roster in favor of Ubaldo Jimenez. The arguments for the move are that Detroit is a predominately right-handed hitting lineup, and Matusz is a match-ups pitcher. However, Jimenez’s lack of consistency and lack of bullpen experience (four games) as well as Matusz’s superb numbers since the All-Star break (1.42 ERA) have left some scratching their heads.
As we noted earlier though, Matusz can always be added for the next round. In general, the O’s playoff pitching staff is right-handed heavy, with Andrew Miller and Britton the only southpaws in the bullpen (T.J. McFarland was also left off the roster). Here is a full analysis of the roster break down, and some predictions.
The Tigers roster is here and includes outfielder Rajai Davis, who has been battling a sprained pelvic ligament. For those wondering, former Keys pitcher Jim Johnson (’04-05) didn’t make the cut, after posting a 6.92 ERA in 16 relief appearances with the Tigers.
Let’s go O’s and shake your keys!
Good Evening Keys Fans!
Talk about a way for the postseason to get started.
9-8 (Royals over A’s), 12 innings, 4 hours and 45 minutes, multiple lead changes, and one big comeback.
It had everything. And whatever noise records were set on Monday night during the Chiefs/Patriots game at Arrowhead, they may have been eclipsed by a Kaufman Stadium crowd which had not seen postseason baseball in 29 years. At one point they got so loud that I thought my television was shaking (it was actually yours truly jumping up and down due to all the playoff fervor).
If all that wasn’t enough, the game had plenty of unsung heroes, including left-hander Brandon Finnegan, who dominated the A’s over 2.1 innings in his first postseason relief appearance.
Impressive to be sure, but most folks were probably thinking……WHO IS THIS GUY?
Well if you didn’t know, don’t beat yourselves up. Only months ago Finnegan was pitching for the TCU Horned Frogs in the College World Series. Selected by Kansas City with the 17th overall pick in this year’s draft, the 21-year-old made only 13 appearances in the minor leagues before getting called up to the bigs.
As you might imagine, a player getting called up to the Majors the same year they are drafted is very rare. When you take a look at Finnegan’s numbers though, you can tell it was warranted: 13 games (5 starts), 1.33 ERA, 27 IP, 20H, 4ER, 26 K, 4 BB.
Not too shabby. More than half of his minor league time came at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, but Finnegan did pitch in five games for the Royals affiliate in the Carolina League-the Wilmington Blue Rocks.
Naturally you are asking yourself, well, did the Keys ever see Finnegan?
The answer is yes, on August 1 up at Frawley Stadium. Only a Keys super fan or their nerdy media guy could tell you that was Finnegan’s last Carolina League start. Something you probably wouldn’t remember anyways.
But, this you might: Brandon Finnegan’s first professional defeat came to the Keys. It also marked the first time the Texan had gives up A RUN in a professional game. Through his first four outings (totaling 11 innings), Finnegan had almost four times as many strikeouts as hits allowed (11 K/3H). And while he would only give up two base knocks in four innings against the Keys on the 1st, one of them would lead to his first pro setback.
Here’s the proof:
In case you were wondering, Finnegan was out-dueled by someone of the same namesake-Branden Kline. On that night, the Frederick native tossed 5.1 innings of scoreless baseball.
We’ll call ESPN later to see if we can get this trivia question on Baseball Tonight (I’m not liking our chances).
Speaking of playoffs, the O’s get underway tomorrow night at 5:37 against the Tigers at Camden Yards. Chris Tillman gets the ball for Buck Showalter’s crew and will be countered by Tigers righty Max Scherzer. From there, the O’s will see Justin Verlander and David Price.
It will be a tall task, but GM Dan Duquette think his team is up for the challenge.
For now though, all is quiet at Camden….
Shake your Keys!
Good Evening Keys Fans!
It is amazing to think that 162 games have come and gone. For the Orioles though, the season will be longer than that! On Thursday, the team begins its journey for a World Championship when it hosts the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the ALDS. Chris Tillman gets the ball for the O’s and is expected to be countered by Max Scherzer. The Tigers starting rotation is formidable, especially after Detroit acquired David Price at the trade deadline (the trio of Scherzer, Price and Justin Verlander account for the last three AL Cy Young winners). However, the Tigers bullpen is one of the club’s weak spots. MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli discusses some of the other chinks in the armor of the AL Central champs.
In Keys news, a MAJOR congrats to Jason Esposito who was named a minor league Gold Glove Winner.
The announcement was made at lunch time by Minor League Baseball and the Rawlings Company. Selected as the Gold Glove recipient for third base, Esposito becomes the first Key to take home a Gold Glove. More details about the award can be found here. Given out difficult it is to win a Gold Glove, Esposito received plenty of l0ve on social media:
Once again, huge props to Esposito for a terrific season both defensively and at the plate (he hit .320 in the second-half and .354 in July FYI).
While we are on the topic of third baseman, it is time to continue our countdown of the season’s top 10 moments! For moment #5 we are going to expand things a bit, as we travel all the way back to late April. Yes, you guessed it-we’re talking Manny Mania:
On the mend from left knee surgery, Machado played in three games with the Keys from April 25-27, and as you might expect, there would be plenty of media:
And also tons of excited Keys and Orioles fans:
With three big crowds at the Grove Manny would not disappoint, hitting a combined .667 (8-for-12) with four doubles, a triple, two RBIs and five runs scored. Three of those hits came in his first game, including a double in his first at-bat and a triple to open up the third inning.
An impressive display to be sure, but Sunday would verify that he was ready to head back to Camden Yards. Going 4-for-4, Machado helped spark a five-run Keys third inning, as the orange and black earned a 10-3 romp over the Carolina Mudcats:
It was a lot of fun to see Machado in action for a few days, and bef0re he left, he spent a few minutes on our pre-game show:
Best of luck to Machado as he rehabs from right knee surgery, and to the Orioles as they get ready f0r the Tigers. We’ll continue the rest of our Top 10 countdown this week. Stay tuned!
Shake your Keys,
Good Evening Keys Fans!
It’s time to continue our countdown of the season’s top 10 moments! In case you missed any of the previous 10 moments, simply scroll down the page for a recap and audio highlights. Before we get to moment #6 on our countdown list, we want to give a quick congratulations to former Key Garabez Rosa, who has received a late invitation in the Arizona Fall League. Rosa will play on the Glendale Desert Dogs, and takes the place of another ex-Key, Dariel Alvarez.
Rosa spent all of 2014 at Double-A Bowie, where he hit .282 over 124 games with 11 homers and 69 RBIs. He split time between several infield and outfield spots. A Frederick player from 2011-12, Rosa joins a talented cadre of ex-Keys headed to the Fall League, which is considered a “finishing school” for minor league prospects. As many players will tell you, getting selected for the AFL is an honor and a sign of encouragement. Since the league’s inception in 1992, approximately 60% of Fall League alumni have gone on to play in the Major Leagues.
Rosa will be joined by former Keys Jason Esposito, Parker Bridwell, Zach Davies, Michael Ohlman, Ashur Tolliver and Mychal Givens. Before season’s end, I had a chance to ask Bridwell about playing in the Fall League:
In case you missed it, here is a full release detailing the selection of Bridwell and Esposito to the Desert Dogs.
Alright, without further or do, it is time to continue the countdown! After discussing two fine pitching performances, moment #6 details one of the most impressive offensive innings of a year. If you are wondering, no, it is not one of the Keys two eight-run innings from the season. Rather, it was an inning where Frederick scored four runs, but did something very rare.
The game in question took place on June 14 against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, and was the second-to-last game (or penultimate game if you want to sound fancy) of the first-half. Offense came at a premium over the first seven innings, with starters Alex Claudio and Brady Wager allowing just one run each.
Matt Price pitched a scoreless eighth, while Justin Sprenger returned for the home-half of the inning. Entering the frame, the sidearmer had allowed only one hit through 2.1 innings. However the Keys finally diagnosed him in the eighth. And the first man to break the code, was Sammie Starr:
That proved to be the decisive blow, but Frederick wasn’t finished. Following a double by Tucker Nathans, Michael Burgess stepped to bat and promptly applied the dagger:
With the damage all but done, Pelicans manager Joe Mikulik kept Sprenger in the game. He would get Esposito to bounce out, but trouble would strike a third time with Zane Chavez up at bat:
It was the only time all season the orange and black would hit three longballs in an inning. Additionally, it marked one of only three occasions all season where the club would hit four homers in a game (Joel Hutter added a fifth inning blast).
Stay tuned for more of the countdown!
Shake your Keys!
Good Evening Keys Faithful!
Earlier this afternoon the Orioles slammed the door shut on the Yankees playoff hopes, thanks to a 9-5 victory. Thus, Derek Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium will be a meaningless one. Although some will complain about the year-long sendoff tour for Jeter and make snacks at all the gifts and things that he has received along the way, it is hard to ignore the way he played the game and the respect other players had for him.
Two Orioles notes from last night:
-Nelson Cruz became the sixth player in franchise history to hit 40 home runs in a season:
The 40 longballs rank as the second-most by a player in his first season with Baltimore. Currently, the Major League leader in longballs here is a look at the video of Cruz’s big fly from last night.
– Chris Tillman received word that he will start Game 1 of the American League Division Series. It is a nice honor for Tillman who did not get a chance to pitch when the O’s were in the postseason two years ago.
Although all is quiet on the Keys front at the moment, here is scouting report on Baltimore catching prospect Chance Sisco, who won the South Atlantic League batting title as a 19-YEAR-OLD. Seriously. Sisco figures to make his home in Frederick next season. He was selected by Baltimore in the second round of the 2013 draft.
If Sisco continues his upward trend, he may be catching fellow-prospect Dylan Bundy one day. Rated the organization’s top arm by Baseball America earlier this year, the Oklahoma native made six starts for the Keys this past season as he continued his recovery from Tommy John surgery. So why do we bring up Bundy? Well, he is the subject of moment #7 on our top 10 list from the 2014 season.
After back-to-back subpar outings against the Salem Red Sox, Bundy would try his luck against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on July 22. Limited to 75 pitches per start, the right-hander’s first three starts were a mixed bag. Although he was pitching better than his 9.26 ERA indicated, command was still a problem. As a result, he never made it through the fifth frame in any of his first three starts.
On the Grand Strand, something clicked though. Over his first four innings Bundy was economical. He surrendered only two hits, and retired eight in-a-row at one stretch. In the fifth, things got a little dicey. With the score 0-0, Lewis Brinson singled off Bundy and stole second. Two batters later, Nick Vickerson reached on a walk, while both men advanced into scoring position with two outs. That sent up Rangers prospect Jorge Alfaro, who would provide Bundy with one of his biggest challenges of the night:
As you may have heard in the background, Bundy had a little cheering section behind him, which provided a nice greeting as he came back into the dugout.
Now the question was could Bundy pick up a win? As well as he had thrown, his counterpart Victor Payano was matching him pitch for pitch. However in the sixth, the lefty make one misstep to the wrong hitter:
With a little more than 10 pitches remaining in his 75-offering allotment, Bundy worked a lightning-fast sixth to conclude his night:
The six innings was the most Bundy had thrown since August 20, 2012, when he was pitching for Double-A Bowie, and following his lockdown sixth, hard-throwing Matt Hobgood would do the rest:
Working three no-hit innings, Hobgood put the finishing touches on the three-hit shutout and Bundy’s first win.
Stay tuned for moment #6 tommorrow.
Shake your Keys!
Good Afternoon Keys Fans!
And a happy Tuesday to everybody. Last night just goes to show that even division champs can have a case of the Mondays. Held to one hit on the game, the Orioles were shutout by the Yankees 5-0 in the Bronx. Michael Pineda was the story for the Bronx Bombers, tossing 7.1 innings and striking out eight. For those that missed it, here is a full recap from MASN’s Steve Melewksi
One fact from the game that could show up on a Sportscenter “Did you Know?” segment: Despite clinching the AL East for the first time since 1997, the club has been one-hit three different times this season, tying a club record. The O’s would be one-hit three times in 1968 as well (tip of the cap to O’s PR Wizards Jeff Lantz and Jay Moskowitz for the tidbit).
The good news is that Baltimore did not lose any ground in its bid for home field throughout the playoffs (remember the AL won the All-Star game and has home field advantage in the World Series). Los Angeles suffered an 8-4 setback in Oakland, due in large-part to a six-run A’s first, where Angels starter C.J. Wilson walked four and failed to get out of the initial frame. At the moment, the O’s are 2.5 games behind the Halos for the best record in the American League.
In other Orioles news, the 2015 Spring Training Schedule was released. Having been down to Spring Training a couple of times myself, I can attest it is a blast. Players are extremely accessible, and as you might expect the weather is gorgeous.
Plus, if you don’t want to spend all your time at the ballpark you can check out the gorgeous beaches of Siesta Key:
And if you’re a breakfast person, I recommend hitting up “The Broken Egg”
In non-Orioles news, here is a great article which talks about all the pieces required to move a Major League team from point a to point b. Tip of the cap to Doug Raftery who brought this article to my attention (it focuses on the Washington Nationals). If you’ve never been around a professional team on a travel day before, prepare to have your mind blown.
Alright, time to change gears and get back to our top 10 countdown of the year’s best moments! After we started things with two walk-off wins, we’re going to shift gears to pitching. August was a tremendous month for Keys starting pitchers, where top-notch performances were the norm, especially from this man:
One of the Carolina League’s top arms, Mark Blackmar went 4-0 with a 2.12 ERA over five August starts, before being traded to the White Sox at the end of the month for outfielder Alejandro De Aza.
As the numbers indicate, Blackmar was a tough customer during the season’s penultimate month. However, his outing against the Wilmington Blue Rocks on August 10 really stood out. With the Keys looking to avoid a three-game sweep, Blackmar sliced through the Wilmington order, facing the minimum through six frames. During that time, only Fred Ford reached via a walk, before being set down on a double-play.
Given the Blue Rocks offensive struggles throughout the year, it was hard to ignore the no-hitter talk once the game reached the seventh inning. Even though Blackmar needed nine outs, two things had you thinking something special could happen:
1) Wilmington had already been no-hit in BACK-TO-BACK GAMES earlier in the year by the Lynchburg Hillcats. It was believed to be the first time that had happened in Carolina League history.
2) Blackmar’s defense was firing on all cylinders, thanks to a quick game pace and a TON of quick swings. Although there were a number of fine plays in the field, Jason Esposito stole the show with two fine plays from foul territory:
Sadly, the no-hit bid would come to an end in the seventh. With one out, Blackmar would tangle with Raul Mondesi, who entered the day 5-for-10 in the series with two home runs:
It may not have been the conclusion he wanted, but that would be the only run (and one of just two hits) Blackmar allowed on the day. He would end up as the winning pitcher (Frederick won 5-2) while the victory kicked off a four-game winning streak for the Texan, the longest of his professional career.
You can bet that won’t be the only great moment by a Keys pitchers! Tomorrow, we will look at one of the season’s top performances by a Keys pitching duo.
Talk soon and shake your keys!
Happy Monday Keys Fans!
I hope you all enjoyed your weekend, and the last drops of summertime. For former Key Christian Walker, the end of summer proved to be the sweetest. On Wednesday afternoon, he received word that he had been called up to the Orioles following a stellar minor league season between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. In 139 games, Walker hit .288 with 26 home runs and 96 RBIs en route to being named the O’s Minor League Player of the Year. Put in the starting lineup on Wednesday, he recorded his first big league hit in the seventh inning off Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ. And after the game, you can guess what happened:
Three days later, he hit his first home run off Red Sox starter Rubby De La Rosa, as well as his first multi-hit effort in a 7-2 Orioles win over the Red Sox. On Sunday, Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun examined Walker’s fantastic season, and how he has remained consistent with his hitting approach.
In other Orioles news, Nelson Cruz was named “Most Valuable Oriole” on Sunday afternoon, besting Adam Jones and former Key Zach Britton for the award. Although Jones and Britton were very deserving, it is hard to argue with Cruz’s selection. Following a 50-game suspension last year, Cruz had few suitors in the offseason. Taking a chance, the Orioles hit the jackpot. The Major League’s leader in home runs (39) and second-leading RBI man (106), Cruz has been worth every penny of the $8 million he has received.
Shifting our focus back to the Keys, it is time to continue our top 10 moments of the season countdown! Last week, Wynston Sawyer kicked things off with a game-winning double against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Today, we fast forward two weeks to bring you moment #9.
Although the saying typically goes “April Showers bring May Flowers” Mother Nature must not have gotten the memo on May 10. Rains fell throughout the day, forcing the Key City Roller Derby to be postponed, while the grounds crew was constantly called into action. In spite of all the rain, the game eventually got underway.
Making his season debut, Keys starter Joe Van Meter struggled with command, walking four over 3.2 innings. One of those walks forced home a run in the third, while a sac-fly by Nick Basto and an RBI groundout by Keon Barnum staked the Dash to a 3-0 edge after 4.5 innings.
With rain starting to fall again, Frederick needed runs and fast. Three more outs and the game would be official. Fortunately, Mother Nature intervened. After Steel Russell struck out to begin the bottom of the fifth, home plate umpire Travis Godec called for the tarp. Furious (because his team was two outs away from a win) Winston-Salem manager Tommy Thompson tried to convince both umpires to keep the game going to no avail. Roughly an hour and a half later, play was suspended, meaning the Keys and Dash would continue Saturday’s game on Sunday as part of a “pseudo doubleheader.”
It would not be the last time all year that a game would be rolled over to the next day, but the conclusion of this quasi-twinbill was arguably the most memorable.
Entering the ninth inning, the Keys trailed 3-1, a precarious position to be sure. Coming into the contest, Frederick was 0-14 when trailing after eight frames. However this game would veer off script.
With one out, Russell singled off Leyer, sending nine-hole batter Sammie Starr to the plate. Homerless coming into the at-bat, the Canadian pounced on a mistake by the Dash righty:
Clearly frazzled, Leyer surrendered an infield single to Glynn Davis, before committing a balk to place the winning run at second. Now the question was, could the Keys convert with a man in scoring position?
Lucas Herbst was unsuccessful, but Brenden Webb would have the answer with two outs:
Not a bad way to kick off a Sunday Funday! The 4-3 victory was the club’s second of three walk-offs in 2014.
Stay tuned for more of the Top 10 countdown later this week!
Shake your Keys!