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!
Good Morning Keys Fans!
Tuesday was an exciting night to be an O’s fan. For the first time since 1997, the Orioles are AL East champs! Even more thrilling was that the club was able to accomplish the feat in Baltimore for the first time in 1969. And while I’m sure that celebration was fun, how could it top this?
That’s how you make a lifelong connection!
Then there were those that celebrated the more traditional way…
No matter how you celebrated, it was a night that that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
What has been most impressive is how the O’s have done it. Without guys such as Matt Wieters and Manny Machado, the club was still able to book a trip to the postseason with more than a week to spare. Tuesday night’s clincher really underscores this point, with the Orioles getting a quick lift from Steve Pearce (three-run homer), insurance from Jimmy Paredes (solo homer) and a dagger from Alejandro De Aza (bases clearing triple).
That may be the headline of the season. However for Frederick fans, one additional storyline has been the number of former Keys that have contributed to the Orioles success:
Zach Britton (’09 Keys)-One of the league’s biggest surprises. Since taking the closer’s reins from Tommy Hunter, Britton has posted a 1.74 ERA, and is fourth in the American League with 35 saves, while he has the most in the Majors since May 15. Not bad for the Keys single-season ERA leader (he had a 2.70 ERA in ’09)
Kevin Gausman (’12 Keys)-Although his stay in Frederick was short, his dominating stuff left a quick impression. Now in Baltimore to stay, the former LSU Tiger has turned it on down the stretch. In each of his last three starts he has worked at least seven innings, and given up just six combined runs during that span. His ERA is a very respectable 3.57.
Caleb Joseph (’09 Keys)-After hitting .284 with the orange and black in ’09, Joseph seemed to stall at Double-A. Then an injury to Matt Wieters provided a golden opportunity. Since making his Major League debut on May 7, he has provided stability behind the plate, and has worked his way into the gold glove conversation. With the Orioles has thrown out 41% of all attempted base stealers, a mark that would be the best in the Majors if he qualified.
Brian Matusz (’09 Keys/’11 on rehab)-Like Gausman, Matusz has turned it on for the O’s down the stretch. In his last 23 appearances he has been virtually lights out, recording a 0.96 ERA (18.2 IP/2ER).
Jonathan Schoop (’10-’11 Keys)-Despite some recent struggles at the plate, Schoop has shown signs of what he is capable of. A few weeks ago, he homered in 3 consecutive games. Just 22 years old, Schoop last won a championship with the Keys in 2011, when his double-play partner was none other than Manny Machado.
Nick Markakis (’05 Keys)-One of the leader’s of the O’s, Markakis has tallied 50 multi-hit games this year. There was little doubt after last night’s clinch he would get his first pie in the face:
Although Steve Pearce and Ryan Flaherty have only been with the Keys on rehab assignments, both have played integral roles in the O’s Division title. Pearce especially, who has had a career year, batting .294 over 96 games (that includes 18 home runs).
Even Alejandro De Aza has a Keys connection. A member of the White Sox until late August, he was traded to the O’s in exchange for two guys with Keys connections: Mark Blackmar and Miguel Chalas. Although the loss of Blackmar was particularly tough for Frederick fans, De Aza has provided a huge spark. He has hit safely in 11 of 12 games with the Orioles, hitting .327 during that time with seven extra-base hits. And oh by the way, the O’s have won 11 of the 12 games where he has been the lineup.
In short, this season for the O’s has been special, but for Keys fans it’s even more special because of all the Frederick connections.
So in the words of O’s GM Dan Duquette, keep on partying like it’s 1969
Shake Your Keys!
Good Evening Keys Fans!
It’s hard to believe the offseason has finally arrived. April-August seemed like it completely flew by. However that typically happens when you’re having fun, and this year’s team provided plenty of great moments and memories.
Over the next few weeks, we will be counting down the top 10 moments of the 2014 season. Doug Raftery and I have racked our brains, and put together a list which encompasses some of the top plays and performances of the 2014 slate.
So without further or do…
#10-April 24 Frederick vs Myrtle Beach (Harry Grove Stadium)
Wynston Sawyer Walks it Off:
It may have been only April 24, but it was a game the orange and black needed to win. Following a 21-6 defeat the following night to the Pelicans, the Keys needed a win to get back on track and force a Friday rubber game (where the team would have the services of platinum glover Manny Machado).
Branden Kline turned in a great performance on the mound, twirling seven innings and allowing one unearned run, while Frederick grabbed a 3-1 advantage in the fifth thanks to an RBI double by Jerome Pena and a single by Lucas Herbst which plated Creede Simpson from third.
It looked to be the Keys game, but the eventual first-half south champs would not go down without a fight. After adding a run in the seventh on a Herbst double play, the Keys saw the Pelicans plate three in the eighth off Matt Hobgood. Sending eight men to bat, Myrtle Beach leveled the count on a bunt single by Hanser Alberto.
With the contest tied 4-4, the Pelicans turned to flamethrower Keone Kela. Entering the game with a 2.35 ERA, Kela struck out two of the three he faced in the eighth, and flashed a fastball which occasionally hit triple digits.
Back for the ninth after his team was held scoreless, Kela got Pena to pop out, but walked Simpson. A single by Michael Burgess advanced his teammate into scoring position, to set the table for Wynston Sawyer:
It was the club’s first walk-off victory of the year, but it would not be the club’s last against the Pelicans. On June 13, Frederick battled back from a 6-1 deficit to top the Birds 7-6, as another catcher, Zane Chavez, played the role of hero with a dunk single down the right field line. That victory was also the team’s biggest come-from-behind win of the season…
But the question is, will it make the top 10 list? Find out in the coming days!
Shake your Keys and let’s go O’s!!
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).