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No place in the sun

Rain, Phillies put damper on Curve’s season opener

April 4, 2008
By Michael Boytim,
If the Curve’s season is going to be built on how well the starting rotation performs, Thursday’s opener at Blair County Ballpark was an extremely bad omen.

After retiring the side in order the first inning, Kyle Bloom allowed a pair of runs in the second and four more in the fourth for a total of six earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings of work during an 8-3 loss to Reading before 6,736 fans, the largest crowd to ever see a Curve home opener.

“I didn’t throw as well as I would have liked to,’’ Bloom said. “But this rotation is good enough to pick it up [tonight].

“I’m looking forward to my next start, because I know I can do better than I did tonight.’’

For the Curve to achieve any success this year, Bloom and the rest of the rotation will need to be better. The combined ERA of Altoona’s five starters a year ago was 5.06, something Curve manager Tim Leiper believes will improve this season.

“We’re going to fix things as we go,’’ Leiper said. “Out of the stretch [Bloom] got a little bit out of whack and lost his command a little bit, but it’s a good outing to build on.’’

Bloom’s six earned runs were the most given up by an Altoona starting pitcher on opening day in Curve history, doubling the previous high of John Grabow’s three in 2001.

Things started well for Altoona as James Boone, Shelby Ford and Jonel Pacheco hit consecutive singles, and Brad Corley drove in Boone with a sacrifice fly. But with one down, Pacheco was picked off first with Ford on third, and Ford was thrown out trying to score to end the threat of a big inning.

“[Pacheco] got burned on the third-to-first move,’’ Leiper said. “That can’t happen. His thought process was right; he wanted to be aggressive, but you have to guard against that third-to-first move.’’

Riding the momentum of escaping the jam relatively unscathed, Reading scored a pair of runs in the top of the second inning to take the lead, 2-1.

As the weather began to deteriorate and the fans headed for the exits, things got worse on the field. Reading pounded out four hits and drew a walk during a four-run fourth that left Altoona in a large hole.

The middle of Altoona’s order, Pacheco, Corley and Jason Delaney did their part to keep the Curve in it, each coming up with two hits and Delaney driving in two late runs.

“Corley’s a guy who will always drive in runs,’’ Leiper said. “I like those guys in the middle of the lineup. They are going to swing the bats and be aggressive; if you leave balls over the plate, they’re going to get it.’’

Game recap

Key player: Reading right fielder Jeremy Slayden went 3-for-5, collecting the game-tying RBI on a triple in the second and started a four-run fourth with a single.

Key play: In the bottom of the first, Jonel Pacheco was picked off first base and Shelby Ford was thrown out at home, blowing a chance to put a crooked number on the scoreboard that could have changed the complexion of the game.

Key stat: Curve starter Kyle Bloom allowed six earned runs in only 32/3 innings pitched.

How they scored

Bottom 1st: Boone singled, scored on Corley sacrifice fly (1-0).

Top 2nd: Tejada walked, scored on Slayden triple (1-1); Marson singled home Slayden (1-2).

Top 4th: Slayden singled, scored on Moran single (1-3); Marson scored on Roberts’ wild pitch (1-4); Donald singled home Moran and Harmon (1-6).

Top 5th: Tejada homered. (1-7).

Bottom 6th: Pacheco singled, scored on Delaney single (2-7).

Top 7th: Donald doubles, scored on Golson single (2-8).

Bottom 8th: Corley tripled, scored on Delaney double (3-8).

Article Photos

Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Cold weather and rain emptied the seats midway through the game on opening night at Blair County Ballpark Thursday. A record opening-night crowd was there earlier.

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