HARRISBURG - This Curve team looks pretty special. It's fun to watch. Does everything the right way. Plays great fundamental baseball. And wins.
It will never happen, but if somehow the Pirates would leave this group intact all season, the Curve would go about 82-60, win a division title and perhaps bring the franchise its first Eastern League crown.
Yes, the team is that good. And all the young players are only going to get better, which is an exciting thought.
The Curve have the Eastern League's best record at 16-6, but that tells only part of the story. The rest of the story could be seen Sunday afternoon.
Stud prospect Stephen Strasburg may have been on the mound, but it didn't matter to the Curve hitters. They never flinched, went up to the plate and put together quality at-bat after quality at-bat to beat Harrisburg's 98 mph fireballer.
The defense was outstanding, too, and the bullpen threw five perfect innings.
"They just have a relentless approach," manager Matt Walbeck said of his players. "Defensively, offensively, pitching, on the bases, chemistry, everything seems to be clicking. We just have a group of guys that know how to stay focused."
That focus was evident against Strasburg. The hitters - four in the lineup have been in Double-A for less than a month - went to the plate and executed their game plans to perfection, laying off close pitches and forcing Strasburg to throw strikes.
The pitcher struggled to do so, and the Curve made him pay. Just like good teams are supposed to do.
"They're doing a nice job of what we call having good team offense," hitting coach Ryan Long said. "That's one of the things we've stressed and one of the standards we're creating here. Each guy's at-bat kind of leads to the next and creates a contagious-type atmosphere."
A lot of the hitters have been putting together consistently good at-bats, although no one more so than Alex Presley. He ran his hitting streak to 16 games and is second in the league in hitting at .361.
"We've got a lot of guys that have played together and won," Presley said.
"We all like each other for the most part, and we know how to play together as a team."
Even Strasburg noticed that.
"They had a good series," he said of the Curve, who swept the three-game set. "They really swing at strikes. They put the ball in play. The thing that really stands out from the [seven] games that we've played, they're extremely good defensively. They make all the plays."
This will not be the Curve team we see all season, since the dynamic will change when key players get moved up, injured or traded. Until that happens, we can look forward to watching outstanding baseball at Blair County Ballpark.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.