Matt Walbeck spent 11 seasons in the major leagues and 13 in the minors - seven as a player and six as a manager - and he says there's one thing this year's Curve squad does better than any team he has been a part of in his career.
"I don't know if I've ever quite been around a team that's played as well on the road as this one," the manager said.
The former big league catcher struggled to put into words why his squad is enjoying a league-leading 25-11 record away from Blair County Ballpark. The road success has lifted Altoona to the best record in the EL and all of Double-A.
"It's hard for me to compare other than that I think this is just a good team," Walbeck said. "Regardless of where they're playing or who they're playing against."
Outfielder Alex Presley has used his road success to propel him to the highest batting average in the EL. He is hitting 48 points higher away from BCB, including the best offensive night in Curve history, a two-homer, eight-RBI outburst at Akron.
"We don't let stuff really get to us," Presley said. "The long bus trips where we're tired, getting in late, stuff like that - we just worry about our pregame routine and go out there and play. We don't pay attention to anything else."
As a team, Altoona is hitting .275 on the road, compared to a .258 mark at home, and has belted 18 more homers. Even pitching in a much larger home ballpark than most others in the Eastern League, the Curve staff has given up five more homers at BCB.
Walbeck theorized that the Curve's rigorous workout schedule at home takes a lot of the stress off his team when they play at other Eastern League parks.
"It could be the fact that we work so hard at home and we practice every day," he said. "We do a lot of extra work at home, so when we come [on the road], I think they're rested and they're able to maintain their focus."
Matt Hague is hitting 80 points higher on the road, but the first baseman said he wasn't seeing the ball any different. To Hague, it's "just one of those weird baseball things."
"We just go execute our plan and have the mentality that we can win every baseball game we play in," Hague said. "No matter where it is."