Altoona came out cold in every sense of the word Wednesday night at Blair County Ballpark, falling into a three-run hole in the first inning, before eventually falling, 6-3, to the Akron Aeros in front of 2,347 fans.
The Curve were coming off a rainout Tuesday and played most of Wednesday's game in temperatures hovering near the freezing point.
Mike Colla, making just his second career start, struggled with it more than anyone.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
The Curve’s Jeremy?Farrell collides with Akron?shortstop Juan Diaz while trying to break up a double play.
"The first inning Mike didn't have any grip on the ball," Curve catcher Tony Sanchez said. "It's literally all about the grip, and when it's this cold out there and you have no grip, it's going to be hard to throw strikes out there, and that's the problem he had in the first."
Akron got three singles, a walk and benefited from a Jeremy Farrell error in the first inning to take a 3-0 lead before Colla buckled down and tossed four consecutive scoreless and hitless innings.
"Once he got some rosin and dirt, he was able to throw his fastball for strikes, and his slider and changeup came along too," Sanchez said.
Today: Akron at Altoona, 11 a.m.
Pitching matchups: Aeros LHP Matt Packer (0-3) vs. Curve RHP?Aaron Pribanic (2-0)
The Curve tied the game with single tallies in the third, fourth and fifth innings but left six runners on base in those three innings.
Kris Watts, who went 2-for-3 with a walk, led off the third with a double and went to third on a Miles Durham single. However, it took Quincy Latimore reaching on an error with two outs to bring Watts in.
Shelby Ford singled and scored on a Durham sacrifice fly in the fifth, but Brad Chalk grounded into a double play with runners on first and second before Eric Fryer tied the game with a leadoff home run in the sixth.
"When you've got a starter on the ropes, you have to take advantage," Curve manager P.J. Forbes said. "Your opportunities are limited, so you have to do damage when those opportunities arise. We didn't execute our game plan in crucial situations."
After Sanchez popped out with runners at first and second in the sixth, Akron greeted Chris Leroux, who just joined the team from Triple-A Indianapolis Tuesday, with three runs in the seventh.
Matt McBride led off the frame with a home run to break the tie, and the Aeros got two more unearned insurance runs after a Durham error at first.
"The good thing about baseball is that we have another game tomorrow," Farrell said. "We'll be back out there early in the morning ready to get after it again."
Altoona didn't manage a base runner over the final three innings and slipped back to .500 at 12-12.
"It was the same thing that's been our Achilles' heel the whole season tonight," Forbes said. "We just haven't been consistent in all phases of the game."
Key player: Akron's Matt McBride had an RBI single and the first home run by an opposing player at Blair County Ballpark this season to give the Aeros a lead they never relinquished.
Key play: Curve manager P.J. Forbes called on Chris Leroux to make his Altoona debut with the score tied, 3-3, in the seventh inning.
Key stat: The first three batters Leroux faced all scored.
How they scored
Top 1st: Jordan Henry and Juan Diaz singled. Chun Chen walked. Henry scored when John Drennen reached on an error. Diaz scored on Matt McBride single. Chen scored on sacrifice fly by Tim Fedroff. (0-3).
Bottom 3rd: Kris Watts doubled, scored when Quincy Latimore reached on an error (1-3).
Bottom 4th: Shelby Ford singled, scored on Miles Durham sacrifice fly (2-3).
Bottom 5th: Eric Fryer homered (3-3).
Top 7th: McBride homered. Tim Fedroff reached on an error, scored on Henry's fielder's choice. Kyle Bellows doubled, scored on Matt Lawson sacrifice fly (3-6).