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Curve’s pitchers struggle

June 15, 2011
By Mike Still (sports@altoonamirror.com) , The Altoona Mirror

Walking from his locker to the trainer's room, Tony Sanchez spoke aloud to nobody in particular in the Curve locker room:

"Don't let an off day follow a day off."

After resting Monday, just one of three days in June the team doesn't play, the Curve were rocked by New Britain on Tuesday night, losing 10-4 before 3,340 fans at Blair County Ballpark.

"We had a good work day before, and I thought we were ready to play," Curve manager P.J. Forbes said. "But groundballs found holes, and we didn't make the pitch to get ourselves out of it. That's how baseball works."

From the very beginning, the Rock Cats seemed poised for victory.

Curve starter Bryan Morris struggled in the first, allowing two runs on four hits and throwing a ball well wide of first base into right field on a sacrifice bunt.

Fact Box

Next stop

Tonight: New Britain at Altoona, 7 p.m.

Pitching matchups: Rock Cats RHP Liam Hendriks (6-2, 2.63) vs. Curve RHP Mike Colla (4-2, 2.84)

Record: 31-32

Covering the bases

LEADING OFF: Curve RHP Tim Alderson, who had a miniscule 0.94 ERA on May 27, has since risen his ERA to 2.78. Alderson allowed three runs in two innings last night and has walked seven betters in his last three outings.

SAFE AT FIRST: Curve 2B Brock Holt went 0-for-8 in two games against Reading this past weekend. But Holt finished with a team-high three hits last night to bring his average up to .298.

STEALING SECOND: LHP Garrett Olson threw five hitless innings against the Gwinnett Braves for Triple-A Indianapolis last night. Olson struck out five and twice retired Atlanta Braves All-Star Jason Heyward, who's in Triple-A for two-game rehabilitation stint.

ROUNDING THIRD: RHP Brian Leach threw 3 1/3 innings for High-A Bradenton last night, allowing one earned run and two hits while striking out three. Leach began the year with the Curve, but was sent to Bradenton after amounting a 9.00 ERA in 15 innings. He's lowered his ERA to 4.66 in High-A.

HEADING HOME: Indianapolis C/OF Eric Fryer, who hit .345 in 37 games with the Curve this season, is now batting .283. Fryer hit .118 his first five games in Triple-A and is batting .379 since then.

-- Mike Still

Morris said he was struggling with his mechanics and couldn't find a rhythm early.

"One time I'll do it right, and the next time I'll rush out a little bit," Morris said. "Little things like that can change the path of the ball real easy."

The right-hander couldn't fix his mechanical issues after the first, as the Rock Cats scored five more runs on three hits and three walks in the second.

Morris even walked in the Rock Cats' fourth run of the game. As his pitches continued to miss the strike zone, the New Britain dugout took notice.

"We saw [Morris] had been struggling with his location and he'd been walking some guys," Rock Cats shortstop Chris Cates said. "So we took an approach of if it's in the zone, hit it. And if it's not, make him throw some pitches."

Morris settled in after the rocky start, throwing two more innings and walking none while giving up just two hits.

But the damage had been done.

That's two rough starts in a row for Morris (1-3), who allowed four runs in four innings against Erie on June 8.

His ERA has risen from 2.93 on June 3 to 5.05. But fortunately for Morris, he knows what has to change.

"Missing the zone a lot helps out the hitters a lot," he said. "That's for sure."

Morris wasn't the only Curve pitcher struggling with command.

In two innings of work, Tim Alderson threw 21 strikes and 23 balls, consistently missing Sanchez's glove sitting on the outside half of the plate.

The righty walked three, gave up three hits and allowed three runs, as well.

Alderson looked sharp early in the season, allowing eight runs in his first 15 appearances. But he's struggled as of late, giving up eight runs in his last five outings.

Forbes said Alderson has to locate his fastball while working both sides of the plate and changing speeds.

Though both Morris and Alderson have been uncharacteristically wild in recent appearances, Forbes is confident the two will work out the kinks.

"You take something from every game, learn from it and move on," Forbes said. "I told them 12 o'clock tonight it's a new day. You start fresh tomorrow and get back after it."

Steve Hirschfeld (4-4) threw five solid innings for New Britain, allowing three runs and six hits for the win.

Game recap

Key player: RF Evan Bigley finished 3-for-4 with a double and a team-high three RBIs for New Britain.

Key play: Bigley's two-run single in the second inning increased the Rock Cats' lead to six.

Key stat: Curve pitchers walked eight batters in the game.

How they scored

Top 1st: Herrmann singled, scored on Solarte single (0-1); Bigley singled, scored on Dolenc single (0-2).

Top 2nd: Rohlfing walked, scored on Herrmann single (0-3); Rohlfing walked, scored on Parmelee walk (0-4); Cates singled, Hanson walked, both scored on Bigley single (0-6); Parmelee scored on Dolenc ground out (0-7).

Bottom 3rd: Hernandez doubled, scored on Chalk single (1-7); Chalk scored on Holt triple (2-7); Holt scored on Mercer double (3-7).

Top 5th: Solarte singled, scored on Alderson wild pitch (3-8).

Top 6th: Hanson walked, scored on Parmelee single (3-9); Parmelee scored on Bigley double (3-10).

Bottom 9th: Curry walked, scored on Hernandez sacrifice fly (4-10).

 
 

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