It's a big problem that Curve manager P.J. Forbes knows must be corrected right away if the team is going to have a chance for a successful season.
Altoona committed three more costly errors Monday night against Akron, making it six in the past two games, both losses.
The Aeros capitalized on the mistakes in a 5-1 win before 2,269 fans on a soggy night at Peoples Natural Gas Field. The game was delayed by rain for 32 minutes in the fourth inning.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Head groundskeeper Ben Young works on the batter’s box during the fourth inning.
Monday's loss came on the heels of a lackluster 12-1 defeat to Erie on Saturday, a game in which the Curve defense also booted three balls.
"For me it's a focus thing," Forbes said of the errors. "The bottom line is you've got to get outs. I've tried to stress to these guys, if you don't play defense, you can't play. You can't play. You can't play up at the next level.
"You might be able to get away with it at A-ball. At this level, you make a mistake here, teams usually bury you. You saw it on Saturday and you saw [Akron] take advantage of it tonight. Every time we make a mistake, a physical mistake, they make us pay. That's what good teams do."
Tonight: Akron at Altoona, 6:30 p.m.
Pitching matchups: Curve LHP Aaron Poreda (4-3, 5.43 at Triple-A Tucson in 2011) vs. Aeros LHP Eric Berger (2-0, 2.53 at Akron)
Covering the bases: B3
The Aeros made the Curve pay in the second inning as they turned an error into three runs. Akron had runners at first and second with one out against Altoona starter Aaron Pribanic, who then got Roberto Perez to bounce a chopper to third base.
A clean pickup by Elevys Gonzalez could have resulted in an inning-ending double play. Instead, Gonzalez dropped the ball, all runners were safe and Akron was on its way to the 3-0 lead.
Forbes and the coaches stressed in spring training to play clean defense and concentrate on 27 outs, but so far the results aren't showing up on the field.
"I think they understand where the problem is," Forbes said before adding, "We've got to take care of the ball. When we get opportunities to, we've got to get outs, plain and simple."
Tim Fedroff hit a bases-loaded single for Akron's first run in the second inning, and Juan Diaz's sacrifice fly made it 2-0. Pribanic (0-1) struggled with his control, throwing only 39 of 80 pitches for strikes in 3 1/3 innings, and he let the third run score on a wild pitch.
"I just didn't have a very good rhythm all three innings," Pribanic said. "It was just a matter of throwing strikes, and I wasn't doing that."
The Curve have now fallen behind early in all four games, although they battled back to win the first two. They got on the board on Andrew Lambo's RBI single in the fourth and had two good opportunities to rally from down 3-1 but came up empty in the fifth and sixth innings.
Adalberto Santos gambled trying to steal third base with two outs in the fifth. He was thrown out to end the threat, robbing leadoff man Robbie Grossman of a chance to try and drive in a run.
"He's got to understand the situation," Forbes said of Santos making the third out at third base. "You've got the top of the order coming up, give them a chance to drive you in."
Altoona put the first two runners on in the sixth as Grossman beat out an infield roller - the pitcher missed the bag trying to cover - and Brock Holt walked to set up the middle of the order. The Curve came up empty there as Jarek Cunningham popped out, Tony Sanchez struck out and Lambo flew out.
Akron took advantage of another Curve error a few minutes later to score two insurance runs. The Aeros put their leadoff man on in the seventh and tried to bunt him to second base. Pitcher Vic Black fielded the ball cleanly and fired to shortstop Holt for a forceout attempt, but Holt dropped the ball.
A wild pitch by Black allowed one run to score, and Fedroff made it 5-1 with an RBI single.
Giovanni Soto (1-0) gave up one run on just two hits with six strikeouts and two walks in five innings to earn the win for Akron.
Forbes said it's too early to panic, but he also pointed out he already is seeing some of the same troubling signs as last year, when the Curve squandered numerous opportunities to win games early and went on to have a disappointing season.
"Very frustrating early because I watched it last year," Forbes said. "I told [hitting coach Ryan Long] tonight, 'That's what scares me.' We've got to break that trend now, sooner rather than later."
Key player: Akron CF Tim Fedroff went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two walks.
Key play: An error by Curve 3B Elevys Gonzalez on a possible double play in the second inning helped Akron jump out to a 3-0 lead.
Key stat: The Curve have committed six errors in the past two games.
How they scored
Top 2nd: Neal singled, scored on Fedroff single (0-1); Bellows walked, scored on Diaz sacrifice fly (0-2); Perez reached on Gonzalez error, scored on Pribanic wild pitch (0-3).
Bottom 4th: Holt walked, scored on Lambo single (1-3).
Top 7th: Neal singled, scored on Black wild pitch (1-4); Bellows reached on fielder's choice and Holt error, scored on Fedroff single (1-5).