The goal is for Curve hitters to try and do less, not more, with runners in scoring position, and it's been a constant teaching process so far for manager P.J. Forbes and hitting coach Ryan Long.
The club had only one hit in 11 chances with runners in scoring position Thursday night, but that hit was a big one as Matt Curry drilled a two-run double in the third inning. That gave the Curve a three-run cushion, and they held on for a 4-3 win over Richmond before 2,402 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
"Anything right now is big for us, just to build some confidence," Forbes said of Curry's two-run double.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Quincy Latimore slaps P.J. Forbes’ hand after homering.
Altoona had lost four out of five entering the night, and had scored only two runs in those losses. The offense broke through early, though, with a run in the first and Quincy Latimore's first homer of the season, a solo shot, for a 2-1 lead in the second.
"It felt good to finally be ready and catch up to a fastball. I've been swinging through a lot of them," said Latimore, who led the Curve with 15 homers last season.
Altoona got something going with two outs in the third as Tony Sanchez walked and Adalberto Santos singled to bring up Curry. Facing hard-throwing lefty Mike Kickham (1-1), Curry blistered a 2-0 pitch to the wall in center that Gary Brown got a glove on but could not pull in.
Tonight: Richmond at Altoona, 6:30 p.m.
Pitching matchups: Curve RHP Aaron Pribanic (0-2, 3.24) vs. Flying Squirrels RHP Justin Fitzgerald (1-1, 3.68)
"We haven't had many RBI hits, and with two outs it's big, especially to give us a lead like that," Curry said.
Altoona held on as Richmond scored a run in the sixth and another in the eighth. Reliever Duke Welker stranded the tying run at third to end the eighth, then pitched the ninth for his first save.
Brandon Cumpton (1-1) earned his first Double-A win, giving up two runs on six hits over seven innings with three strikeouts and one walk.
Santos and Brock Holt each went 3-for-4 for the Curve.
Forbes said Curry's two-run double was big, but he also pointed out it was the team's only hit of the night with a runner in scoring position.
"We talk to them about shrinking the zone," the manager said of those situations. "It's one pitch in one spot and do damage to it. I think we've expanded our zone in those situations, swinging at pitchers' pitches."
If it means taking a strike on a borderline pitch, Forbes added, the hitters must learn to be patient and do so rather than try and put that ball in play weakly and make an easy out.
The Curve returned home from a week-long road trip Thursday, and the franchise put on a quirky promotion where it paid homage to 49-year-old major league pitcher Jamie Moyer. Fans could get in free if they met certain Moyer-related criteria, and there was even a woman named Jamie Moyer, from Roaring Spring, who threw out a ceremonial first pitch.
Forbes, in his first major league start for the Orioles in 1998, actually faced Moyer, who then was pitching for the Mariners. Forbes went 0-for-3 and said he faced the typical Moyer repertoire of "soft, softer and softest."
"It's amazing what he's done," Forbes said. "That's a credit to him, how he takes care of himself. You tip your hat to a guy that can do it for that long and be successful all that time."
SUBHD: Roster moves
Along with RHP Tim Alderson going up to Triple-A (see related story), RHP Kris Johnson also was promoted to Indianapolis on Thursday. Johnson had a 1.59 ERA in four relief appearances.
The Curve received RHP Zach Foster and LHP Jhonathan Ramos from high-A Bradenton. Foster was 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in five relief outings, while Ramos was 2-1 with a 0.84 ERA in four relief appearances.
SUBHD: Game recap
Key player: RF Adalberto Santos went 3-for-4 with a run for the Curve.
Key play: 1B Matt Curry's two-run double in the third gave Altoona a 4-1 lead.
Key stat: RHP Tim Alderson has gotten his velocity back up to 90-93 mph this season, helping earn him a promotion to Triple-A.
SUBHD: How they scored
Top 1st: Cavan singled, scored on Hodges double (0-1).
Bottom 1st: Grossman singled, scored on Farrell groundout (1-1).
Bottom 2nd: Latimore solo homer (2-1).
Bottom 3rd: Sanchez walked, Santos singled, both scored on Curry double (4-1).
Top 6th: Joseph singled, scored on Mayora double (4-2).
Top 8th: Perez reached on fielder's choice, scored on Adrianza triple (4-3).