To call one win in the first week of May a huge victory may sound strange, but for this struggling Curve team, Friday's improbable comeback against Richmond could be a big turning point.
"Tonight, for this group, it's a signature win, without a doubt," Curve manager P.J. Forbes said. "I don't care if we're 11-15. It's a signature win because of the maturity they showed at the plate."
The Curve fell behind by six runs, only to storm back with eight unanswered, and they held on for an 8-7 win before 3,358 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
For a team that's had a tough time finding an offensive identity, which in turn has prevented it from going on even a mini-winning streak, the victory provided some much-needed confidence.
"This is a huge win for us," shortstop Brock Holt said. "It was a lot of fun to play that game, to come back from down 6-0 and end up winning."
Holt was one of five Curve players to collect two hits, and Altoona smacked 13 total while also taking advantage of some sloppy Richmond defense in the rain.
Tonight: Richmond at Altoona, DH at 5 p.m.
Pitching matchups: Curve LHP Nathan Baker (2-3, 6.94) and RHP Shairon Martis (0-0, 0.00) vs. Flying Squirrels RHP Chris Heston (2-2, 1.21) and TBD
The Curve cut their deficit in half with three runs in the fourth, scored once in the fifth and took command with four in the seventh for an 8-6 lead.
"It's huge now that we know we can come back and win a game like that," first baseman Matt Curry said. "I think that's our first one, and the next time we get in that situation where we're down like two or three in the seventh inning, we know can turn it around and come back."
Curry's sacrifice fly scored Holt to pull Altoona within 6-5 in the seventh, and after Tony Sanchez reached on an error, Jeremy Farrell doubled him home to tie the game.
Quincy Latimore followed with a single to bring in Farrell, and Kelson Brown singled in Charlie Cutler for Altoona's final run.
Holt, Curry, Cutler, Brown and Robbie Grossman had two hits apiece for the Curve, whose comeback was aided by one subtle change in the fourth inning.
"We told them to take a strike," Forbes said.
The philosophy was two-fold. From an offensive standpoint, Forbes and hitting coach Ryan Long wanted the hitters to see more pitches.
Equally as important, the coaches wanted to slow the game down and let starting pitcher Mike Colla get a breather.
Colla allowed single runs in the first three innings and three in the top of the fourth to fall behind, 6-0. The Curve's pitching staff is already taxed, and there's a doubleheader tonight, so the coaches knew they had to get all they could out of Colla, who wound up saving the bullpen by lasting six innings.
The byproduct of the more patient approach at the plate was that Curve hitters got better pitches to hit, and they cashed in by rallying against Flying Squirrels starter Jason Stevenson and the bullpen.
Tim Alderson (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the win, and Vic Black gave up a run in the ninth but earned his first save.
Richmond reliever Ari Ronick (0-1) took the loss, allowing four runs - three earned - in one-third of an inning in the seventh. The Flying Squirrels' defense didn't help matters with two errors and a couple of other mishandled balls in the inning.
There are so many parallels to this season and last year's Curve team, which had high hopes but got off to a slow start. Forbes said he saw something out of the club Friday that "wouldn't have happened last year."
"The maturity of the at-bats tonight are what we are talking about and trying to get these guys to buy into," he said. "Slow the game down when it gets fast - because it got real fast for us in the first three innings. Slow the game down and start seeing some pitches. We're not going to get it back in one swing. Put some stuff together, have some good at-bats and see what happens."
Key player: Curve 1B Matt Curry went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run.
Key play: An error by Richmond SS Ehire Adrianza on a potential double play grounder by C Tony Sanchez helped open the door for the Curve to score four runs in the seventh.
Key stat: The Curve rallied from a 6-0 deficit to win.
How they scored
Top 1st: Brown hit by pitch, scored on Cavan double (0-1).
Top 2nd: Dominguez singled, scored on Fairley double (0-2).
Top 3rd: Brown hit by pitch, scored on Joseph single (0-3).
Top 4th: Dominguez singled, scored on Monell double (0-4); Adrianza double scored Monell (0-5); Colla wild pitch scored Adrianza (0-6).
Bottom 4th: Sanchez singled, scored on Cutler single (1-6); Curry singled, scored on Stevenson balk (2-6); Brown single scored Cutler (3-6).
Bottom 5th: Grossman singled, scored on Curry single (4-6).
Bottom 7th: Holt singled, scored on Curry sacrifice fly (5-6); Sanchez reached on Adrianza error, scored on Farrell double (6-6); Latimore single scored Farrell (7-6); Cutler singled, scored on Brown single (8-6).
Top 9th: Liles walked, scored on Joseph sacrifice fly (8-7).