Most 10-9 games are slugfests, but defense actually decided the Curve's close loss Sunday night against Binghamton.
The Curve botched two huge plays, while the B-Mets made a great play in the clutch to hang on for the victory before 5,061 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
"We beat ourselves, let's be honest," Curve manager P.J. Forbes said.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
The Curve’s Stefan Welch was all smiles early after he scored in the third inning.
He was speaking of two big defensive lapses in the first three innings that helped Binghamton take a 6-0 lead. After that, however, the Curve did exactly what the coaching staff loves to see.
Altoona nearly came all the way back, scoring five runs in the eighth to pull within one, but could not catch up.
"They play nine innings every night, and that's all I can ask," Forbes said of his players' resiliency.
Today: Binghamton at Altoona, noon
Pitching matchups: Curve RHP Phil Irwin (1-6, 4.18) vs. LHP Darin Gorski (5-4, 4.06)
The game came down to a stellar defensive play by Binghamton center fielder Juan Lagares. Brock Holt doubled in three runs in the eighth to pull the Curve within 10-9, and with two outs, Stefan Welch lined a single to center.
Holt looked like he would be able to score as he got a good jump off second and rounded third in good shape. Lagares, though, scooped up the ball on a hop and fired a laser to the plate, with catcher Juan Centeno grabbing it and barely swiping a sliding Holt for the third out.
Forbes briefly argued the call, and it was unclear on the replay if Centeno had tagged Holt. Forbes, however, said hitting coach Ryan Long did get a good view of the play from the dugout and pointed out Centeno got the tag down.
"Welch hit it pretty hard, so I knew it was going to be a pretty close play," Holt said. "I saw the catcher there, figured I'd try to get to him before the ball got to him, and I felt like he didn't get the tag down on me. But unfortunately the umpire saw it differently."
The B-Mets carried the one-run lead to the ninth and took advantage of two Curve mistakes to hang on.
Matt Curry singled to start the inning, but Oscar Tejeda couldn't get down a sacrifice bunt and struck out as he fouled his last attempt off with two strikes.
The Curve take a lot of pride in dirt ball reads, which are trying to anticipate a pitch in the dirt, quickly reading it and moving up a base. Curry has been one of the better runners on the team in that area, but he made a mistake running on a ball in the dirt and got thrown out easily at second by Centeno.
Adrian Rosario walked Charlie Cutler with two outs but finished off the game by striking out Jarek Cunningham to earn his third save. Starter Gonzalez Germen (5-6) won for the B-Mets despite allowing five runs in 7 1/3 innings.
The Curve basically giftwrapped a 6-0 lead with two costly defensive mistakes.
Trailing 1-0 with two outs in the first, Cunningham let a ball get by him at second base to allow two runs to score. The error extended Curve starter Brandon Cumpton, who needed 37 pitches to get through the inning.
Typically, the Pirates haven't allowed Curve starters to come back out for the second inning after throwing so many pitches, but Cumpton (8-7) was allowed to stay in the game. He wound up allowing six runs - four earned - in three innings, but three more of those earned runs were gifts, as well.
Dustin Martin hit a routine fly ball to left field with two outs in the third, but Tejeda misplayed it. He broke in and had the ball sail over his head, allowing two runs to score on what was ruled a double. A third run came home as the next batter, Wilfredo Tovar, singled up the middle.
"What I told them, I said, 'I feel for you because you dug yourselves such a big hole, and the fact that you battled back so hard and still came up short, that stinks,'" Forbes said.
Curry went 3-for-5 to raise his average to .320, while Robbie Grossman had an RBI single in the third and has reached base safely by a hit or walk in 21 straight games for the Curve. Welch went 1-for-2 with three walks.
SUBHD: Game recap
Key player: Binghamton 1B Allan Dykstra (no relation to Lenny) went 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs.
Key play: B-Mets CF Juan Lagares threw out Brock Holt at the plate to end the eighth and preserve a 10-9 lead.
Key stat: Instead of trailing just 1-0 after three innings, two bad defensive plays buried the Curve in a 6-0 hole.
SUBHD: How they scored
Top 1st: Lagares singled, scored on Dykstra single (0-1); Campbell reached on fielder's choice, scored along with Dykstra on Cunningham error (0-3).
Top 3rd: Havens doubled, Marte walked, both scored on Martin double (0-5); Tovar single scored Martin (0-6).
Bottom 3rd: Maggi walked, scored on Grossman single (1-6); Holt reached on fielder's choice, Welch walked, both scored on Curry double (3-6).
Top 4th: Lagares doubled, scored on Dykstra single (3-7); Havens walked, scored on Marte bases-loaded walk (3-8); Campbell singled, scored on Tovar sacrifice fly (3-9).
Bottom 4th: Cutler singled, scored on Cunningham double (4-9).
Top 8th: Dykstra solo homer (4-10).
Bottom 8th: Curry tripled, scored on Tejeda sacrifice fly (5-10); Cutler walked, scored on Farrell double (6-10); Cunningham walked, Latimore walked, both scored along with Farrell on Holt double (9-10).