Entering Saturday, the Curve had just two wins since last Wednesday's All-Star Game. They doubled that number in a span of about four hours and fifteen minutes.
For the first time this season, the Curve swept a doubleheader as they downed Erie, 5-1 in game one, before shutting out the SeaWolves, 1-0, in the second game before a crowd of 5,050 at Peoples Natural Gas Field. Curve manager P.J. Forbes said it was collectively the best day his team has had all year.
"I thought we really came out ready to play in game one, and did enough in game two" Forbes said.
The doubleheader sweep for the Curve is not only big because it moves them to within two and a half games of a playoff spot, but it marks just the third time in seven chances the Curve weren't swept in two games that were played on the same day.
"Any day you can come away with two wins in one day is pretty good," shortstop Brock Holt said. "And we haven't been that good on doubleheader days this year, so to come away with two big wins was huge for us."
Behind a stellar start from Phil Irwin in game one, the Curve's pitching staff mowed through Erie's order all night. In a combined 14 innings, Curve pitchers surrendered one run on seven hits and struck out 13 batters, while issuing just two walks - both of which came in the seventh inning of the second game.
Tonight: Erie at Altoona, doubleheader with game one at 5 p.m.
Pitchers: Game one - Curve RHP Brandon Cumpton (8-8, 3.49) vs. SeaWolves LHP Jared Wesson (5-5, 6.75); Game two - TBD vs. TBD
Irwin (2-7) gave the Curve's bullpen the first game off as he pitched all seven innings and gave up one run on four hits to go along with four strikeouts.
The righty - who has a 1.29 ERA in his last five starts - was coming off of another great effort in which he allowed one earned run in eight innings against Akron last Sunday. Irwin called it one of the best starts of his professional career, though he took the loss in the outing as Akron's Giovanni Soto no-hit the Curve for the win.
Irwin said it felt great to get in the win column Saturday.
"You go out there and get no-hit against, it's still definitely something to build off of. You still feel great and I just tried to carry that into [Saturday]," Irwin said. "I had that mentality today, I was like 'I went eight last time, I'm going to go seven this time.' That's just what I was thinking, whether it happened or not, I was just trying to execute."
Mike Colla - who was the Curve's opening day starter, but has since been moved to the bullpen - got the nod in game two and was very effective. In the spot start, Colla struck out five hitters in four scoreless innings, before turning it over to Jeff Inman and Vic Black.
Inman (2-2) allowed no runs and just one hit in two innings to earn a win. Meanwhile, Black didn't make things easy on himself, as he walked to batters and had a throwing error on a pickoff attempt. But with some help from catcher Ramon Cabrera, who threw out the potential tying run at third base, Black got out of the inning without giving up a run and picked up his seventh save.
The Curve jumped on Erie starter Brian Flynn in the first game with a three-run first inning and they would tack on two more runs in the third on a homer from Quincy Latimore.
Runs were tough to come by for both teams in the second game, but when Holt singled with one out in the sixth inning, he saw an opportunity. With the heart of the order behind him, Holt took matters into his own hands to get into scoring position and stole second base.
"It was my call," Holt said. "We have the green light and I wanted to get to second base to give those guys to hit a single and score a run. So, then we could go get three outs and win the game."
After Adalberto Santos drew a walk, Matt Curry stepped to the plate and delivered the biggest hit of the night.
Curry - who was recently sidelined with a sinus infection, and said he still is having trouble hearing out of his left ear -ripped a single to right-center field, and Holt crossed home plate rather easily to give the Curve the only run they would need in game two.
"[Holt] gets in scoring position for us, and that's my job to drive him in," Curry said. "I mean, guys that get there are taking a risk for me, and they're putting it on me to get the job done once they get there."
Key player: RHP Phil Irwin allowed one run while recording four strike outs as he pitched the full seven innings of the first game.
Key play: 1B Matt Curry singled to bring home SS Brock Holt in the sixth inning of game two. It proved to be the game-winning run.
Key stat: The Curve swept a doubleheader for the first time in seven tries this season Saturday.
How they scored
Bottom 1st: Holt singled, scored on Curry sacrifice fly (1-0); Santos singled, scored on Latimore single (2-0); Cabrera double scores Latimore (3-0).
Bottom 3rd: Santos walked, scored on Latimore two-run homer (5-0).
Top 5th: Garcia tripled, scored on Holt error (5-1).
Bottom 6th: Holt singled, scored on Curry single (1-0).