The minor league schedule calls for 142 games, and winning is rarely the most important aspect of the contest for either team.
So it wasn't Altoona's 7-3 loss to Richmond that got under Curve manager Carlos Garcia's skin Saturday. It was the effort his team put forth while dropping to 5-9 on the season in front of 3,145 fans.
"I don't want to make any excuses," Garcia said. "You have to throw the ball over the plate and pitch to contact no matter what level you play.
"It definitely wasn't our best game. I don't care about the other team. We made so many mistakes out there and it's led us to where we are right now."
Curve pitchers walked seven batters, Altoona made two errors and had two baserunners picked off first base and another caught stealing. The Curve also failed to take advantage of 11 walks issued by Richmond pitchers, including six by Kyle Crick, the San Francisco Giants' top prospect.
"We just keep making the same mistakes over and over," Garcia said. "We have a guy get picked off at first when you're down three or four runs then try to steal down two. What good is that? We were out there physically, but mentally we weren't."
Next up: Harrisburg Senators at Altoona Curve, Monday, 6:30 p.m.
Covering the bases: B4
Garcia wasn't finished with his frustrations and brought up the fact Richmond stole three bases basically uncontested.
"There has to be some awareness of who is on base and running," Garcia said. "Both the catchers and the pitchers have to start taking more responsibility for runners over there."
The game started ominously for the Curve as Tyler Graham reached on an error and scored one batter later on a second error.
Altoona trailed by only one heading into the fifth inning before two Matt Benedict walks led to a four-run inning for the Squirrels. Angel Villalona's two-run triple highlighted the inning.
"We didn't execute pitches and just kept missing," Benedict said. "We fell behind in the count and kept trying to make the perfect pitch."
The Curve's bullpen has blown several leads this season, especially during their series at Richmond last week.
"We just have to stick to it and keep working hard," Benedict said. "Things will eventually turn our way."
Altoona brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning with two outs, but the team's home run leader Willy Garcia flew out to right field on the first pitch.
Quinton Miller and A.J. Morris combined to pitch the final 3 1/3 innings and did not walk a batter, allowed just one hit and no runs.
Two singles with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Curve hope, but Mel Rojas Jr., who doubled and drove in two runs for Altoona, struck out to end the game.
"Baseball is a game of routine," Garcia said. "We just have to come back here on Monday and go over what we do good as a team and what we need to work on. We just need to move ahead, man, move ahead."
Key player: Curve relief pitcher A.J. Morris managed to pitch the longest amount of time (two full innings) without walking anyone.
Key play: Following the 18th walk of the game that brought the Curve within 7-3 and allowed the tying run to come to the plate, Richmond's Austin Fleet got Willy Garcia to fly out on the first pitch of the at bat.
Key stat: The teams combined for 18 walks.
How they scored
Top 1st: Tyler Graham reached on error, scored on throwing error after Skyler Stromsmoe ground out. (0-1)
Bottom 1st: Alen Hanson walked, scored on Mel Rojas Jr. groundout. (1-1)
Top 2nd: Kelby Tomlinson singled, scored on Graham single (1-2).
Top 3rd: Matt Duffy walked, scored on Angel Villalona single (1-3).
Bottom 3rd: Rojas doubled, scored on Willy Garcia single (2-3).
Top 5th: Duffy singled, Myles Schroder walked, both scored on Villalona triple. Mario Lisson walked. Villalona scored on Brett Krill single. Lisson scored on Tomlinson single (2-7).
Bottom 7th: Keon Broxton walked, scored on Rojas walk. (3-7).