Losing streak over, take a deep breath, now just play baseball.
Pretty simple formula.
It would have been easy to predict a Curve victory Thursday night, the day after the club ended its 10-game losing skid. It happens a lot in sports, and baseball in particular, that once a bad streak ends, the players relax and figure out that getting back to winning sometimes isn't all that difficult.
Sure enough, the Curve got off to a good start early, built a big lead and went on to win their second game in a row, 8-5, over Binghamton before 3,000 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
"It was just a lot of weight lifted off everyone's shoulders," Curve infielder Drew Maggi said of snapping the losing streak, "and tonight getting another victory kind of gets that rhythm back of winning."
The Curve scored two runs in the first inning, another in the second and four in the third for a 7-2 cushion. They also had one of their best pitchers on the mound in Adrian Sampson, so the early offense made it a relatively easy night all around for the club.
Tonight: Altoona at Trenton, 7:05 p.m.
Pitchers: Curve RHP Stolmy Pimentel (rehab from Pirates) vs. Thunder RHP Graham Stoneburner (2-2, 6.25)
Some shaky defense late helped Binghamton score three runs in the eighth to pull within 8-5, but the threat never amounted to much.
"As long as we got one out of the way, I knew things would become normal and they'd be more confident," Curve manager Carlos Garcia said. "They know they can be able to put a couple wins together and go from there."
Maggi drove in three runs from the leadoff spot, while Keon Broxton added two RBIs for the Curve, who wrapped up a six-game homestand that turned memorable for the wrong reasons. Now the team heads out of town for three games at Trenton but has a chance to build additional momentum after the streak with six more home games next week.
"It gives you a sense of relief to see these guys perform at that level, at a level we expect," Garcia said.
Sampson (4-3) continued his excellent season as he allowed two runs on five hits in six innings, striking out seven with one walk. He's now up to second in the Eastern League with a 2.07 ERA, behind only Curve teammate A.J. Morris (1.64).
"It's tough to sit there those four days when you're not winning the game and you know you can help the team out," said Sampson, noting the starters can only pitch every fifth day.
He also pointed out how it's key to him to put up a zero the next inning after his offense scores, and Sampson did that three out of the four chances he got Thursday.
"It's big when we score runs and then get a shutdown inning right away," Sampson said. "That helps the hitters out mostly and helps the pitching staff out, too."
The Curve have been good at scoring in the first inning all season, and while that's important in every game, it was even more so in trying to sustain momentum the day after the losing streak ended.
"Definitely big, just keep the rhythm going from (Wednesday) night," Maggi said. "We knew we had a good pitcher going for us tonight, so getting ahead early was a big deal."
LHP Yao-Hsun Yang, a 31-year-old from Taiwan, was added to the Curve roster Thursday, and he pitched a scoreless seventh inning in his American debut. He has pitched in the Japanese major leagues for parts of five seasons.
Yang also has an interpreter with him who was hired by the Pirates and assigned to the Curve to help him communicate. When pitching coach Stan Kyles visited the mound in the seventh, the interpreter went along.
Pirates RHP Stolmy Pimentel will make a rehab start tonight for the Curve in Trenton and will pitch three innings. RHP Nick Kingham, the regularly scheduled starter, then will follow in relief.
Key player: RHP Adrian Sampson allowed two runs over six solid innings.
Key play: CF Keon Broxton and C Elias Diaz had RBI hits in the first inning to get to the Curve off to a fast start with a 2-0 lead.
Key stat: The Curve have the top two ERA pitchers in the EL in RHP A.J. Morris (1.64) and Sampson (2.07).
How they scored
Bottom 1st: Hanson doubled, scored on Broxton double (1-0); Diaz single scored Broxton (2-0).
Bottom 2nd: Sampson singled, scored on Broxton groundout (3-0).
Top 3rd: Johnson doubled, scored on Reynolds single (3-1); Plawecki double scored Reynolds (3-2).
Bottom 3rd: Allie singled, Ngoepe doubled, both scored on Maggi double (5-2); Cunningham intentionally walked, scored along with Maggi on Lawley error (7-2).
Bottom 5th: Cunningham doubled, scored on Maggi sacrifice fly (8-2).
Top 8th: Reynolds singled, scored on Cunningham error (8-3) that let Clark reach; Plawecki reached on Hanson error, scored on Ceciliani single (8-4); Clark scored on Sandoval groundout (8-5).