Curve drop fourth straight
ERIE – The Curve have the Eastern League’s worst record. They don’t score much. And they strike out a ton.
The pitching and defense have been good, but offensively this is turning out to be the worst-case scenario to start the season.
Altoona dropped its fourth straight game Friday night to Erie, 6-3, at Jerry Uht Park and fell to 11-17 overall. The offense belted two home runs, but that accounted for all the scoring as the Curve collected just five hits.
The Curve’s team batting average dropped three points to .226, last in the league by a wide margin. The everyday lineup has thee players hitting below .185 – outfielder Alex Dickerson .183, catcher Carlos Paulino .172 and shortstop Gift Ngoepe .128.
The Curve struck out 17 times Thursday against Akron, and after a leadoff single by Andy Vasquez to start Friday’s game, the next five hitters struck out. Altoona finished with 11 strikeouts, making it 28 over a two-game stretch.
Erie scored twice in the third and twice in the fourth off Ethan Hollingsworth (0-2). It was 5-0 before Matt Curry belted a two-run homer in the seventh inning, and Jarek Cunningham hit a solo shot in the ninth.
The Curve had beaten Erie starter Patrick Cooper twice already, but the right-hander had a solid outing Friday to earn his first win. Cooper (1-2) gave up two runs on three hits in six innings, striking out six with three walks.
Erie leads the Western Division with a 15-11 record, while the Curve have dropped five games back by losing four in a row and eight out of 11.
Key player: Erie SS Eugenio Suarez went 2-for-5 with two RBIs.
Key play: DH Tyler Collins gave the SeaWolves the early lead and put pressure on the struggling Curve offense to have to come back with a two-run homer in the third inning off Ethan Hollingsworth.
Key stat: The Curve have the worst record in the EL at 11-17 and the worst team batting average at .226.
How they scored
Bottom 3rd: Fields struck out, reached out on Hollingsworth wild pitch, scored on Collins two-run homer (0-2).
Bottom 4th: Johnson reached on forceout, scored on Lemon single (0-3); Suarez triple scored Lemon (0-4).
Bottom 6th: Gaynor struck out, reached on Sanz wild pitch, scored on Suarez single (0-5).
Top 7th: Santos walked, scored on Curry two-run homer (2-5).
Bottom 8th: Lemon doubled, scored on Sanz balk (2-6).
Top 9th: Cunningham solo homer (3-6).