Pitching goes south for Curve

Curve manager Carlos Garcia has been in baseball “for a long time,” and he said he’s never seen anything like it.

Neither has the Curve franchise.

The Curve pitching staff suffered its worst performance in team history, getting walloped by Richmond, 20-9, before 4,537 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field on Sunday to fall a season-high nine games below .500.

Among the records rewritten on Sunday were:

n 20 runs, the most ever allowed in a game

n 22 hits, tying the most ever allowed

n 9 runs in the first inning, the most ever in an opening frame and tying for the most in any inning

n The game lasted 3 hours, 55 minutes, the longest nine-inning contest ever played at home

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Garcia said of Richmond’s offensive outburst. “Everything they hit, they found a hole.”

Jarrett Parker’s leadoff homer to start the game was a sign of things to come for the Flying Squirrels. Not only did Richmond score nine runs in the first, it scored five times before an out was recorded, 19 minutes after the first pitch.

Curve starting pitcher Luis Sanz gave up six earned runs without recording an out. He allowed three runs, had the bases loaded and was pulled after reaching 30 pitches, then reliever Jason Townsend let the inherited runners score before giving up three of his own in the inning. Townsend allowed seven runs in 3 1/3 innings.

“You have to pull him out of the game,” Garcia said of Sanz. “It’s unacceptable that we can’t throw the ball over the plate.”

Parker finished off an incredible first inning for himself as he belted a three-run homer to make it 9-0. He hit two homers and drove in four in the first and went 4-for-5 with seven RBIs and two runs.

“It was just one of those days every team has,” Parker said. “Altoona seemed to struggle a little bit tonight. We struggled the first night we played them [14-4 loss on Friday]. But our hitters came through today. Everybody was driving the ball, being aggressive.”

The nine-run first by Richmond was the most runs scored in an inning in its franchise history.

The Curve’s team ERA – now 4.18 – went from third in the Eastern League to 10th in one night. Sixteen of the 20 runs allowed were charged to six pitchers, although not all the pitchers were pitchers by nature.

Andy Vasquez and Kelson Brown, both position players, tossed an inning apiece. The irony, they were the only two Curve pitchers to not give up a run or hit.

“I view this kind of game, disappointed because it’s not our ballclub,” Garcia said. “It’s not. It’s not who we are.”

Omar Javier (4-0) earned the win for the Flying Squirrels.

At one point, the Curve were in line to suffer one of their worst losses by run differential in franchise history, trailing by 16-2 in the fifth inning. But instead of calling it quits, the Curve bats scored three runs in the fifth and four in the eighth.

The offense, which is the worst in the Eastern League (.232), actually had one of its better nights, finishing with 11 hits and nine runs.

“It’s about pride,” Curve left fielder Justin Howard said. “You are not just going to quit. These at-bats mean something. They still go on the stat sheet,so you are not just going to give away four, five [at-bats]. You are still going to compete. You are still going to bring your best.”

Howard, who was 1-for-2, walked three times and knocked in three runs, said the ability of the Curve to never say die was one of the few positives.

“We never gave up,” he said. “You are going to have days like that in baseball, but nobody complained. Nobody quit. We kept playing the whole game. Sometimes you are going to have days like that.”

Garcia attested to that attitude.

“It’s hard to overcome that,” Garcia said, “but at the same time, I want to keep the guys being competitive, being relentless, being tough. We tried to come back, tried to battle at every at-bat, try to fight every pitch. I feel like we did that to some point.”

Howard said a loss like this “shouldn’t carry over.”

“It is what it is,” he said. “You come back, and we could do that to them tomorrow. It’s baseball. Every day is new.”

For Garcia and the Curve, today is a good day to get back on track as James McDonald will make a rehab start from the Pirates.

“We are professional,” Garcia said. “We understand, simply, it was a bad day. You come back tomorrow and play the best baseball you can play, and we go from there.”

Game recap

Key player: RF Jarrett Parker was 4-for-5 with seven RBIs and two homers for Richmond.

Key play: Parker hit two homers in the first inning – a leadoff and a three-run shot.

Key stat: The 20 runs scored by Richmond are the most allowed by the Curve in franchise history, surpassing the previous record of 19.

How they scored

Top 1st: Parker homered (0-1); Panik singled, scored on Minicozzi single (0-2); Duvall singled, scored on Susac walk (0-3); Minicozzi singled, Lollis walked, both scored on Krill double (0-5); Susac walked, scored on Teller single (0-6); Krill doubled, Teller singled, both scored on Parker homer (0-9).

Bottom 1st: Ngoepe tripled, scored on Rojas sacrifice fly (1-9).

Top 2nd: Susac hit-by-pitch, scored on Krill homer (1-11).

Bottom 2nd: Howard walked, scored on Rojas singe (2-11).

Top 4th: Lollis walked, scored on Krill single (2-12); Krill singled, scored on Parker walk (2-13); Relaford singled, scored Panik sacrifice fly (2-14).

Top 5th: Minicozzi doubled, scored on Lollis homer (2-16).

Bottom 5th: Rojas walked, scored on Maggi singled (3-16); Santos walked, Maggi singled, both scored on Howard double (5-16).

Top 7th: Minicozzi reached on an error, scored on Relaford single (5-17); Lollis singled, scored along with pinch runner Moss on Parker double. (5-19); Relaford singled, scored on Panik single (5-20).

Bottom 8th: Perez singled, scored on Santos single (6-20); Ngoepe walked scored on, Lambo single (7-20); Rojas walked, scored on Maggi walk (8-20); Santos singled, scored on Howard walk (9-20).