Silver lining: Sadler an overlooked Curve star
A rotten day for the Curve, who lost twice, was at least memorable for four players as they were named All-Stars on Wednesday.
Pitchers Jameson Taillon and Casey Sadler and second baseman Jarek Cunningham were selected to play in the Eastern League All-Star Game on July 10 in New Britain. Outfielder Gregory Polanco was chosen to play in the MLB All-Star Futures Game on July 14 at Citi Field in New York.
The players found out the good news after a bad day for their team as the Curve were swept by New Britain at Peoples Natural Gas Field. Altoona lost the completion of Tuesday night’s rainout, 9-2, then gave up six runs in the first inning of game two before falling, 6-3, before 3,245 fans.
The Curve have followed up their eight-game winning streak by losing six out of seven. Poor pitching and poor defense doomed the club Wednesday.
“A few plays that we don’t make there, we put ourself in harm’s way, and that’s what happens,” manager Carlos Garcia said.
Of the players selected as All-Stars, Sadler might be the one name fans haven’t paid much attention to this season. Taillon is a superstar prospect, Polanco also is very highly regarded and Cunningham is second in the EL with 14 homers.
Sadler doesn’t get anywhere near the kind of recognition Taillon does, but he deserves more than he receives.
“When you see him pitch, you definitely see a big leaguer,” Taillon said of his teammate.
Sadler (7-5) is tied for second in the EL with seven wins — although he took the loss in the suspended game — and ranks 11th in ERA at 3.28. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he understands how to use his repertoire effectively.
“He’s one of the guys that he ain’t going to get a lot of notoriety, but he’s going to go out there every five days and get the job done,” Garcia said.
Sadler doesn’t see it necessarily as he’s pitching in Taillon’s shadow on the Curve, although he doesn’t mind being under the radar.
“There’s always going to be guys on teams who are high prospects or high-money guys, but I don’t think anybody’s in anyone’s shadow,” Sadler said. “I think we all stand out in our own ways, and each person has a job to do on the team.
“[Taillon’s] job is a little different than my job. He’s going to be that guy who has a lot of strikeouts, is going to throw the ball really hard, and people love to see that. I’m that guy that goes out, throws the ball down, gets a lot of groundballs.”
Sadler leads the Curve in starts (16) and innings pitched (96) and has allowed only 89 hits, plus he has an outstanding WHIP of 1.19. He’s impressed with how Taillon handles all the attention he receives, and if Sadler keeps putting up the kind of numbers he has this season, the notoriety is bound to come for him, as well.
“It is nice to get noticed for what you’ve done like an All-Star nomination, but I don’t have a problem flying under the radar,” Sadler said. “It kind of gives you a little something to work for.”
Notes: Polanco missed his fifth straight game after suffering a minor shoulder injury Saturday but will take batting practice tonight at Akron and is expected to play if all goes well. Kenn Kasparek (3-2) allowed six runs in the first inning of the second game to take the loss for the Curve. Tom Stuifbergen (2-1) won for New Britain. Nick Kingham looked sharp in relief of Sadler in the first game, allowing two runs on only two hits in six innings. Reliever Bobby Lanigan (3-1) won for the Rock Cats. 3B Miguel Sano had a big day for New Britain with a double and triple in the second game and homer in the first.
SUBHD: Doubleheader recap
Key players: DH Curt Smith went 3-for-4 in the first game, and 3B Miguel Sano had a double and triple in the second game for the Rock Cats.
Key plays: Smith’s three-run homer in the second inning of the first game gave New Britain control, and the Rock Cats pounded RHP Kenn Kasparek for six runs in the first inning of game two.
Key stat: The Curve have lost six of seven after winning eight in a row.
SUBHD: How they scored
Bottom 2nd: Pinto doubled, Sano walked, both scored on Smith three-run homer (0-3).
Bottom 4th: Santos walked, scored on Dickerson double play groundout (1-3).
Top 8th: Smith singled, Rosario walked, both scored on Hanson triple (1-5).
Top 9th: Sano solo homer (1-6); Ortiz tripled, scored on Smith single (1-7); Pettersen singled, scored along with Smith on Tejeda error (1-9).
Bottom 9th: Dickerson reached on Pettersen error, scored on Paulino error (2-9).
Top 1st: Santana walked, scored on Pinto single (0-1); Rosario bunt single, scored along with Pinto on Ortiz triple (0-3); Sano triple scored Ortiz (0-4); Parraz two-run homer scored Sano (0-6).
Bottom 3rd: Tejeda singled, scored on Santos groundout (1-6); Vasquez doubled, scored on Cutler single (2-6).
Bottom 5th: Santos solo homer (3-6).