2 Pirates headed to Curve

From Mirror reports

HARRISBURG – Jeff Locke and Tony Sanchez are coming back to Altoona, although only one will be playing for the Curve during this weekend’s final homestand of the season.

The Pirates made a peculiar move Wednesday when they optioned Locke, a left-hander who made the All-Star Game this season, back to Double-A. He has struggled lately for the Bucs, so they’re giving him some time off rather than having him make his regularly scheduled start Sunday.

Locke will indeed report to Altoona – he has to by MLB rules – but he is not expected to pitch for the Curve during their upcoming series against Akron at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

“This move allows us to give Jeff Locke a short break,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said in a team statement. “It also allows Tony Sanchez to get back to the major leagues as soon as the rules permit us to do so.”

The Bucs just added backup catcher John Buck in a trade with the Mets, so rather than have three catchers, they’re sending Sanchez back to the minors for a short time.

Major league rosters expand to 40 on Tuesday, and since the Curve’s season ends Monday, the Pirates can call both players back up immediately afterward.

Sanchez is expected to play for the Curve, which he did in 2011 and ’12 on his way up to the majors. Locke pitched for Altoona in 2010 and ’11.

The moves, as Huntington said, allows the Pirates “to maintain a full roster until both Jeff and Tony can return to the club [Tuesday]. That is when the Double-A season is over and when the club intends to recall both players.”

The Curve will hope to use Sanchez this weekend to end the season on a strong note, which is something the club is not doing. Harrisburg handed Altoona its fourth straight loss on Wednesday, 2-0, at Metro Bank Park.

The Curve are now a season-worst 15 games below .500 at 61-76. The franchise record for losses is 80, set in 2009, and the team needs to win two of its final five games to avoid matching that dubious mark.

The Curve received strong pitching Wednesday but couldn’t crack the scoreboard in getting shut out for the 14th time this season. The team has been shut out in 10.2 percent of its games.

The contest was scoreless until the sixth, when Harrisburg scored both of its runs off Altoona starter Quinton Miller (1-5). Senators starter A.J. Cole (4-2) pitched seven shutout innings, while Tyler Herron finished the game for his fourth save.

Other moves

Curve C Carlos Paulino was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday. Also, the player to be named later in the Mets trade for Marlon Byrd turned out to be former Curve RHP Vic Black, who was pitching at Indy. Black made his major league debut earlier this season for the Pirates and now is going to the Mets organization.

Game recap

Key player: Harrisburg RHP A.J. Cole pitched seven shutout innings.

Key play: LF Billy Burns and CF Brian Goodwin, who have killed the Curve the whole series, opened the sixth inning with a single and walk, respectively, before coming around to score the game’s only runs.

Key stat: The Curve have to win two of their final five games to avoid matching the franchise record for losses in a season (80).

How they scored

Bottom 6th: Burns singled, scored on Souza fielder’s choice (0-1); Goodwin walked, scored on Hague groundout (0-2).