Curve are searching for something

Sometimes managers get ejected on purpose to fire up a struggling team, in theory at least.

The Curve have been scuffling, losing four in a row entering Sunday, and manager Carlos Garcia was ejected in the third inning for arguing balls and strikes. Garcia, obviously, wouldn’t reveal if he got ejected on purpose. Virtually no manager does so.

“I can’t tell you that,” he said. “I felt like those pitches were close, and [the umpire] was squeezing the [pitcher].”

Garcia did acknowledge that he believes a manager getting ejected on purpose can be beneficial at times.

“Yeah, I do,” he said. “[The players] feel like you’re right with them and feel personal experience. You feel like, you’re the skipper, I’m with you, and they feel like you take care of me and that’s appreciated.”

Garcia wasn’t around for much of the game, and for most of the day it appeared his ejection had little impact on his team as the Curve fell behind by four runs. That all changed with one swing as Drew Maggi hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning to even things up against Akron.

But while Altoona continued its trend of rallying late against the RubberDucks, it also continued the trend of losing to them. Akron quickly regained the lead with a run in the eighth, and it held up for a 5-4 win before 3,730 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

The RubberDucks swept the four-game series, and the Curve have dropped five in a row to drop a season-high six games below .500.

“I would say that we need to do a better job of, when we fight back, of continuing on,” Maggi said of Altoona’s late rallies. “I think sometimes we fight back and then we kind of settle in. We’re fighting back well, but we need to figure out how to keep fighting and win some games.”

Akron scored the go-ahead run off reliever Joan Montero (0-1) when Ronny Rodriguez doubled with two outs to bring home Tony Wolters from second.

Enosil Tejeda (1-0) won in relief for the RubberDucks, while Shawn Armstrong pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save.

The Curve played another sloppy game, particularly right fielder Willy Garcia, who dropped two fly balls. He charged in on one and dropped it for an error in the third inning, while on the second he was going back toward the warning track and dropped it. That one was ruled an error originally – probably the correct call – but was changed to a hit after the game when coaches addressed it with the official scorer.

Second baseman Gift Ngoepe also committed an error in the third inning, and that coupled with Garcia’s dropped fly ball made the frame tougher than it should have been for Curve starter Nick Kingham. Akron scored three times in the frame for a 4-0 lead.

Kingham battled to last six innings, with two of the four runs charged to him being earned. He was spared a loss thanks to Maggi’s tying homer.

Garcia said he told the team after the game he’s “pleased” with the effort, but mistakes have been costing the Curve seemingly every game.

“The difference is making one play here and missing a groundball there,” Garcia said. “We dropped two fly balls, misplayed a groundball, which could be the difference to get out of the inning and the damage minimized.”

SUBHD: Game recap

Key player: Curve 3B Drew Maggi went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer in a losing effort.

Key play: 1B Ronny Rodriguez doubled home the go-ahead run in the eighth for Akron.

Key stat: The Curve have lost five in a row.

SUBHD: How they scored

Top 2nd: Wendle doubled, scored on Smith single (0-1).

Top 3rd: Naquin doubled, Holt reached on Ngoepe error, both scored on Wendle single (0-3); Lindor walked, scored on Wolters sacrifice fly (0-4).

Bottom 5th: Broxton solo homer (1-4).

Bottom 7th: Garcia singled, Broxton doubled, both scored on Maggi three-run homer (4-4).

Top 8th: Wolters singled, scored on Rodriguez double (4-5).