Defeats continue to pile up for Curve
The Curve are in the midst of a historically bad stretch of baseball.
Sunday afternoon they dropped their ninth straight game, 2-1 to New Hampshire, in 12 innings before 5,022 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field. It’s the third-longest streak in franchise history, and just two shy of matching that dubious mark.
The franchise record is 11 straight losses, set back in 2000 when the club went from April 15-26 without registering a victory after having started that season 6-1. That team endured the surprisingly long streak despite being led by future major leaguers Adam Hyzdu and Rob Mackowiak.
One stat that also looms large in this current skid is that the Curve just set a franchise record for losses in a month, falling 23 times in May with only 10 wins.
The Curve also have broken their all-time record for longest scoring drought, having the streak reach 33 1/3 innings Sunday. They just barely broke the previous record of 33 innings set in 2011.
“We just need to stay together as a group,” Curve infielder Drew Maggi said. “It’s easy when you’re in a streak like this to play the blame game.”
It also doesn’t help that one of the team’s best hitters was just promoted. Mel Rojas Jr. got a much-deserved call-up to Triple-A Indianapolis following Friday game, and he was batting .303 with a team-leading 36 RBIs.
“It’s a good thing for him,” Curve manager Carlos Garcia said. “He really worked his butt off, and he deserves to be up there. The thing is that no one guy makes the team. His bat was a presence in the lineup.”
Adding to the Curve’s frustration is that they have been close to winning, losing six of the nine games during the skid by only one run. Three of the games they lost at Erie included blown save opportunities, and that stretch jumpstarted the long losing streak.
“It’s rough,” outfielder Keon Broxton said. “I know it beats the guys up mentally, but we just got to fight it and stay positive. It’s tough to lose games the way we’ve lost. We’ve been up and blown the lead, we’re not hitting. It’s tough, but we’ll bounce back.”
The Curve bats have been struggling, but their starting rotation has been giving them chances to compete.
A.J. Morris’ 1.64 ERA is the top mark in the Eastern League. He went six innings on Sunday, allowing just one run on six hits with six strikeouts and one walk.
The Curve also have the pitcher with the third-best ERA in the league as Adrian Sampson is at 1.98.
Still, even some great pitching can’t win games alone if the offense cannot do anything.
New Hampshire struck first in the fourth inning Sunday when Kevin Nolan belted a solo home run that hit off Broxton’s glove and bounced over the left field wall.
“That’s a play I should make,” Broxton said. “It’s kind of a tough play, but that’s a play I got to make.”
Four innings later, the Curve broke the record for their longest scoring drought following Junior Sosa’s sacrifice bunt. Alen Hanson immediately snapped the skid with a single to center field, scoring Maggi to tie the game and ultimately force extra innings.
The Fisher Cats finished the scoring in the 12th when Melky Mesa singled to left, scoring Jonathan Jones for the game’s deciding run.
“It’s making it really tough losing those close ones because you’re a base hit or play in the field away from winning the game,” Maggi said. “A lot of guys in here feel we’re missing one guy who steps up and makes a play for us.”
Today the Curve will have their first scheduled off day since May 12, and of three this month, which may be just what the team needs.
“We just got to relax and not beat ourselves up and stay positive,” Broxton said. “Take this day off and just relax our minds and think about something different.”
Garcia feels it’s a matter of maintaining the drive that will lead to the end of this team’s skid.
“You have to stay relentless in your approach and bring the energy every day,” he said. “You just got to keep going, get into the ballpark and get your work done.”
Key Player: New Hampshire CF Melky Mesa went 2-for-6 with an RBI.
Key Play: Mesa’s RBI single in the 12th won it.?Key Stat: The Curve set a franchise record by going scoreless for 33 1/3 innings before finally snapping it in the eighth.
How They Scored
Top 4th: Nolan homered (0-1)
Bot 8th: Maggi doubled, scored on Hanson single (1-1)
Top 12th: Jones reaches on fielder’s choice, scored on Mesa single (1-2)