Altoona defending PNG Field
Fans who only keep up with the Curve during home games probably think the team is having a decent season.
The club, after all, is 31-33 at Peoples Natural Gas Field, not a great record but certainly one that would indicate the Curve usually win their share of games.
Fans, however, who follow the team’s radio broadcasts on the road or keep up with daily recaps in the Mirror know this season has been anything but decent. The same team that’s only two games below .500 at home is a whopping 18 games below on the road.
The second part is the reason why the team is 20 games under overall and in danger of posting the word record in franchise history.
“Definitely we don’t feel comfortable on the road,” Curve manager Carlos Garcia said Friday night after his team kicked off the final homestand of the year.
Altoona won in impressive fashion, 7-2, over New Britain at PNG Field. A big crowd of 6,434 showed up to watch the team play a good all-around game, something the Curve have done consistently at home even though they’ve struggled mightily away from home.
“We are comfortable in this ballpark, and we hit very well in this ballpark,” Garcia said. “Our pitching does consistently better in this ballpark because it’s a big ballpark. In some small ballparks, we pitch up in the zone and we pay the price.”
That has been especially true in places such as Erie (3-8 record), Akron (3-7) and Richmond (1-6). Altoona has gone a combined 7-21 in those places against good competition in the Western Division.
“We don’t execute on the road,” Garcia said. “If you can see, half of those games we lost by one run, and for the most part we put ourself in that position. We don’t make the pitch, inconsistent defense.
“I don’t try to make excuses for the guys. Definitely their preparation should be the same. If you want to be a contender in any league, your preparation has to be good on the road and even better at home.”
The Curve showed good preparation in the homestand opener Friday, scoring two runs in each of the first two innings to take command. Stetson Allie drilled a two-run homer in the first, giving him a team-leading 19 long balls, and Keon Broxton continued his hot hitting of late with an RBI single in the second.
Altoona led 4-2 before scoring three times in the sixth, highlighted by a two-run single from Gift Ngoepe.
Reliever Jeff Inman (4-0) picked up the win for the Curve, tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings after starter Joely Rodriguez labored. Rodriguez threw 82 pitches in only 3 1/3 innings and couldn’t make it the required five to qualify for a win.
New Britain’s Adrian Salcedo (2-8) took the loss, giving up four runs on five hits in three innings.
Broxton went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs, while Alen Hanson had a walk and reached base for the 27th consecutive game. Hanson came out of the game later with an undisclosed injury.
The game featured a 17-minute delay in the sixth inning when some lights at the ballpark went out.
The Curve’s “Touch a Truck” event scheduled for this morning at PNG Field has been postponed because of inclement weather. It will be rescheduled for a later date.
SUBHD: Game recap
Key player: CF Keon Broxton went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs for the Curve.
Key play: 1B Stetson Allie hit a two-run homer in the first to bring Altoona right back after New Britain had scored two runs in its first at-bat.
Key stat: The Curve are only two games below .500 at home, compared to 18 below on the road.
SUBHD: How they scored
Top 1st: Rosario walked, scored on Rodriguez single (0-1); Polanco single scored Rodriguez (0-2).
Bottom 1st: Cabrera singled, scored on Allie two-run homer (2-2).
Bottom 2nd: Garcia doubled, scored on Broxton single (3-2); Hanson groundout scored Broxton (4-2).
Bottom 6th: Vasquez singled, scored on Broxton double (5-2); Garcia hit by pitch, scored along with Broxton on Ngoepe single (7-2).