Pitching key as Curve prevail
Middle relievers don’t always get the notoriety they deserve, but on a Curve team with a strong bullpen, some outstanding relief work in the clutch helped the club hold on for a win Tuesday night.
“It just shows you that they’re ready for any situation,” Curve manager Michael Ryan said after a 6-3 win over Erie before 2,601 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field. “The confidence that they can get out of those jams is huge.”
Altoona jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but the SeaWolves rallied to tie against Alex McRae and had the go-ahead run at second with two outs in the sixth. Tate Scioneaux then came on in relief and stranded the runner to keep things even.
The Curve then grabbed a 5-3 lead in their next at-bat, with Edwin Espinal singling home Kevin Newman for the go-ahead run. Michael Suchy later came in on a bases-loaded walk to Connor Joe.
Scioneaux went back out to the mound in the seventh and got into a world of trouble as Erie loaded the bases with no outs on three singles. But the Curve reliever didn’t get fazed and retired the next two batters on an infield popup and strikeout.
“Coming out of the bullpen, you live for those situations with the winning run, tying run on,” Scioneaux said. “You want that situation.”
The key to get out of it, he added, is “just trust your process and know your stuff’s good enough and attack. The biggest thing for us is compete and take no pitches off.”
“Tate, to get (out of) the bases-loaded jam and then to get the two outs, that was huge for us,” Ryan said.
After Scioneaux recorded those two outs without a run scoring, Ryan called on lefty Jared Lakind to escape the jam. Lakind needed just one pitch to do so, getting a fly ball to left from Mike Gerber to end the inning and preserve the Curve’s 5-3 lead.
“I feel like anybody can do any job,” Lakind said of the relievers.
And getting getting out of that kind of jam, he added, “It’s not just confidence within the bullpen, it’s momentum for the position guys coming in, and they can feed off of that.”
The Curve added an insurance run in the seventh and went on to even up the series between what looks to be two of the best teams in the Western Division.
Scioneaux (2-0) wound up getting the win, and Montana DuRapau earned his fourth save with a scoreless ninth.
Erie reliever Josh Turley (0-1) gave up two runs in one inning to take the loss.
McRae cruised early and had a no-hitter entering the fifth, then Erie scored twice in that inning and once more in the sixth to tie.
Espinal and Newman had two hits apiece for the Curve, who wrap up their first homestand of the season tonight.
LHP Brandon Waddell will miss his next start with a left forearm strain that sent him to the disabled list, but he’s expected to return to action after that later this month. … 2B Kevin Kramer was hit by a pitch three times Tuesday, and nearly a fourth, as he took a pitch up and in for ball four. He flew out to center in his only official at-bat, ending his 10-game hitting streak. … Jose Osuna, called up by the Pirates on Tuesday, is the 139th former Curve player to reach the big leagues, and the second this year. OF Willy Garcia made it up with the White Sox last week.
Key player: DH Edwin Espinal went 2-for-5 with two RBIs, including the go-ahead one in the sixth.
Key play: RHP Tate Scioneaux and LHP Jared Lakind were able to get out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the seventh to protect a 5-3 lead.
Key stat: Curve relievers have combined for a 1.84 ERA this season.
How they scored
Bottom 2nd: Joe singled, scored on Simpson double (1-0).
Bottom 3rd: Kramer hit by pitch, scored on Espinal double (2-0).
Bottom 4th: Chavez singled, scored on Newman single (3-0).
Top 5th: Quintana doubled, scored on Gonzalez single (3-1); Krizan single scored Gonzalez (3-2).
Top 6th: Watkins tripled, scored on Gerber groundout (3-3).
Bottom 6th: Newman doubled, scored on Espinal single (4-3); Suchy walked, scored on Joe bases-loaded walk (5-3).
Bottom 7th: Simpson walked, scored on Escobar sacrifice fly (6-3).
Tonight: Erie at Altoona, 6 p.m.
Pitchers: Curve RHP J.T. Brubaker (2-0, 0.82) vs. SeaWolves LHP Tyler Alexander (0-1, 6.23)