SeaWolves ‘better’ than Curve

Manager Michael Ryan had some candidly critical observations about his team’s performance following the Curve’s first clunker loss of the season Monday night.

Erie smacked Altoona around in a 7-1 win, ripping 15 hits and a pair of two-run homers before 2,434 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field. The loss snapped the Curve’s four-game winning streak and came against a veteran SeaWolves team that took over first place in the Western Division with a 7-4 record.

“They’re the better team right now,” Ryan said. “That’s my message to (the players). They’re better than you, so what can you do to get to that level and get past that level?”

Starting pitcher Yeudy Garcia struggled for the second straight outing, getting off to a slow start and giving up five runs — three earned — on seven hits over four innings. Garcia failed to make it out of the first inning his last time out at Richmond, giving up two runs and reaching his pitch count of 30.

“I don’t think today he had much of a plan coming in,” Ryan said. “I don’t think he was ready to pitch. But he was better than his last outing, so that’s the positive. He went longer into the game, helped us out a little bit.”

Asked what he meant by Garcia not being ready to pitch, Ryan explained, “We had a plan coming in, he just didn’t stick with it. I don’t know if he was — by no means was he unprepared or anything like that — he just didn’t stick to the game plan that we had going into the game.”

Garcia retired the first two batters of the game, then gave up a single to Logan Watkins, followed by a two-run homer to dead center by Mike Gerber.

“He let off the breaks a little bit when he would get two outs,” Ryan said. “He thought the inning was going to be over just because he got the two quick outs, but he’s got to bring it a little bit better and finish that inning.”

Erie added another run in the second, but Garcia was able to minimize the damage and get out of a jam to keep the deficit at 3-0.

The Curve offense had its own trouble from then on and couldn’t catch up.

Altoona got a run back in the second and had a golden opportunity in the third after a leadoff double by Tomas Morales and walk by Kevin Newman. Pablo Reyes bunted the runners to second and third, bringing up the team’s two best hitters so far, but Kevin Kramer struck out and Edwin Espinal grounded out to third.

“I don’t think we were ready to hit,” Ryan said. “We knew (starting pitcher Anthony) Vasquez was going to go offspeed early in the counts, we just didn’t offer at it. We got some pitches that were hanging that we let him get away with strike one, and didn’t do a good job with guy on third and less than two outs where we could have got back into the game.”

After the Curve came up empty in that third-inning opportunity, Erie pulled away with two runs in its next at-bat. Garcia (0-1) was charged with an error when he dropped the throw trying to cover first base, and later in the inning, Krizan ripped a two-run homer.

Vasquez (2-0) picked up the win, giving up one unearned run on six hits with three strikeouts and one walk.

“I think today was just a little flat, didn’t have the energy we typically have, and sometimes that happens,” Newman, who went 2-for-3, said. “You want to have as few of those days as possible. We’ll come back (today) with some energy and bounce back.”

Ryan and Newman both were asked if it can be a good thing to have a stinker of a game early in the season to serve as a good teaching moment. Both said no.

“I don’t think it’s OK ever,” Ryan said. “The expectations here are so high that we’re not just going to have another day. But we take the positive away from it. We’re human, it’s not always going as good as you think.”

If the one game was any indication, this Erie team could be a big challenger to the Curve in the division as the season goes on. Krizan went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs, Gerber was 4-for-5 with a homer, and Watkins was 3-for-4.

“Sometimes you learn from each other, sometimes you learn from your opponents,” Ryan said. “Good way to learn from (the SeaWolves) tonight. They were aggressive in all aspects and outplayed us.”

Waddell to DL

Curve lefty Brandon Waddell has been placed on the seven-day disabled list, retroactive to Friday, with a left forearm injury. Waddell was scratched from his scheduled start Friday, and at the time he and manager Ryan said they believed he would be able to make his next start.

Game recap

Key player: DH Jason Krizan went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and a run for Erie.

Key play: The Curve, down 3-1, came up empty with one out and runners at second and third in the third, then Erie scored twice in the fourth to pull away.

Key stat: The Curve had their four-game winning streak snapped.

How they scored

Top 1st: Watkins singled, scored on Gerber two-run homer (0-2).

Top 2nd: Ficociello singled, scored on Krizan sacrifice fly (0-3).

Bottom 2nd: Espinal singled, scored on Luplow single (1-3).

Top 4th: Ficociello reached on Garcia error, scored on Krizan two-run homer (1-5).

Top 8th: Eaves reached on fielder’s choice, scored on Krizan single (1-6); Simcox singled, scored on Kuchno error (1-7).