Curve bullpen struggles in eighth

Next stop

Tonight: Altoona at Akron, 6:35 p.m.

Pitchers: Curve LHP Taylor Hearn (0-0, 0.00) vs. RubberDucks RHP Shane Bieber (1-0, 0.00)

Record: 6-3

From Mirror reports

AKRON, Ohio — It’s a helpless feeling, for everyone involved, when the pitcher on the mound simply cannot throw strikes.

For the second time this season, Curve reliever Jake Brentz found himself in that very difficult position Monday night. And also for the second time, a slew of walks by Brentz wound up costing Altoona a game.

Mitch Keller pitched well for the Curve, giving up just run on on three hits in 52/3 innings. But with the game tied in the eighth, Brentz had a disastrous inning, and the Curve lost to Akron, 4-1, at Canal Park.

Brentz (0-1) walked five batters, retired just one and allowed three runs in the eighth. The lefty walked the first three men he faced, loading the bases, then gave up a sacrifice fly to Bobby Bradley that produced Akron’s go-ahead run.

Brentz then walked the next two batters, including Connor Marabell with the bases loaded as the RubberDucks took a 3-1 lead. Brentz departed, then Tyler Krieger hit a sacrifice fly off Jesus Liranzo to give Akron its final run.

Brentz has faced Akron twice, both times with incredibly rough results. He came on with a 6-0 lead and the Curve throwing a no-hitter in the seventh inning last week at Peoples Natural Gas Field, then walked four and allowed four runs without retiring a batter. The RubberDucks battled all the way back in that one to win, 7-6.

Brentz followed up that outing by throwing a perfect inning of relief Wednesday against Harrisburg. But after his outing Monday, he has thrown 11/3 innings over three appearances and has allowed seven runs on nine walks and no strikeouts, for a 47.50 ERA. Strangely enough, he has given up just one hit so far, but has been his own worst enemy with the walks.

The Curve had their ace on the mound at the start in Keller, and once again he looked very much like an ace. The right-hander had a two-hit shutout going through five innings, then walked the leadoff man in the sixth and gave up a two-out triple to Sicnarf Loopstok that tied the game at 1-1.

Keller gave up three hits in his 52/3 innings, struck out five and walked two while throwing 87 pitches (55 strikes).

Dominic DeMasi (1-0) won in relief for Akron.

Altoona scored its lone run in the fourth as Will Craig walked and later came home on Ke’Bryan Hayes’ sacrifice fly. Hayes finished 3-for-3 and accounted for half of the Curve’s hits.

Roster move

n RHP Sam Street was placed on the roster of short-season West Virginia in order to open up a roster spot for RHP Jesus Liranzo, who was claimed off waivers by the Pirates last week from the Dodgers. Liranzo pitched two-thirds of an inning in his Curve debut Monday.

Game recap

Key player: 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes went 3-for-3 for the Curve.

Key play: LHP Jake Brentz walked five batters while retiring just one in the eighth inning, allowing three runs as Akron broke open a tie game.

Key stat: Brentz has walked nine and allowed seven runs in 11/3 innings this season.

How they scored

Top 4th: Craig walked, scored on Hayes sacrifice fly (1-0).

Bottom 6th: Castro walked, scored on Loopstok triple (1-1).

Bottom 8th: Haggerty walked, scored on Bradley sacrifice fly (1-2); Castro walked, scored on Marabell bases-loaded walk (1-3); Mathias walked, scored on Krieger sacrifice fly (1-4).