Curve fall to SeaWolves
Starting pitchers have been a bit of a revolving door this season for the Curve, but the 18th different starter to take the hill for Altoona was not to blame in a series opening loss.
For the second time in three games, run support was few and far between as Erie topped the Curve, 3-1, in front of 5,038 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
James Marvel (0-1) made his Double-A debut for the Curve to bring Altoona’s starting pitcher tally to 18, tied for the third-most in Curve history in a single season.
“Guys get promoted,” Curve manager Michael Ryan said. “That’s our job (as manager) to handle. Guys get called up from Bradenton, and we try to get them better to get them promoted as well. It’s a part of the gig. You’re not going to have the same five starters in the minor leagues ever. I can guarantee you that. You just deal with it.”
Taylor Hearn, who was the last remaining pitcher from the opening day starting rotation, was traded to the Rangers’ organization two weeks ago at the trade deadline.
Marvel’s debut was close to marvelous, operating through 6 ? innings, allowing just a pair of runs on six hits, while striking out five batters that included striking out the side in the fifth.
“It was just unfortunate,” Ryan said. “Happy for the way he threw tonight. He did a really good job, preparation-wise coming in. He has never faced Erie before, but the way that he prepared and the way he knew what he wanted to do, I was very impressed. I just wish we could have pushed a couple runs across for him.”
Altoona jumped in the scoring column first in the second inning, thanks in large to Stephen Alemais’ third triple of the season, but a quick response from the SeaWolves in the third squared things back up before taking the eventual lead in the seventh. Alemais was effective at the plate, picking up three hits on the night, the fifth time this season that he’s had at least that many in a single game.
Erie’s game-winning run came from Jake Rodgers who was nearly tagged out at third on a close double-play attempt that Ke’Bryan Hayes was unable to keep in his glove.
The Curve had at least one hit in each of the first eight innings, but were unable to capitalize. Altoona stranded a pair of runners on base on three separate occasions and loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, all to no avail. The Curve were 0-of-12 with runners in scoring position.
“To be honest, we could have done better with runners in scoring position, especially in the eighth inning,” Ryan said. “That’s the third or fourth time this year we have had the bases loaded with less than two outs, and we strike out looking. We’ve just got to put the ball in play. It’s something we’ve struggled with in the past, and it continued tonight.”
Erie’s A.J. Ladwig (4-0) recorded the win for the SeaWolves in his sixth start since being demoted from Triple-A Toledo. The 10 hits Ladwig surrendered in 6 ? innings were the second-most he has allowed in 21 appearances this year for the Curve. John Schreiber (0-1) picked up his 16th save of the season.
Despite the loss, Altoona is no worse for wear in the standings than when it entered the day. Both Akron and Harrisburg suffered defeats to keep the Curve firmly entrenched in second-place of the Western Division, three back of the RubberDucks and three ahead of the Senators with 25 games left to play this season. Akron has now dropped eight of nine games.
Key player: 2B Stephen Alemais was 3-for-4 with a triple and two singles.
Key play: C Jake Rodgers left early and advanced from 1st to 3rd on a groundout in the seventh to set up the game-winning run.
Key stat: Altoona left 12 men on bases and were 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
How they scored
Bottom 2nd: Alemais tripled, scored on Hill sac-fly (1-0).
Top 3rd: Gibson doubled, scored on Castro single (1-1).
Top 7th: Rodgers hit by pitch, scored on Woodrow single (1-2).
Top 9th: Paredes doubled, scored on Alcantara double (1-3).
Covering the bases
LEADING OFF: “I’m not worried about (playoffs) yet,” Ryan said about not having an ace pitcher on staff at this point. “We’ve got to make the playoffs first. If we’re fortunate enough to get there, it means we’ve played this last stretch really well. If we do, I’m sure we’ll have an idea who our go-to guy will be for Game 1.”
SAFE AT FIRST: Geoff Hartlieb and Yeudy Garcia both received action out of the bullpen. Hartlieb struck out one with no hits in 1 1/3 innings while Garcia surrendered a run and two hits while working the ninth. Erie’s Caleb Thielbar recorded his third hold of the season.
STEALING SECOND: 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes pushed his hitting streak to 11 games with a single and a double in Friday’s game.
ROUNDING THIRD: C Jin-De Jhang was placed on the temporary inactive list Friday for paternity leave. Jhang was just reinstated from the 7-day DL on Tuesday.
HEADING HOME: With weather perhaps presenting an issue in Saturday’s upcoming games, Altoona and Erie have already had four games postponed between the two sides due to rain.
Today: Erie at Altoona (doubleheader), 4:30 p.m.
Pitchers: SeaWolves RHP Alfred Gutierrez (2-1, 3.71) vs. Curve RHP Luis Escobar (2-0, 4.87)