Pitching lets down Curve’s offense
Tonight: Harrisburg at Altoona, 6 p.m.
Pitchers: Curve RHP Sterling Sharp (4-2, 3.63) vs. Senators James Marvel (3-4, 4.27)n
The Curve did exactly what they wanted to early in Friday night’s ballgame — they got to Harrisburg starter Jackson Tetreault.
Altoona was able to score three runs off Tetreault, who entered the game with a 1.93 ERA, in the first two innings, led by an RBI double from leftfielder Logan Hill and a solo home run from catcher Jason Delay. The Curve tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning off a two-RBI single by Hill and five innings was all Tetreault.
But on the flip side, Altoona starter Scooter Hightower lasted just three innings, allowing six runs as the Curve fell by a final of 7-5 at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
“He just couldn’t finish anybody,” Curve manager Michael Ryan said of Hightower. “Off-speed was up in the zone. He was getting into a little bit of a pattern. Guy like that has to pitch on the edges and command the fastball, he just wasn’t doing that today.”
Despite the early onslaught from the Senators’ offense, the Curve bullpen held up their end and made sure the offense was still within striking distance.
Yeudy Garcia, Blake Cederlind and Blake Weiman combined to give up just one run in on four hits in six innings of work.
Aside from one walk, Cederlind had a near perfect two scoreless innings of work.
“Very good.” Ryan said of Cederlind’s performance on Friday. “(He’s got a) power sinker, slider, changeup.”
Cederlind has now appeared five times since being called up to Double-A on May 4 and has yet to allow a run in 8 1/3 innings of work. He’s the first to admit he hasn’t been blowing hitters away — he was quick to credit his defense and pitching coach Joel Hanrahan — but Ryan may have a solution to that.
“We’re just gonna try to get him to pitch off the fastball a little bit more,” Ryan said. “He went offspeed heavy in counts when he probably shouldn’t have. If they’re getting a good swing off the fastball, then maybe go with something else. But I haven’t seen too many guys do something off his fastball. He’s been outstanding.”
But for as outstanding as Cederlind was on Friday night, Harrisburg’s bullpen was just as impressive.
Even though Tetreault earned the win, he’ll have his bullpen to thank for that.
Big leaguer Trevor Rosenthal, along with Steven Fuentes, James Bourque and Aaron Barrett combined to throw four scoreless innings.
“Their bullpen is a huge strength for them — they’ve been great all year.” Ryan said. “Ours has been good, too. When the bullpen gets involved, the game’s going to slow down offensively. Credit to both bullpens (tonight).”
Barrett allowed the winning run to get to the plate in the ninth inning, but delivered in the clutch, picking up his ninth save of the year for the Senators, striking out two batters in the final frame.
That ninth inning wasn’t the Curve’s only real scoring threat of the final innings, however. Altoona left nine runners on base in the game, but left multiple runners on base in three of the final four innings.
“It’s hard to get consecutive hits against (Harrisburg’s bullpen),” Hill said. “Today, we just couldn’t come up with a big hit and (Harrisburg) did. That’s the sum of the game.”
Both teams had 11 hits and weren’t great with runners in scoring position with Altoona going 2-for-10 in those situations and Harrisburg hitting just 2-for-8.
But Hunter Jones’ three-run home run for the Senators in the second inning gave them a 5-2 cushion at the time, and the Curve weren’t able to string enough hits together late in the game to tie things up.
Key player: Harrisburg reliever Steven Fuentes made quick work of the Curve in his 1.2 innings, allowing no runs and no hits, using just 16 pitches to record five outs in the middle innings.
Key play: With runners on the corners and the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning, Senators reliever Aaron Barrett got Curve third baseman Hunter Owen to ground out to end the game.
Key stat: Curve outfielder Logan Hill went 3-for-5 in the cleanup spot, pushing his average to .337 this season when hitting fourth in the lineup.
How they scored
Top 1st: Jones singled, scored on Taylor’s single (0-1).
Bottom 1st: Tolman singled, Jackson singled, both scored on Hill’s double (2-1).
Top 2nd: Sardinas singled, Tetreault reached on a fielder’s choice, both scored on Jones’ three-run home run (4-2).
Bottom 2nd: Delay homered (4-3).
Top 3rd: Wiseman walked, scored on Davidson’s two-run home run (6-3).
Top 5th: Wiseman reached on fielder’s choice, scored on Sardinas’ sacrifice fly (7-3).
Bottom 5th: Jackson singled, scored on Madris’ double. Madris scored on Hill’s single.
Covering the bases
LEADING OFF: Mitchell Tolman fared well in his second-consecutive game as the leadoff hitter for the Curve. He singled in his first two at-bats of the night and his manager is pleased with his performance in that spot.
“Tollman can hit a fastball so we just put him in the leadoff spot to get some things going,” Ryans said. “He’s done that when he’s led off innings so we figured we’d try him there. He’s comfortable with it and he enjoys it.”
SAFE AT FIRST: Outfielder Jared Oliva made his return on Friday after getting a “mental breather” the last few days. He popped out in his only at-bat as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning.
STEALING SECOND: The Curve appeared to have a promising inning brewing in the eighth with runners on first and second and just one out, but Brett Pope popped up on the first pitch of his at-bat and pinch hitter Alfredo Reyes struck out in the following at-bat, killing any chance of a rally in that inning.
ROUNDING THIRD: Reliever Yeudy Garcia had a much improved outing on Friday night, allowing just one run in three innings, a stark contrast from his outing on May 12 in which he allowed five runs in 1.2 innings against Erie.
HEADING HOME: The Curve are now back at .500 after Friday’s loss and currently sit nine games behind the Senators in the Eastern Division standings.