It's tough to have a more disastrous minor league rehab start than Pirates lefty Wandy Rodriguez endured Tuesday night for the Curve.
Rodriguez got clobbered by Bowie for seven runs in the fourth inning, serving up a pair of three-run homers. The pitcher was actually OK for his other 4 1/3 innings, but the Pirates clearly have to be concerned by what happened to the 35-year-old for the second straight game against Double-A hitters.
"Bad location," Rodriguez said, referring to a couple of high fastballs that Bowie hitters launched over the fence.
Mirror photo by Patrick?Waksmunski
Wandy Rodriguez reacts after giving up a three-run homer.
Rodriguez buried the Curve in a big hole, and they couldn't climb all the way out of it in an 11-7 loss before 2,875 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
"I was having trouble with location, a lot of fastballs a little bit up in the zone," said Rodriguez, who struggled for a second straight start with the Curve as he comes back from a knee injury.
He gave up four runs on four hits in 3 1/3 innings Thursday at Erie, and Tuesday his final line was seven runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and three walks over 5 1/3 innings.
The Pirates have to decide if Rodriguez is ready to rejoin the major league rotation. Based on what he's done in Double-A so far, that answer seems to be a resounding no.
"I don't know what decision they make," Rodriguez said. "But they have to make a decision. If they want another [minor league] start, I come back."
Rodriguez (0-1) started off great, throwing two perfect innings with 14 of his 15 pitches going for strikes. He then breezed through the third, as well, before everything fell apart in the fourth.
He walked leadoff man Niuman Romero, gave up a single to David Adams and then a three-run bomb to Christian Walker, who's second in the Eastern League with seven homers. That blast erased the Curve's 2-0 lead.
Rodriguez later gave up back-to-back singles with one out, and he should have been out of the inning on a double play, but second baseman Gift Ngoepe threw high to first. The Curve not only didn't get the third out, Ngoepe's throw went for an error, allowing a fourth run to score.
Rodriguez served up a single to Brian Ward, then K.D. Kang belted another three-run homer to left on a 2-0 high fastball to make it 7-2.
"He was throwing the ball very well for three innings," Curve manager Carlos Garcia said. "He lost his command for a little bit, and I think he got a little bit tired."
Rodriguez wound up throwing 39 pitches in the fourth inning. He was scheduled to go six innings or 90 pitches but was pulled after 5 and 93 pitches (only 57 strikes).
"I worked on all my pitches," he said. "My changeup seemed pretty good tonight, and my curveball, too."
But the high fastballs did him in.
Rodriguez made only 12 starts last season for the Pirates because of a forearm injury, and this season right knee inflammation forced him to the disabled list three weeks ago. He wasn't pitching well for the Pirates before the injury, going 0-2 with a 7.65 ERA.
"I needed work on everything, especially location," Rodriguez said of his rehab starts. "Like I said, I only pitched like [three months last year], I needed work. I needed work for everything."
Bowie starter Tyler Wilson (5-1) earned his league-leading fifth win despite allowing five runs - four earned - in five innings.
The Curve battled back to close within 7-5, but Bowie scored four runs in the eighth off Altoona's bullpen to pull away. The Curve committed three errors, leading to two unearned runs plus extending Rodriguez's fourth inning, but the offense kept battling with seven runs on 10 hits.
"The approach is very good right now, the energy of the team," Garcia said. "I'm pleased with it."
One thing the Curve players had to be pleased with was the postgame meal. It's customary for a major leaguer to pay for dinner, and Tuesday's spread included steak from Texas Roadhouse.
Key player: Bowie's DH K.D. Kang went 2-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs.
Key play: Bowie hit two three-run homers in the fourth inning off LHP Wandy Rodriguez.
Key stat: The Baysox scored seven runs in the fourth off the major leaguer, who has allowed 11 runs on 11 hits in 8 2/3 innings during his two rehab starts for the Curve (10.38 ERA).
How they scored
Bottom 3rd: Garcia walked, scored on Romero error (1-0); Maggi singled, scored on Hanson groundout (2-0).
Top 4th: Romero walked, Adams singled, both scored on Walker three-run homer (2-3); Bermudez singled, scored on Schoop groundout (2-4); Ward singled, scored along with Schoop on Kang three-run homer (2-7).
Bottom 4th: Allie singled, scored on Garcia sacrifice fly (3-7); Diaz doubled, scored on Broxton double (4-7).
Bottom 5th: Ngoepe tripled, scored on Hanson sacrifice fly (5-7).
Top 8th: Schoop doubled, scored on Kang single (5-8); Ward walked, scored on Allie error (5-9); Romero reached on that Allie error, Adams reached on fielder's choice, both scored on Alvarez single (5-11).
Bottom 8th: Rojas Jr. doubled, scored on Vasquez two-run homer (7-11).