Curve lose fifth straight
The Curve opened the season with a five-game winning streak, and a week and a half later, they’ve now suffered a five-game losing streak.
The team has continued to play well for the most part during the losing skid, manager Michael Ryan said. He also noted that the earlier winning streak gave everyone the kind of confidence it takes to know they can turn things around.
“What is it, five in a row now that we’ve lost?” Ryan said after Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to Harrisburg.
“If it happened the first five games of the year, I think there would have been some doubt of, like, ‘Oh no, what are we getting ourselves into?’ We were able to play well in Akron, we played well the first game in Erie and we’ve played well this whole homestand.”
Harrisburg and Akron just played better and had timely hits, something the Curve couldn’t muster. The Senators got a two-run homer in the second inning Wednesday, and that was all the offense the school kids day crowd of 2,777 saw at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
“Every time we step onto that field we’re confident we can win a ballgame,” Curve third baseman Hunter Owen said.
A good pitching staff makes that possible, and Cam Vieaux turned in a strong outing — save for one pitch — in his start Wednesday.
But the offense has fizzled during the losing streak, with the Curve getting shut out twice and scoring one and two runs in two other games. They also scored seven runs in one of the games, but gave up 10 in that one.
Owen is off to a solid start, hitting .302, and he believes the offense will come around.
“When you look around the clubhouse, there’s not anybody in there who’s not hungry,” Owen said. “There’s a bunch of grinders in there who are willing to put the work in, and I think that will show up later on in the season.”
Ryan has faith in the offense, as well.
“We know we’re going to hit,” the manager said. “And if you look, this is very similar to last year. We had some younger guys in the league, and it was taking them some time to adjust to it. (Cole) Tucker didn’t get off to the greatest of starts, and then all of a sudden started to figure some things out.
“I feel like that with (Jared) Oliva or (Bligh) Madris. The younger players, they’ll get it. It’s just a matter of when, and I think that should come quickly.”
Vieaux (0-1) gave up the two-run homer to Ian Sagdal in the second inning, the only mistake he made on the day. The lefty allowed those two runs on five hits over six innings, striking out seven with no walks.
“It’s definitely one I want back,” Vieaux said of the home run pitch. “I tried going in, and it was pretty much just middle-middle. Easy pitch to hit out. That’s what happens when you make a mistake, and when you’re playing a good team like that, you’ve got to try to minimize those mistakes as much as you can.”
Harrisburg’s Sterling Sharp (2-1) was indeed sharp, blanking the Curve on four hits for seven innings. He struck out four and walked one.
“To watch both guys on the mound and what they were doing, even out of the bullpen, it was one of those games where you just sit back and admire what guys are doing on the mound,” Ryan said.
“Sharp was unbelievable, and Vieaux was, too. You take one pitch away, it’s a shame that’s what beat you.”
SUBHD: Game recap
Key player: RHP Sterling Sharp tossed seven shutout innings for Harrisburg.
Key play: 1B Ian Sagdal’s two-run homer in the second produced all of the runs.
Key stat: The Curve have lost five in a row and six out of seven to fall below .500 (6-7) for the first time.
SUBHD: How they scored
Top 2nd: Barrera singled, scored on Sagdal two-run homer (0-2).
Covering the bases
LEADING OFF: LHP Cam Vieaux, the Curve’s pitcher of the year last season, did not allow a run and gave up just three hits in 10 2/3 innings over his first two starts. He made one mistake on a two-run homer Wednesday but otherwise pitched well and has a 1.08 ERA.
SAFE AT FIRST: Manager Michael Ryan on Vieaux: “I’m just impressed with Cam the way he has a plan coming into each day. He got to see Harrisburg for two straight days, and he applied exactly what he wanted to do. He just left one pitch out over the plate, and sometimes that will beat you.”
STEALING SECOND: Harrisburg is off to a tremendous start at 12-2 and has won nine of its last 10.
ROUNDING THIRD: The Curve are already 5 ¢ games behind the Senators in the Western Division. With a split-season format, that’s already a big deficit to try and overcome in the first half.
HEADING HOME: The Curve now head to Richmond for three games and then Harrisburg for three. They’ll return home April 26. The trip to Richmond will include former Curve broadcaster Trey Wilson calling games against his old team as he’s now the voice of the Flying Squirrels.
— Cory Giger