Curve can’t deliver in another setback
BOWIE, Md. — The Curve had a team meeting after Tuesday night’s loss to the Trenton Thunder.
They had just suffered another loss in which they failed to capitalize on several opportunities to score late in the game. Manager Michael Ryan asked his team to come in on Wednesday and let him know what kind of team they wanted to be the rest of the season.
Altoona responded the next day with a win over the Thunder and avoided the sweep. That win might’ve salvaged their slim playoff chances.
The theme in the clubhouse postgame — resiliency.
The Curve showed that again on Saturday night in Bowie, but it still wasn’t enough to prevent a third straight loss to the Eastern League’s hottest team, 7-6.
The Curve rallied from a 5-0 deficit to take a 6-5 lead in the eighth inning, but the Baysox responded by tying the game in the bottom half of the inning, before ultimately winning in walk-off fashion.
It was another bullpen game for the Curve as right hander Pedro Vasquez was unable to make his scheduled start. The Eastern League all-star left his last start on Monday after just ª innings.
Fellow all-star Beau Sulser got the spot start and it was his first start since August 28, 2017, when he was in short season West Virginia.
He struggled in his first appearance since suffering his first Double-A loss on Tuesday against the Thunder.
Sulser allowed four runs on six hits in four innings of work — tied for his second longest outing of the season — as the Baysox were able to score early and often.
Blake Cederlind replaced Sulser in the fifth inning and pitched two innings, allowing one run on two hits. That earned run allowed was Cederlind’s first since June 9. He had 10 scoreless appearances before Saturday night and has still allowed only five runs in 33 Double-A innings this season.
As they have had to do all season long, the Curve scratched and clawed their way for four runs in the seventh inning. Mitchell Tolman delivered a one out, bases loaded single to get Altoona on the board, scoring Robbie Glendinning. Bralin Jackson came home on an RBI groundout by Chris Sharpe and then two runs came around to score on an error by Bowie pitcher Cristian Alvarado.
The Baysox had another costly error in the top of the eighth that gave the Curve runners on first and second and Jason Delay made the error hurt with an RBI single. Brett Pope then hit the ball softly back to the pitcher, but it was enough for Jackson to score the go-ahead run.
The Curve were put in a difficult spot in the bottom half of the inning as the typical eighth inning man — Cederlind — had already been used in the game. Angel German promptly served up a game-tying home run to Yusniel Diaz, which caused the game to go to extra innings, where the Baysox capitalized on their first chance to win the game in the 10th inning.
Altoona fell to 1-5 against Bowie this season and has fallen 7¢ games behind the Baysox, who improved to an incredible 23-6 in the second half.
Today’s game is now almost a must-win for the Curve. They not only need to avoid a sweep and take a game back from Bowie, but another loss followed by a long bus ride back to Altoona could be the dagger in this 2019 Curve season.
Key player: Bowie’s Jesmuel Valentin went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Key play: Yusniel Diaz’s game-tying home run in the eighth inning quickly erased the Curve’s comeback in the seventh and eighth innings.
Key stat: The Curve continue to struggle with runners in scoring position, going 2-for-14 in such at-bats on Saturday night, stranding 12 runners on base in the process.
How they scored
Bottom 3rd: Valentin doubled, scored on McCoy’s fielder’s choice (0-1).
Bottom 5th: Bannon homered to right centerfield. Valentin doubled, scored on Palmeiro’s double. Palmeiro scored on Cederlind’s wild pitch (0-4).
Bottom 6th: Diaz doubled, scored on Valentin’s double (0-5).
Top 7th: Glendinning walked, scored on Tolman’s single. Jackson singled, scored on Sharpe’s groundout. Delay hit by pitch, he and Tolman scored on error (4-5).
Top 8th: Glendinning reached on fielder’s choice, scored on Delay’s single. Jackson reached on fielder’s choice, scored on Pope’s fielder’s choice (6-5).
Bottom 8th: Diaz homered (6-6).
Bottom 10th: Nitching started inning at second base, scored on McKenna’s single (6-7).