Curve’s Ryan upset
By Tyler King
For the Mirror
Frustration has been building in Curve manager Michael Ryan for quite some time. In the midst of his team’s fifth straight loss, 5-3 to Richmond Friday, it finally boiled over.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, with the bases loaded and one out and the go-ahead run at second base, Brett Pope hit a chopper on the ground to second base. Richmond’s Jalen Miller appeared to tag out Altoona catcher Arden Pabst on his way to second and then flipped over to first base to retire Pope and complete the inning-ending double play.
But Pabst was ruled safe and not only did Chris Sharpe score the tying run from third base, but Robbie Glendinning came all the way around to score from second to retake the lead.
That was only the beginning, however. After Richmond manager Willie Harris came out to argue the call, the umpires convened in the infield and ultimately overturned the ruling that Pabst was safe, ending the inning and restoring the Flying Squirrels’ 4-3 lead.
Then the fireworks began.
Ryan burst out of the Curve dugout and was promptly ejected from the game, throwing his hat on the ground in the midst of his diatribe of the umpire crew.
“I’m not going to say much — I’m not going to get in trouble. I didn’t get an explanation that I wanted to get on why they reversed the call,” Ryan said after the game. “That’s happened about five or six times already this year. I don’t understand how the guy the furthest away from the play can reverse the call after the guy that was the closest made the call. It took two runs off the board. There have been calls all series that have been questionable.”
Ryan’s ejection was the second in as many nights as Mitchell Tolman was tossed in the middle of Thursday night’s game for disagreeing with home plate umpire Jacob Metz’s strikezone.
The tensions only heightened from that point on as both teams’ benches and bullpens cleared in the middle of the ninth inning during a back-and-forth shouting match between Curve reliever Blake Cederlind and Flying Squirrels outfielder Jacob Heyward.
After hitting the first two batters of the inning, Cederlind went on to strikeout the final batter of the inning and appeared to yell something in the direction of the Richmond dugout after the final strike.
“Cederlind hit two guys in a row, (Richmond) probably didn’t like that,” Ryan said. “I don’t blame them.”
Ryan’s ejection didn’t inject any life into his team as he probably would have hoped as the Curve bats once again struggled to capitalize on scoring chances, outside of Robbie Glendinning’s three-run home run in the second inning.
Altoona didn’t give itself many chances to tie or retake the lead late in the game, but did leave eight runners stranded on base after Glendinning’s homer.
“When you’re not playing well, those things are going to happen,” Ryan said. “Glendinning hits a three-run homer and (we) think that’s enough. We had a big conversation offensively today and no one applied it. Yeah, it’s frustrating.”
No matter who’s in the lineup everyday or who’s in the clubhouse, there’s a certain standard for success that Ryan demands out of his players. He’s made the postseason in his first two seasons at the helm in Altoona and won a championship in 2017.
“Until I leave the room or until I’m no longer here, the expectation is to go to the postseason and win a championship,” Ryan said. “Those are never going to change, no matter where I’m at (or) where I’m sitting. You need to play to those standards. Right now we’re not. We know what the recipe takes and what it looks like. If you don’t trust and you don’t believe, then you’re going to play the way that (we) are right now.”
Tolman’s ejection didn’t spark the Curve on Thursday night and Ryan’s ejection didn’t lead to any sort of rally on Friday. No matter what it takes, though, you’ll find Ryan in the Curve dugout until the very end.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes until the clock runs out,” Ryan said. ‘That’s just the way I’m bred. I’ll protect our guys until the last out of the last game is made. If (getting ejected) is what I need to do to show that I have their backs, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Key player: Robbie Glendinning went 2-for-2 with a home run, three RBIs, a run scored and a pair of walks.
Key play: The call that was overturned in the sixth inning took two Curve runs off the board and denied Altoona in its best scoring chance of the night.
Key stat: Sean Brady suffered is ninth loss of the season on Friday and is now tied for the third-most losses by a pitcher in the Eastern League this season.
How they scored
Top 2nd: Fargas hit by pitch, scored on Baragar’s fielder’s choice (0-1).
Bottom 2nd: Hill singled, Sharpe walked, both scored on Glendinning’s three-run home run to left center (3-1).
Top 6th: Houchins singled, scored on Arenado’s double. Arenado scored on Johnson’s double. Johnson scored on Brusa’s single (3-4).
Top 7th: Howard doubled, scored on Houchins’ sacrifice fly (3-5).
Covering the bases
LEADING OFF: Robbie Glendinning appears to be turning a corner in the last few days after he went six straight games without a hit from July 18-23. His three-run home run in the second inning was his fourth in Double-A and he’s now hitting above .200 during the month of July after dropping below .180 for the month earlier in the week.
SAFE AT FIRST: Sean Brady has now allowed 11 earned runs over the course of his last two starts and his ERA for the season is creeping back toward five.
STEALING SECOND: Blake Cederlind continues to impress out of the bullpen for the Curve. He threw two scoreless innings on Friday night, striking out three batters in the process. He’s allowed just five earned runs 36 innings and has struck out 32 batters while walking just 13.
ROUNDING THIRD: Altoona has now dropped five straight games for the third time this season, but its first since May 21-25 and its first of such kind during the second half.
HEADING HOME: The Curve are now back under .500 during the second half for the first time since they fell to 1-2 after the 7-3 loss at Hartford on June 22.