Curve hold on for win at home
By Matthew Knaub
For the Mirror
Leading 6-0 through five innings, the Curve endured a mid-game collapse on Thursday night, allowing Harrisburg to tie the score.
However, like so many other instances during the 2021 season, Altoona responded, as shortstop Connor Kaiser hit a game-winning solo home run in the eighth inning to give the Curve a 7-6 win at Peoples Natural Gas Field. With the result, Altoona has now strung together three-straight one-run victories to open its series against the Senators.
“It has been one of our identities this year — how we respond after the opposing team scores,” Curve manager Miguel Perez said. “We give up runs sometimes and the team does a very good job responding.”
Altoona has won its last two games thanks to a pair of eighth-inning home runs. On Wednesday night, left fielder Jack Suwinski’s home run helped the Curve to a 5-4 victory before Kaiser’s game-winner on Thursday night.
“With the level of focus and talent that we have, it’s just part of our identity,” Kaiser said about the late-game offense. “(We have) guys that are locked in and ready to play.”
A tale of two halves
Southpaw Omar Cruz started on the mound for the Curve and was perfect through five innings. However, Cruz ran into serious trouble in the sixth, allowing six straight singles and five earned runs.
“I don’t know what the mindset [was] going into the sixth, knowing that he had [allowed] no hits,” Perez said about Cruz. “I’m not happy that that happened, but it’s a great teaching point.”
Cruz was removed from the contest after 5• innings, allowing a total of seven hits and five earned runs. He struck out two batters and did not allow any walks in a no-decision.
Designated hitter Ji-hwan Bae and center fielder Daniel Amaral each hit two-run home runs in addition to Kaiser’s solo shot. Five of Altoona’s seven total runs came via the long ball.
Bae finished the matchup 2-for-4 with two RBIs, two runs scored and a walk. Bae has now hit three home runs in his last nine games.
Stats and stuff
Relief pitcher Shea Murray pitched one inning for the Curve and was credited with the victory. The righty allowed one earned run on two hits.
Righty Cristofer Melendez relieved Murray and earned the save, his fifth of the season. Melendez pitched the final frame, allowing no runs or hits.
Right-hander Jhon Romero tossed one of relief for Harrisburg and was tabbed with the loss. He allowed one hit — Kaiser’s home run.
Curve shortstop Jesus Valdez was released on Thursday. Valdez split time between High-A Greensboro and Altoona this season, posting a .212 batting average in 26 games.