Altoona Curve Recap: 6/2/11

Altoona won the three game series in Trenton by flexing some muscle tonight in their 5-1 win. They had three homers, with the first coming off the bat of Matt Curry in the 2nd inning, and then back to back homers from Quincy Latimore and Jordy Mercer in the 5th inning. Jeff Locke was wild but effective, getting the win while allowing just one run in 5 1/3 innings. The other scoring from Altoona came from a Jordy Mercer single in the 3rd inning and a Jose Hernandez sacrifice fly in the 8th inning, a play that ended with a hard collision at the plate with Altoona’s Travis Scott running over the Yankees top prospect catcher Austin Romine, who couldn’t handle the throw. Altoona collected 15 hits in the game without two of their better hitters. Bother Starling Marte (day to day with a groin injury) and Jeremy Farrell were not in the lineup. They also beat up on the one time major league Kei Igawa who has not only fallen all the way to AA but looked like he had nothing tonight.

The player recaps for the day starts with the starting pitcher, Jeff Locke. He gave up just three hits tonight, two of them hit hard but both were on the ground, one right down the 3B line and the other snuck between Brock Holt and Curry. The third hit which was actually the first one he allowed was just a bloop that landed between 3 fielders in very shallow right field and looked very playable. The bad part of his start was the high walk total and twice, which accounted for four of the walks, he seemed to get flustered by an umpires call on a very close pitch and he lost his rhythm. The good part and it was very good was the 8 strikeouts and the fact they hit the ball hard just twice over 5+ innings. In the game he faced 23 batters, threw 91 pitches, 56 for strikes. He also had 12 swing and misses and threw some very nice off-speed pitches that froze batters for called third strikes. If it wasn’t for the walk total this would’ve been a very impressive start, but judging by the way he has pitched lately and fact he was dominating when he was on his game, it was a very encouraging start.

Locke had a wild but strong start tonight for Altoona

Diego Moreno followed Locke and pitched great over 1.2 IP. Like Locke, he lost the strike zone twice briefly but he was throwing hard while mixing in some off-speed pitches that had the Trenton players looking bad. He struck out four hitters, two of them looking although it should be noted that both argued the call third strike, so while the ump squeezed Locke a few times, he seemed to be a little generous with Moreno. Either way it was a very impressive outing from him.

As for the batters, Brock Holt in the leadoff spot collected three hits, one of them off the top of a leaping shortstops glove and another on a nice line drive to CF. In the 8th inning he displayed some real good speed turning a grounder right down the 1B line into a triple. He didn’t look good his first time up versus Igawa, striking out on just 4 pitches to leadoff the game, but things obviously got better for him as the night went on. In his other AB he hit pop up to shallow left-center field making him 3-5 on the day with a run scored.

Quincy Latimore had a great start to the game but finished it with two strikeouts, including a two out bases loaded K to end the 6th inning. In his first AB he showed something he had shown the previous two games and that was the ability to go the other way with some authority. He hit a deep double into right-center field that landed on the warning track. His second time up he drew a four pitch walk. He almost drew a walk on the bases loaded K as well, going 3-0 on the pitcher and taking a 2nd strike that was not to his liking. Quincy’s third AB was probably the most impressive AB of the 3 game series. He was fooled on what looked like a change-up, started his swing too early and ended up making a one handed swing that somehow resulted in a home run well up the high outfield wall in left-center field. Definitely a very impressive show of power.

Jordy Mercer at the plate had a bad series up to this game and it didn’t start well either. His first AB he hit a soft one hopper to the 3B for an out. He followed it with an RBI hit in the 3rd but just like yesterday’s RBI hit he had, the ball was not hit well and just snuck in the outfield. His series changed in his third AB as he hit a bomb to deep CF right after Latimore had homered. Of the three homers on the day it was the best hit one, resulting in his 8th homer of the year. His next AB he lined out to 3B on a ball that was a rocket, but was right at the fielder who didn’t move a step. Mercer ended his day with a groundout to 3B. He also made what was the only semi-tough play on defense for the Curve continuing his strong series with the glove.

Matt Curry in his first two games looked like he had trouble with lefties. Tonight he had no trouble with the former major league on the mound. In his first AB he hit a towering shot to right-center that just got out of the park for his first AA homer. His next AB he again put good wood on it driving the ball to deep CF for an out but a runner advanced on the play. His third AB was an interesting one. It followed the back to back homers and he was brushed back on the first pitch. On the 5th pitch he threw away the bat thinking he just got walked, and he really threw the bat a lot further towards his own dugout then you would normally see. After a couple foul balls he crushed a line drive that just hung up long enough to hit low on the wall just to the left of straight away CF, a very impressive drive. He followed that by the groundout to 2B but even that was hit hard enough to handcuff the 2B who had plenty of time to recover and throw out the slow-footed Curry. He drew a 6 pitch walk in his final AB. About the only thing he did wrong today was a very poor baserunning decision on a ball in the dirt after his double. Even with the ball getting away and the catcher double clutching he still was out by a lot.

Last but not least was Tony Sanchez. I finally got to see him make a throw and it was a very strong, accurate one at that. On a third strike ball in the dirt that got away with a runner on 1B, the runner took off but was gunned down by Sanchez who got on the ball quickly, getting rid of the ball quick as well. He too had five AB’s in the game and had a nice opposite field liner between the second baseman and first baseman for his only hit of the day. He walked on four pitches his second AB, nothing special as none of the pitches were close. He then looked bad his next three AB’s with a swinging strikeout, another strikeout looking and a weak one hopper back to the mound that deflected off the pitcher right to the 2B who still threw out Sanchez.

I will post a series wrap-up tomorrow with my impressions of the entire series. At the end of the month Altoona returns to Trenton for four games and I plan on attending all of them as well so it will be interesting to see how things change, or stay the same with the team over a 4 week stretch.

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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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Locke Strikes Out 8; Veal Makes A Start

  • eric

    Can you give any more detail about Locke’s walk problem? Is he struggling to command/control the fastball, curve, or change? Or all of the above? Does he seem to be working more on his secondaries (throwing them excessively, trying to throw them for strikes in fastball counts and missing)? One of them in particular? He’s walking so many batters these days and generally pitching poorly; I find it very unlikely that he all of a sudden forgot how to throw strikes. I was hoping you might have some insight into his recent performance.

    • Anonymous

      I can only comment on this game but it seemed like he would overthrow the ball when he didn’t get the close call. One of the walks was after he went 0-2 on the batter and then didn’t get two close calls. He was visibly upset with the calls pacing behind the mound and he overthrew the next two pitches. He was mainly throwing fastballs and either saving the offspeed stuff for a strikeout pitch or the first pitch to the batter. He was really peppering the strike zone most of the time then he would just lose it for 5-6 pitches

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