For a second night in a row the starting pitcher failed to impress for Altoona but the bats broke out and the Curve were able to break their nine game losing streak tonight in Trenton winning 10-5.
Phillip Irwin had a bad night but didn’t look as bad as Aaron Pribanic the night before, despite a somewhat similar pitching line. Except for the home run he allowed in the 3rd inning all the other nine hits he allowed were singles, a few of them well placed hits just out of the reach of fielders. The most damage was on the three run homer which followed a soft liner just out of the reach of a diving Quincy Latimore and a hit by pitch for the second runner. He also didn’t get any help on defense when he was in trouble in the 1st and 2nd innings. On the night he allowed 4 earned runs, 2 walks and struck out four batters, all of them went down swinging.
Irwin was a little wild at times but not missing bad except for a couple of pitches. Between the 2nd/3rd/4th innings he threw almost as many balls as strikes (26 to 25). He was much more effective with his strikes in the 1st and 5th but with poor results allowing six of his ten hits those innings, although he gave up just a 1st inning run. In the 5th, after an infield single loaded the bases with one out, he got a soft groundball for the 2nd out at home plate and then was able to knock down a liner right back to him for the final out of his outing. All told he threw 91 pitches, 54 for strikes and he got six swing and misses from batters.
Tim Alderson pitched the sixth inning and looked okay, despite giving up a walk and a single but no runs. It was the first time I saw his awkward pitching motion in person and it must have some deception to it because the reports say he tops out at 90 while Irwin hits 93 at times, but it sure seemed like Alderson was throwing hard from behind home plate. He did strike out one batter and was mixing in off-speed stuff, which mostly missed low and away to the righties he faced. Overall he threw 19 pitches, 11 for strikes and he got one swing and miss. He has a high effort delivery which probably looked worse following Irwin who is effortless to the point it looks like he’s throwing batting practice.
For the prospects in the lineup tonight, it was a little light as Tony Sanchez had the night off and Jeremy Farrell missed his 3rd straight game. Starling Marte led off again and had a nice night at the plate. He drew a full count walk one at-bat, his 2nd straight day he did that, which is a good sign. He got hit by a pitch, his specialty, but it was a breaking ball behind him that just barely grazed him around the lower back. He did look bad his 2nd at-bat with two swing and misses and a 3 pitch strikeout but overall it was a nice night as he reached base 4 times, once via an error, and once on a hard line drive up the middle. He also advanced a runner from 2nd to 3rd with no outs on a long live drive to center field.
People worry about Marte being impatient, but he is a totally different player than the Trenton centerfielder, Melky Mesa who has many of the same tools and the knock on him too is the lack of patience. Compared to Mesa, Marte looks like a much more patient hitter and that is likely why he hits for average. Mesa swings at everything and sometimes makes hard contact. Marte doesn’t foul many pitches off, and when he swings he usually puts the ball in play and hits it hard. The walks would be nice, but at some point you have to credit him for what he can do with a pitch in the strike zone and I’ve seen that the last two days and the season stats obviously show that it’s working.
Brock Holt again surprised me with his lack of patience at the plate because as I mentioned yesterday, that wasn’t the Holt I saw the first series. He saw just three pitches his first two at-bats and both ended with grounders to the pitcher. His 3rd at-bat he again swung early but got an RBI single to left field for his first hit of this series. His next two at-bats were effective in that both times he came up with runners on 1st and 2nd and no outs and he advanced them with a sac bunt. His last at-bat he went down swinging, leaving him 1-9 on the series.
Holt also looked very bad early on in the field, something I didn’t see the first 4 games. He couldn’t get a ball out of his mitt during a 1st inning double play. In the 2nd he made an error followed by some indecision on a grounder that looked like an easy double ply. Irwin’s pitching line with some standard defense from Holt likely would’ve looked a lot better.
Quincy Latimore reached base four times tonight but had a pretty easy, but slightly painful, time doing it. I did not see him do anything wrong his first at-bat besides hit a home run on the 2nd pitch to left field. Apparently the starting pitcher had a problem with it because he would hit Quincy with the first pitch in each of his next two times up. His fourth time up he took a four pitch walk, an oddity for him but the second night in a row it happened. Like with Marte, it is very good to see some plate patience to go along with the show of power. Latimore grounded out his last at-bat. In two games now he has two hard hit extra base hits and has reached base another four times.
Matt Curry had a good night in the boxscore and again like last night he hit the ball hard when he made contact. He didn’t look bad at all today except for the fact that in five at-bats he saw just eight pitches. Nine times out of ten doing that won’t result in going 3-5 at the plate. If you read last night’s recap you would’ve noticed the gift hit that got credited to Curry. Well tonight he hit a ball exactly like that again, one step to the right on the first baseman who didn’t get his glove down on the ball, looked like an instant replay from the night before and that play tonight was scored an error. I guess things like that have a way of working out. Curry had 3 hard hit line drive singles today and flied out deep to left field down the line his last at-bat.
I saved Andrew Lambo for last because he hit what was possibly the longest home run I have seen at that ballpark. I’m probably forgetting something by Tony Clark when he played there years ago, but Clark pulled everything down the line, hit a ton of foul homers too. Lambo hit one over the scoreboard in the right-center field gap, which is probably 375 feet away and 25 feet high, and this ball cleared it pretty easy with some distance to go. A great display of power.
He basically had two different games at the plate, his first 3 at-bats he hit everything to the left side of the infield and nothing out of the infield. He followed that with a hard line up the middle that tied the score 5-5, the monster home run and then a high deep drive that was caught on the warning track just to the left of the scoreboard.
I will be in Trenton for at least the next game with Michael Colla on the mound. The weather looks iffy for the Sunday night game with Kyle McPherson pitching but if it holds off I will be there for that as well.