The Altoona Curve fell to the Akron Aeros tonight 5-0 at People’s Natural Gas field. For the second night in a row, the team struggled at the plate, registering only four hits, all singles. Right-hander David Bromberg got the start, giving up three earned runs over six innings, and the Curve ran themselves out of potential run scoring situations by getting pick off three times. The few highlights were defensive, including some good throws from catcher Carlos Paulino and an outfield assist from right fielder Alex Dickerson.
Bromberg flashes good curveball in the loss
David Bromberg got his second start for Altoona tonight and took the loss, pitching six innings and giving up three earned runs on eight hits with no walks and four strikeouts. All three of the Aeros runs came on homers, a solo blast by third baseman Gregory Urshela in the 2nd inning and a two-run shot by left fielder Bo Greenwell in the fifth.
“I left a fastball up and middle-in [to Urshela] in the second, but beyond that I was pretty happy with my pitches,” said the big right-hander.
The Pirates signed Bromberg as a free agent before this season, and he was once a highly regarded pitching prospect for the Minnesota Twins. However, he has not been the same since suffering an arm injury in 2011, with his velocity taking a big hit. Tonight his four-seam fastball was 89-92 mph, when it was once in the mid-90s. He also mixed in some two-seam fastballs that were in the mid-to-upper 80s.
Bromberg’s best pitch is his curveball, which he threw effectively out of the zone and was the out pitch on three of his four strikeouts (the other was on a change). He did hang the pitch once or twice, but overall he was effective when he could throw it ahead in the count.
“I was able to get ahead a lot tonight, and we know that [Akron] likes to swing the bat. I knew I could throw it in the dirt and get some swings,” said Bromberg.
Bromberg was moved to the bullpen in 2012 in AA and AAA with the Twins organization (and also in three appearances for the Curve), and my sense is that he’s a better fit in that role based on what I saw tonight. In shorter spurts, he might be able to add a little to his velocity, with the curveball being used as the effective out pitch that relievers need.
Curve bats ineffective . . . again
Tonight the Curve only registered four hits, all singles, after only tabbing three hits in last night’s 2-0 victory. In the past three games they’ve only had 14 hits total in 25 innings.
“Overall, we’re not in good rhythm. We’re trying to see the ball and then react rather than be ready and aggressive in the strike zone,” commented Manager Carlos Garcia.
Tonight there were a few positives at the plate despite the anemic results. First baseman Matt Curry had two hits and has hit safely in nine of the past ten games. Andy Vasquez singled to center in the third inning and he’s batting .417 in the past ten games. Alex Dickerson, who has struggled with the jump to AA after a strong 2012 campaign, also hit the ball well tonight (following a home run last night), but twice his line drives found Aero gloves. Also, Adalberto Santos returned from his hip injury (0-for-1; 2 BB), looking to build on his early season success when he hit .417 in 24 at-bats prior to getting hurt.
Baserunning miscues plague the Curve
Curve baserunners were picked off three times tonight (Santos, Jarek Cunningham, Vasquez) in the first three innings of play. The team is focusing on being aggressive on the base paths, but tonight that aggressiveness erased three of the seven baserunners they had.
“This is how we’re going to run the bases. We’re going to make mistakes because we’re probably going to be over-aggressive sometimes. We want to develop good situational baserunning types of players,” said Garcia.
**Although Carlos Paulino continues to struggle at the plate (.186/.294/.237), his defensive skills are impressive. He blocked two Bromberg curves in the dirt with a man on third in the first inning, and then he threw out both Aeros’ runners trying to steal tonight (12-for-24 CS on the season).
**Dickerson made a nice throw to the plate in the 8th inning on a flyball to get Jesus Aguilar trying to tag up. I haven’t had much opportunity to see his arm since moving to rightfield, but tonight’s throw was good.
**Kenn Kasparek relieved Bromberg and struggled, giving up 2 earned runs on two hits while walking three. Dickerson’s throw saved another would-be run.
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