Alen Hanson is the top shortstop prospect in the Pirates' system.

Alen Hanson Picks Up Three Hits, But Pitching Dooms Curve

Alen Hanson went 3-for-5 in tonight's loss.

Alen Hanson went 3-for-5 in tonight’s loss.

Eliecer Navarro, Kenn Kasparek and Tyler Waldron allowed 17 hits, walked five and gave up nine runs combined as Altoona lost for the fifth time in six outings, falling 9-7 to the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

Navarro worked in and out of trouble for three innings, soft tossing his way out of jams before surrendering five runs in the fourth inning before being pulled. Navarro’s final line sat at 3.1 innings, seven hits, five walks and two strikeouts while throwing 88 pitches. His fastball rarely hit 85 mph, and on times when he reached back to fire in the 87-88 range, he had no idea where it was going. The Curve bullpen didn’t fare much better, as Waldron left too many balls over the plate en route to surrendering seven hits over just two innings.

The erratic pitching cast a shadow over an impressive showing from a struggling offense. After failing to score in their two previous games, the Curve came out blazing in the first of a four game set at The Diamond. Alen Hanson led things off with a single over third base, and advanced to third on a double by Drew Maggi. Both runners scored on consecutive sacrifice flies from Gregory Polanco and Alex Dickerson, and the Curve were staked to a 2-0 lead before Richmond came to the plate.

Hanson had arguably his best game since moving to Double-A, finishing 3-of-5 with two runs scored and two RBI. His bases clearly triple in the top of the ninth nearly capped a miraculous comeback which saw the Curve go from 9-3 down to a 9-7 deficit when Carlos Paulino grounded out with the bases loaded to end things. Jarek Cunningham finished 2-for-4, and is now 6-of-10 over his past three games. Cunningham showed impressive effort in the third inning, singling, stealing second and scoring from there on a wild pitch.

Richmond starting pitcher Jack Snodgrass made his first start since being activated from the disabled list, and got stronger as the game progressed, finishing with eight strikeouts over 6.1 innings, allowing three runs and six hits.

Notable Players

**SS Alen Hanson finished 3-for-5 including a game opening single, a bunt single to third and a bases clearing triple in the ninth. He misjudged a ball off of Drew Maggi’s bat in the first, and should have scored on Maggi’s double, but came around to do so on Gregory Polanco’s sac fly. He seemed to “flip a switch” defensively, often times allowing routine plays to become close, while making more challenging catch and throws look easy.

15 pitches seen/five plate appearances, four from the right side, his triple coming from the left

**CF Gregory Polanco went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly, a walk and two strikeouts. He went after the first pitch he saw, and roped a ball to deep center/right center that drove in Alen Hanson from third. Polanco struggled with left-handed sidearm pitcher Phil McCormick, striking out on three pitches down and away with runners in scoring position, and looked like he carried that mistake into the field. He made a tremendous throw in the first inning to gun down a runner attempting to score from third on a sac fly, but appeared to pull off of a similar throw in the later innings.

19 pitches seen/five plate appearances; Polanco stuck out twice on seven pitches, and smacked a first pitch fastball deep for his sacrifice.

**RF Alex Dickerson had a quiet night, finishing 0-for-2 with two walks, and a sacrifice fly. None of the balls he put in play were hit particularly hard, but he drew consecutive walks in the seventh and ninth inning.

17 pitches seen/five plate appearances

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Chris Bennett

Chris is a controller by day, fantasy sports writer by night and father of three sons always. He currently covers the ACC for Rotowire, and pitches in as needed for MLB coverage. Prior to venturing down the accounting path, Chris spent his entire professional life in baseball. Starting as a batboy, he progressed through the clubhouse and into the front office, working the the Braves and Expos in scouting and player development. Chris is anti social media, but has warmed to Twitter as a news source. He's available @RotoBennett.

Cunningham Picks Up Three Hits, But Curve Continue Losing Skid

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Nick Kingham Labors As Curve Prevail

  • Jay

    I had a chance to attend the game last night. I went to see the future of the Pirates. I walked away thinking that Polanco looked bad. His two strikeout swings were not what you think of when you’re watching what’s advertised as the “future”. I can only hope his plate appearances were just a bad night not a trend. He looked lost and it didn’t seem to bother him.

    On a positive note, his put out throw from center was pretty amazing.

    A general observation of the team from 5 rows behind the dugout: The players didn’t seem to act as a team. Very little interaction between players. Almost like they huddled in packs not as a team. Very few high fives in and out of the dugout. In contrast the Richmond team seemed to be very much a team. Just an observation. This was all through the game, not just after they were down. THey were up 2-0 in the first.

    I was certainly not impressed by the Altoona coaching staff. They seemed to stand next to the same players the whole game. Very little instruction given to players as they made their way on and off the field. In contrast I saw the Richmond coaches making hand gestures as they talked with players as they came on and off the field. Very odd.

    I was amazed at how long the manager left Navarro in. Never left the side of the dug out to even talk with another coach. Just left him in there. Finally pulled him after walking in a run. Funny side note, in the fourth, while Navarro was in with the bases loaded, the manager looked back into the stands and I felt like I made eye contact with him. I shrugged my shoulders and threw my thumb to the side as if to say “why aren’t you pulling this guy”. He turned and peeked to the bullpen and walked out to the mound. Funny sequence. Had to be there I guess.

    First post and a big fan of the site.

  • IC Bob

    Thanks for the in sight.. The manager leaving Navarro in could be an attempt to see him handle the adversity. I am not surprised their would be issues of team cohesiveness here. Players have been coming and going all season at Altoona and their is no playoffs so the season is coming to an end in a week.

  • Chris Bennett

    Solid comments from both. I didn’t want to mention much of anything regarding the team’s approach after just one game, just know, it was noticed. I think tomorrrow’s double header will speak volumes.

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