For the second consecutive night Justin Howard hit a solo home-run to give the Altoona Curve a lead. The Curve were unable to hold on as the Senators came roaring back to win the game 5-3. The Curve not only lost the series against the Senators but this also marks the third straight series loss for the club.
Harrisburg got off to a quick start against Curve lefty Eliecer Navarro in the first inning. A combination of hard hit balls and control problems led to a bases loaded situation. Navarro was able to work his way through trouble but not before second baseman Rick Hague delivered a single which plated two runners.
The Curve countered back in the bottom of the inning against one of the top arms in the Nationals system, A.J. Cole. Walks to Alen Hanson and Adalberto Santos got Cole in trouble and Gregory Polanco delivered a single which scored Hanson. The Senators got a nice defensive play by Rick Hague, who caught a scorching line drive off the bat of Alex Dickerson and was able to double Polanco off of first base. Justin Howard delivered a hard hit single with two outs to bring in Santos to tie the game.
After a busy first inning for both pitchers, Navarro and Cole settled in and kept opposing hitters off-balance. They each however made one mistake. Justin Howard connected for a home run off of Cole in the 4th inning but Jason Martinson returned the favor hitting a laser off of Navarro to left field in the 6th inning. Each starter finished with similar lines each finishing six innings and allowing three runs.
The Altoona bullpen was unable to keep the game tied as Ryan Beckman allowed two Senators runs in the seventh inning which proved to be costly. Beckman took the loss for the Curve. The Senators staff held the Curve to just five hits. Aaron Barrett picked up his 23rd save of the season making quick work of the Curve in the 9th inning.
Game Notes And Observations:
Justin Howard produced two of the five Curve hits and looked locked in at the plate. In each plate appears he struck the ball hard. In the 8th inning he hit another ball to the wall that was caught. In his last 10 games Howard is hitting .412 and getting on base at a .444 clip. Howard has also hit 3 of hit 6 home-runs in his last 10 games.
Alen Hanson had a rough day at the plate while he did walk in the first inning he also struck out twice on some bad defensive looking swings. Hanson is still adjusting to the AA level.
Eliecer Navarro worked his way through trouble and kept the Senators at bay throwing mostly off speed pitches his second time through the line up. Navarro does not throw hard as his fastball sat between 84-87 while his off speed stuff sat in the 74-77 range.
The Curve bats where stymied for the most part by some live arms the Senators put on the mound tonight. A.J. Cole was hitting 93 on a regular basis on the Curve gun and closer Aaron Barrett was hitting 94-95 in the 9th inning.