Altoona Curve� 6,� Trenton Thunder�� 4 …..���� (box)
The Altoona Curve tied up the Eastern League Championship Series at 1 game each, beating the Trenton Thunder tonight at Blair County Ballpark in Altoona, PA.
The Thunder out-hit the Curve 9-5, but three of the Curve’s hits were home runs, and they were able to take advantage of mistakes by the Thunder.� 3B Josh Harrison got the Curve started with his no-doubt-about it solo home run in the bottom of the 1st.� The Thunder tied the game in the top of the 3rd on two doubles off starter Jeff Locke.
Then the Curve took a big step forward in the bottom of the 3rd, as they capitalized on throwing problems by Trenton pitcher Dellin Betances.� RF Miles Durham led off with a walk, then stole second base.� CF Anthony Norman also walked, as Betances was having trouble finding the strike zone.� 2B Chase d’Arnaud dropped down a sacrifice bunt, but Betances’ throw to first base sailed down the right field line, and Durham raced around from second base to score the go-ahead run.� With Norman on third and d’Arnaud on second, Betances got Harrison to ground out, and the runners held.� Then Betances fired in a wild pitch high over his catcher’s head, and Norman scored from third.� SS Jordy Mercer made the wild pitch less of an issue when he blasted a 2-run home run (it would have been a 3-run homer and Norman would have scored anyway), and the Curve toook a 5-1 lead.
Locke went on to pitch a total of 7 innings, allowing 6 hits and 2 walks.� He gave up a lone single in the 1st and again in the 6th, and those two doubles in the 4th.� He struck out the side in the 4th, on his way to a total of 8 strikeouts.� Locke gave up an unearned run in the 5th inning.� With two outs, a fielding error by Mercer put a runner on base, then back-to-back singles brought him around to score.� Locke loaded the bases with a walk, then got a ground out, again to Mercer, to end the inning.
Derek Hankins relieved Locke to begin the 8th inning.� He was greeted by back-to-back homers by Trenton’s RF Daniel Brewer and C Austin Romine.� Brewer’s long fly left the field well over LF Andrew Lambo’s head;� Romine’s bounced on the very top of the right-center field wall, hit the wall behind the fence, then bounced back onto the field — still counts as a home run.� Hankins struck out the two batters he faced after the homers, then walked the next two.� That was all for him, with Daniel Moskos coming in from the bullpen.� Moskos finished the inning with a strikeout, but the Thunder had moved within one run, 5-4.
Two of the Pirates’ affiliates in playoff action:
Altoona Curve� 6,� Harrisburg Senators� 4 ….������ (box)
The Senators and the Curve battled back and forth, with errors and poor base running on both sides, but it was the Curve who came out on top to even the best-of-5 series at 1 game each.� The Curve scored their runs on 7 hits, 5 of which were doubles.� LF Andrew Lambo and 2B Chase d’Arnaud let the way with two hits each, and Lambo contributed 3 RBI.
Harrisburg scored first, with an unearned run in the top of the first.� With one out, Curve starter Jeff Locke walked two batters, then got the next batter to ground to short, for what should have been a double play.� SS Jordy Mercer made the throw to 2B Chase d’Arnaud for the force out at second, but d’Arnaud’s relay to first base was off-target.� The batter was safe, and the runner who had been on second base came around to score.
The Curve got the run back again in the bottom of the 2nd.� 1B Matt Hague led off with a double, moved to third base by tagging up on C Hector Gimenez’s fly out, and scored on Andrew Lambo’s RBI ground out.� The Curve managed only a double by 3B Josh Harrison in the 3rd, then scored again in the 4th.� Hague and Gimenez opened the 4th with back-to-back walks.� Lambo rocketed a line drive down to the right field corner, bringing in Hague to take the lead.� RF Miles Durham grounded to short, but a quick play by the Senators going to the plate, had Gimenez out at home.� Lambo moved up to third base on the play, and he scored on CF Anthony Norman’s sacrifice fly.� Curve up, 3-1.
The Senators came right back in the top of the 5th to tie the score again.� Jeff Locke had kept the Senators from scoring over three innings, despite having runners on base in both the 2nd (walk and single) and 3rd (double and walk).� Another double led off the 5th, then Locke got the next two batters out.� The next batter lifted a fly deep into the left-center field alley, which sailed beyond Norman’s leap and to the wall.� Lambo couldn’t get to it either, and the runner scored.� The Senators made it runners on the corners when a short fly ball skipped off d’Arnaud’s glove and bounced away.� That was all for Jeff Locke, who had pitched 4.2 innings and allowed 2 runs so far, one earned and one not, on 4 hits and 4 walks, with 5 innings.� Derek Hankins relieved Locke, but he threw a wild pitch, which allowed the runner from third to score, also charged to Locke.� Hankins ended the inning with a strikeout, but the score was tied again, 3-3.
Thursday’s action for the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates:
West Virginia Power� 3,� Rome Braves� 0 …��� (box)
On July 24th, Power starter Phillip Irwin pitched 7 hitless and scoreless innings.� Tonight, he again threw 7 scoreless innings, though this time he scattered 3 hits.� Last time, he walked two batters, and tonight he did not walk any.� Both times, Irwin struck out 8 opponents.� Irwin’s toughest inning tonight was the 4th, when he gave up a double and a single, and hit a batter.� Luckily, the first runner was doubled off second base in a line-out double play.� The other two runners pulled off a double steal, but a strikeout ended the inning with them both still in scoring position.� Irwin retired the next 9 batters in order to finish his evening and earn his 6th win.� Zach Foster earned his 6th save with two scoreless innings of relief, allowing only a walk.
The Power were held to just 5 hits, but they also took advantage of three Rome errors in one inning.� In the 2nd, 1B Aaron Baker began the inning by reaching base on a fielding error.� He moved to second base on a passed ball, but was out at third when RF Andy Vasquez reached on a fielder’s choice.� Vasquez stole second base, and scored on LF Rogelios Noris’ RBI single.� Noris advanced to third base when the Rome pitcher made a throwing error on a pick-off attempt, then scored on C Jairo Marquez’s double, which was also complicated by a fielding error.� Marquez added another run in the 5th, with a solo home run, his second of the season.� Vasquez singled in the 4th inning, but was thrown out trying to steal second base.� SS Benji Gonzalez doubled to lead off the 8th inning, but was left stranded.
A full day of action for the Pirates’ minor league affiliates on Wednesday
Altoona Curve� 1,� Portland Sea Dogs� 0 (box)
Jeff Locke pitched 7 shut-out innings and struck out 8 batters to earn his 2nd win with the Curve.� Locke scattered 3 hits and one walk in those 7 innings.� All three of the hits were doubles.� Two of the runners were left on base, and the other was thrown out trying to stretch the double into a triple.� Locke never had more than one base runner on at a time.� Mike Dubee completed the shutout with 2 perfect innings in relief, including two strikeouts.
The Curve batters were not hitting a lot either, but they were the ones who put together a series of hits to score a run.� In the 8th, C Hector Gimenez doubled, and DH Yung Chi Chen and CF Anthony Norman followed with back-to-back singles.� Norman’s single drove in Gimenez with the only run of the game.� The only other hits the Curve posted were back-to-back singles by LF Jim Negrych and 1B Matt Hague in the first inning.� Both were left on base.� After those two hits, the next 20 Curve batters were retired in order, until the 3 hits in the 8th.
Minor League action with the Pirates’ affiliates on Thursday… lots of good pitching
Altoona Curve� 5,� Trenton Thunder� 3 (box)
The Curve came from behind to take this game from Trenton, despite being out-hit 8-7.� Starter Jeff Locke had trouble in the 1st inning, when 3 runs scored on a double, three singles, a wild pitch, and a throwing error by C Hector Gimenez on a stolen base play.� After that inning, Locke settled in, scattering four hits over the next 5 innings, while striking out 6 batters.
The Curve batters had only 2 hits over the first 3 innings, but they got going in the 4th to put one run on the board.� LF Andrew Lambo walked, and 1B Matt Hague singled.� A ground out to second by Gimenez moved both runners into scoring position, and 2B Jim Negrych picked up an RBI when his groundout scored Lambo.� DH Yung Chi Chen got the 5th inning off to a good start with a triple into left field.� He scored on CF Anthony Norman’s sacrifice fly.� A fielding error in left field put Norman on first base, but he was caught stealing moments later.� SS Chase d’Arnaud kept the rally going with a walk, and he was successful in stealing second.� 3B Josh Harrison was hit by a pitch, and a wild pitch moved d’Arnaud to third and Harrison to second.� Lambo’s grounder to second brought in d’Arnaud from third, and the score was tied at 3-3.
Jared Hughes took over for Locke for the final three innings.� He held the Thunder to just a walk in the 7th, retiring the other 9 batters he faced, with the help of some outstanding outfield work, particularly by Norman, and an infield gem by Negrych.� The Curve threatened in the 6th, when RF Miles Durham singled and Chen walked with 2 outs, but both were left on base.� Harrison began the 7th inning with a walk, and with two outs, he stole second base.� That put him into scoring position, so that when Hague took a 3-0 pitch into left field for a double, Harrison was able to score the go-ahead run.� Gimenez was intentionally walked to get to Negrych, who obligingly grounded to second base for what should have been the final out of the inning.� But the Trenton second baseman made a fielding error — Negrych was safe at first, and Hague scored an insurance run.