Negrych and Watts Lead Curve In Sweep; 10 K’s For Locke

Altoona Curve �9, �Akron Aeros 6 (box)

The Curve swept the 3-game series with the Akron Aeros in their own park with an afternoon win on Wednesday. �DH Jim Negrych continued his hot hitting by going 3-for-4 at the plate, including 2 doubles. �C Kris Watts added a 2-run homer, and SS Chase d’Arnaud and 1B Matt Hague each had 2 hits.

Akron had the early lead. �They scored twice in the 1st inning, with a single and back-to-back doubles off Curve starter Tim Alderson. Another double, a sacrifice bunt, and a sacrifice fly added a run in the 2nd inning, giving the Aeros a 3-0 lead. �That didn’t last long. �The Curve came back with 4 runs in the top of the 3rd. �3B Josh Harrison singled and went to second base on a wild pitch. �He scored on Negrych’s double. �Watts walked, then d’Arnaud also doubled, scoring Negrych. �A single from Hague brought in both Watts and d’Arnaud, and the Curve had a 4-3 lead.

The Aeros tied the score at 4-4 in the 4th inning, on a single, a passed ball by Watts, and an RBI single. �Altoona took the lead again in the top of the 5th. �Negrych led off the inning with a single, and Watts’ homer gave the Curve a 6-4 lead. �The Aeros fought back and tied the score again in the bottom of the inning. �A walk and a single with two outs chased Tim Alderson from the game. �Tony Watson came on in relief, but he gave up a double, scoring both base runners. �Alderson was responsible for those runs, for a total of 6 (5 earned) on 7 hits and 2 walks, plus one strikeout.

Finally, the Curve scored an unanswered run in the top of the 6th. �With one out, RF Alex Presley singled into center field. �Josh Harrison lined a single into right field, but was out at second when he tried to stretch it into a double. �While the Aeros were busy with Harrison, Presley was able to score the go-ahead run. �The Curve then added two insurance runs. �In the 8th, Matt Hague led off with a walk, and 2B Shelby Ford singled, moving Hague to third base. �That gave LF Jose De Los Santos the chance to bring in Hague with a sacrifice fly. �In the 9th, walks to Watts and CF Gorkys Hernandez plus a single by Hague gave Altoona even more insurance.

Tony Watson pitched 3 more innings. �He had a batter reach in the 6th on a throwing error by d’Arnaud, but retired the other 9 batters he faced. �Watson was credited with the win. �Jeff Sues earned his third save with a scoreless 9th inning.

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Hague and Durham Power Curve; Power and Marauders Fall Short

Altoona Curve �13, �Erie SeaWolves 5 (box)

The Curve exploded for 7 runs in the top of the 9th inning, to take the first game in their series against the SeaWolves in Erie. �The Curve went into the 9th already leading 6-5. �They sent 11 batters to the plate in the 9th, beginning with a single by LF Alex Presley, and SS Chase d’Arnaud being hit by a pitch. �Both moved up one base on a throwing error, and Presley scored on DH Jim Negrych’s RBI single. �RF Miles Durham doubled, scoring d’Arnaud, and an intentional walk to C Hector Gimenez loaded the bases. �CF Gorkys Hernandez brought in Negrych with an RBI single. �Then 2B Josh Harrison and 1B Matt Hague greeted a new reliever with back-to-back doubles, each plating two more runs.

Altoona had begun the game with 2 runs in the top of the 1st, when d’Arnaud and Negrych opened the game with two walks, and Gimenez scored both with a 2-RBI double. �Durham’s 3-run homer in the 3rd inning followed another walk to Negrych and a single by 3B Jordy Mercer. Hague added a solo home run in the 4th inning.

Tim Alderson started for the Curve and gave up a solo home run to the first batter he faced in the bottom of the 1st. �He gave up another homer in the 5th, after a single and a walk. �Alderson pitched 5 innings, allowing those 4 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks, with 2 strikeouts, to earn his first win of the season. �Dustin Molleken pitched 2.1 innings, and he gave up the SeaWolves’ final run in the 7th, on a single and a triple. �The runner on third was thrown out at the plate on a subsequent fielders’ choice play, when SS d’Arnaud threw to Hector Gonzalez at the plate for the tag out. Danny Moskos earned his first save with 1.2 scoreless innings, allowing one hit, and striking out 2 batters.

The Curve are now 7-1 for the season — their best start in franchise history.

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De Los Santos’ Walk Off Double For Curve; Ngoepe’s First HIt For Marauders

Remember to tune in to ESPNews on Sunday afternoon after 2 pm (Eastern), to see Harrisburg’s Stephen Strasburg pitch against the Altoona Curve. �They have said that they will only show the half innings when Strasburg is on the mound, but that means we get to take a look at the Curve batters.

On to Saturday evening’s games:

Altoona Curve 1, �Harrisburg Senators 0 (box)

These two teams took a scoreless tie into the bottom of the 10th inning, but the Curve came out on top with their third win of the season. �That was when 2B Josh Harrison led off with a single through the hole into left field. �C Kris Watts dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move Harrison to second base, and LF Jim Negrych walked. �LF/RF Jose De Los Santos was the hero of the night, with his RBI double into left field to bring Harrison home with the only run of the game.

Prior to that inning, the Curve had only managed two hits. �RF/1B Miles Durham singled in the bottom of the 1st inning, and 3B Jordy Mercer walked, but both were left on base when the inning ended. �Senators’ pitcher Tom Milone retired the next 16 Curve batters in order, has he pitched 6 scoreless innings. �The Curve batters managed two walks off Harrisburg reliever Rafael Martin in the 7th inning, but again they were both left stranded. �Mercer singled in the 9th inning, but was forced out at second on a grounder.

The Curve pitching staff were keeping up with their Harrisburg counterparts. �Tim Alderson made his first start of the season and threw 5 scoreless innings. �He gave up two singles in the top of the 1st, but CF Gorkys Hernandez’s throw in to 2B Josh Harrison was in time to force out the lead runner at second base. �Alderson scattered a walk and two more singles over the next three innings, and then retired the side in order in the 5th. �He also struck out two batters. �Reliever Derek Hankins took over for Alderson to begin the 6th inning. �Hankins pitched 2 innings and gave up 2 walks, with one wild pitch, but did not allow a run to score. �Ronald Uviedo took the next two innings, and he walked just one batter then erased him with a double play. �Danny Moskos came on to pitch the top of the 10th inning and retired the side in order. �Moskos was the pitcher of record when De Los Santos hit his walk-off double in the bottom of the inning, so he was credited with the win.

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Prospect Watching: Brad Lincoln and Tim Alderson

Getting back to looking at some of the minor league players moving up in the Pirates’ organization. �These are in no particular order, though we’ve generally been working our way from the lower levels to the upper levels. �Today we’ll look at a couple of first-round draft pitchers.

Brad Lincoln is the top pitching prospect in the Pirates’ organization.

img_1702lincolnThe nearly-25-year-old �was the Pirates’ first round pick in the 2006 draft after an outstanding season at the University of Houston — a 12-2 record and a 1.69 ERA in 17 starts. �After signing, Lincoln reported to the GCL Pirates for two starts, where he allowed only one unearned run in 7.2 innings. �Then he was bumped up to A level Hickory, where he made 4 more starts before being shut down with an oblique strain. �He’d already pitched a whopping 151.1 innings that year, so the Pirates were not disappointed to have him sit. �They were disappointed when a muscle strain in his right arm during spring training 2007 turned out to be a ligament problem �Lincoln had Tommy John surgery in April and missed the entire season.

Unlike many pitchers who have a rocky rehab course, Lincoln’s rehab period went well. �He was able to return to the mound again at Hickory in May 2008, and made 11 starts for the Crawdads, earning a 5-5 record and a 4.65 ERA. �In 62 innings, he gave up a lot of hits (72) but only 6 walks, with 46 strikeouts. �He was promoted to A+ Lynchburg, where he made 8 more starts for another 41.2 innings. �He gave up proportionally fewer hits with the Hillcats (42) but more walks (11). �His strikeout rate was about the same: �29 K for a 6.3 K/9 Inning rate. �He won only one game while losing 5 for the Hillcats, and earned a 4.75 ERA.

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