Justin Wilson can be two very different pitchers. When he is in control of his pitches, he can be dominant, looking like a top pitching prospect. When his control is struggling, Wilson’s whole game struggles. Tonight was an example of the latter.
Wilson took the mound for the first place Altoona Curve tonight, and from the start it was evident that he didn’t have his best control. Wilson led off the game by walking top Baltimore Orioles prospect Xavier Avery. Avery advanced to second on a ground out to shortstop Jordy Mercer, stole third base, and scored on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Ryan Adams.
Wilson allowed five walks in five innings on the night, with the walks hurting him again in the third inning. After striking out leadoff hitter Xavier Avery on three pitches, Wilson walked the next batter, then allowed back to back singles, bringing in the second Bowie run of the game, putting Bowie up 2-0. Wilson got out of the jam in the third with a 5-4-3 double play. Wilson walked the leadoff batter in the fourth, and followed that up with a single, but escaped with back to back strikeouts and an unassisted ground out to Josh Harrison.
Wilson pitched five innings, allowing two runs on four hits, with five walks and four strikeouts. He issued a walk in each inning, but limited the damage by stranding six Bowie base runners, including three in scoring position.
Altoona’s offense, on the other hand, wasn’t able to capitalize on their opportunities. The first opportunity came in the third inning. Chase d’Arnaud hit a two out single, followed by a line drive double down the left field line by Josh Harrison to put runners at second and third. Andrew Lambo struck out to end the inning, ending the threat.
Altoona left the bases loaded in back to back innings in the seventh and eighth innings. Jim Negrych, who went 1-for-1 with three walks on the night, started things in the seventh inning with a one out single. Miles Durham followed that with a single, ending the night for Bowie starter Eddie Gamboa. Gamboa pitched 6.1 shutout innings, allowing five hits, two walks, and striking out six. He also had an impressive 10:2 GO/AO ratio.
Bowie brought on left handed reliever Chad Thall to face left handers Kris Watts and Anthony Norman. Watts was hit with an inside pitch, loading the bases with one out. Norman struck out looking, bringing up Chase d’Arnaud with two outs and the bases still loaded. D’Arnaud connected on a line drive to left field, but the ball was in close proximity to Bowie left fielder Danny Figueroa, ending the inning.
Josh Harrison led off the eighth inning with a line drive single to center field, capping off a 2-for-4 night for the Altoona third baseman. Harrison also made some nice plays at third, mostly due to good positioning. Andrew Lambo came up next and crushed a ball to the deepest part of the park, with Bowie center fielder Xavier Avery making the catch right next to the 405 foot sign. Lambo’s shot would have been a homer to any other spot in the ball park.
Three batters later, Jim Negrych drew his third walk of the game to load the bases, but Bowie reliever Wynn Pelzer struck out Miles Durham, getting Durham swinging at a nice breaking ball.
Michael Colla held the game close, pitching three shutout innings, and allowing just one hit, no walks, while striking out three. Bowie brought on Jose Diaz, a 6′ 4″, 300 pound reliever, in the ninth inning to close things out. After Watts flew out to left for the first out, Altoona brought in Jose de los Santos to pinch hit for Anthony Norman. De Los Santos attempted a bunt, then was hit with a pitch, bringing Chase d’Arnaud up with one out. D’Arnaud immediately grounded to short for a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
Eddie Gamboa got the win, improving to 7-5 on the season. Justin Wilson took the loss, falling to 10-8 on the year. Jose Diaz picked up his third save of the season. Altoona will take on Bowie again tomorrow at 7:05 as Rudy Owens takes the mound for the Curve. I’ll be continuing my season ending tour tomorrow with coverage of the game. Go here to see the full season ending schedule.