Offense Powers Altoona to Eastern League Finals

Lambo went 3-for-4 with one of Altoona's five homers tonight.

The Altoona Curve took game four of the first round of the Eastern League playoffs, defeating Harrisburg 10-5 to win the best of five series three games to one.  Altoona’s offense was powered by five home runs, leading to nine of the team’s ten runs.

The power surge started in the top of the second inning.  Andrew Lambo got on with a one out walk.  With two outs, Jim Negrych singled to center field, putting runners at first and third.  Miles Durham then put Altoona on the board with a three run homer, making the score 3-0 Altoona.

Altoona gave back two runs in the bottom part of the inning.  Ofilio Castro led off the inning reaching on a fielding error by Jordy Mercer.  Two batters later, Jhonatan Solano hit a one-out, two run homer, making the score 3-2.  It was the biggest mistake by starter Tony Watson, who pitched a strong game, going six innings, with three runs, two earned, on four hits and two walks.  Watson struck out five and gave up two homers of his own.

Altoona struck back in the top of the third.  With one out, and one on, Jordy Mercer made up for his error, hitting a two run homer, making it 5-2 Altoona.  Matt Hague followed that with a walk, which brought up Andrew Lambo, who homered to make the score 7-2.  Lambo has arguably been the MVP of the series, with a .294 average and six RBIs.  Lambo added another run in the top of the fourth, knocking in Chase d’Arnaud with two outs.

Watson recovered after his two run homer in the second, retiring 11 of the next 13 batters, and only allowing two singles.  Watson allowed his second homer of the game to Chris Marrero to lead off the top of the sixth inning.  Hector Gimenez got the run back in the top of the 7th inning with a solo homer, putting Altoona up 9-3.  Watson got the first two outs in the bottom of the seventh, then was lifted after a two out walk.

Craig Hansen came on to pitch an inning, but allowed two runs on three hits and two walks.  Chase d’Arnaud added the final Altoona run in the eighth with a homer of his own.  Daniel Moskos came on in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded and two outs, with Altoona up 10-5.  Moskos got Devin Ivany to ground out, ending the inning.  Moskos then pitched a shutout ninth inning to pick up the save, and close out the series for Altoona.

Altoona will advance to the finals to play Trenton, with game one being played on Tuesday in Altoona.  The Curve will play their first two games at home, and the final games of the best of five series will be played at Trenton.  Altoona is expected to go up against Andy Pettitte, who will be making a rehab start for Trenton.  I’ll be covering the first two games of the series in Altoona.

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