Michael Colla got a chance to face a future Hall of Famer today in front of over 9,000 fans in Trenton and considering the circumstances, he pitched great. Unfortunately for the Curve, Aaron Thompson, who recently cleared waivers after being removed from the 40 man roster, couldn’t hold a 9th inning lead and Altoona lost 4-3.
The first batter Colla faced tonight was Derek Jeter who singled on a 2-2 pitch, hitting a slow grounder between 3B and SS. The next batter hit a hard groundball double right down the 1B line putting runners on 2nd and 3rd. Jeter scored the first run on a deep flyball to CF. It has been a pattern the last three days that Curve pitchers have started slow but Colla was able to limit the damage and he had a much better outing than Aaron Pribanic and Phillip Irwin did the previous two days.
Colla’s final line was six innings pitched, four hits, two walks, two runs and five strikeouts. He didn’t allow a single hit the last four innings with the only two baserunners coming via walks, one to Jeter who was down 0-2 in his 3rd AB and definitely got the benefit from the umpire on one call to help get that walk. The other walk was on four pitches right as he was reaching the 90 pitch mark but he settled down and got a flyout and three pitch strikeout to end his outing.
All told he threw 97 pitches, 63 of them for strikes and he got seven swing and misses from the opposing batters. He also got some weak contact on a handful of foul balls and his breaking ball looked very good tonight, getting weak swings and buckling a few knees. These same Trenton hitters put up double digit hits the last two games off the starters.
Bryan Morris came in for the 7th inning and looked very good after the first two batters who both lined hits. With no outs and two men out Morris got a weak groundball that could’ve been a double play but a slow turn got just one out. With runners on the corners Bryan was able to strike out the next two hitters to end the inning. The next inning he looked better getting a grounder to SS and two more strikeouts that surrounded a walk. All four of his strikeouts, the batter went down swinging. He threw a total of 38 pitches, 23 for strikes.
Starling Marte got his 100th hit of the season tonight, that leads the Eastern League. His hit was actually pretty nice, it was just a bloop to RF but it was on a breaking ball that he waited on and hit the other way. His first two AB’s resulted in no hits but he looked good hitting a ball to the warning track in straight away centerfield his first AB followed by a hard liner right at the CF his next AB. Marte struck out in his 3rd AB on a full count breaking ball out of the zone and he popped up to 2B his last time up. In the field he didn’t have any tough plays but in the first inning with runners on 2nd and 3rd as described above, the ball was hit to the warning track just to the right of straight away center. Marte lined up for a throw and unleashed a perfect one bounce strike to 3B that just missed getting the runner. Very impressive throw.
Brock Holt switched to shortstop tonight for the first time since last season and looked decent at it. At the plate for a third day he didn’t look so good although he was more patient than the last two days. He struck out swinging his first time up, grounded out to SS his next time before blooping a single to LF on the first pitch of his 3rd AB. His 4th time up he hit a deep sac fly on a 2-0 pitch that drove in a runner from third to tie the score in the 7th. His last time up he hit a weak comebacker to the pitcher. He is 2-13 so far this series.
Tony Sanchez didn’t play the second game of the series but was behind the plate tonight. His defense looks pretty good so far. He seems to block pitches well and he made a nice throw on a 3rd strike in the dirt to retire the runner. At the plate is where his problems have been this year and he looked very bad his first three times up. All of them ended with groundballs to the left side, one of them resulting in a double play. His last time up he actually hit the ball hard, on a 2-2 pitch he lined a single into the RF gap. It was very similar to his first game which had three weak outs and a hard line drive single.
Speaking of similar games, Quincy Latimore for a 3rd day in a row took a 4 pitch walk and had an extra base hit. He is having a nice series, two doubles and a home run plus three walks and the two hit by pitches yesterday. The more important part is that he hasn’t struck out for three games in a row. Prior to this series he had 85 strikeouts in his first 73 games. It would be nice to see him keep this hot streak up to get his numbers to respectable levels although 15 doubles and 8 home runs aren’t too bad at this point.
Andrew Lambo had a nice opposite field line drive single his first time up but followed that up with two groundouts and a high infield popup. He got himself in good hitters counts each time up, twice going 3-1 including his first AB. He did have a problem in the field though. In the 9th inning with the tying run on 2B and no outs he came in on a long fly ball that went well over his head and resulted in a tie score and a triple for the batter who eventually scored the winning run. I’m not sure if he would’ve caught it with the right jump off the bat but after taking his first steps in he had no chance to catch it. That was the only fielding error I’ve seen from him in three games and he seems to have a strong but not accurate throwing arm.
Matt Curry continued his pattern from the previous day, swinging at the first pitch in each of his first two AB’s. That made just 6 pitches total he saw over his last five AB’s. He finally took some pitches his 3rd time up and got his second hit. He finished his day with a deep sac fly that put the Curve up 3-2 in the 8th inning. That AB was also off a lefty and was about 10 feet short of being a homer. Curry did get two hits in just four plate appearances but his outs were his best hit balls. His double in the 2nd inning was just a bloop over the 3B head that rolled foul and gave him time to get into 2B. His second hit was a soft liner to LF but his 2nd AB he hit a hard liner, much like Marte’s 2nd AB, right at the center fielder. In the field Curry made a nice diving catch robbing Derek Jeter of his 2nd hit. He has definitely had a better series in the field than the first time I saw him, he doesn’t seem to have good footwork but his glove has been much better.
If possible I will be there for game four of this series and the last Altoona game in Trenton this year. Kyle McPherson will be on the mound but as of right now the weather is calling for rain the entire day.