Before the game Sunday, Alex Dickerson was named as the Curve team MVP and as the Eastern League Rookie of the Year. In the first inning, Dickerson put an exclamation point on both awards as he hit a three-run home run to right field to highlight an eight-run inning for the Curve in a 8-3 victory over the Akron Aeros, the Cleveland Indians’ AA affiliate.
“He (Dickerson) put a good season together,” Curve manager Carlos Garcia said. “It’s one of those cases as long as the season goes, the better he gets. He’s made adjustments playing in the field and at the plate.”
“I mean it’s all you really play for,” Dickerson said about being named team MVP by his teammates. “Getting recognized by the team and you get to see the other awards we handed out today which are, in my mind, just as important. It’s good to see the recognition and be able to play each and every day, it’s been a fun season.”
Dickerson finished 4-for-4 with a walk, home run, and three RBI’s to lead the Curve attack, which accounted for 17 hits. Every batter in the lineup had at least one hit. Alen Hanson, Adalberto Santos, Justin Howard, Andy Vasquez, and Ali Solis also had two hits each.
Five consecutive hits started off the game for the Curve in the bottom of the first inning. 13 batters came to the plate in the first and ended up being the only inning the Curve scored in. Dickerson drove home Hanson and Santos with a long home run to right field that landed near the Skyliner beyond the fence, his 17th of the season. Andy Vasquez hit his fourth home run of the season to right field to drive in three as well. Hanson added a sacrifice fly and Santos drove in a run with a single for all of the scoring.
The Curve jumped all over Akron starter Toru Murata. The right hander came in with a 2-1, 3.00 ERA against the Curve this year throughout 24 innings.
“His off speed stuff, he was leaving it up all day and we just did a really good job sitting back and capitalizing on him,” Dickerson said about the team’s performance against Murata. “In the past we would chase him or we would chase early and we wouldn’t get a lot of those good pitches to hit and we’d put pop them up or something. I think all the way one through nine today, we just really got to him.”
Justin Howard showed good power with two doubles. The first double went to right field as it hit off the wall. In the eighth, the left-handed hitting Howard sent a deep shot to dead center field which bounced once just to the left of the 405 foot sign.
The eight-run first inning gave a big cushion to starter Nate Baker, allowing the Ole Miss product to pound the strike zone throughout his six innings. Baker gave up seven hits and struck out seven, but even more importantly, Baker did not walk a batter. The Pirates’ 2009 5th round pick came into the game with 45 walks in 74 innings. Nine outs came on ground balls and he struck out a batter using each of his three pitches (fastball, slider, changeup). Baker was burying his slider down and in on right handed hitters to induce chases outside the zone. Baker was sitting 89-93, changeup 80-83, and his slider 78-81. Luis Sanz pitched the ninth hitting between 91 and 95 with a curveball 76-79.
The Curve end the season with a Monday home game at 12:00 pm against Akron with lefty Eliecer Navarro starting. Jason Grilli will throw another 20 pitches for the Curve in Monday’s game.
SS Alen Hanson – Hanson went first to third on Adalberto Santos’ single to right field in the first inning, using good footwork to gain a proper angle to turn second base and head to third base on a tight turn with no wasted steps or ground. He showed soft hands on a short hop hit to him in the second inning, receiving the ball and then coming through with the throw using fluid footwork. In the third, Hanson charged in to collect a slow roller, fielded it cleanly, and then made an accurate throw to nail the runner by a half-step. In the fifth, he made a quick and smooth transition to turn a double play on a delayed pivot throw from the second baseman. In the sixth, Hanson made a perfect relay throw that he received from the left fielder and then threw accurately to Santos’ glove at third base.
RF Alex Dickerson – He went 4-for-4 with a walk, home run, three singles, and made a nice running catch near the right field wall to end the game, showing adequate range and tracking down the long fly ball.