Pittsburgh Pirates LHP Wandy Rodriguez pitched for the Curve in the first game on Thursday and lasted 3.1 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts (74 pitches).
In the first game, the Curve helped out their rehabbing starter with back-to-back homers to start the game. Alen Hanson clubbed his first homer of the season to center to start the game off Erie starter Kyle Ryan (2-3). It was the first homer of the year for Hanson and the first time a Curve player had led off the game with a homer since Andy Vasquez did it on July 18, 2013.
More homers followed as Gift Ngoepe followed Hanson with a blast of his own, this one to left field, and the Curve went back-to-back and were up, 2-0.
Wandy got out of the gate extremely well for the Curve, going six up and six down through the SeaWolves lineup with three strikeouts. In the meantime, the Curve offense kept rolling with a run in the second and two more in the third. Their fifth run, which came in the third, came on Willy Garcia’s fourth homer of the season.
Up 5-0 in the bottom of the third, Wandy ran into some trouble giving up a leadoff double to Steven Moya before Francisco Martinez homered to pull Erie within three. The rehabbing Pirates lefty got out of the inning but could not escape the fourth.
SeaWolves catcher Ramon Cabrera singled to start the inning and moved to second on a walk to Wade Gaynor. Moya flew out to move Cabrera to third and he ended up scoring on a ball that appeared to get Wandy out of the inning. Martinez, who homered earlier in the game, rolled a ball to Hanson at short that might have ended the inning. Hanson, unfortunately, couldn’t handle it and no outs were recorded and Wandy was forced to face nine-hole hitter Brandon Loy. Loy battled the rehabbing major leaguer and after 12 pitches to run Wandy’s pitch count to 74, he was pulled from the game in the middle of the at bat.
A.J. Morris came in behind Wandy and ended up walking Loy, which went on Wandy’s line, before striking out Jamie Johnson for the inning’s second out. With the bases still loaded and two down, Morris walked Krizan and Erie was within one at, 5-4.
The ‘Wolves scored no further as the Curve offense scored the final four runs of the game. Elias Diaz roped a two-run double with two outs in the fifth to pad the lead. The final two runs came across on double play balls off the bats of Vasquez and Garcia.
In game two, Altoona fell behind 2-0 but managed to cut that lead in half in the fifth. Drew Maggi started the two-out rally with a single, followed by his second stolen base of the day. The second baseman scored when Ngoepe hit an RBI single to make it a 2-1 game.
After a three-run home run and the second of the day by Erie’s Wade Gaynor, the Curve fell behind 5-1. In the sixth, Altoona threatened with the bases loaded and one out. Justin Howard hit an RBI sacrifice fly but the Curve could not induce any more damage in the inning.
Joely Rodriguez (1-3) took the loss after the southpaw allowed five runs on eight hits over five innings of work. Rodriguez struck out two batters and didn’t walk any, but allowed his first two home runs of the season, both to Gaynor. Pat McCoy (1-0) picked up the win in relief. Jose Valdez collected his first save of the year.
Altoona (11-13) will return home Friday night when they host the Akron RubberDucks for a four-game, three-day series beginning at 6:30 p.m. After the game, fans in attendance will witness postgame fireworks.
RHP Adrian Sampson (3-2, 1.82) will look to keep his hot start going to the season as he takes the bump for Altoona. Sampson will square off against Akron right hander Cody Anderson (1-2, 3.60).
--Altoona Curve Media Relations
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