Baseball teams are often a mirror image of their manager.
Wednesday night at Peoples Natural Gas Field that, unfortunately for Altoona, was true for the Curve.
With P.J. Forbes unable to coach third or make the pitching changes due to a bad back, Altoona struggled mightily, getting shut down by Harrisburg pitcher Danny Rosenbaum for the second consecutive week in an 8-0 loss in front of 2,239 fans.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Curve catcher Tony Sanchez waits on the throw as Harrisburg’s Stephen King scores.
"We got away from the game plan and started rolling over on some balls and hitting ground balls," Forbes said. "It turned into a groundball-fest, and what [Rosenbaum] does is get you thinking in, and then he goes away from you and we hit weak groundballs."
Last week, Rosenbaum got a complete-game victory over the Curve and forced 14 groundouts. Wednesday he forced the Curve to spend more time in the sand than actor David Hasselhoff did on the show "Baywatch."
Altoona grounded out 17 times during Rosenbaum's seven shutout innings.
Tonight: Harrisburg Senators at Altoona Curve, 6:30 p.m.
Pitchers: Senators RHP Rob Gilliam (1-2) vs. Curve RHP Brandon Cumpton (1-2)
"He threw a lot of strikes and changes speeds," said Jeremy Farrell, who had one of the Curve's three hits against Rosenbaum. "He did a good job of keeping us off balance. He's shut us down the last two times out, so hopefully the next time we get him."
The Curve's offense, highly touted to begin the season, continued its current slump. Six of the eight non-pitchers who started Wednesday's game are hitting below .250, and three of them - Robbie Grossman, Farrell and Quincy Latimore - are below .200.
"I have some mechanical things to work on," Grossman said. "You can't always be good or you don't know what good is. You have to just look forward to tomorrow and have as much fun as you can."
The Curve didn't score any runs Wednesday, but they managed to put one positive zero on the scoreboard - the errors column. Altoona entered the game tied with New Hampshire for the Eastern League lead in errors this season with 26.
"Errors are going to happen, and as long as they aren't caused by mental lapses, I'm good," Forbes said. "This game is too hard not to make errors. We did, however, make some mental errors with our approach and not recognizing what was going on when we were pitching. Those are the bigger errors."
The Senators scored five runs in the sixth inning to break open a 2-0 game. Former Curve and Pitt Panther player Jim Negrych helped Harrisburg add an insurance run in the eighth inning with a pinch-hit RBI single in his first at bat with the Senators this season.
Altoona (7-10) will attempt to avoid being swept today when it sends Brandon Cumpton to the mound. Cumpton is coming off his first victory after two consecutive losses to start the year.
"You have to work both sides of the plate and change speeds against [Harrisburg]," Forbes said. "They recognize patterns. Live and learn. I think they learned a lot tonight."
Key player: Danny Rosenbaum shut down the Curve for the second week in a row, allowing just three hits in seven shutout innings. Rosenbaum also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.
Key play: Chris Rahl scored the first run on a Tony Sanchez passed ball. It was all the offense Harrisburg needed.
Key stat: The Senators had five hits while batting around and scoring five runs in the top of the sixth inning.
How they scored
Top 2nd: Chris Rahl doubled. Stephen King singled. Rahl scored on passed ball, and King scored on Chris McConnell sacrifice fly. (0-2).
Top 6th: Destin Hood reached on fielder's choice, and Tim Pahuta was hit by a pitch. Both scored on Rahl double. Rahl scored on King triple. King scored on Sandy Leon single. Leon scored on Danny Rosenbaum sacrifice fly. (0-7).
Top 7th: Leon doubled, scored on Jim Negrych single. (0-8).