One hundred and ninety four games - that's how long it was since the Curve's last five-game winning streak.
That streak took place from Aug. 20-24, 2010, and current Curve manager P.J. Forbes was with Single-A Bradenton at the time.
Behind another solid effort on the mound, this time from starter Shairon Martis, and some aggressive running on the bases, Altoona notched its fifth win in a row, 6-3, over Erie on Saturday before 4,489 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Erie pitcher Kelvin De La Cruz tags out the Curve’s Tony Sanchez at home plate on Saturday.
"The wins are a product of [the players], plain and simple," Forbes said. "They're the ones doing it."
The Curve's pitching staff has been impressive during the winning streak, with a combined ERA of 2.15, and Martis kept that trend going against the SeaWolves.
Martis (2-0) surrendered a second-inning home run to Erie's Jordan Lennerton, which accounted for his one and only earned run. The homer was the only hit the SeaWolves managed off Martis in six innings.
Tonight: Erie at Altoona, 6 p.m.
Pitchers: Curve RHP Tim Alderson (2-1, 2.57) vs. SeaWolves LHP Ramon Garcia (2-2, 6.00)
Altoona's bullpen had yet another solid outing and made Martis' effort stand up. Matt McSwain pitched two innings and allowed two runs - one earned - on three hits, then Vic Black slammed the door with two strikeouts in a scoreless ninth to earn his second save.
Pitching coach Jeff Johnson had trouble coming up with a reason the Curve's pitchers have been so effective lately.
Saturday's game was the 11th in a span of 12 that featured the Curve playing either Erie or Bowie, and Johnson said his pitchers were going into games with a better understanding of how to attack opposing hitters.
"There's nothing that sticks out that we're doing anything different, we just may be making a few more pitches," Johnson said. "It does help that we've played these teams a lot, so we know the hitters better, we know where we're going."
Another thing the Curve did for the first time since August 2010 was steal five bases in a game. The club had struggled in that department with only 17 steals in 36 attempts entering Saturday.
But the Curve ran wild against the SeaWolves as Brock Holt, Miles Durham, Jarek Cunningham, Quincy Latimore and Tony Sanchez each had one steal.
Sanchez almost ended up scoring on a wild pitch, and though Erie starter Kelvin De La Cruz (2-5) fielded his own pitch and tug Sanchez out at the plate, Forbes said it was the most exciting play of the game for him.
"He was out, yeah, but only because the pitcher made a phenomenal play," Forbes said. "He anticipated it, there was no hesitation, he went right away. ... Those are the things we're trying to teach here."
Though their offense has not been anything special on paper during the winning streak, with a collective .239 batting average, the Curve have been able to find ways to score, and that's exactly what they did against Erie.
The Curve had RBI triples from Miles Durham and Matt Curry, and they also drew four walks, which along with their five steals gave their offense a boost.
"A lot of us are figuring out some things at the plate now, being a little more patient, hunting the pitch we want and hitting it," said Latimore, who went 0-for-1 with an RBI on Saturday. "At one point we weren't getting the big hit. We were getting runners there, but not getting the big hit. But now we're starting to get that big hit."
Key player: RHP Shairon Martis pitched six strong innings and allowed only one run on one hit to garner his second win of the season.
Key play: RF Miles Durham crushed a triple to center field in the fifth inning, scoring 3B Jeremy Farrell and setting up Durham to score for a 4-1 lead.
Key stat: The Curve have their first five-game winning streak since Aug. 20-24, 2010.
How they scored
Top 2nd: Lennerton solo home run (0-1).
Bottom 3rd: Farrell walked, scored on De La Cruz wild pitch (1-1).
Bottom 4th: Cunningham hit by pitch, scored on Cabrera groundout (2-1).
Bottom 5th: Farrell singled, scored on Durham triple (3-1); Latimore sacrifice fly scored Durham (4-1).
Bottom 6th: Cunningham doubled, scored on Cabrera groundout (5-1).
Top 7th: Guez singled, scored on Farrell error (5-2); Bishop singled, scored on Johnson single (5-3).
Bottom 9th: Sanchez singled, scored on Curry triple (6-3).