When the Curve were swept in a doubleheader on May 9, manager P.J. Forbes said his team "came out flat."
Forbes' team was swept again in a doubleheader Wednesday, but this time the manager said he wasn't upset about the effort. However, "heads up" is certainly not a phrase he would use to describe the club's play.
"I thought we came out ready to play today, but just played stupid," Forbes said. "We made a lot of mental mistakes today that we haven't been making, and when you do that, it's hard to beat a good team."
Though the Curve had just one error in the box score in the two games, they made a handful of cerebral blunders, and their seven-game winning streak came to an end as they lost two seven-inning contests to Harrisburg. The Senators won game one, 5-3, and took the second game, 3-2, before a crowd of 4,024 at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
The Curve have played four doubleheaders this season and have been swept in three of them.
First baseman Matt Curry had the biggest mental lapse of the day for Altoona in the sixth inning of game one. With a runner on second and only one out, Curry caught a foul popup and then casually tossed the ball to a fan in the bleachers, which allowed the runner to score.
Today: Harrisburg at Altoona, 10:30 a.m.
Pitchers: Curve RHP Shairon Martis (2-0, 2.00) vs. Senators RHP Rob Gilliam (1-4, 4.68)
The mistakes carried over to game two for Altoona, as what turned out to be the game-winning run for the Senators scored on a balk by starting pitcher Brandon Cumpton.
With runners on the corners and one out, Cumpton first stepped toward third and then attempted to pick the runner off at first, but was unsuccessful.
The very next play, Cumpton tried the same move, but was called for a balk. Forbes did not agree with the call.
"He didn't do anything," the manager said. "He did the same move the time before when he threw to first. [The ump] said he didn't step toward third. You got to let the players decide the game, and that decides the game? Come on. It's disappointing."
The third inning was the only time Cumpton (5-4) ran into trouble, and he ended up allowing three runs on five hits while striking out five in six innings.
The Curve's game one starter, Phil Irwin (0-2), also threw six innings and gave up five runs - four earned - on seven hits with six strikeouts.
Irwin was opposed by Harrisburg's Danny Rosenbaum, who entered Wednesday with the Eastern League's best ERA (0.62).
Rosenbaum (6-0) actually had his worst outing of the season, giving up three earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. Things could have been worse for Rosenbaum, but the Curve let him off the hook, leaving eight runners on base and squandering a bases-loaded opportunity in the second.
In game two, the Curve chased Senators starter Ryan Tatusko after 2 1/3 innings, but again struggled to get runners home. The Senators got solid work from their relievers, who pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings, with Patrick McCoy (2-0) getting the win.
During their winning streak, opportune hits were a big part of the Curve's success, but that was not the case on Wednesday. The team pounded out 18 hits in 14 innings, but it was a combined 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position in the two games.
"We got some guys on today in both games and we had some hits, but we didn't have those timely hits," catcher Tony Sanchez said. "Throughout that seven-game win streak, we were getting those timely hits, and you can't do it every day, it's impossible. It was only a matter of time before we slowed down a little, and unfortunately we lost two of them today."
SUBHD: Doubleheader recap
Key player: Though he was 0-for-3 in the second game, Harrisburg 1B Tim Pahuta was 2-for-3 in game one with a double and a solo home run.
Key play: What turned out to be the deciding run in game two scored when RHP Brandon Cumpton was called for a balk with runners on the corners in the fourth inning.
Key stat: The Curve are 1-7 in doubleheader games this season.
SUBHD: How they scored
Top 2nd: Rahl tripled, scored on Valdez single (0-1).
Bottom 3rd: Irwin walked, scored on Cunningham bases-loaded walk (1-1).
Top 4th: Pahuta solo homer (1-2).
Top 5th: Seabury doubled, scored on Rosenbaum single (1-3); McConnell bunt single, scored on Perez groundout (1-4).
Top 6th: Pahuta doubled, scored on Curry error (1-5).
Bottom 6th: Cabrera walked, scored on Durham (2-5); Latimore double scored Durham (3-5).
Bottom 3rd: Latimore solo homer (1-0); Gonzalez doubled, scored on Holt single (2-0).
Top 4th: Perez singled, scored on Valdez double (2-1); Lozada singled, scored on fielder's choice (2-2), Cumpton balk scored Valdez (2-3).