Curve manager P.J. Forbes has defended catcher Tony Sanchez's ability to throw out base stealers all season by criticizing his pitching staff's quickness to the plate.
Tuesday night, Curve starter Brandon Cumpton kept Richmond's runners guessing, even picking off a runner, and the improvement paid dividends for both Cumpton and Sanchez.
The Curve catcher threw out three runners at second base, and Cumpton took advantage of the quick outs to go seven strong innings and pick up a victory in Altoona's 6-1 victory at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
"We've talked to Brandon about speeding up his times," Forbes said. "He did a great job of giving Tony an opportunity tonight, and Tony delivered. He got it out and got it there. That was pretty impressive."
The performance came at an unlikely time. Sanchez entered the game having thrown out just nine of 41 runners (22 percent) on the season.
"We've struggled with controlling the running game all season," Forbes said. "Hopefully that puts a damper on things for some teams as we go forward."
The throws all came in the first four innings when the game was tied. Richmond did not attempt another stolen base after Sanchez threw out Juan Perez with one out in the fourth.
"I told him just to get me the ball, don't worry about the runners, you just throw strikes and he did that," Sanchez said. "He did a really good job of getting me pitches that were good to throw on, and I did a good job of putting throws on the bag."
Sanchez followed up his defensive performance with a strong showing at the plate.
Brock Holt singled with one out in the fifth, and Sanchez followed with a rocket down the third-base line to put the Curve ahead. Sanchez later doubled to right to start a two-run frame in the eighth.
"Tony did a great job today doing everything we have talked about," Curve hitting coach Ryan Long said. "He is using the big part of the field and doing a good job with it. He's staying consistent and letting the game come to him."
The Curve finished with 14 hits despite playing without regular outfielder Quincy Latimore for the second straight day.
"[Latimore] is day-to-day," Forbes said. "He's got an infection in his leg. I'm not sure if it was a bug bite or what, but it's some kind of infection. The doctors asked us to give him a couple days off and let him heal up."
Before the game, the Curve also placed reliever Kyle Cofield on the seven-day disabled list with right-elbow inflammation and called up Jhonathan Ramos, who was available Tuesday but did not pitch.
Cumpton is now 3-1 with a sub-2.00 ERA against Richmond this year.
"We've talked about our starters going deep into games," Forbes said. "It was nice to see Brandon go seven. He was big and made pitches tonight and got some help with two major league plays from Brock Holt at shortstop."
Key player: Tony Sanchez was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, two runs scored and an RBI. He also was 3-for-3 at throwing runners out trying to steal.
Key play: Sanchez laced a double down the third-base line in the fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie.
Key stat: Sanchez threw out three baserunners. He had thrown out just nine the entire season coming into the game.
How they scored
Top 1st: Ehire Adrianza doubled, scored on Juan Perez single (0-1).
Bottom 2nd: Jarek Cunningham walked, scored on Miles Durham single (1-1).
Bottom 5th: Brock Holt singled, scored on Tony Sanchez double. Sanchez scored on Cunningham single (3-1).
Bottom 7th: Sanchez doubled, Matt Curry singled. Both scored on Jeremy Farrell single (5-1).
Bottom 8th: Durham doubled, scored on Robbie Grossman single (6-1).