PORTLAND, Maine - This isn't the worst road team in Curve history, but it's getting close, and the disparity between home and road is staggering.
Fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field have been able to watch a good team, as the Curve are 38-24 there. But they've been anything but good away from home, and Tuesday they dropped to 21-38 on the road with a 13-2 thumping by Portland at Hadlock Field.
The loss ended Altoona's five-game winning streak, it marked the team's eighth consecutive road loss and it dropped the club to four games behind Bowie for the final playoff spot in the Western Division. It also was merely the opener of a nine-game road trip, and things could turn ugly in a hurry for the Curve if they can't figure out a way to play well on the road.
The 2001 club finished a franchise-worst 25-45 away from home for a mere .357 winning percentage. With 12 road games remaining, this year's team has to go 5-7 in order to avoid having the worst road record in team history.
Even that dreadful road team in 2001 - with first-year manager Dale Sveum at the helm - wasn't as much of a Jekyll and Hyde club as this Curve team. The 2001 club went a respectable 38-34 at home, while this year's team has been superb at PNG Field but unable to carry it over away from home.
Tuesday's 11-run loss matched the largest differential of the season for the Curve, who had rebounded from an eight-game losing streak to win five in a row and get back in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Tonight: Altoona at Portland, 7 p.m.
Pitching matchups: Curve LHP Kris Johnson (1-1, 2.84) vs. Sea Dogs (LHP Drake Britton (3-5, 4.02)
Covering the bases
LEADING OFF: RHP Tim Alderson was activated off the disabled list Tuesday after being out since July 21 with an elbow injury. Alderson was having a good season (3.58 ERA) before getting ripped for eight earned runs in 2 2/3 innings his last time out to raise the ERA to 4.40.
SAFE AT FIRST: Alderson pitched the eighth inning in relief and allowed one run on one hit. It would appear he will remain in the bullpen for the remainder of the season rather than rejoin the starting rotation.
STEALING SECOND: RHP Kyle Kaminska was sent to high-A Bradenton to clear a roster spot for Alderson. Kaminska gave up three runs in six innings over three appearances for the Curve. He came to the Pirates organization from the Marlins in the Gorkys Hernandez for Gaby Sanchez trade.
ROUNDING THIRD: RF Adalberto Santos and 1B Matt Curry each went 2-for-4 Tuesday, while LF Oscar Tejeda had the Curve's only other hit. Curry is back up to .299, while Santos continues to sizzle as he's at .388 in 48 games.
HEADING HOME: The Curve traditionally have held their own at Portland, going 19-21 there all-time.
- Cory Giger
Manager P.J. Forbes said after Sunday's series-sweeping win over Trenton that the first game in Portland would "tell me a lot because these guys feed off each other and feed off momentum."
All of that momentum disappeared quickly Tuesday.
Portland scored a run in the first inning and four in the second off Curve starter Tyler Waldron (1-1). The Sea Dogs then poured it on with six runs in 2 2/3 innings off reliever Nathan Baker, scoring five times in the fourth for an 11-0 lead.
Portland starter Brandon Workman, meanwhile, shut down the Curve offense on just two hits over six innings. Workman (1-0) was making his Double-A debut after going 7-7 with a 3.40 ERA at high-A Salem.
Key player: Sea Dogs RHP Brandon Workman pitched six shutout innings, allowing two hits, in his Double-A debut.
Key play: C Christian Vazquez's two-run double ignited a four-run second inning that gave Portland a 5-0 lead.
Key stat: The Curve have lost eight in a row on the road.
How they scored
Bottom 1st: Smith doubled, scored on Waldron wild pitch (0-1).
Bottom 2nd: Shaw doubled, Bogaerts singled, both scored on Vazquez double (0-3); Bermudez singled, scored on Bradley groundout (0-4); Welch error scored Vazquez (0-5).
Bottom 3rd: Bermudez solo homer (0-6).
Bottom 4th: Smith solo homer (0-7); Hazelbaker singled, scored on Shaw double (0-8); Brentz singled, scored along with Shaw on Bogaerts three-run homer (0-11).
Top 7th: Santos doubled, scored on Curry double (1-11); Marrero sacrifice fly scored Curry (2-11).
Bottom 7th: Vazquez doubled, scored on Bradley single (2-12).
Bottom 8th: Hazelbaker hit by pitch, scored on Shaw groundout (2-13).