A team that's last in the league in hitting can't afford to give away outs on the basepaths when it does get precious runners.
The Curve had major problems with that Tuesday night, getting three runners picked off base in the first three innings. Then they wound up getting shut out, 5-0, by Akron before 2,082 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
"Offensively we're just not doing it, man. Period. That's what it is," Curve manager Carlos Garcia said.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Altoona’s Jarek Cunningham is picked off second base by Akron’s Ronny Rodriguez.
The Curve are hitting .231 as a team, last in the Eastern League. They had only four hits Tuesday after collecting just three Monday. Compounding the problems, two runners were picked off in the second inning and one in the third, killing valuable scoring opportunities.
Adalberto Santos was picked off first by Akron pitcher Will Roberts in the second, and Jarek Cunningham was picked off by catcher Roberto Perez after straying too far off second to end the inning. In the third, Andy Vasquez read Roberts' move wrong and was picked off before getting thrown out at second.
"We're still trying to develop a mentality on the basepaths," Garcia said. "This is how we're going to run the bases. We're going to make mistakes because we're probably being overagressive sometimes, and for the most part we want to develop good situational baserunning type of players.
Tonight: Akron at Altoona, 6:30 p.m.
Pitchers: Curve RHP Casey Sadler (3-1, 2.79) vs. Aeros LHP Mike Rayl (first start)
Covering the bases: B3
"I can live with those mistakes, definitely," the manager added. "Today wasn't the day, but you know what, it's going to click someday."
The pickoffs at first base were bad reads of the pitcher's motion, and Cunningham getting thrown out off second base was a bad dirtball read. The Pirates teach minor leaguers to try and pick up the aim and flight of the ball, and if they see it's going in the dirt, they try to be aggressive with extended secondary leads so they can try to take another base.
It's good in theory, but if the runner reads wrong, Garcia said, "It's pretty much going to be an easy out."
"Tonight on Jarek's ball, yeah it bounced out in front of the plate but [Perez] picked it," said Matt Curry, who has been good for the Curve with dirtball reads. "So if a catcher is lucky enough to pick a ball that hits in front of the plate and throw you out, we tip our cap on that.
"Sometimes you can be more aggressive than others, depending on the score. I know we haven't scored that many runs lately, and our baserunners are precious."
David Bromberg (0-3) gave up three runs on eight hits in six innings to take the loss for the Curve. Roberts (1-0) pitched six shutout innings for Akron, then three relievers held Altoona hitless over the final three innings.
The Curve have the EL's best pitching staff with a 3.67 team ERA, but it's just the opposite as they're last in hitting by a wide margin .231 is 10 points less than 11th-place Harrisburg. Pitching again kept the team in the game Tuesday, but the offense and bad baserunning did in the club.
"We're just trying to see the ball and then react rather than be ready," Garcia said of his hitters.
SUBHD: Game recap
Key player: Aeros RHP Will Roberts pitched six shutout innings for the win.
Key play: The Curve had three runners picked off in the first three innings, including two in the second.
Key stat: The Curve are last in the EL in hitting with a .231 team average.
SUBHD: How they scored
Top 2nd: Urshela solo homer (0-1).
Top 5th: Urshela singled, scored on Greenwell two-run homer (0-3).
Top 8th: Ramirez walked, scored on Aguilar groundout (0-4); Holt walked, scored on Moncrief single (0-5).