Curve home run power blasts Erie in first game of series

The Altoona Curve had to wait one hour and 37 minutes to get their baseball game at Blair County Ballpark against Erie started on Monday night. After they waited out the rain, they punished the Seawolves with a power show you rarely get to see at BCB.
J.J. Davis drilled two home runs and drove in four and designated hitter Rico Washington came back one at bat after driving a pitch to dead center for a long out to pull it the next time for a dinger that went out over the right field wall.
“Obviously winning the first game gives you a chance to win the series,” commented Curve manager Dale Sveum when asked the importance of winning the first game, something the Curve have now accomplished in six straight series openers. “More importantly, coming off a performance like we had yesterday, (a 9-5 loss at Bowie) it was huge to bounce back like that, especially after the inside-the-parker gave up two runs and kind of took the wind out of our sails. It just showed the character of these guys out there to come back like that, putting some good swings on the ball after Tekavec was looking pretty sharp and getting some quick outs.”
Nate Tekavec took the loss for the Seawolves eventually giving up seven runs on 10 hits, walking two and striking out three.
Altoona got on top in the first with two outs. Kevin Sefcik, who led the Curve with three hits singled to right, Carlos Rivera looped a soft single to left and Shawn Garrett singled up the middle to score Sefcik.
Erie took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third inning, Corey Richardson opened the inning with an infield single to deep short and Carlos Castilla drilled a triple to right center that scored Richardson and when right fielder J. J. Davis had trouble picking the ball up, Castilla scored on the play.
That was all the offense Curve pitching allowed the Seawolves, however.
Ryan Vogelsong, in his third start for the Pittsburgh Pirate Double-A affiliate, continued to improve. Recovering from Tommy John surgery to his pitching arm last September, the righty tossed seven complete innings before approaching his pitch count, allowing two runs on six hits, striking out seven and walking none. Now on the Curve roster for the remainder of the season and no longer rehabbing for a few games, Vogelsong (1-2) has improved with each of his three starts, in picking up his first win.
“The start by Ryan tonight was huge” said Sveum. “He had decent velocity tonight with good command. He had a good breaking ball today. The durability was great. He got 95 pitches and got into the seventh inning for the first time. He still threw 88-89 miles per hour in that seventh inning and struck the final guy out with a good curveball. There is no question, all Vogelsong needs is to feel healthy, which he felt really good today, and the second thing is just confidence. Right now after that outing, he has moved into being our best performer in the last five starts. We haven’t had too many quality starts lately. Burnside has struggled a little bit, O’Connor has. Grabow had been pretty good his last few starts. We just need someone to step up now after losing Shaffar and Reid struggled yesterday.”
Newly arrived Rick Palma, acquired in the Chad Hermansen trade with the Chicago Cubs, tossed an inning of scoreless relief in the eighth allowing one hit and one walk with two strikeouts and lefty Clint Chrysler added a scoreless ninth with one strikeout.
The Curve tie the game at 2-2 on Davis’ first home run in the fourth, then retook the lead in the fifth on a key single by Sefcik. The new owner of the Curve franchise record for longest hitting streak (21) and most consecutive games reaching base safely (26), wiping Adam Hyzdu’s name off of both, Sefcik delivered a clutch single to center that scored catcher Brad King and lead off hitter Tony Alvarez for a 4-2 lead. King had singled up the middle to start the rally and Alvarez singled with both runners moving into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Shawn Skrehot.
Washington gave the Curve an insurance tally with his eighth homer of the year an inning later.
“Rico’s home run was a big lift for the team and for Rico himself,” explained Sveum, “to see him contribute to the ballclub.”
Altoona blew the game open with a five spot in the seventh. Sending nine batters to the plate, the Curve benefited from RBI singles from Rivera and Garrett before Davis unloaded his 15th round tripper of the year to run his RBI count to 44 despite missing a month and a half with injuries.
Davis was heard by Curve radio anouncer Rob Egan in the dugout before the game that “I feel pretty good tonight, I think I’ll hit a couple.”
J.J. who was the Eastern League Player of the Week for the last full week of July, has been hitting a ton.
“I hit a home run about every 25 at bats,” said Davis. “I had a lot of BP today and I felt good. I had my homerun swing going today. I saw the ball good and i hit it.”
“This team knows right now that it’s like every game is a playoff game,” said Sveum. “ We battled back to put ourselves in the situation and there is a lot of atmosphere going on right now. You can tell by the way these guys came in to work today and play. Even though we couldn’t get on the field, in the cages underneath, there was a lot of quality BP going on, a lot of serious faces in this clubhouse earlier today.”