Senators take series final for second in a row over Curve

Altoona allowed the Harrisburg Senators to jump out to a quick lead in the first inning, then came back to tie the game, only to let it slip away in the eighth. Harrisburg scored four runs in the top of the eighth on four hits, one, a broken bat infield single, three walks and at least one fly ball that should have been caught, but fell in for a base hit, to win their second game in a row at Blair County Ballpark after dropping their nine previous games here.
With Paul Stewart on the mound for Altoona, the Senators scored two unearned runs in the first on a two-out error by third baseman Tom Evans and a single by Edgar Gonzalez.
With 4,094 fans in attendance, Stewart then shut out Harrisburg over the next six innings before giving way to Greg Martin and Justin Kaye in relief. Stewart scattered four hits, including two by Gonzalez, striking out two and walking none over seven complete innings in his best outing of the year, but left with a no-decision when his teammates couldn’t get him the lead.
“I felt good out there today,” said the tall (6-5, 230) Curve righty. “I was able to keep us in the game. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the payoff in the end.”
In fact he helped himself on offense by hitting a fifth-inning double that scored batterymate Chris Snusz who had singled and then scored on an infield hit by Rajai Davis and error that put Davis on second.
“That was just a lucky stroke, I guess,” said Stewart. “He (Harrisburg starter Zach Day) threw me a fast ball and two sliders the first time up, so I just swung at the fast fastball the next time, because I didn’t want to see that slider again. And it worked.”
Snusz, a seldom-used catcher was the hitting star for the Curve with a single and double and a run scored, Snusz was playing in place of starter Carlos Maldonaldo, who got the afternoon off after catching the early evening game against the Senators on Sunday evening. Maldonaldo has batted .360 (18-for-50) in his last 16 games, to raise his season average to .286.
Day, a major league pitcher, down at the Washington Nationals’ Double franchise in Harrisburg on a rehab assignment (right radius fracture), went five innings in his third rehab start giving up two runs, both earned on six hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
“We definitely can use a break,” said Curve manager Tony Beasley. The Curve are off for the next two days while the Eastern League All-Star game is being played at Portland’s Hadlock Field. “We have been really flat the last two days. Today was embarrassing. I don’t like to be part of games like that. I’m sure the guys are not proud of the way they played today. Stewart did a nice job. We made two mistakes in the first inning that cost us two runs. He threw the ball extremely well. We fell apart in the eighth again defensively. We just didn’t get it done. We’re not swinging the bats well, not playing with good energy. Hopefully these two days will get us back on track. Some of the guys can get some much-needed rest, or get their minds back in line with what they need to do. We had a tie game until the eighth and it looked like our defense got a little lax. In the outfield we broke back on a few balls and at least one, we couldn’t recover. It was a mental lapse, a lack of concentration. We can’t afford to do that. Offensively, we weren’t aggressive. Zach Day is a pretty good major league pitcher, but we have to do our part. We have to come to work and fight and battle. I want the guys to compete and go up to the plate with a game plan.”
The Curve will be well represented at the All-Star Game. Pitchers Brad Borner and Tom Gorzelanny, infielders Jose Bautista and Josh Bonifay and outfielder Rajai Davis were selected as players, and Beasley and assistant coaches Jeff Andrews, Matt Winters and trainer Jason Palmer will also be there.
“Its going to be fun,” was how Bonifay summed up the opportunity to play in the All-Star Game. “We have five guys going, it’s a good thing for the organization and it’s a good thing for the Curve. Next year, we get the All-Star game, it would have been nice to play in front of the hometown fans. Going into the break, these guys need a day off. We’ve been playing really bad. We haven’t been swinging the bats well and the pitchers have been pitching their tails off. Haven’t been getting any runs for them. We split with Harrisburg 2-2, but we haven’t done the fundamentals, we look lackadaisical in the field. We have been playing every single day, we need the time to heal and rest up. I have already lost six pounds, it puts a little wear-and-tear on your body. It would have been nice to have the days off, but going up there is a big honor.”
Altoona goes on the road following the All-Star break for three games at Harrisburg and three games at Erie, before coming home on Friday, July 22 to begin a seven-game homestand with three games against Harrisburg.