Game 18: Curve 6, Senators 5 (11)
"Boy, that escalated quickly... I mean, that really got out of hand fast." - Ron Burgundy, Anchorman
For seven innings, the Senators couldn't get a run across the plate despite scattering 6 hits and they stood looking at the short end of a 5-0 score to the POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold Curve. (Yep, for the next 60 days Altoona is known as that...don't ask)
Finally in the 8th inning Harrisburg was able to break through for a run on a Steve Lombardozzi single, a Josh Johnson walk, and a Jesus Valdez double with no one out and the heart of the lineup coming up. However, Tyler Moore, Derek Norris, and Bill Rhinehart all popped up stranding the runners on second and third.
Enter the 9th down four runs and needing to string some base hits together, the Senators get to Curve reliever Michael Dubee for key run-producing hits from Lombardozzi and Johnson to get within one with a runner in scoring position. The Curve called on their closer Noah Krol to shut the door, but Moore delivered with a single up the middle that tied the game and sent it into extra innings.
However, things unraveled for the Senators in the top of the 11th when highly-rated Pirates' prospect Starling Marte fought a ball off his fists into right field to start the inning. In an attempt to keep the lightning quick Marte close at first, Pena attempted a pickoff but the throw was into the runner and the ball glanced off first baseman Moore's glove. That error was exacerbated when Moore tried to recover and hurry a throw to second but instead chucked it into left field and allowed Marte to advance to third with no one out. Two batters later, Tony Sanchez delivered the game-winning RBI down the third base line to put the Curve up for good 6-5.
Shortly thereafter, Hassan Pena got tossed without warning for beaning his second Curve batter of the inning. If there was jawing back and forth between the two teams, I would understand it. If the score was 14-5 instead of 6-5, I would understand it. But it makes no sense whatsoever to hit someone intentionally to load the bases with two outs in a game you are only losing still by one run. Instead home plate umpire Joey Amaral overreacted and tossed Pena immediately and then did the same to manager Tony Beasley after he came out to protest. For more on the incident, check out Geoff Morrow's piece on Pennlive (and keep reading...hint hint).
Despite what you might glean from reading the boxscore, Senators starter Ryan Tatusko threw a good game. He only allowed one run through 5.2 innings, but the problem lied in getting the third out of that sixth inning. In his last fifteen pitches of the night, the Curve laced consecutive doubles, a triple, and a single to score three and end Tatusko's night. Reliever Cory VanAllen continued to dominate as he struck out 4 in his two innings of work.
The Sports 'Burger Star of the Game: Josh Johnson (2-4, 1R, 2RBI, and one Web Gem to field a short-hop ground ball and cut down a run at the plate in the 10th inning)
You may be wondering about the header photo for tonight's recap...
No, that's not a member of MTV's wildly popular Jersey Shore. And it's not a picture from the website Hot Chicks with Douchebags.
Instead that was tonight's home plate umpire.
It's Joey Amaral's actual Facebook profile picture found while googling his name (it's the second link that pops up). If you don't believe me, here's a link to a game he umped last season in the Carolina League. Same guy.
So, for the crappy job you did tonight Joey I'm from now on dubbing you...The Shituation.