June 2, 2013 - Eastern League (EL) - Altoona Curve
ABOUT YESTERDAY...: Mel Rojas, Jr. smacked a game-winning home run in the top of the ninth inning to send the Curve home victorious, 2-1, on Saturday night in Portland. Rojas' homer was his third of the year and his first since April 22 off Richmond's Fabio Castillo. James McDonald made the rehab start for the Curve, going four innings and allowing just two hits and no runs. He retired the Portland hitters on 38 pitches total (22 strikes) and never used more than 15 pitches in any of his four innings. Rojas, Jr. accounted for three of the Curve's five total hits while Charlie Cutler, who also homered in the game, had the other two. Ethan Hollingsworth (2-3) tossed four innings of out the bullpen while Nate Baker saved his first game since April 6.
CURVE/SEA DOGS SERIES: Altoona makes its yearly trip to Portland a bit earlier in 2013 as they descend on Had- lock Field this weekend. Portland will make its annual trip to Curve, Pa. August 13-15. FOR ALTOONA: RHP Casey Sadler toes the slab on Sunday afternoon looking to pitch the Curve to a series win and to pitch himself to a sixth win on the season. Last time out, Sadler worked six innings in Binghamton on May 28 and allowed four runs in an eventual no decision. He entered the sixth inning with a 4-3 lead before giving up two runs to take away a quality start and the Curve lead. Altoona was later able to tie the game at four but ended up los- ing the game overall, 8-5. Today's start will be the seventh on the road for Sadler in 2013; a place where he is 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA in his six previous starts For more on Sadler, see page two.
FOR PORTLAND: The 'Dogs will send the third-best prospect in the system according to Baseball America in Matt Barnes to the hill in the finale Sunday afternoon. Barnes, 22, will be making his 11th start of the season and his seventh overall in the confines of Hadlock Field. The Connecticut native last pitched on May 28 and allowed three runs on four hits in six innings to take a no decision. He threw the ball much better in his second month in Double- A (2-0, 2.65 ERA, 6 GS) than his first (1-1, 9.00 ERA, 4 GS). Barnes was selected out of UConn in the first round of the 2011 draft with the 19th pick and signed by Boston to a $1.5 million deal. Last season, Barnes started his professional career in Low-A Greenville and dominated the Sally League (2-0, 0.34 ERA, 5 GS, 27 IP, 42 K) before being promoted to High-A Salem. He went 5-5 with a 3.58 ERA In 20 starts after his promotion.
YOU OUGHTA KNOW: OF/1B Andrew Lambo walked on Saturday night to continue his on-base streak and run it to 24 games (started May 7). He was held hitless, however, to end his 11-game hit streak and his eight-game RBI streak as well as his three-game homer streak. He batted .295 in the month of May and slugged nine of his team-leading 12 homers during month. Entering play today, Lambo is tied for the league lead in homers (12), tied for third in the league with 39 RBI and tied for fifth in the league for triples (four). His .545 slugging percentage checks in third in the league as well. He's also reached base safely in all but three of his games played this season (51-of-54).
MEL'S DRIVE IN: Outfielder Mel Rojas, Jr. was 3-for-4 with the game-winning home run in the top of the ninth inning on Saturday in Portland. The outfielder also had the first hit of the game for the Curve, a bunt single in the fourth, that broke up a nine-up, nine-down run by 'Dogs starter Brandon Workman to start the game. He has safely hit in 15 of his last 18 games to raise his average from .220 on May 14 to its current spot at .258. Rojas' six-game hitting streak that ended on Friday night might be converted to a 10-game hit streak depending on what he does when the suspended game with Reading is resumed on Tuesday, June 4. He went 0-for-4 so far in the game but if he gets a hit when it resumes it would make his current six-game streak a 10-gamer. The Indianapolis, Ind. born Rojas batted .269 in May with 11 RBI after hitting .226 in 24 games in April.
BIG LEAGUE CHEW: The Curve have had their share of Major League rehabilitation assignments or former Major Leaguers in their ranks for much of the first part of the 2013 season. Francisco Liriano made one rehab start for the Curve on Saturday, April 20 while reliever Jose Contreras also pitched for the Curve that weekend in Harrisburg on his way to Pittsburgh. Charlie Morton joined the Curve the following week for a pair of rehab starts on April 23 and 28 and was followed by Neil Walker's rehab appearance this past weekend vs. Richmond. Morton returned to start versus Trenton on the May 16 and in Reading on May 21. Jeff Karstens also stopped by for a rehab start on May 18 in Richmond. Chase d'Arnaud, who played in Curve, Pa. in 2010, joined the Curve in Richmond on May 18 and was with the team for the rest of the road trip before having his rehab assignment transferred to Triple-A. Pirates RHP James McDonald, who started the Pirates-Curve Exhibition for the Pirates on March 30 made a rehab start on Memo- rial Day and took the loss. He was a complete 180 on Saturday in Portland, with four shutout innings never using more than 15 pitches in any of his four innings.
DON'T FORGET YOUR TOOTHBRUSH: The Curve now play the final game of a stretch of the season where they have played 13-of-17 games away from Curve, Pa. So far in the 16 games, the Curve are 4-11 with the suspended game still hanging in the balance from May 23. Altoona will finally get a day of rest on Monday after returning home from the three-game series in Portland.
WELCOME HOME: Following the tough stretch on the road will be a long stretch of games where the Curve play at home inside Peoples Natural Gas Field. After this road trip concludes today, 12 of the next 15 games for the Curve will be played at home. Only a three-game trip to New Britain from June 11-13 interrupts the 12 home games.
ZACK ATTACK: Altoona turned to Zack Thornton to close the game on
Wednesday for his second save in as many opportunities in Double-A this
season. Thornton, who was acquired in the offseason trade from Oakland
that sent Chris Resop to the A's, was closing for Bradenton before being
called up to Double-A. He fanned 11 batters in eight innings while walking
one in his short time with the Curve. He was sent to Triple-A on Friday.