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 Altoona Curve

Let the Playoffs Begin

September 3, 2003 - Eastern League (EL1)
Altoona Curve News Release

(ALTOONA, PA)- Curve fans have waited for this day for five years. Tonight, the Altoona Curve will play its first-ever playoff game in Game 1 of the Southern Division First Round Series at Canal Park in Akron. Gametime is set for 7:05 p.m.

Though the Aeros ran away with the Southern Division regular season title--finishing 10 games ahead of the second-place Curve--Altoona was very competitive in the season series, going 9-11. The Curve also played very well at Canal Park, splitting the 10 games played there, including an impressive three-game sweep of the Aeros May 6-8. Altoona dominated that set, winning by a combined total of 24-4.

In game one, the Curve will send right-hander Landon Jacobsen (9-11, 2.93) to the mound. Jacobsen was 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA in four regular season starts against Akron, including his most impressive outing of the season--a complete game, three-hitter at Canal Park on May 6th. Akron counters with former major leaguer Paul Rigdon (3-0, 3.23) in the series opener.

Among the sidebars in the series are the key injuries that will plague both sides. The Curve found out Monday afternoon that ace left-hander Sean Burnett had to be placed on the Disabled List with some discomfort in his pitching elbow and will miss his scheduled start in Game 2 on Thursday night. Burnett, the Eastern League's leader with 14 wins, had his elbow evaluated by Pirates' team doctors on Tuesday and will be out until at least Saturday. Manager Dale Sveum and pitching coach Jeff Andrews say that there is an outside shot that he could start Game 5 of the first round series, if necessary.

The Curve has received some good news on a pair of its injured position players, though. Shortstop Shaun Skrehot (back) and third baseman Kevin Nicholson (left thigh), both of whom have missed nearly all of the last two weeks, are both expected to be in the starting lineup for Game 1.

Akron hasn't been immune to the injury bug either. The Aeros were dealt a blow over the weekend when Curve killer Joe Inglett dislocated an elbow, which will sideline the second baseman for the entire post-season. Inglett hit .381 in 11 games against Altoona pitching this season.

Game 2 will take place Thursday night in Akron before the scene shifts to Blair County Ballpark for Game 3 Friday night and, if necessary, Game 4 on Saturday.

Pitching matchups for the series are as follows

· Game 2 (Thursday, 7:05 p.m. @ Akron)... Altoona LHP Mike Connolly (7-8, 3.39) vs. Akron RHP Francisco Cruceta (13-9, 3.09)

· Game 3 (Friday, 7:05 p.m. @ Altoona)... Altoona RHP John VanBenschoten (7-6, 3.69) vs. Akron RHP Kyle Denney (7-3, 2.42)

· Game 4 (Saturday, 7:05 p.m. @ Altoona)... Altoona RHP Ian Oquendo (4-0, 1.96) vs. Akron (TBA)

For more information on tonight's series opener and general information about the Curve's first-ever playoff appearance please visit Curve Playoff Central.

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