I've got a longer recap than usual of Altoona's 7-3 loss to Richmond, as I was at the game. Starter Joely Rodriguez lasted only three innings, as he got hit hard, allowing five runs on seven hits, all torched. Rodriguez didn't walk a batter, but his control wasn't especially good. He fell behind early in counts as he wasn't locating his fastball well enough. Eventually he started getting it up in the zone and it got ripped repeatedly. His fastball sat at 88-90, although I think the stadium gun was reading slightly low. Rodriguez got some swings and misses with his slider -- he fanned three -- but he didn't generally have an out pitch. He managed to battle his way to a number of two-strike counts, but couldn't put the hitters away. He showed only a perfunctory change up. I've always thought Rodriguez profiled best as a reliever, because he's shown mid-90s velocity in shorter outings. It's probably not fair to hold one bad outing against him, but I'm still inclined to see him in the bullpen long term.
Jhonathan Ramos, an organizational lefty, and Emmanuel De Leon pitched in relief. De Leon showed a 92-94 mph fastball (again, I think the gun was a little slow) and a decent slider. He threw only half his pitches for strikes, though, and needed help from some overeager hitters to escape big trouble.
The Curve's hitters were largely helpless against the Richmond starter, 5'9" minor league veteran Kelvin Marte. They finally got a rally going against the bullpen in the 8th, but it was killed by one of the dumbest moves I've ever seen. Altoona cut their deficit to 6-3 and had runners on first and second with two out and Willy Garcia up. On a 1-0 pitch they inexplicably tried a double steal and Stetson Allie got thrown out by ten feet at second.
At the plate, Allie didn't take any terrible swings and didn't strike out, but he made only weak outs three times against Marte. He lined a single off a reliever. He also looked good at first. Gift Ngoepe, playing short with Alen Hanson resting, went 1-3 with a walk. He had one bad at-bat in which he chased some off-speed stuff, including a pitch that bounced in the dirt for strike three. Otherwise he laid off the soft stuff. Garcia went 0-4, fanned twice and consistently looked lost. Mel Rojas, Jr., went 2-4.
-- Indianapolis couldn't overcome an eight-run 2nd and suffered just its second loss, 10-9 to Columbus. Phil Irwin got bombed again, getting knocked out in that big inning. Jay Jackson also continued to struggle, allowing three runs in four and two-thirds innings, although he did fan seven. Duke Welker threw two perfect innings, fanning three, and Andy Oliver managed not to walk anybody in a scoreless inning, with two strikeouts. Gregory Polanco went 1-5 with a triple and a walk and Andrew Lambo went 2-4 with a double and a walk. Matt Hague made an infrequent appearance, going 3-5, and Michael Martinez went 3-3 with a double, a triple and two walks.
-- Bradenton got shut out by Jupiter, 6-0. The game was scoreless through six, as Jason Creasy allowed just four hits and a walk, fanning two. Ryan Hafner, who's struggling so far this year, came on in the 7th and allowed six runs, five unearned, in an inning and two-thirds. He gave up five hits and three walks, and fanned two. The Marauders managed only two hits, singles by Walker Gourley and Adam Frazier. Josh Bell went 0-3.
-- West Virginia scored nine in the 2nd, mostly on walks, and held on to beat Lexington, 10-6. Dovydas Neverauskas had his second good start, allowing one run on four hits and a walk in five innings. He fanned four. Erich Weiss (pictured) had only one hit in five at-bats, but it was his first pro HR, a grand slam. Weiss is now hitting 368/429/553. Justin Maffei went 2-4 with a double and a walk; Danny Collins 1-2 with a double, three RBIs and two walks; JaCoby Jones 0-3 with two walks; Reese McGuire 0-4; and Wyatt Mathisen 0-2 with two walks.