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Cannonballs coming: Altoona loses bizarre game

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I drove to Richmond to see Yeudy Garcia’s first start for Altoona (3-3). It’s a good thing I wasn’t late, as Garcia lasted all of two outs due to his pitch count. It was plenty of time, though, to see exactly what was happening to him last year. His fastball isn’t nearly what it was two years ago, when he was sitting in the mid-90s and reaching the upper-90s. In Richmond he sat at 90-92, hitting 93 once. This led to endless at-bats where he just couldn’t put the batter away. Part of the problem was that he couldn’t throw his slider, the only other pitch he threw, for any strikes at all, and the hitters didn’t chase it. In the end he faced only five batters, going ground out, walk, HR, walk, strikeout. The first walk and the strikeout were very long at-bats, with the latter ending on the only swing-and-miss Garcia got in the outing. It put his pitch count at 30 and him out of the game.

Sean Keselica, Miguel Rosario and Jared Lakind then went eight and a third scoreless innings. Keselica threw much harder than when I saw him a few days ago at Harrisburg, going from 87-91 then to 90-94 now. I don’t think it was the radar guns, as the other pitchers registered just about what I expected, including Rosario, whose velocity was the same in both parks. Keselica used the fastball most of the time and got through three and a third largely easy innings, giving up two hits and fanning three. Rosario somehow got through three scoreless innings despite being hammered by nearly every hitter. He gave up a string of line outs, long drive outs, and liners that Kevin Kramer — who played very well defensively — had to short hop at second. Lakind had one easy inning with two strikeouts and just a walk, then one inning in which he gave up three lasers that were all caught.

Altoona meanwhile was stranding 15 runners. The Curve got two runs to tie the game on Jordan Luplow’s (pictured) first two HRs of the year. Otherwise, it was a long series of missed opportunities. Then in the ninth, things got strange. Richmond, having used just two pitchers but nevertheless apparently being fresh out of them, put in a shortstop, who of course threw a scoreless inning. In the tenth, Richmond put in an outfielder who threw all knuckleballs. After two outs, the Curve finally figured out that none of the knuckleballs were strikes. A bases-loaded walk to Pablo Reyes put the Curve ahead, 3-2. Altoona, however, was also out of relievers, so third baseman Chase Simpson moved to the mound. He got two outs, but then gave up a walk and two doubles to lose the game.

Edwin Espinal and Elvis Escobar each had three hits for Altoona, although two of Espinal’s were popups to shallow right. Kramer was 2-4 with two walks and Kevin Newman was 1-6. Connor Joe lined a bullet to left for a pinch-hit single in his only chance. I have no idea why Joe keeps sitting in deference to Simpson and Espinal.

— Indianapolis (2-4) extended its scoreless string to 23 innings in a 2-0 loss to Columbus. Starter Steven Brault allowed just a run and two hits over five innings, but he walked four and had to throw 88 pitches. Brault fanned five. The other run, which was unearned, came of Edgar Santana, who was hampered by misplays by Erich Weiss and Max Moroff. Santana went two innings, allowing two hits and a walk. The Indians managed only five hits, two of them by Jacob Stallings.

Max Moroff: 1-4, 2B, 2 K
Chris Bostick: 0-4, 4 K
Austin Meadows: 0-3, BB
Jose Osuna: 0-4
Angel Sanchez: 2 IP, H, 2 BB, 2 K

— Bradenton (6-0) won again, 7-5, in 14 innings. Mitchell Tolman won the game with a two-run HR, his first HR of the year, in the top of the 14th. Kevin Krause, batting ninth evidently because he has the same number of HRs as the Pirates, was 2-5 with a walk and his third HR, and three runs scored. Starter Dario Agrazal allowed just two unearned runs on four hits and a walk in six innings, with two strikeouts. Jake Brentz fanned five over two scoreless and hitless innings of relief to get the win. He walked one. And infielder Trace Tam Sing did what Chase Simpson couldn’t do: he got the save — with a 1-2-3 inning — when the team ran out of pitchers.

Cole Tucker: 2-6
Will Craig: 1-4, 2B, 2 BB
Logan Hill: 0-6, BB
Ke’Bryan Hayes: 2-7, 3B
Christian Kelley: 3-5, 2B
Casey Hughston: 1-4, 3B, 2 BB, 2 K

— West Virginia (0-6) lost yet again, 4-3 in ten innings, to Asheville. Starter Matt Anderson survived a rough third inning and some control problems to go six, striking out eight. He gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks. Mike Wallace, just promoted because the Power were short on rested pitchers, followed with three scoreless innings before allowing an unearned run in his fourth inning. He gave up four hits, walked none and struck out two. Arden Pabst went 2-4 with his first professional HR and Stephen Alemais finally got a hit, going 2-4 with a double and a walk. Ty Moore, just promoted because starting first baseman Jordan George is on the disabled list, went 2-3 with two walks.