Altoona got a great effort from starting pitcher Aaron Thompson tonight, as Thompson struck out seven and walked one in 4.2 innings. However, poor defense in the third inning led to four runs allowed, with only one of them being credited to the left hander. That, plus a lack of hitting, led to a 5-0 Altoona loss against Richmond.
Thompson allowed a leadoff single in the third inning to Justin Christian. Nick Noonan followed up with a sacrifice bunt attempt down the first base line, and was safe when first baseman Miles Durham and Thompson both went for the ball, leaving first base uncovered. Thompson followed that with a line drive single to Starling Marte. Marte’s arm kept the bases loaded with his throw to home plate.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Thompson got a tailor made grounder to shortstop Jordy Mercer right by the second base bag. Mercer went for the 6-3 double play, but got ahead of himself, and bobbled the grounder trying to make the play at second before he had the ball secured. The play allowed a run to score, and left the bases loaded with no outs. Thompson followed that up with a shallow fly out to right field, with Quincy Latimore holding the runner at third. After one of Thompson’s seven strikeouts, this one a low slider to get Joe Koshansky swinging, Mike McBryde doubled down the third base line, bringing in three runs, all unearned for Thompson.
Altoona could have escaped the inning unscathed, had they recorded an out on the bunt attempt, followed later by a successful double play by Mercer. The defense that inning overshadowed what was a nice start for Thompson. The southpaw struck out seven, including striking out the side in the second inning. Six of his seven strikeouts were swinging, and most of them were due to very effective breaking pitches, led by his slider.
The fielding issues weren’t limited to the third inning. With one out in the fourth, Eric Surkamp hit a fly ball to left-center field, between Quincy Latimore and Starling Marte. There was confusion over who had the ball, Marte made a last minute attempt at it, and ended up dropping it off his glove. One play later, Justin Christian singled to left-center field. Latimore came up throwing to home, allowing Christian to advance to second. Altoona got out of the inning without any damage thanks to one of Thompson’s strikeouts, and a fly-out to center.
The defense was bad, but it might not have mattered much in the end, as Altoona struggled at the plate. The best scoring chance came in the fourth inning. Jordy Mercer beat out an inning ending double play attempt, starting a mini-rally for the Curve. Jeremy Farrell followed that up with a single down the third base line, getting the first hit of the game for Altoona. That brought up Tony Sanchez, who flied out to deep center field, with the ball reaching the warning track.
Altoona only managed one other hit during the game, a single by Sanchez in the seventh inning, which advanced Jeremy Farrell to second with one out. Miles Durham followed that up by grounding in to a double play, ending the inning.
Richmond added another run in the bottom of the seventh inning, with a double by Juan Perez off of Anthony Claggett, bringing in Charlie Culberson from first. Chris Leroux came on to pitch the eighth, running in to a bit of trouble with a one out double, although Leroux managed to escape the jam without any runs allowed.
Jordy Mercer was hit with a pitch with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. Jeremy Farrell and Tony Sanchez followed with walks, loading the bases for the Curve. However, Miles Durham popped out to the catcher in foul territory, giving Altoona the 5-0 loss.