Game 1: Senators beat the Curve 10-5 to take a 1-0 advantage in their best-of-5 Divisional matchup
Pitchers’ Duel? Smitchers’ Duel
Game 1 starting pitchers Tom Milone and Rudy Owens were two of the best three pitchers this season in the Eastern League. Anyone at Blair County Stadium who didn’t know that fact would have never believed it after an inning and half last night. Milone was uncharacteristically wild early walking two batters in the first inning while also surrendering a home run and RBI single to place Harrisburg in an unfamiliar 3-0 hole. But as the Senators have done the entire second half of the season, that deficit was merely a momentary speed bump as they responded in the top of the 2nd inning with 5 runs that chased Owens from the game in his shortest and worst stint of the year. Milone settled down and looked like the polished, older-than-his-age pitcher we’ve seen all season as he regrouped and worked into the 6th inning only allowing two more hits while striking out 7.
Ofilio Castro (3-5, 1r) started both big innings with singles and Jesus Valdez (2-5,1r) drove in 3 timely runs with a 2-out single and a fielder’s choice. Michael Burgess was the only starting position player to go hitless in the game as the team accumulated 12 total hits. Tim Pahuta and Edgardo Baez also got into the act when even they came off the bench and delivered base hits. If the Senators get this kind of balanced attack and patience (5 walks) on offense it will be a difficult task for Altoona to win 3 out of the series’ remaining 4 games.
A Rainout Would Work Too
Battling for the last playoff spot until the final day of the season left the Senators unable to set their ideal rotation for this series against the Curve. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Thursday’s Game 2 starting pitcher, Aaron Thompson. Even though Thompson finished the season with two of his strongest starts, at no point do you want to send him and his painful 4-13 record with a 5.80 ERA out to the mound for a playoff start. Short of Thompson unable to pitch for a variety of reasons (puking his guts out, unable to breathe through his eyelids, etc), the best case scenario for the Sens is if the southpaw has really discovered something lately and can continue his recent roll or if they are able to outslug the Curve in a high-scoring shootout. Maybe because I’ve seen it all season long, but I fully expect Thompson to get through 3 2/3 innings while surrendering 5 runs before getting yanked and taxing the bullpen in this short series.
Game 2: Tonight 6:30 PM – Senators (Thompson 4-13, 5.80 ERA) @ Curve (Jeff Locke 3-2, 3.59 ERA)