The Altoona Curve cruised to a 6-1 win in the first game of a three-game series against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (AA – Toronto Blue Jays) on Friday night at Merchantsauto.com Stadium.
Starting pitcher Rudy Owens tossed 6.1 solid innings allowing just the one run and scattered five hits to earn his third straight victory.
Altoona jumped out to a 2-0 lead off of Fisher Cats starter Luis Perez. Matt Hague, who extended his hitting streak to a season-high eight games knocked in Chase d’Arnaud in the first inning to put the Curve ahead, 1-0. In the second inning, Shelby Ford would then double in Alex Presley to place the Curve in front, 2-0.
New Hampshire’s only run of the game came in the fourth inning on a solo home run by Shawn Bowman that was in question as to whether or not it actually left the yard. Curve manager Matt Walbeck argued and was ejected for the second time on the road trip.
Walbeck’s ejection would spark four additional runs out of his teams’ offense as the Curve sent nine men to the plate in the top of the sixth inning using three walks by Perez to aid in the effort. Presley’s RBI ground out in the frame and Ford’s two-run single would cap off the scoring to put the Curve ahead, 5-1.
Altoona would tack on another insurance run in the top of the ninth inning. Gorkys Hernandez, who finished the night 2-for-5, blasted his first home run of the season to put the Curve ahead, 6-1.
Derek Hankins tossed 2.2 innings of scoreless relief to earn his first save of the season.
The Curve (37-18) will look to win their fifth in a row behind RHP Bryan Morris (2-1, 2.40) on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. in the middle game of the three-game series. Morris will be opposed by RHP Kyle Drabek (7-4, 3.06). Air time on flagship station ESPN Radio 1430, WVAM and Altoona Curve Radio Network affiliates is 6:35 p.m.
NOTES: Hernandez’s homer came on the same day that he celebrated the birth of his first child, a baby girl, Eva Valentina…d’Arnaud now leads the Eastern League with 17 doubles…Hector Gimenez extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a 2-for-4 night…Josh Harrison extended his hitting streak to seven games…The save for Hankins is just the second of his seven-year professional career…Altoona has won 15 of their last 17 games.