Before the Altoona Curve can focus solely on Bowie and advancing to the Eastern League Championship, they must get through the last regular season series of the season against Harrisburg.
Tuesday saw the Curve clinch a playoff berth for the third consecutive season by way of their victory over the Richmond Flying Squirrels. However, the playoffs don’t start until Wednesday and the Harrisburg Senators come to town Friday night for game-one of a four game series.
The Senators enter the series as the last place team in the Eastern League Western division while Altoona enters in the top spot only a game ahead of the Bowie Baysox. The Curve will send Mitch Keller (1-2, 3.77 ERA) to the mound to face Brady Dragmire (4-1, 2.93 ERA) of Harrisburg.
Baysox await Curve in playoffs
Both Bowie and Altoona clinched playoff berths this week as they enter their final regular season series against their respective opponents in Richmond and Harrisburg respectively. And while both teams know they will be playing each other, they still have yet to determine the seeding for said playoffs.
Currently the Curve hold a one game lead in the division, but have struggled of late losing three of four to the Flying Squirrels earlier this week. The Baysox are currently on a similar skid as they lost three of four to Eastern League-leading Trenton this week. Both teams face off against teams who have below .500 records this weekend and with the game of baseball anything can happen especially with stakes this high.
It’s important to note, the lower seed will host the first two games of the best-of-five series before the top seed hosts the third game and the remaining games if necessary. As it stands right now, Altoona would be heading to Bowie for games one and two and returning home following those two games.
The Curve have struggled against Bowie all season going 5-14 against the Baysox during the regular season winning only three games of those at home.
As it stands now, Friday’s starter Mitch Keller looks to be in line for the game-one start Wednesday night wherever it may be. Keller lasted 5.2 innings giving up four runs on four hits and struck out seven in his loss against Bowie August 27th.
Tucker heating up as playoffs loom
Cole Tucker struggled as he adjusted to Double-A life following his promotion from Single-A Bradenton, but is currently on a tear from the lead-off position recently.
In his last 10 games, Tucker is hitting .410 with 16 hits in 39 at bats while plating nine RBIs and only striking out four times in that time span. In the 28 games prior, Tucker struck out 25 times, averaging nearly a strike out per game.
Tucker has also proven to be lethal on the bases accumulating three stolen bases over the last 10 games and eight overall since being promoted. In Tuesday night’s game, it was Tucker who lead-off and did the dirty work with two outs notching two singles and two RBIs that helped seal the deal against Richmond.
Productivity out of the lead-off position is imperative to a team’s success no matter what point in the season a team is at, but with Tucker heating up as the playoffs grow nearer, it should bode well for the Curve in helping to reach the next round of the playoffs.
The Altoona Curve host Harrisburg for the remaining three games of their regular seasons this weekend before taking on Bowie in the Eastern League Playoffs beginning Wednesday. Alex McRae (10-5, 3.67 ERA) takes the mound for the Curve Saturday while Kyle McGowin (1-5, 7.17 ERA) gets the ball for the Senators. Sunday’s match up will see Austin Coley (5-4, 3.16 ERA) toe the rubber for Altoona as he faces off against Austin Voth (3-3, 4.84 ERA). In the regular season finale on Monday, J.T. Brubaker (7-6, 4.51 ERA) will get the ball while a starter for Harrisburg has yet to be named.