The Hartford Yard Goats lost some ground in their hunt for an Eastern League playoff berth on Wednesday night.
Catcher Jason Delay hit a pair of home runs and drove in six runs for the Altoona Curve in a 8-2 Eastern League victory over the Yard Goats (66-60, 29-30 second half) in Altoona, Pa.
Hartford lost a half game to Reading in the hunt for an Eastern League playoff berth. Reading (74-53, 35-25 second half) had their game with Portland rained out and it won’t be rescheduled.
Reading has 12 games remaining and can clinch a playoff berth with eight victories. Reading has a 5½ game lead over Hartford, which has 13 games left. Trenton won the first half championship in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division.
Reading and the Yard Goats begin a crucial four-game series on Thursday at Dunkin’ Donuts Park at 7:05 p.m. Even with a four-game sweep, the Yard Goats will need some help if they hope to grab a postseason berth.
On Wednesday night, Delay cranked a three-run homer in the fourth inning to give the Curve a 4-0 lead, and then connected on a two-run shot in the sixth to make it 6-0.
The Yard Goats loaded the bases in the first inning against Curve starter Domingo Robles but the left-hander got a double play to get out of trouble. After pitching around trouble in the first inning, Robles retired 16 of the next 18 batters, including 11-in-a-row from the third through sixth innings.
Altoona scored the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Logan Hill in the fourth inning to take a 1-0 lead against Hartford starter Matt Dennis. Two batters later, Jason Delay belted a three-run homer just out of the reach of left fielder Vance Vizcaino to make it a 4-0 game.
The Curve added a pair of runs in the sixth as Delay ripped another homer into the left field bleachers and it was a 6-0 game. Hartford scored a run in the seventh inning on Scott Burcham’s RBI hit, which brought home Mylz Jones to make it an 6-1 game. However, the Curve came back with two more runs in the seventh inning.