Aeros power up in 9-0 win over Curve
Altoona, PA – The Akron Aeros may be out of the Eastern League playoff picture, but that doesn’t mean they are mailing in a lackluster effort in the final series of the season.
On Saturday, the Aeros matched a season-high with four home runs, shortstop Ronny Rodriguez drove in four runs, and lefty Matt Packer earned his league-leading 12th win of the year, as Akron defeated the Altoona Curve, 9-0, at People-s Natural Gas Field.
The Aeros (67-72) have won both games so far of this season-ending, four-game series against the Curve. In 18 innings, Aeros pitching has held the Curve to exactly one unearned run.
Packer (12-9) tossed six shutout innings in his final start of the season. He moved into a tie with Binghamton’s Logan Verrett for the EL leads in wins with 12. Packer scattered six hits, walked two and struck out three. The win concludes the best season of Packer’s career. After starting the season 1-5, he made a dramatic turnaround, at one time winning nine straight decisions.
Saturday’s win was also Packer’s 24th career win in an Aeros uniform, tying him with Paolo Espino for most career wins in franchise history.
Packer faced jams in the third, fourth and fifth when the game was still close. Each time, he induced a grounder to third baseman Giovanny Urshela to escape trouble, twice getting key double plays. In the third, the Curve had the bases loaded with one out, but when Adalberto Santos grounded to Urshela, Andy Vasquez did not advance toward home and Urshela tagged out Vasquez and Drew Maggi coming from second base for a rare five-unassisted double play.
The Aeros took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on three walks and an RBI fielder’s choice by Ronny Rodriguez. Then in the sixth, Akron recorded five consecutive hits off David Bromberg (6-12) to score five times and blow the game open. Tyler Holt singled and Carlos Moncrief followed with a two-run homer to right, his 17th of the season. Jesus Aguilar singled just ahead of a two-run shot by Matt Lawson. Next up, Adam Abraham launched his first home run of the year, going back-to-back with Lawson, to make it 6-0.
In the eighth, against reliever Ty Waldron, Lawson reached on an error and Abraham walked. Two-outs later, Ronny Rodriguez cranked a three-run homer to extend the lead to 9-0. It was Rodriguez’s fifth homer of the season, but his first since May 31st.
It was only the second time this season that the Aeros hit four home runs. The only previous time was a game at Binghamton on April 28th.
After Packer left, Kyle Crockett, Austin Adams, and Jeff Johnson each pitched a scoreless inning to complete the whitewash. Akron relievers have worked eight shutout innings in the series.
Pirates closer Jason Grilli started for Altoona, and threw one scoreless inning on a rehab assignment. Grilli has 30 saves this year for the first-place Pirates.
The Aeros and Curve will play game three of the series on Sunday night at 6:00 p.m. RHP Toru Murata (6-5, 3.79) will make his final start of the season for the Aeros, while LHP Nate Baker (3-4, 6.30) will start for the Curve.