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Akron Air Raid: Aeros Sweep Through Reading; Bullpen Continues Dominance

June 28, 2011
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Kyle Bellows (Photo Credit - Lianna Holub)
The Aeros got a big sweep this weekend over Reading, a team that has seemingly had their number this year. It was much needed after dropping two of three to Binghamton, following a week were they toiled around in last place.

Akron is now in fourth, but still remain seven games back of first.

It was an excellent week for the bullpen as you will see and aside from two starts that got a tad bit out of control, the starters contributed as well. What's encouraging is the two games where the offense busted out to score 10 and 12 runs.

Perhaps the anemic offense that was plaguing the Aeros earlier this season is starting to find it's cures. Hopefully they can overcome the promotion of their best hitter.

Latest Landings: @ Binghamton (1-2), Vs Reading (3-0)
Future Itinerary: Vs Bowie (3), @ Erie (4), @ Altoona (4), Vs Erie (4)
As it Stands: Akron is currently in fourth place in the Eastern League Western Division and 7 games back of first place.

On the Mound

Since arriving in Akron, T.J. McFarland has had some trouble with the adjustment to Double-A. They say it's the make or break level for a lot of players and perhaps we are seeing that play out with McFarland. If he's going to be a make it player, maybe his last start is a good indication in terms of him "getting it."

McFarland went seven strong innings and gave up one run off four hits a pair of walks. After two starts in which he went one and two innings respectively, McFarland put in his longest and best outing of his season. 

Another starter that may have turned a corner is Joe Gardner, who got two starts this past week. He took a no-decision after going into the sixth and giving up four earned against Binghamton, but took home an impressive seven inning victory against Reading, his fifth of the year. It's his fourth straight start of walking just two or less.

This past week's lines:

TJ McFarland
W, 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K

Matt Packer
L, 5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 6 K

Joe Gardner
ND, 5.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 3 K
W, 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K

Kelvin De La Cruz
ND, 3.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 2 K

Austin Adams
L, 4 IP, 6 H, 7 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 5 K

From the 'Pen

The bullpen just keeps getting better. With steady play, as in no rainouts and double-headers or crazy make-up games, and some great starting pitching, the bullpen is firing on all cylinders. The pen didn't give up a single run in the series against Reading and aside from two runs charged to Matt Langwell, they were spotless.

The star was closer Cory Burns, who picked up a win and a pair of saves with just one hit against him. He didn't walk a hitter and struck out two. Looks like the Cory Burns of early season has returned.

With CC Lee promoted, the Indians called up Tyler Sturdevant from Kinston to Akron and he is fitting in just fine.  Sturdevant did allow baserunners, but as far as letting up runs, he was good in two innings against Reading.

Relievers for this past week:

Eric Berger
2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K

Cory Burns
W, 2 S, 3.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K

Paolo Espino
2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K

Matt Langwell
2.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K

Adam Miller
2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K

Bryan Price
2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 0 K

Tyler Sturdevant
2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K

Swinging Sticks

Known more for his glove, Kyle Bellows has been proving that with his .199 average this season. Bellows though has been able to boost that up in the past few weeks, especially this past one. The third baseman was 9-for-23, with three doubles and three RBI. He scored six times only whiffed twice. Good to see Bellows find a way to contribute with the stick.

Mr. Extra-base hit would be Beau Mills.  Four of Mills' seven hits went for extra bases this past week, with a home run and three doubles. He scored three times and knocked in a week-high six runs.

Pushed into action with a recently inactive Chun Chen, Juan Apodaca has contributed offensively. Going 4-14 with three doubles, and three walks, Apodaca has held his own. The veteran backstop hasn't played this much all year, but is making the most of his recent run of starts.

The week though belonged to Jordan Henry, who looks like he may have received a transfer of the magical hitting powers that Tim Fedroff possessed. Henry was 12-for-25 with a pair of doubles and three RBI. Henry is hitting .266 on the season, a far cry from his .312 average in 2010. But he is still getting on base at a great rate with a .379 on-base percentage.

Other Hitters this past week:

Juan Apodaca
4-14, 3 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, 3 BB, 6 K

Kyle Bellows
9-23, 3 2B, 3 RBI 6 R, 2 K

Juan Diaz
7-26, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, 9 K

Jordan Henry
12-25, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 K

Matt McBride
9-20, 3 2B, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 K

Beau Mills
7-23, 3 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K

Karexon Sanchez
5-17, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 K

Nick Weglarz
1-16, 1 2B, 3 R, 6 BB, 5 K

Hats Off to Fedroff

A bittersweet goodbye to outfielder Tim Fedroff, who is off to Columbus. With Lonnie Chisenhall called up to Cleveland and perhaps the injury to Shin-Soo Choo (which allowed Travis Buck to return to Cleveland), Tim Fedroff got the opportunity to be called up from Akron.

Hopefully it is a permanent move for Fedroff, who more than earned the call-up. The former seventh round pick out in 2008 was hitting a Eastern League high .338 with a .399 on-base percentage. Fedroff hit two home runs, 13 doubles, five triples, and knocked in 35 runs. He scored 42 times and stole seven bases. 

It's great to see the former Tar Heel get his chance, but Fedroff was one of my personal favorites to watch these past two years in Akron. He's a very good fielder in my opinion, who doesn't seem to take poor routes to the ball and this year, his bat really took off. 

One can't help but think of John Drennen forever lost his opportunity with his suspension. He could have been in position to get the call with the Columbus outfield log jam finally opening up.

Congrats to Tim and good luck with the Clippers!

Additional Notes

In addition to Tim Fedroff, a much deserved promotion for CC Lee. All made possible by a release of Jensen Lewis, Lee will finally get his opportunity with the Clippers. It is certainly long overdue with his recent success, but a simple log jam of high impact relievers has kept Lee back. To his credit, he didn't blink an eye and just continued to dominate the competition. A year after posting a 3.22 ERA over 72 innings with 82 strikeouts, Lee went 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA in 41 innings with 58 strikeouts.

In his time with the Aeros, Lee averaged just a little over a strikeout per inning. He never saved a game, but could always be counted on late in close games to go an inning or even more. The call is perhaps a few months overdue as he was especially dominant this past few weeks, but again, it was simply out of Lee's control. It's good to see him get his opportunity though. In his first outing with the Clippers he struck out two of the four batters he faced and didn't allow a baserunner.

The shakeup enabled the Aeros to gain Kinston's Tyler Sturdevant to replace Lee. Sturdevant comes up from Carolina having gone 4-2 in 21 appearances with a 1.98 in 41 innings. He struck out 44 hitters and walked just eight hitters. A great season thus far for Sturdevant.

To replace Tim Fedroff, the Indians made an outside signing. The Indians could have had an internal option if Kinston's Bo Greenwell wasn't injured, but they opted to sign free agent outfielder Ben Copeland to replace Fedroff on the roster.

Copeland is 27 years of age from the University of Pittsburgh, batting and throwing left-handed and comes over from the San Francisco Giants organization. He was drafted back in 2005 in the fourth round and has not played this season. In six minor league seasons he is a career .282 hitter with a .364 on-base percentage and he hit .280 for the Giants Triple-A Fresno team in 2010.

Transaction Report

June 21: IF Jason Donald sent to Columbus
OF Donnie Webb received from Columbus
June 16: RHP Chen-Chang Lee sent to Columbus
RHP Tyler Sturdevant received from Kinston
June 27: OF Tim Fedroff sent to Columbus
OF Ben Copeland signed as free agent, received from Cleveland
Nino covers the Akron Aeros season-long here at the IPI. He has his own blog at The Tribe Daily and you can follow him on Twitter @TheTribeDaily.

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