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Akron Air Raid: Back to the Drawing Board

June 21, 2011
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(Beau Mills: Photo Credit - Lianna Holub) 
The Aeros had started June off on a great foot. They had a revived offense led by Matt McBride, Beau Mills, and Tim Fedroff. Their bullpen is perhaps as good as any pen at the Double-A level. And the starting pitching was still staying afloat for everything to all come together.

Then they lost two of their last six. Dropping them to 8-8 in the month of June. In one week they lost almost three games in the division race, and still remain in last place.

The offense may be cooling off while the pitching is starting to falter after a great start. Inconsistencies in the starters are starting to show and their bullpen can only carry them for so long. It will either start to tire, or lose parts as players like Lee and Langwell show they are no longer challenged by the Double-A level.

Akron still has time, but if they really want to be in this race, they'll have to develop some sort of rhythm, something that has eluded them all season.

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

On the Mound

If you can figure out Kelvin De La Cruz, the Indians may have a job for you. DLC started twice this past week and both starts were incredibly different from each other. Still, they both resulted in losses. 

De La Cruz started off with a real rough one, going just barely into the fourth inning and giving up six runs off three hits and six walks. He followed that up with a complete 180, giving up five runs off eight hits and one walk. In that one he pitched well into the seventh.

Neither are acceptable for his talent and potential, so it's starting to be a bit concerning. His .214 average against is great, but it suffers with the 47 walks in 65 innings he's given up. His inconsistency this season has been puzzling to say the least.

Austin Adams turned in a worthy effort, giving up four runs off eights hits and one walk. But he went into the seventh and at least kept it a game.

Joe Gardner had perhaps the best start for the Aeros this year. His eight innings of shutout ball was certainly the deepest a starter has gone this season and it was a huge bounceback start for him after a pair of short outings. Gardner went eight, giving up six hits and a walk. He earned his fourth victory of the year.

This past week's lines:

TJ McFarland
ND, 2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 2 K

Matt Packer
L, 4.2 IP, 10 H, 7 R (6 ER), 0 BB, 5 K

Joe Gardner
W (4), 8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K

Paolo Espino
W, 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K

Kelvin De La Cruz
L, 3.1 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 6 BB, 2 K
L, 6.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 4 K

Austin Adams
L, 7 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 K

From the 'Pen

Another great week for the Aeros bullpen. Again there was one weak link and it was Matt Langwell's turn to struggle. Langwell has been having a great season though and despite giving up three runs in 2.2 innings pitched this past week, he's still sporting a healthy 1.97 ERA. The three runs almost doubles the amount of runs he's given up this season in 32 innings. Everyone has their struggles.

Otherwise, the only run given up was by Bryan Price, who pitched the most out of anyone other than long relief specialist Paolo Espino. Price was used for 4.1 innings and struck out six hitters with just one walk. Eric Berger was also very good, bouncing back from last week with six strikeouts in three scoreless innings total.

Cory Burns notched another save, tossing a pair of scoreless innings and CC Lee is about ready for Columbus at this point. Three more scoreless innings with four more strikeouts. He now has 53 in 38 innings with 10 walks. Hitters have just a .191 average against him.

Relievers for this past week:

Paolo Espino
W (4-0), 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K

Adam Miller
2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K

Swinging Sticks

I certainly don't get tired of talking about Tim Fedroff and his .352 average. His multiple hitting streaks, ability to find ways on base, or run production. Once again, Fedroff had a great hitting week, going 11-for-24 on the homestand. He now has a eight game hitting streak, but still a ways to go if he wants to match his 20 game streak from earlier this year. Fedroff scored just four times though and knocked in two runs. Out of the 14 times he was on base, it seems like he should have been brought home a lot more.

Especially with all the triples being hit. Chun Chen, Matt McBride, and Fedroff himself all hit triples. That was only one of two hits from Chen, who struck out seven times and walked just eight. At least he wasn't Karexon Sanchez, who struck out nine times over the past six games. 

Beau Mills is still hitting. He was 7-for-24 with three extra base hits, one home run and two doubles, and three RBI. Teams are having a difficult time deciding what to do with the Mills/McBride tandem. Unfortunately, McBride wasn't making them pay all that much. McBride walked six times, but went 3-for-18 at the dish, knocking in just one run via a solo shot. 

Other Hitters this past week:

Kyle Bellows
3-13, 1 2B, 2 R, 4 BB, 1 K

Juan Diaz
6-22, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB, 4 K

Jordan Henry
2-14, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K

Nick Weglarz
2-11, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 5 BB, 4 K

In the Garage

Matt Packer's stay on the disabled list was a very short one and he returned to make his start on Thursday. Of course he had the wet conditions to deal with and the multiple rain delays.

Additional Notes

Infielder Matt Lawson chose to retire last week. Lawson was acquired during spring from the Seattle organization in exchange for left-handed pitcher Aaron Laffey.

Beau Mills is back people. In person, the swing is really doing some damage. You can just tell he is hitting the ball with some authority. I came away really impressed with how powerful he looked. Completely different from the player I saw last season.

Nick Weglarz is ready for Columbus. It's just a matter of finding him a spot. But he killed both of his home run balls. Pitchers are flat out avoiding him altogether with the way he is mashing the ball. He walked five times over the past six games.

Travis Hafner was 3-for-6 with a pair of runs scored, a walk, a strikeout, and a double in his short rehab stint.

Jason Donald was 4-12 with a pair of RBI and runs scored in his short stint with Akron. He had been rehabbing from his latest injury to his left knee.

Transaction Report

June 14: DH Travis Hafner received for Rehab Assignment
IF Jason Donald received from Columbus
IF Matt Lawson Retired
June 16: RHP Steven Wright sent to Kinston
LHP Matt Packer activated from Disabled List
June 17: DH Travis Hafner sent to 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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