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Akron Air Raid: Successful Debut for Drew Pomeranz

July 19, 2011
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(Drew Pomeranz - Photo Credit: Will Bentzel and
A short week for the Akron Aeros landed them right were they started the break at, seven back of the division leading Harrisburg Senators, who they split a four-game weekend set with.

The story of the weekend was the highly anticipated debut of Drew Pomeranz at the Double-A level and his battle with fellow super-prospect Bryce Harper.

The Aeros now return home for the first time in over a week for a quick three game series against Altoona. They'll then hit the road once again to begin what will be a stretch of eight out of 11 games against Erie. 

Latest Landings: All-Star Break, @ Harrisburg (2-2)
Future Itinerary: Vs Altoona (3), @ Erie (4), Vs Trenton (3), 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

Drew Pomeranz didn't get the win and couldn't qualify because he didn't finish out the fifth inning. But after a strenuous week of promotions and travel due to the Future's Game, Pomeranz isn't in any position to be pushed in his first Double-A start. Pomeranz did start the game and put the Aeros in a position to win, which they did. He gave up just a solo home run and a walk with three hits, but struck out five. Two of those were Bryce Harper, who he faced twice. 

The light is definitely on for T.J. McFarland, who has been really good as of late, including against Harrisburg this last time out. McFarland took home his sixth win of the season and went seven innings yet again. It is the fourth time in the past ten starts for McFarland going seven innings and his ninth time in last ten games going at least five innings.

Matt Packer also had a great start. He took the loss, but he probably pitched better than McFarland did. Packer went into the eighth inning, and struck out eight hitters. He didn't walk a hitter and has now struck out at least five in five of his last six starts.

Joe Gardner had a start to forget. Going 5.1 innings, but getting shelled to the tune of nine runs, eight of them earned.

This past week's lines:

Drew Pomeranz
ND, 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K

TJ McFarland
W, 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 1 K

Matt Packer
L, 7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 8 K

Joe Gardner
L, 5.1 IP, 9 H, 9 R (8 ER), 3 BB, 1 K

From the 'Pen

Adam Miller was the busy one this weekend, pitching three and one-third innings of ball and striking out six. Showing full well that his fastball-slider combo is starting to take shape and he soon may be knocking on the Columbus door. What a great comeback season for Miller, who has now struck out 18 hitters in 20 innings with the Aeros and 32 hitters in 31 total innings.

Cory Burns, continues to add saves as the Eastern League leader in that category, as he picked up another one against the Senators and striking out a pair. 

Relievers for this past week:

Eric Berger
1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1  BB, 1 K

Cory Burns
SV, 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K

Matt Langwell
W, 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K

Adam Miller
3.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K

Bryan Price
1.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 0 K

Tyler Sturdevant
0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 0 K

Swinging Sticks

Beau Mills! If you haven't been taking the comeback seriously up until now, you should really reconsider. Mills had an incredible weekend in Harrisburg after the All-Star break. The left-handed hitter blasted a pair of home runs and doubled four times. That's six extra-base hits in just four games. He added three more hits and knocked in six total runs.

The effort helped garner him Eastern League Player of the Week honors for the week of July 11th to the 17th. Mills has been on a roll in the month of July as a whole.  He's hitting .357 with four home runs total and 12 RBI. His homer total already matches that of June and he's well on his way to perhaps hit near 30 doubles, despite missing a good month and a half of the season.

Also shining was Ben Copeland, who hit .500 with a pair of doubles and a triple as well as Juan Diaz and Chun Chen. Diaz hit his sixth home run while Chen was 5-12 with five walks. Good to see the patience and on-base numbers coming around for Chen.

It was a rough weekend for Nick Weglarz and Johnny Drennen, who both went hitless and combined for 10 strikeouts. Weglarz has gone ice cold, not collecting a hit since June 9th against Erie and he now has 30 strikeouts in 31 games. Drennen meanwhile still has not collected a hit since his return from the Restricted List, but has knocked in a run. He struck out four times against Harrisburg on Sunday.

The hitting lines:

Cristo Arnal
3-13, 1 RBI, 2 R, 2 K

Kyle Bellows
5-13, 2 RBI, 3 K

Chun Chen
5-12, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 R, 5 BB, 1 K

Ben Copeland
8-16, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 3 R, 3 K

Juan Diaz
5-15, 1 HR, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R, 1 K

John Drennen
0-8, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K

Jordan Henry
6-19, 3 RBI, 4 R, 1 BB, 7 K

Beau Mills
9-15, 2 HR, 4 2B, 6 RBI, 5 R, 3 BB, 2 K

Raul Padron
2-9, 1 2B, 1 R, 3 K

Karexon Sanchez
3-10, 1 2B, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K

Nick Weglarz
0-13, 5 K

Additional Notes

It would appear as if the odd-man out with the promotion of Drew Pomeranz to the Akron rotation is Kelvin De La Cruz, who will now go to the bullpen. He replaces Paolo Espino, who received a well deserved promotion to Triple-A Columbus as a result of Pomeranz's call-up and the hole in Cleveland's rotation. Espino should fit in nicely as the long-man for the Clippers.

De La Cruz will likely fill Espino's role, or he could even split starts with another starter, or piggy-back with Austin Adams. De La Cruz has not pitched in a game since July 5th and is 5-6 with a 4.56 ERA. He's ultimately struggled with is control this season.

Bryson's Back!

Welcome back Rob Bryson! The reliever acquired in the CC Sabathia trade who had his breakout year in Akron last season has finally returned. After starting out the year with a broken foot in the spring, Bryson has been making his way back with Kinston.

Now he's ready to pick up where he left off. He pitched in four games with the Captains and then went on to strikeout 20 hitters in 14 innings with the K-Tribe. He notched a save and gave up just one run off six hits and three walks. 

Last year for the Aeros he went 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 20 innings. 

All Stars

Aeros in the All-Star Game: Juan Diaz was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. Chun Chen did not play.

Austin Adams had a clean shutout inning with one hit surrendered and a strikeout. Cory Burns meanwhile didn't exactly have to worry about blowing a huge lead, but he did give up a run off four hits, but he struck out a pair.

The West beat the East with rather ease, 8-3.

Transaction Report

July 14: IF Tyler Cannon sent to Kinston
C Michel Hernandez sent to Columbus
IF Kyle Bellows activated from Disabled List
July 8: LHP Drew Pomeranz received from Kinston
RHP Paolo Espino sent to Columbus
July 18: RHP Rob Bryson received from Kinston

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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