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Bullpen struggles continue as Akron Falls 6-4

Bullpen struggles continue as Akron Falls 6-4
May 19, 2013
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AKRON- Just when it looked like the Aeros would take the game and the series from the Erie SeaWolves through the first five innings, the sixth inning removed all hope, as Akron lost the Sunday matinee 6-4. 
The score was 2-1 in favor of the Aeros after five, but when the inning was over, Erie held a 6-3 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
While that sixth was certainly the turning point, the scoring started in the top of the second.
After Aeros starter Paolo Espino went three-up and three-down in the first inning,  SeaWolves’ left fielder Tyler Collins started the top of the second with a bang by drilling a full-count Espino offering deep into the bullpen in right centerfield his ninth home run of the season. Espino settled down quickly, and got out of the inning trailing 1-0.
The Aeros were quick to respond, in nearly the same fashion.
Right fielder Carlos Moncrief blasted a second inning pitch over the batter’s eye in centerfield that tied the game at 1-1. It’s the second time this season that Moncrief has left Canal Park over the batter’s eye, the first coming during another Sunday afternoon affair against the Bowie Baysox.
In the bottom of the very next inning, Cooper got into trouble again. Aeros shortstop Jose Ramirez started off the inning by hitting a scorching line drive off of the glove of second baseman Herman Perez and reaching first base safely. Immediately, Ramirez stole his Eastern League-leading 17th base of the season, giving the Aeros a man in scoring position with nobody out. Second baseman Justin Toole followed Ramirez with a base hit of his own, squeezing a slow roller through the huge hole between shortstop and third base. With men on first and third, center fielder Tyler Holt milked the count to 3-2, but grounded into a double play. While it wasn’t the best of circumstances for the Aeros, Ramirez scored on the play and Akron took the lead at 2-1.
Espino was lights out on the afternoon. He allowed only three hits, which included the Collins moonshot home run, a double from right fielder Jamie Johnson, and an infield single from Perez, which the runner appeared to be out. He gave up his third walk of the afternoon to center fielder Daniel Fields after the infield single and that was it for Espino.
Trey Haley came on to clean up the slight mess that Espino had made, and made it much worse.
Haley faced Collins to start his appearance and walked him, giving the SeaWolves the bases loaded with no outs. Unable to settle in, Haley walked in the tying run, and the bases remained loaded for Gaynor. Gaynor smacked a two-RBI double to the left-centerfield gap, and the SeaWolves took a 4-2 lead. The very next batter, DH Luis Castillo, broke the game open with a rope down the left field line that brought in two more SeaWolves and made the score 6-2 in favor of Erie.
Overall, Haley wasn’t able to command his pitches and it cost the Aeros the ballgame. He started his outing with eight straight balls, and was never able to recover. Manager Edwin Rodriguez said post-game, about Haley, “He’s struggling to throw strikes. He can’t repeat his delivery. He’s pressing now. He had a bad outing in Binghamton, and now he’s pressing because of that. Before that, he was fine. He’s the same Haley, it’s just more mental.”
In 1/3 inning of work, Haley allowed three runs on two hits, while walking three and striking out one. Haley wasn’t responsible for two of the runs the SeaWolves amassed during his appearance, as they belonged to Espino, but five batters crossed home plate during Haley’s outing.
Aeros reliever Cole Cook replaced Haley and was finally able to get the Aeros out of the inning by striking out shortstop Eugenio Suarez and getting Perez to fly out to centerfield.
The Aeros got a run back in the bottom of the sixth off of Cooper thanks to Holt’s second home run of the season, this time a solo shot, over the advertisements in left-centerfield. Said Holt, about his home run,
Holt took the relaxed approach. “He threw a change up, I think 2-2. I looked up at the board, it was 82 and I got jammed. I thought, ‘oh no, I’m not going to get a hit.’ And then, I kinda just said, whatever happens, happens. Honestly, I just relaxed a little bit more, and those kind of things happen. Sometimes you just get lucky.”
Cooper had a decent day for Erie. He finished with three runs on five hits, two of which were solo home runs, and two walks. He certainly wasn’t perfect for Erie, but picked up his second win of the season, to improve to 3-2 on the year.
The Aeros spotted another run in the bottom of the eighth, thanks to a sacrifice fly from Lattimore, and cut the lead to 6-4.
A scoreless ninth for the SeaWolves brought Akron back up with a chance to win it in the bottom of the ninth. Third baseman Giovanny Urshela started the inning with a strikeout, but Lowery and Ramirez hit back to back singles to give the Aeros men on first and third with a single out in the inning. Toole came up with a chance to extend the game for Akron, but instead grounded weakly to shortstop for the double play and the Aeros fell 6-4.
In speaking post-game with Edwin Rodriguez, he had a lot to say about the bullpen issues. “The bullpen has been struggling lately,” Rodriguez said. “When you’re coming out of the bullpen, you have to throw strikes. This is Double A, you have to throw strikes, there’s no excuse.” When asked further about the bullpen, Rodriguez said that consistency is the biggest factor. “Consistency. That’s the difference between the minor leagues and the big leagues. If you get to Double A, it’s because you have the talent to pitch in the big leagues, or to play in the big leagues. It’s the consistency part. It will get you out of there, or it will get you in there.”
The bullpen and the rest of the Aeros will look to improve after losing two of three to Erie. Akron fell to 20-23 on the season, while the SeaWolves improved to 26-15 after the game on Sunday afternoon.
The Aeros start a four game set with the Bowie Baysox tomorrow night from Canal Park.
First pitch is set for 7:05 pm.

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