Curve clobbers Aeros 14-6
AKRON – The Akron Aeros had trouble with the Altoona Curve during the second match-up of a three-game series on Tuesday night as they fell 14-6.
Right-hander Danny Salazar (0-1, 1.80) sought his first win of the season as he countered Altoona righty Brandon Cumpton (0-1, 7.20). Salazar’s bid for the win fell short though, as Altoona leapt on him early.
Altoona centerfielder Mel Rojas Jr. led off the game with a single to center and advanced to second on a one-out single off the bat of designated hitter Matt Curry. Left fielder Andrew Lambo followed with his first of many memorable hits of the night with a single into center to score Rojas Jr. Curry was cut down at home on a fielder’s choice that allowed third baseman Adalberto Santos to reach base. Cue right fielder Alex Dickerson, who doubled deep to left to score Lambo, giving Altoona the 2-0 advantage,
The Aeros responded immediately in their half of the first as centerfielder Delvi Cid led off with a single to right. Second baseman Jose Ramirez and designated hitter Chun Chen followed with back-to-back singles to bring Cid home. With one out, first baseman Jesus Aguilar grounded out to second to plate Ramirez and level the score.
After a scoreless second, the Curve came back for two more in the third. Though Salazar quickly converted the first two outs, Lambo continued his memorable evening with a double to right and scored on another double by Santos. Santos also scored on a follow-up double by Dickerson to boost Altoona to a 4-2 lead, which drew Akron pitching coach Greg Hibbard from the dugout. After a brief meeting with Hibbard, Salazar surrendered a walk to catcher Carlos Paulino. That ended the evening for Salazar, sealing his line at 2 2/3 innings, yielding seven hits, four earned runs and one walk while striking out three. Salazar was replaced with Fabio Martinez.
The Curve was not kind to Martinez in the fourth inning as they pounded him for nine runs. Shortstop Gift Ngoepe led things off with a walk and advanced to second on a bunt single back to Martinez by Rojas Jr. Both runners scored on a one-out double by Curry before Lambo continued his bid for the cycle with a triple deep to center that scored Curry. Lambo scored on a fielder’s choice and a throwing error on behalf of Aguilar allowed pinch hitter Justin Howard to reach second. Dickerson drew a walk before a coaching visit to the mound, but Martinez’s nerves weren’t settled as he plunked the next batter and relinquished a double that plated two more. Ngoepe singled to score the ninth run of the inning, which ended the anguish for Martinez.
Kyle Landis entered the game and allowed a double that scored one more, but the damage came to a halt after two groundouts to end the inning. Martinez’s final line was two-thirds of an inning with nine earned runs on five hits and two walks.
Altoona added another in the fifth inning in the form of a lead-off home run by Lambo, sealing his bid for the natural cycle – the first in Altoona Curve history.
The Aeros refused to leave without a fight as they scored three in the fifth off of Cumpton. Third baseman Giovanny Urshela led off the inning with a single and catcher Alex Lavisky and Cid were the victims of back-to-back plunkings to load the bases. Urshela scored on a groundout and Lavisky scored on a line-drive single by Chen before right fielder Carlos Moncrief grounded out to score Cid, advancing the score to 14-5.
Edward Paredes entered the game in the sixth to relieve Landis. Peredes tossed two dominant innings to put a stop to the bleeding as his allowed just one hit while striking out five.
One more Aero crossed the dish in the sixth as Cid tripled off the centerfield wall and trotted home on a throwing error by second baseman Jerek Cunningham, cutting Altoona’s lead to 14-6.
Brett Brach made his season debut as he entered the game in the eighth for Akron. Brach yielded a tri of hits, but kept the Curve at bay to close out the game, fastening the final score at 14-6.
Aeros’ manager Edwin Rodriguez tipped his cap to Lambo and said that Salazar’s struggles were the result of command issues.
Salazar threw 33 pitches during the third inning, a number which Rodriguez said is way too many for a AA starter a year past Tommy John surgery.
Rodriguez also said that command was an issue for Martinez. “He had no idea where the ball was going and you can tell,” Rodriguez said. “I had him last year and after the first two hitters, you can tell if he’s going to have a good or bad day.”
On the other hand, Rodriguez noted Paredes was lights out, partly due to the change in weather and partly due to the effectiveness of his pitches.
“It’s the weather,” Rodriguez explained. “Before batting practice, we were talking about going to Bowie and I was saying the weather is warm there and he was all happy that the weather is getting better. He’s very effective on lefties or righties. He’s showing command on his secondary pitches. He’s everything that you’re looking for in a pitcher at any level.”
Peredes himself attributed his outing to weather. “The first outing was a little bit cold,” he said. “But tonight was pretty warm and I feel better.”
Next, the Aeros send lefty TJ House (0-0, 1.80) to the bump to counter Altoona right-hander Casey Sadler (1-0, 1.80) for the series finale. The Aeros head out on their first road trip of the season when they head to Bowie on Thursday.
Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.