House outduels Gausman, helps Aeros avoid sweep
Akron wins 7-2 as House fans nine, bullpen manages to hold lead
AKRON, OH -- The Bowie Baysox sent one of the best pitching prospects in baseball to the mound as they looked to sweep the Akron Aeros Sunday at Canal Park.
Akron starting pitcher T.J. House decided he was just not going to let that happen.
The Aeros (6-11) defeated the Baysox (10-8) by the score of 7-2, avoiding their fourth straight loss. Akron finally managed to keep the Bowie bats in check after allowing 62 runs to the Baysox in seven games this season.
"These guys are a terror," House said. "They're an older group, they're a lot more experienced, and they make adjustments really well here. You have to change it up and you've got to be one step ahead of them. They're going to give you a good fight."
Going into a matchup with highly-regarded Orioles prospect Kevin Gausman, House (2-1, 3.22 ERA, 1.77 FIP) did not blink. The left-hander went 5.2 innings, striking out nine batters while only allowing two runs on six hits and one walk.
The strikeouts are a new development, as historically that has never been a big part of House's game. He is up to 27 strikeouts in 22.3 innings, though, and is getting the punchouts by pumping strikes into the zone.
"A lot of these guys have been really aggressive early on this year," House said. "We just go ahead and throw everything for strikes. I think that's just the main key: getting the breaking ball over, showing them that you can command off-speed in the zone, and then working from there. Once you get them really aggressive, you can go out of the zone that way."
Gausman (1-2, 4.71 ERA, 2.87 FIP), a consensus top-25 prospect in baseball, held the Aeros offense mostly in check. The right-hander threw five innings with three strikeouts, one walk, six hits, and three runs allowed, though only one of the runs was earned.
"We faced him in Bowie last week," manager Edwin Rodriguez said of Bowie's talented starter. "Very good arm. 94-95 MPH, a lot of movement. Very good slider. He has his sinkerball going to the right and his slider going to the left, hard. I can see him pitching in the big leagues for many years."
The Aeros got to Gausman in the first inning, with an RBI triple from second baseman Jose Ramirez scoring center fielder Tyler Holt. Holt reached on a throwing error by Baysox third baseman Ty Kelly, whose throw went off first baseman Aaron Baker's glove and ended up in the Bowie dugout.
Ramirez came home himself on an RBI groundout by first baseman Jesus Aguilar, giving the Aeros a quick 2-0 lead.
The Baysox answered back in the top of the second, scoring two runs on three singles and two groundouts. That inning was the only one in which Bowie managed to make House look human, as he only allowed four of the next 15 batters to reach base.
"He kept a good tempo," Rodriguez said about what House had working for him. "His changeup and slider were working. Everything was working for him."
Akron continued the scoring in the bottom of the second, with catcher Chris Wallace scoring as third baseman Giovanny Urshela grounded into a double play. Urshela managed to single later in the game, extending his team-long hit streak to seven games.
Right-hander Brett Brach relieved House partway through the sixth inning and he walked the tightrope in his outing. With runners on first and second and one out, left fielder Buck Britton hit the ball back up the middle in what looked like a sure base hit.
Brach deflected the grounder, though, and Ramirez was able to react to the deflection and get the out at first base. The next batter's grounder to third was nearly thrown away by Urshela, but Aguilar managed to tag the runner, preserving the 3-2 lead.
The Aeros ensured there would not be a repeat of yesterday's ninth inning implosion by tacking on four insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. Consecutive singles by Wallace, shortstop Ronny Rodriguez, and Urshela took a 3-2 lead and made it 7-2, allowing everyone to breathe easy.
"That was huge," E. Rodriguez said of the big eighth inning. "The way the series has been playing, they've been scoring a lot of runs late in the game, so it was huge to go out there and score those four runs."
Right-hander Bryan Price, pitching in his first game for the Aeros after starting the year in Triple-A Columbus, threw two scoreless innings to get the save.
The Aeros will start a three-game series with the Trenton Thunder Monday night at Canal Park, with left-hander Matt Packer (0-1, 3.86 ERA, 3.63 FIP) taking the mound. The Thunder will counter with left-hander Francisco Rondon (1-0, 5.14 ERA, 5.63 FIP) in the 6:35 start.
Attendance: 2,154... Time of Game: 2:50... First pitch was at 2:06... Game time temperature: 46 degrees...RHP Shawn Armstrong (right hand contusion) was placed on the 7-day DL before the game, allowing the addition of Price to the roster.
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