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Aeros/Curve Thursday Game Notes

April 24, 2009
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Tonight, I had the opportunity to travel to Canal Park to watch the Aeros play host to the Altoona Curve in the first game of a four-game series. While the box score indicates that the Aeros prevailed, 9-5, the box score does not tell the whole story …

Jose Constanza: Yes, Constanza went 1 for 3 and drove in a team- and game-high four runs, three of which came on a bases-clearing double that, unwisely, he tried to stretch into a triple. However, he also played with a combination of spirit and patience, drawing two walks and swiping second twice. One series of events illustrates this point. In the bottom of the sixth, Constanza led off. Not only did he draw the count full (before walking), but he also stole second. The score at the time: 9-4, Aeros. Traits like these will help push Constanza into a utility role beyond Double-A.

John Drennen: Drennen’s struggles at the plate have not affected his base-running – at least not tonight, anyway. In the bottom of the third, Drennen’s hustle on the basepaths resulted in a run. Not only did Drennen leg-out the back-half of a 4-6-3 double play attempt (which failed in its entirety), but Drennen also scored from second on a groundball to the shortstop that was thrown wide of the first baseman.

Josh Rodriguez: After a string of games in which Rodriguez struggled to make contact at the plate, he feasted, going 3 for 3 with an RBI and a stolen base. For Rodriguez to advance beyond Double-A, though, he will have to excel in ways that make him a viable utility player. To this end, in the bottom of the third, Rodriguez was the first Aero to bat. Now, in the bottom of the first, Constanza was the first Aero to bat – and he walked. In the bottom of the second, Carlos Santana was the first Aero to bat – and he walked. While Rodriguez did single in this particular at-bat, what was bothersome was the approach: He swung on the first pitch. Given the pattern of inning-starting walks, why not try to let Curve starting pitcher Jared Hughes pitch into a walk? Also, in the top of the ninth with the Aeros leading 9-4, the Curve had a runner at first with no outs. The batter grounded to Rodriguez, who tried, but failed, to get the force-out at second. Given the score, Rodriguez should have known to make the ‘safe’ throw to first.

Niuman Romero: Constanza was not the only Aero to play with spirit and patience, as Romero drew a pair of walks and stole second twice. It was in the bottom of the fourth, though, that Romero had his best moment of the game. With Santana on first, Romero laid down a bunt in the direction of the third baseman to move Santana to second. He did so on the first pitch of the at-bat. So simple, and yet so infrequently seen.

Carlos Santana: Although Santana did not reach base in each at-bat, he performed well in the box, walking once, singling once and pulling two pitches into right field – albeit directly into the right fielder’s glove both times. He just has ‘the look’ of a middle-of-the-lineup hitter. On the basepaths, though, he just has ‘the look’ of a catcher. In the bottom of the second, with Santana on first and nobody out, Romero rolled into a conventional 6-4-3 double play. What was unconventional was Santana’s ‘attempt’ to break it up: He slid feet-first … and ended up three to four feet short of the bag.

Neil Wagner: In the top of the sixth, Wagner entered the game to replace Josh Tomlin, and he pitched two scoreless innings. It was a tale of two innings, though. In the sixth, Wagner, in a word, labored. Although he faced only five batters in the inning, he walked two and threw at least 27 pitches. Whatever it was that bothered him, though, lasted but one inning: In the seventh, Wagner faced the minimum number of batters, retiring each. Given that Wagner had allowed runs in three of his four appearances prior to this game, this appearance had to boost his confidence.

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