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Akron bats go silent as Portland avoids sweep 4-1

Lack of offense spoils strong outing from Roberts

Akron bats go silent as Portland avoids sweep 4-1
June 9, 2013
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AKRON, OH -- After scoring 34 runs in the past four games, the Akron Aeros' offense finally calmed down as they lost to the Portland Sea Dogs 4-1 Sunday afternoon at Canal Park. The loss snapped Akron's five-game winning streak and dropped the Aeros to 31-32 on the year.

Portland starting pitcher Keith Couch (4-2, 4.43 ERA, 3.97 FIP) kept the Akron bats quiet for the first half of the game, going five innings with three hits, one walk, three strikeouts, and one run. Couch did not overpower the Aeros, but manager Edwin Rodriguez was impressed by his effectiveness.

"You have to tip your hat to Couch," Rodriguez said. "Nothing overpowering. He was changing speeds, throwing the secondary pitches for strikes. Whenever you do that, at any level, you have a chance to win."

Right-handers Chris Balcom-Miller and Brock Huntzinger combined for four shutout innings after Couch, limiting Akron to just one run all day.

"We ran into good pitching," Rodriguez said.

The lack of offense spoiled the day for Aeros starting pitcher Will Roberts (4-3, 3.80 ERA, 4.45 FIP), who went six innings with three hits, two walks, four strikeouts, and two runs. Sunday was Roberts' fifth consecutive start of five or more innings with three or fewer runs.

"Another strong outing by Will," Rodriguez said. "He kept us in the game. Then he got tired a little bit in the sixth inning, he made too many pitches, but he kept us in the game."

The Sea Dogs (32-28) took the lead for good in the sixth inning off of Roberts as he began to tire. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts -- the top prospect in Boston's system -- tripled off of the right field wall with one out, scoring on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Michael Almanzar in the next at bat.

"I left the ball up to Bogaerts," Roberts said. "He put a good swing on it and they were able to get him in. I felt pretty good all day. It was just one of those days where their guy was a little bit better."

Designated hitter Adam Abraham has struggled so far in 2013, but his RBI double to the right-center gap in the fifth inning could be the start of a breakout. Abraham is only 7-for-36 in his first nine games in Akron, but after playing sparingly in Columbus, Rodriguez thinks Abraham will improve with regular playing time.

"For him to come down here and try to find his swing again is hard," Rodriguez said. "And then he got hurt... So I'm just going to keep throwing him in the lineup because we all know he can help us and he can hit."

Shortstop Ronny Rodriguez continued his offensive resurgence, going 2-for-3 with a double. He also ran the bases aggressively, both in a good way -- taking the extra base and tagging on relatively shallow fly balls -- and a bad way. Rodriguez was thrown out trying to take home on a groundball to the third baseman in the fourth inning, though his manager did not think the error was that bad.

"The infield was playing back," E. Rodriguez said. "The only one playing in was the third baseman. So we took a chance [and] it didn't work out...

"We keep telling these guys, if you're going to make a mistake, just go 100 miles per hour. We don't want them to be timid. We don't want them to be scared out there."

After starting the homestand well, Akron's bullpen stumbled for the second consecutive game. Right-hander Trey Haley was the culprit Sunday, allowing two runs on three hits and a hit by pitch in 0.2 innings. Haley missed two and a half weeks recently, however, and Rodriguez thinks that the right-hander just needs to knock some rust off.

"He's 100 percent now," Rodriguez said. "He was out for a while... so you have to kind of start all over again, and a guy like that who throws so hard, he has to get that release point again."

Right-handers Chen-Chang Lee and Austin Adams combined for 2.1 shutout innings to keep the game moderately close.

The Aeros will take Monday off as they travel to New Hampshire to start a six-game road trip. Tuesday's game will feature left-hander Matt Packer (3-5, 3.22 ERA, 3.68 FIP) going for the Aeros while the Fisher Cats (31-33) will counter with right-hander Marcus Walden (4-6, 3.25 ERA, 3.78 FIP). Game time is 6:35 p.m.

Miscellaneous

Attendance: 4,214... Time of Game: 2:40... First pitch was at 2:09... Game time temperature: 77 degrees... Right fielder Carlos Moncrief extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the sixth inning... First baseman Jesus Aguilar, on the other hand, saw his five-game RBI streak come to an end.

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at jpiasci1@kent.edu

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