Recap 07/21: Aeros Sweep Home Stand, Defeat Altoona 4-2

AKRON,
OH – The Akron Aeros completed a perfect seven-game home stand Wednesday
evening, defeating the first-place Altoona Curve by the final score of 4-2 at
Canal Park. Catcher Damaso Espino scored the game-winning run with a dramatic
two-out RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning in front of 1,782 fans in
downtown Akron. The win improved the third-place Aeros to 52-45, a season-best
seven games over .500 and only 5.5 games behind the Curve (57-39) in the
Eastern League’s Western Division.

Altoona
began the scoring in the first against Akron starting pitcher Paolo Espino. The
EL All-Star permitted a leadoff triple to shortstop Chase d’Arnaud and Gorkys
Hernandez promptly gave the visitors a 1-0 advantage with a run-scoring
groundout to first base.

The
narrow lead did not last for long as the Aeros responded in the bottom half of
the second, Matt McBride reached base to start the inning on a catcher’s
interference following a foul ball against Curve lefty starter Jeff Locke. Two
straight outs ensued before left fielder Jerad Head unloaded on the first pitch
he saw for a two-run homer to center.

With
Akron leading 2-1 after two innings, a rain delay interrupted the game action
at Canal Park for the second straight night. The pause lasted 37 minutes before
Locke and Espino battled in a pitcher’s duel for the remainder of the next
three frames.

The
Curve finally broke the standstill in the top of the sixth when Hague collected
a one-out single to right. Third baseman Jordy Mercer then provided a
game-tying double to left-center field, scoring Hague all the way from first
base.

Both
bullpens helped maintain the tie score until the deciding bottom of the eighth
inning against Altoona reliever Ramon Aguero. The right-hander recorded two
quick outs against Cleveland Indians star Shin-Soo Choo and McBride before Beau
Mills started the rally with a triple to center. Aguero then loaded the bases
with a pair of walks and Espino broke upon the game with his single to right on
a 1-2 offering. Tim Fedroff followed with the RBI of the night on a five-pitch
bases-loaded walk, providing for the game’s final 4-2 margin.

Reliever
Chen-Chang Lee (5-3) earned the win for the Aeros with a pair of strikeouts in
two scoreless innings in relief of Espino. Aguero (1-3) took the loss in his
rough 0.2 innings pitched and Shane Lindsay recorded his first save as a member
of the Indians organization in the ninth. Espino provided six efficient innings
in the no-decision for his third quality start, striking out six batters
against two walks and six hits.

Espino
was the hero as he finished 1-for-4 with the clutch RBI in the bottom of the
eighth and Mills was the only Akron batter to finish with two hits. Choo
finished 0-for-4 in his projected final game on rehab assignment while
recovering from a right thumb sprain.

The
Aeros finally hit the road after the game this evening and begin a four-game
weekend series with the Reading Phillies Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. The fun
starts at First Energy Stadium as Akron hopes to win an eighth straight game
with a currently unannounced starting pitcher against Reading’s Drew Naylor (8-7,
4.05 ERA). Join Jim Clark for Thursday’s radio broadcast beginning at 6:50 p.m.
on Fox Sports 1350 AM and at www.akronaeros.com.
For more information, please call the Aeros at (330) 253-5151.

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