The Aeros have found a uniform set fit for victories.
Black tops and hats, coupled with white pants are undefeated in two appearances this season after the host Aeros defeated the Altoona Curve 5-3 on Monday night before a crowd of 1,016 at Canal Park.
Aeros right-hander Toru Murata pitched seven efficient innings to get the win, and Quincy Latimore, Carlos Moncrief and Ronny Rodriguez each had two hits.
“This game is all about pitching and Murata showed that,” Aeros manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “His secondary pitch was outstanding. He was throwing the breaking ball and changeup in any count. When you do that on any level, chances are you are going to be successful.”
Murata struck out nine and limited the Curve to one earned run and three hits.
“My splitter was very good,” Murata said. “It was better than it was in spring training.”
Adalberto Santos gave the Curve a 1-0 lead in the second inning with a solo home run off Murata that cleared the wall in left-center field.
The Aeros scored twice off Curve right-hander Tyler Waldron in the second inning to take a 2-0 lead. Roberto Perez scored on a Ronny Rodriguez single and Latimore scored on a Matt Lawson ground out.
The Aeros lead grew to 4-1 in the fifth inning off Waldron. Ronny Rodriguez tripled and scored on a Lawson single, and Chun Chen tripled in Jose Ramirez after he walked.
Carlos Paulino doubled in the Curve’s eighth inning off Aeros reliever Shawn Armstrong and scored on a sacrifice fly by Gift Ngoepe to make it 4-2.
Perez hit a solo home run over the left field fence off Curve reliever Jeff Inman in the eighth inning to give the Aeros a 5-2 edge.
“I was trying to get a pitch to hit after my first two AB’s where I got jammed a little bit,” Perez said. “I was thinking about hitting the ball hard to center field and I got a homer.”
Altoona’s Matt Curry concluded the scoring with a solo home run that cleared the right field fence off Aeros reliever Jose Flores.
“Toru’s fastball command was good on the inside corner and outside corner,” Perez said. “His splitter was also working tonight, and we used that to our advantage.”
Aeros hot hitters
Jose Ramirez and Jesus Aguilar entered Monday as the Aeros top hitters.
Ramirez had eight hits in 16 at bats in four games with four runs scored and one RBI.
“I haven’t changed my approach just because I am coming up to a higher level,” Ramirez said through his interpreter, Edwin Rodriguez. “I am taking the same approach at bat, being aggressive with pitches in the strike zone.”
Ramirez played last season with Indians Class-A affiliates Mahoning Valley and Lake County. Between to the two teams, he posted a .354 batting average, three home runs, 27 RBI and 56 runs scored in 70 games.
“I think he has been amazing so far,” Rodriguez said. “This is the first time I have seen him play on an everyday basis. Being in this cold weather and at a higher level, AA, for the first time after skipping high-A [Carolina], I have been very impressive with him both defensively and offensively.”
Rodriguez said Ramirez played winter baseball in the Dominican Republic.
“He was facing big league pitchers and there are only six teams there,” Rodriguez said. “That definitely helped him make adjustments and continue to develop as a player.”
Ramirez said he batted .315 in 49 winter games, with about four or five at bats every game as the No. 2 hitter in the lineup.
Aguilar had five hits in 16 at bats in the Aeros first four games with three runs scored, one home run and seven RBI.
“We try to be aggressive in the strike zone because they are trying to get ahead in the count,” Aguilar said. “We talked about that in our meeting. We try to put the ball in play and see what happens. That is the key for us. That is what we did yesterday [Sunday].”
Aguilar played last season with Carolina and Akron, and between the two teams, he batted .280 in 127 games with 15 home runs, 71 RBI and 75 runs scored.
“Jesus is going to hit,” Rodriguez said. “I had him last year [at Class-A Carolina]. I know that he is going to be able to make adjustments. They will try to find his weaknesses, but he has the ability to make adjustments.”