The Akron Aeros defeated the Altoona Curve 3-2 Wednesday on the first “Education Day” of the baseball season at Canal Park.
Cleveland Indians infielder Jason Donald went 2-for-4 at bat with two infield singles and a run scored in his third rehabilitation appearance with the Aeros. He started at third base, batted leadoff and also stole a base.
Chicago White Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd hit Donald with a pitch on his left hand that fractured his middle finger on March 5 during a spring training game in Goodyear, Ariz.
The Aeros scored two runs in the third with consecutive two-out RBI doubles by Matt McBride and Kyle Bellows. Jason Donald led off the inning with an infield single. Matt Lawson followed with a sacrifice bunt and Juan Diaz struck out. McBride’s double went down the left field line and Bellows smacked his double to right center.
The Curve cut their deficit to 2-1 in the fourth when Jeremy Farrell delivered an RBI single to right field that scored Miles Durham. With one out, Durham and Kris Watts each reached base via a walk.
John Drennen extended the Aeros lead to 3-1 with a solo home run to right field in the sixth.
The Curve made the score 3-2 when Brock Holt hit an RBI single that scored Farrell, who had reached base via an error. Aeros right-handed closer Cory Burns then got out of a first and second jam by striking out Jordy Mercer to end the game. Burns finished with three strikeouts.
Aeros right-hander Joe Gardner pitched five innings and got the win. He allowed one earned run, three hits, struck out two, walked four and hit one.
Lefty Nick Hagadone pitched two scoreless innings for the Aeros and struck out three. Righty Matt Langwell followed with a scoreless inning and two strikeouts.
Curve left-handed pitcher Jeff Locke took the loss after working 4 2/3 innings. He gave up two earned runs, seven hits, walked one and struck out six.
Note: Cleveland Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore and right-handed relief pitcher Joe Smith were not with the Aeros Wednesday. Sizemore and Smith have been rehabbing in Akron. Sizemore is rounding back into shape after having microfracture surgery on his left knee last June. Smith is overcoming an abdominal strain on his left side that happened in March.
Next game’s starting pitchers: Left-hander Scott Barnes will start for the Aeros and left-hander Ryan Edell for the Phillies at 7:05 Thursday night in Reading. Edell played with the Aeros from 2008-2010.
Aeros manager Chris Tremie
On the victory: "It is always nice to get a win, no matter what the conditions are. With this being an early game after a night game, they came out and played well. We had a couple of guys have a good game. We had good starting pitching out of Gardner, and Hagadone did a great job out of the bullpen followed up by Langwell and Burns. It was a very good pitching performance."
On the play of Jason Donald: "Jason is swinging the bat well. He is getting back into it. It takes time for all of these guys when they have had a limited number of at bats to get back into the swing of things and seeing the ball. He looked pretty good up there."
On the solo home run by John Drennen: "He has been having good at bats. He hasn't had a lot of hits so far this season, but he has been having good at bats. He has missed some pitches, but obviously, he didn't miss that one. He will be fine. He's got a good approach. . . . He hit that ball well. It was kind of against the wind. The pitch was down and he got the barrel on it. It was a good swing."
Aeros right fielder John Drennen
On the solo home run: "It was a fastball out over the plate. I put a good swing on it and it went out. I recognized the pitch early and I took a good swing on it."
"It is always nice winning. That is what we come out here to do. It can be an early game or a late game. It is just nice to come out here and play. We will take this win and hopefully go out on the road and get some more wins."
Aeros first baseman Matt McBride
On the victory: "With these bright and early games, you just show up and try to have good at bats. Gardner went out and threw well for us, and we went out and won the game."
On the team: "We do have a young team, but we have a lot of good players. Our pitching staff, from top to bottom is just great. Our hitters are just trying to go up and have good, quality at bats. We are tying to put the ball in play and hit the ball. We want to get the guys in."
Aeros right-handed pitcher Joe Gardner
On the victory: "It was huge for us to take the series and get a little momentum as we head out on the road. We came out with the "W" and that is all that matters."
On what pitches were working for him: "I had a pretty good slider and changeup. My fastball was there for me also. I just want to limit the walks."