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Aeros improve mark to 5-1 with Wednesday's win

By sstorm Published: April 15, 2009


KEY STATS: Aeros starter Hector Rondon continued to impress in his second start of the season, allowing just one run while striking out five over 5 2/3 frames as the Aeros improved to 5-1.

"Hector really pounded the strike zone and used his off-speed pitches," Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh said. "He threw the ball well, very similar to first outing."

-- With an 0-6 record to start the season, Altoona is not only off to its worst start in franchise history, but the club remains the only Eastern League team without a victory.

KEY MOMENT: Aeros switch-hitting catcher Carlos Santana gave the host a boost in his first at-bat, smashing a grand slam to left center field in the first inning to give Akron an early 4-0 advantage.

"That grand slam, especially from the right side, was impressive," Sarbaugh said. "Then he gets up there and hits another hard ball to left side down the line that they caught at the wall. He's such a sound hitter from both sides of the plate."

Santana also threw out a runner trying to steal second base in the sixth inning and blocked a ball in the dirt in the eighth that might have saved a run.

"He did a good job behind the plate, too," Sarbaugh added. "There were runners on first and second and he blocked that ball in the dirt - that's big in a three-run game in the eighth. If they move up to second and third, a base knock gets them within one."

STORM'S STARS:  Santana and Rondon. The Aeros have hit just three home runs on the young season, two of which belong to Santana. His bases-loaded homer in the first was all the offense needed with the efficient Rondon on the mound.

UP NEXT: The Aeros take to the road for the first time this season on a two-city, seven-game road trip that begins Thursday with a 7:05 p.m. game at Bowie (Baltimore Orioles). Aeros right-hander Frank Hermann (1-0, 1.50 ERA) and Baysox left-hander Troy Patton  are the scheduled pitchers.

RADIO: WARF (1350 am).

NOTES: Curve shortstop Brian Friday has made one heck of a first impression in his Double-A debut this week. With three more hits in Wednesday's game - including a fifth-inning run-scoring triple - Friday leads the Eastern League with a .611 batting average through the first week of play.

"That's the first time I've ever seen him, and boy, is he a good-looking player," Sarbaugh said. "You can tell he can handle the bat."

-- Newcomer Carlton Smith, who joined the team Tuesday, made his first appearance with the Aeros Wednesday, tossing 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

"He started last year at (Class-A) Kinston, but he's going to be a bullpen guy," Sarbaugh said of Smith, who missed the last week of spring training and the first few days of the season with an injury.

"We have to build him up (in innings) a little bit, so he'll stay there and then be our long guy, which we lost when Ryan Edell went up to Triple-A (Columbus)."

* Altoona's Tony Watson, the team's starting pitcher Wednesday who lasted just 2/3 of an inning, is the parent-club Pirates ninth-round pick in the 2007 draft out of the University of Nebraska.


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