The Areos wrapped up their important three-game set in Erie Wednesday night, limping out of town after going just 1-2. New closer Jim Ed Warden blew a save Tuesday that cost the game and then usually steady Reid Santos was unable to locate the strike zone in his second inning of work Wednesday to cost the team a win that would have given them a much-need series victory.
Instead, the Aeros open play in Reading tonight having won just 2 of their last 9 games - and now no longer needs to worry about first-place Erie.
As Aeros back up play-by-play man Joe Jastremski keeps telling me while traveling with the team on this key road trip, "The Sea Wolves are playing like a team that will hold on to first place and claim the Southern Division title."
Meanwhile, the Aeros now need to focus instead on charging third-place team Bowie (5 games back), who becomes the real threat to knock the Aeros (2.5 games back) out of the wild-card spot and the playoffs all together.
I've recently stated my opinions on this blog as to why the Aeros are stumbling down the stretch so badly (no real help from Class-A Kinston after the Aeros top players are promoted to Triple-A Buffalo, which has been the norm for years).
But it doesn't sound like Michael Aubrey's activation from the disabled list yesterday is going to help matters much. Not only does it push productive player/coach Shaun Larkin back to the bench, but because Aubrey has rarely played this season even close to 100 % healthy, he's a major liability on the bases.
Jastremski reports that in Wednesday's game with Aubrey on first base, Rodney Choy Foo hit a sure double behind him, but had to retreat back to first base when Aubrey could make it no farther than second base on the hit. Plays like that cost the team crucial runs - and could prove disasterous under the microscope of the post season if the Aeros are to hold on to second place and make the playoffs.
Some good news: The foul ball of the right hand of cather Wyatt Toregas in Tuesday's game that forced him to leave in the bottom of the second inning did not break any bones. In fact, though his hand is heavily wrapped, Toregas was catching in the bullpen Wednesday night.
Aeros manager Tim Bogar told Jastremski he hopes to have Toregas back in the lineup in time for Friday's double header at Reading.